Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Left brain vs right

I have a confession to make ... well it's not so much of a confession, rather a very obvious statement - I've been pretty bad at getting around to blogging lately.  It's not that I haven't thought about it ... I have ... and of things I've wanted to say, but I forget how much full-time work can occupy in my life. It's not that I don't enjoy my work, I do and very much so at the moment.  However, it's a different side of me ... perhaps a different side of the brain?

I found a little test here re: left and right sides of the brain ... I don't know how accurate it is.
I tried for a little while to get to see the dancer going anti-clockwise, but to me she was always going clockwise ... which is apparently the right-side of the brain ...

Or there's the "Right Brain vs Left Brain Creativity Test" by The Art Institute of Vancouver

This blog, principally, is about forcing me to find the balance ... according the the above test I'm 40% left and 60% right .... I need to give my right side ... the creative side ... more time to actually create.  However, over the past few weeks I've spent more time getting my house into order, flitting around to pre-Christmas social dos, and trying to shop for presents.  I have manage to fit in around that some research on frames and framing.

And lots of thinking about photography .... Photography has been a passion of mine for a long time now ... not that I've always been a consistent photographer ... there's been lots of trail and error as well!  My Dad had dark room equipment when I was little and would black out the laundry for a darkroom.  I was also lucky enough to go to a primary school with a dark room ... we did really quite basic techniques like contact prints and pin-hole cameras.

I ended up repeating these exercises in art class at high school!  Not because I failed them the first time around!!  The whole class did them ... in fact I spent a lot of time in high school in the darkroom or behind a camera.  The passion continues today. I have a camera with me nearly all of the time, and in Japan I was told that I take more photos than the Japanese themselves ... which I do at times but I'm not always that bad!

I had other creative endeavours as a child ... in fact pottery was one of them.  I was particularly fascinated with pottery wheels ... but for some strange reason pronounced pottery as "pottestry" ... which my family found very amusing considering my enthusiasm for it.  However, unlike photography, pottery is something I haven't done in a very long time, and I have to admit I've being quite fussy in my prepping and glazing stage.  I've been sanding some pieces back and I must admit I may be being a bit of a perfectionist .... but then I have had other focuses of late as well ... like work ... and Christmas ... and an exhibition in March.

Yes, that's right, I'm in an exhibition ... with a ceramist and a chainsaw sculptor.  More details will be forthcoming ... when I know them!  All I can say that it's in a lovely part of Victoria ... on Phillip Island.

On the bridge to Phillip Island

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Creating with Nature

Spring means warmer weather, flowers, lush gardens and with all the rain we've had in Melbourne, a rather over grown garden.  Unfortunately it also means weeds ... lots and lots of them.  And weeds mean time away from other things.  I don't mind it too much really, as I enjoy spending time in my garden and I'm gradually creating a urban haven for myself.

My garden creating is more of a long term project with various experiments and set backs along the way (like harsh drought summers).  It's still in a very early stage really with my of its form still in my head or scribbled as sketches and plans on pieces of paper.  But I guess garden is creating with nature, and nature really can't be controlled ... it does what it wants to when it gets the chance.

This spring I have managed a lovely crop of orange and purple poppies ... some of which even grew through a crack in the driveway!  That's nature, doing it own thing ... reclaiming.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

A Collection a Day, 2010: Day 260

A Collection a Day, 2010: Day 260: "Baby doll hands (yes, perhaps the weirdest collection I've ever shown!)"

Interesting blog I've found from a San Francisco artist and illustrator - a collection a day, either drawings or photos.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


I've been rather consumed of late with assignments on Organisational Change Management for uni ... and haven't managed to actually create much ... however it doesn't stop me thinking about it.  

I've played a bit with wire before ... particularly copper wire.  I love it's colour ... I like the malleability of it ... the patterns it can make.

Detail of a copper wire woven form
I've experimented a bit with weaving such as the example above and made a whole bunch of flowers over the  years as well which have been distributed amongst my friends and family.

Copper wire and drafting paper flower - unpainted
Most of them I painted bright colours, however I did keep one unpainted ... and it's still a favourite today.   I like the patterns of the old drawings in this flower ...  My father is a mechanical engineer and he used to give me rolls and rolls of old plans, back in the day before CAD.  It was extremely handy and became the inspiration for the flowers ... along with copper wire.

I would probably do lots more with copper wire now if it was for the price of cooper these days.  I used to go to a metal merchant years ago were copper wasn't really of interest them.  These days ... they want to buy it off you not sell it you.  That got me thinking about wire coat hangers.  They aren't as ease to bend ... but they are definitely easy to come by ...

