16 December 2010

Collecting Inspiration

There’s a soft hum entering through the open windows. Down the hill there, nestled at the water’s edge, the city slowly wakes. Its voice rises up on a gentle mist to greet me. I can look down on the city from here and see that today it is all awash with silver and white. Light, not snow. A summer mist. Not a breath of wind. The sunshine, shrouded, waits.

Inspiration. Where does it come from and where does it go?

As I began to ponder this question a few weeks ago my own inspiration slipped away. How curious. Perhaps this is not something that should be questioned? Considering inspiration and ideas has led me down some twisting, endless paths lately. I’ve only just begun to take the first steps on all their diverging trails.

I like to think that, so far, I have the beginning sketch for a map that I will eventually be able to fill in in detail.

A few marker points on my map so far…


Other Artists and their Art

Nature as Artist/Designer/Creative force

Botanical Illustrations


Memory as history

Objects as memory / mnemonic objects

Inscriptions (on books and other objects)

Peoples personal stories

My stories

The traditions of discovering/recording/sharing knowledge and how it eventually becomes history

Cabinets of curiosities

Collections (public/museums and private)

Methods of display and labelling of collections of objects (compartments, boxes, labels, files -A container for everything)

Books (especially about nature, or novels)


Botanical Drawings

Letters (inc postcards and other communication)

Archaeology (lost or buried treasure or everyday items)



My research/learning about particular stories or objects

My research/learning about Memory/ Collections/ History etc

The Caravan Children captured my imagination years and years ago. I read and re-read this copy from my mothers childhood many times. Through out the story one of its characters secretly undertakes to make a 'museum' to record their caravan holiday. I think my love for objects as memory keepers must have begun in the final paragraphs of this book.

"And sometimes aterwards in the dark winter evenings the childern would ask Peter if they could look at his museum; and he would open his box and take out all the things he had collected. Then they would examine everything all over again and talk of the wonderful times they had had. They would look at the cloudy water in the little bottle and remember how deep and fast the water had rushed along the flooded river bed; and they would touch the piece of burned wood and remember how bright were the flames of fire at Melbury Farm. Then they would shut up the box and put it away, and hope very much that when the summer days came again they would be able to harness Dobbin the horse to the green and yellow caravan and drive away once more in search of adventures."

17 November 2010

The Source of Ideas and Inspiration

Lately Ive been thinking about ideas and inspiration. Does inspiration create ideas, or do ideas create inspiration? It seems they are intrinsically linked, each feeding into the other in a perpetual cycle.

I've been wondering - where do my ideas come from? What exactly is my inspiration? How can I best use my ideas and inspiration to expand my creativity?

I think I'll assign myself a little exercise of naming my sources of inspiration and ideas as a way of understanding my creative process better. Once Ive done that I think I will be able to make use of my inspiration more effectively and direct the energy of it into my art with more intention. Thats the goal anyway!

10 November 2010

Cutlery for Christmas

Detail of work in progress.

Ive just about completed three new pieces for the NZ Art Guild Xmas show.

09 November 2010


The harbour, flat, blue and bright looks like summer today. A few little yachts drift aimlessly out across the water. They're directed only by a little wind and the ocean's whim I think. Their sailors much surely be reading a good book or snoozing on the deck. At least that's what I would be doing if it were me out there.

I photographed my lovely (patient!) sister piled up with books and teacups today. Luckily she has an exceptional sense of balance.

My intention is to produce a small series like this.

29 October 2010


Weather close and sultry. I discovered a most carefully hidden robins nest today in a marshy spinney in Elmdon Park. I was stooping down to gather some cowslips when a robin fled out over my hand from under the roots of an Alder tree growing close beside me. It was quite a small tree, supported by four strong roots which held it up clear of the ground, forming an archway. In this cavity, right under the centre of the tree was placed the nest which contained five eggs. The crab apple trees and bushes are looking very beautiful now, covered with pink blossom and crimson buds.
Edith Holden, 7th of May 1906.

Ive been reading The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady. I bought it at the book fair simply for its sweet illustrations, but somehow Edith's rambles through the English country side have drawn me in.