Of course, it's been done before ... I found these great examples of sculptures from coat hangers ... definitely inspirational:

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

All a glaze ... soon ...

I've been prepping for glaze and trying to decide on final effects .... it's been so long since I've glazed something I'm struck an indecision phase.  Which effect on what?!

I remember doing things like putting colour glass pieces in pottery for firing ...but I somehow think I'll try and keep it to glaze effects this time.  I have brought a glaze pencil which I will draw with on some of the blank pendant shapes I made.  I have some designs ready in my sketch book ... just wonder if I should of brought more than one as I only have a red coloured one at the moment.

I have so many pendants I can afford to play a bit ... however I do want some of them to work out successfully.  I am hoping to give some of them as Christmas presents.  I've had some people suggest selling them which I guess is a positive sign, but my main aim really is to explore creative outlets ... to get my hands dirty ... not necessarily to make money from it!

I'm being to think that simple designs are the best but the glaze will prove me either right or wrong.  One of my favourite pendant designs is really quite simple:

Pendant - unglazed
However there is a design of a flower which is much more detailed ... (but not hand carved - it's pressed into the clay) but with the right glaze it could come up trumps:

Flower pendant

My biggest dilemma is the cake stand that cracked during firing.  I'm am quite sure this one cracked because it was at the very top of the kiln and once open the cool air hitting it first has resulted in some cracks.  The piece itself is still quite strong, however the cracks a little wider than what I would of liked - I'm not sure if glaze will fill them - and worst of all the cracks have meant that the surface is not level ... at one of the cracks you can feel a drop in height.  Guess this one is an experiment.

Can I fill the cracks with glaze?

Monday, September 27, 2010

Is street art, art?

This is not a creative outlet for myself ... but it is for other people and I have a habit of taking photos of good street art ... or graffiti.  Not all graffiti is street art in my opinion ... so is all street art, art?

I am getting quite sick and tired of the "tag" phenomenon, where graffiti or street art just becomes glorified lettering .... am I just getting old or is this boring for other people?  Catching the train into Melbourne a while ago I noticed that ALL of the graffiti along the railway line was lettering ... or tags really.  On some of them, someone has gone to a lot of detail ... but it's just words that don't mean anything to anyone .... unless you hang out with teenage boys and you know who the "taggers" are ...

I must admit I've been looking at graffiti and street art again, since seeing the movie "Exit through the Gift Shop" earlier this year.  Driving through North Fitzroy after, I recognised a sticker on the back of a sign that was an image by US street artist, Shepard Fairey - who features in the movie. 

Shepard Fairey sticker (the face one) on a sign in North Fitzroy.
I guess in some ways using the same image over and over again is some sort of a tag in itself ... it identifies the "tagger" .... but I far prefer to look at sometime like the face than a word an exaggerate dynamic font!!  There's a "tag" of a cat that is literally across the Western Suburbs ... I've seen it all over the place, in Footscray, Altona, Braybrook, Yarraville ...

Cat tag in Footscray on the side of a railway bridge.
And yes I don't mind the cat .... however I still love it when you come across a piece of street art that impresses you ... that really shows the creativity of the person, who, although breaking a law, is sharing something worthwhile with you.  I go looking for them ... rather than walk down a main street in Melbourne CBD ... why not a laneway?  I found the next piece pictured, in the city recently.  It's in a lane that runs from Bourke Street to Little Collins down the side of David Jones.  It's covered in graffiti ... or street art ... I really needed a fish eye lens to capture it properly ... I should go back one day with a different camera.

But does street art become art when it's actually commissioned?  There's no risk .... the artist is either paid for the work, or at the very least given permission to paint the area.  I stumbled across some recently when I took myself for a walk alongside Moonee Valley Creek (killing time before an appointment!).  I can only assume that prior to the artworks, that the concrete under this bridge was a prime "tagging" spot ... and I really do prefer the end results to a bunch of spray painted lettering.

Wikipedia defines art as "the product or process of deliberately arranging symbolic elements in a way that influences and affects the senses, emotions, and/or intellect."  I guess the fact I've even bothered to write about it in the first place ... or taken photos of it ... makes it art.  It must have affected some senses, emotions or intellect in me.  And if we go by the wikipedia definition (yes I know ... not the most academic of references) then the fact that tagging affects my senses (I hate it) ... well even that may be art.  (Big apologies to my friend Zette about this ... who is still fuming about the local tagger who has written "splash" on her fence .... she would really like to deal with Splash.)