One hundred and four years later, some things still remain unchanged. Thankfully. Last weekend I watched a Thrush tending her nest. Her home was not so well hidden, placed in a bush right by the house. She watched our comings and goings with alert bright eyes and all the while tended her young ones, bringing them food and keeping them warm and safe.

The apple tree is in bloom and a Korimako spent some time dining from its blossom.

21 October 2010

Still Spring

The thing with spring is that it lingers. On and on. It promises so much and then it makes you wait.

I am ready for summer. I'm longing for sunshine that carries on day after day. This relentless teasing is testing my patience, it really is. One days sunshine for two days grey.

I am trying to hold yesterday's sunshine in my mind.

Towards the end of the long, long path leading to the house a tree has erupted into bloom. Its laden branches stretch over the walkway. As I leave or return home, I walk gazing upwards through the clouds of pink feathery candyfloss. Beautiful.

Photos inspired by Kerri who cant walk past a tree with out stopping to marvel at its beauty.

07 October 2010

Fielder's Sponge

The Self Help Cookery Book, New and improved edition, (1939) is a treasure trove of recipes and household hints.

The copy I have is fragile, its pages loose, some covered in flour or cocoa. Between its worn pages someone once tucked a recipe, carefully written on a small scrap of paper. I found this little artifact and have given it a new lease of life in my art work.

I haven't tried the recipe, but let me know if you do! Here it is, copied exactly as it was written all those years ago.

Fielder's Sponge

3 Eggs, 2 1/2 oz cornflour
1 teaspoon Baking Powder,
4 Tablesp Sugar, 1 dessert Flour,
Beat whites of eggs till
stiff add yolks, add sugar
gradually, Beat till stiff
& sugar dissolved. Bake
8" sandwich tins
15 minutes

04 October 2010

Flowering Trees

Spring invades every branch and twig now. New shoots and blooms are everywhere and each day more tender yellow leaves unfurl on the giant Oak tree.

Nature's creativity is infectious and I cant help but be inspired.

An unidentified tree with flowers that look and smell like Kamahi,
but leaves that are smooth edged, not saw toothed.

28 September 2010

Tear and Paste

With my stash of vintage papers I recently spent a blissful afternoon tearing and pasting. I have found it's best not to plan anything, just rip and paste and the composition will emerge. If I start to plan, my thinking gets in the way and I end up stuck with too many possibilities and ideas to work with.

I am now well underway with a couple of new pieces for the Deco Echo Exhibition at the NZ Academy of Fine Arts. My theme (self imposed) is afternoon tea, an extension of the teacup series. I spent ages searching for some vintage hand written recipes to incorporate into these artworks, I'll give you a glimpse of my progress with them soon.

23 September 2010

Double Luck

Found just outside my front door on Tuesday. Double luck! I wonder what good things are coming my way...

20 September 2010


The soft, spring blossom is blown to shreds. A relentless wind tears through the trees and on the harbour, whitecaps charge for the shore. I'm sitting cozy here with the scene and its soundtrack restrained beyond the windows today.

Its been a while since I have written here as I have been occupied writing other things; Artist Statements and the like for a couple of exhibitions my work will be included in. I quite like the process of writing about my art, I like the distillation that occurs as I edit out all the unnecessary words and thoughts from a paragraph. It is a slow process to condense my ideas to their essence, to a nice concise, bite size summary. Something suitable for a passing viewer to read before their attention moves to something else. Its a satisfying journey too, it draws me back into the creative process all over again.

Its an act of faith to edit out much of what I could say about a particular artwork. I have faith that some people at least will get it, despite what I dont explain in detail.

For me much of the enjoyment of looking at an artwork is in its interpretation, what do I think its about? By leaving the final decision up to the viewer, the viewer can take ownership of its meaning, they become part of the creative process. An artist statement can help enrich your interpretation of an artwork. I try to provide an opening for the viewer; a way in from which if you choose to, you can discover more.

Susan posted a video of Squeak Carnworth talking about her work and the part that resonated most with me was when she said
"When people look at my work they should bring themselves, and they should pay attention to what their inner voice says and what intuitive leaps they have, what does it remind them of? There's no right answer."
I hope people will bring themselves to my artwork.

"The Young Brave" was accepted for the North Shore City Art Awards, the exhibition opens in three days.

The Young Brave presents the story of Jack, who at about the age of twelve in 1929 was given an adventure novel, The Long Trail Boys at Sweet Water Ranch, the Mystery of White Shadow.

Set in a North American context, it is an idealised story of friendship, adventure and heroism between the ‘native’ White Shadow and a group of boys. The tale is far removed from the reality of childhood experiences in nineteen thirties New Zealand. Ten years after Jack received the book New Zealand entered the Second World War and he was to face a quite different version of adventure and heroism; that experienced in battle.

As an artist I am interested in the relationship between objects and stories. I collect and re-present objects which connect with my memories, or the collective memories of a group or place. A mnemonic object is a memory keeper. It grants access to moments and emotions long since passed and otherwise ephemeral. Can the potency of a mnemonic object outlast its creator?

09 September 2010

Spring Inspiration

There really is something about spring that makes me want to clear things out and start afresh. I spent some time tidying my art materials and began a new inspiration board ready for this new season of growth and creativity.

Ten Good Things
A muddy path through a forest of green and an apple in my backpack
Rain beginning just as I arrive home
Peas sprouted in the garden
Spring cleaning, a clear desk and fresh inspiration
Thoughts of Martha Goes Green and her Oaty Choc Chip Seed Cookies
Pressed flowers, forgotten then found, in a book
Cats you meet on the street
An avian celebration of spring just outside my window
Posting secret parcels
Discovering some lovely new people to visit in blogland, Always Time for Tea, Little Postcards, Songs of Light & Sleep and Her Sisters

This post is for who tagged me some time ago...

27 August 2010

The book fair.

I love old books and the stories that entwine themselves between the printed words. The stories that can only be glimpsed through the marks left by their owners or readers and through the patina of time.

I discovered some beautiful gems at the annual book fair last weekend. While there I fell into conversation with an ancient old man, and (since he asked) I told him I was looking for books with inscriptions and the like. His reply, "folks have some strange hobbies, don't they?" Ah... well yes, I guess they do. He soon shuffled away and sometime later another man, not so ancient this time, noticed my pile and he too stuck up a conversation. He told me all about the book plates and inscriptions in a number of books he once owned. I was glad of this momentary company, a kindred spirit I think.

Last night I set out to sea with Mr Crusoe having discovered him amongst my purchases when I got home. I'm sure I was the only one there selecting books without reading the titles first. It was a happy coincidence as Robinson Crusoe has been on my "To Read" list for a while.

23 August 2010


Found on a hill overlooking a city, while drinking tea from a thermos, as I sat on the bonnet of a car in the winter sunshine. Good luck is coming my way.

17 August 2010


Its always a good idea to have some bunting on hand, just in case of unexpected celebrations.

I used an old garden book for the triangles and ripped an old sheet into strips for the tape.

Idea via Two & Six and Heartfelt

11 August 2010

Tea and other things

The last several days have been filled with snow and hot springs, a perfect combination for a winter getaway. I've returned home to find the first signs of spring emerging. The garlic has sprouted in the garden, the Daphne is blooming, the sun is hanging around a little later in the afternoon and I'm thinking about planting some peas.

Apart from my plans for the garden, I have lots of other projects afoot.

The Art Show was fantastic and already I have more ideas brewing. I spoke to so many lovely people, many of whom had stories to share about their own heirlooms and mnemonic objects. I particularly liked the story one lady told me about a small community where whenever someone passed away their china tea sets would be split and shared out to friends or family, cup by cup. Then later on, when drinking tea from the cup that once belonged to Aunt Belinda you would remember them. A lovely idea I think. I had so many people asking me about my tea cup series I'm sure I will be making more soon.

For those of you who came to the show and entered my giveaway, the winner of Gathered II is Moana J of Upper Hutt. I hope you find the perfect spot to hang it Moana.

03 August 2010


A scene from the living room, a sign of the approaching spring.

I am overflowing with more art ideas since The Show. So much to share, but it shall have to wait, for I am off on a little holiday. Back soon.

29 July 2010

Opening Night

Just outside the window a Starling is singing his song and the rain is gently falling. The scene is glossy green and misty white.

Soon we (my blogless, websiteless artist friend A'sha and I) will head off to the Gala Opening of the NZ Art Show. I am so inspired already by all the art I have seen there. This should be a good weekend.

27 July 2010


The good news people, is, I have finished. Artworks are dry, labelled, packed and ready to hang tonight! I'm hoping to hold onto what little energy I have left for a few more hours before I collapse into much needed rest. Who knew making a ga-zillion pieces of art, tweaking and updating my website, putting together a facebook page, designing a catalogue, biz cards and a host of other things would be so much effort?

Two days until the NZ Art Show opens!

13 July 2010

Lovely Lady

While flipping through a friends copy of Advanced Magnetism 1925 (a very curious book) on the weekend I came upon this photo tucked in between the fragile pages. The topic of the book was intriguing enough, this little gem the icing on the cake. She gave it to me, it was meant to be, you see.

Hasn't she a lovely face? I think I would have liked her if we had met, and the little one's hat, adorable.

08 July 2010

07 July 2010


A winter sunrise on a day much fairer than today. Today, grey, grey, grey. With some rain thrown in for good measure.

05 July 2010

100 Lovely Things

Three weeks to go until the New Zealand Art Show and things are beginning to come together. This piece is one of my largest yet, 30x40 inches. Mixed media on canvas.

I'm in the addictive phase of my art making process right now, in the zone, the flow. Whatever you want to call it I cant get enough of it. Its invigorating, inspiring, enlivening and now I must go to get my next fix.

30 June 2010

Mrs Archibald

Mrs Archibald's photograph came into my possession long after she had left this life and shortly after the photo's slow passage from Canada. She probably never imagined that a trace of her would end up here. Far, far from where her life was lived.

I see Mrs Archibald wearing a thick skirt, layers and folds of fabric dragging and swishing around as she walked. A heavy key always concealed in a pocket deep amongst that fabric. I'm not sure what door the key unlocked. When she could steal a few moments to herself she would escape to the garden with a book. She loved to read, but all to often instead her mind would wander. Inevitably to wind up in the warm glow of distant memories of Brazil, of Physalis and that one wonderful day.

23 June 2010

A few days past

Some highlights from the weekend...

A winter's day bloomed as if of summer.
Walking beneath an immense blue sky, so bright and nourishing.
Bare feet in chilly ocean water.
A hunger satisfied by a picnic amongst the trees.
A cozy fire radiating welcome comfort.
Feeling so, so lucky to be.

18 June 2010

Heart Collection

I'm whisking New Husband away for a mystery weekend. Lets hope the weather clears and we will actually be able to venture outside. If it does perhaps I'll find another stone to add to my collection.

(BTW, we've been wondering how long you can legitimately add the prefix 'new' to husband and wife - any ideas anyone?)

10 June 2010

Wild Apples

The product of my most recent foraging expedition; Wild Apple Chutney. The apples were gathered from trees quite similar to and not far from these ones Heartfelt found.

I was happy today to discover, via Heartfelt, this foraging map. I feel another expedition is in order.

08 June 2010

The Russian Caravan

Russian Caravan tea this morning. Its smoky aroma has always conjured an image in my mind of a band of bohemian travellers. A circle of opulently embellished caravans parked up around a camp fire. A old billy brewing over the flames. A dark, starry sky sweeping to the horizon all around and a community of like minded souls singing, dancing, laughing and relaxing before the next leg of their perpetual journey. Turns out the Russian Caravan is really about camels.

My little teacup series is well underway now. There will be ten wee 6x6" sized teacups, and a few more larger ones. I'm looking forward to doing some more work on these this week.

27 May 2010


Teacup, no saucer - 50 cents.

This afternoon I gathered my collection of old teacups together and began work on my 'teacup' series of mixed media pieces. They'll be a very sweet and girly bunch of artworks I imagine.

Lets see if I can post a 'work-in-progress' teacup next week.

Weather wise, its been a drizzly old day. Soup for dinner will be the perfect antidote. Brown Lentil with Lemon from Sarah Brown's Vegetarian Kitchen. A cook book without pictures is usually Not-a-Good-Thing, in my opinion, but I make an exception with this book.