So graffiti is art ... and one of my all time favourite pieces of graffiti is now long, long gone ... it used to be in Moor Street, Fitzroy ... I loved it so much I photographed it, which is great as I still get to share it with people.  It's not as paintly as some of the examples above ... in fact it's quite simple ... and witty ... and that's why I still think it's great.
Simple but witty ... a bit like me at times!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Unfortunately I haven't had much time for creativity lately, I have an assignment due for uni this Saturday and my hours are gradually increasing at work back to normal.   Not 100% full time yet, but before I do I need to schedule in more creative time so I don't slip back into bad habits. 

I now have a huge pile of ceramics to glaze .... I made 35 porcelain pendants in the end .. far more than I realised!  I'm in the process of sanding off rough edges and deciding on what to draw on the blank ones.  Hopefully once I submit this latest assignment I'll find a block of time to sit down and glaze.

In the meantime I've managed to sneak in the odd photo over the past two weeks.  I was working on a photoshoot for work ... photos of our students in action, our facilities etc - not exciting subject matter, but I enjoyed it anyway.  The last day we did at our Coburg campus were they teach all things automotive from truck engines to marine, lawn mowers and chainsaws to trims for car.  I found a couple of thins I couldn't help taking photos of.

Springs on a shelf in the Motorsports section
Cupboard under a spray booth for adhesives
I could of spent hours just taking photos for myself, but unfortunately that wasn't what I was there for ... so I manage a small number.  Pity, as the whole department will be moved in about a year to a new building being built in the Docklands.  Perhaps I'll get another chance at some stage, as it seems that I am attracted to "industrial beauty" .... or is that beauty found in industrial settings.  Whether it be urban decay, a pile of discarded materials, tools or a whole actual warehouse I love finding something attractive in not so obviously aesthetic appealing situations.

Safety gear in Motorsports

Monday, September 6, 2010

Spring has sprung

Spring has sprung, the rains have come and Victoria's all awash ...

However, Melbourne seems to have survived the storms and I'm loving all the colours of flowers everywhere.  Blossoms, magnolias, wattle and daffodils ... now just need a couple more sunny days where I can do more urban exploring.  I have a list ready ... now where's the sun.

My plum tree all in blossom.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Bisque firing was a success!

I'm very happy to announce that the first firing of my ceramics pieces was a success ... other than the pieces I smashed before even getting to the kiln!!  There are some hair line cracks in the cake stand but being so fine, they will hopefully fill with glaze.  We are also wondering if these cracks have appeared because it was at the top of the kiln and therefore cooled quicker than the pieces that are deep in the kiln.  I suppose we'll find out when we do some more!

Now I just have to decide on how to finish all the pieces .... what glazes to use ... what effects ...

Just found a great blog from a ceramic artist in Adelaide that uses some gorgeous retro designs and some interesting glazing techniques ... I'm no where near their level but the posts are very interesting ... wondering if they have ever tried house paint like some ceramics artists did in Australia in the 50s ...

Monday, August 23, 2010

All fired up! Well almost ....

My house has been a pottery drying area for a number of weeks now ... and even just in the drying process I've learned more about pottery.  I already knew that the pieces would shrink (about 10% they say), but seeing is believing.  I made a cake-stand that I originally thought would be of a decent size.  It's really now only for small cakes but I'll wait to see what the end result is like before I decide how big I'll make the next one!  In the drying process the top of it probably shrunk about a cm around all sides.

Terracotta cakestand (still greenware at this stage)

I'm a bit nervous about a vase I made .... it really isn't the most stable of pieces, although I like the shape!  Again, another direction that may have to be rethought if I make another one of these ... perhaps a flat bottom!

And then there's the lattice pieces I made which are extremely fragile in their greenware state.  I've taken a risk with these pieces - any moving of them has been done with great care and I'm worried they are too fragile.   I also don't know if I've used the right clay - for this kind of fine work I probably should of used porcelain ... however this is all really a learning process and about creating, so I should take the mistakes as lessons learned!

Lattice piece with terracota coil pot in the background.
Coil pot

So today I finally, carefully packed up my various pieces of greenware pottery and transported them over to Spotswood for firing, and I have to admit I'm nervous and excited.  I can't wait to see what works - and of course what doesn't work.  Unfortunately it was not without disaster.  The first mishap was while I tried to pack the vase pictured above.  I knocked the table and in saving the vase from toppling and smashing I put my hand down on the table in the quick save action right on top of one of my lattice pieces ... now not really worth firing.  Then a couple of the porcelain pendants snapped in half.  Wow this greenware stuff needs kid gloves!

The unfortunate fall out.

Naturally I wasn't that happy about the lattice piece.  Even though it really is an experiment I wanted it to work - back to the drawing board with this one.  I'll try it again but with slightly thicker lattices and in porcelain which being a finer clay can cope better with being thinner.

I drive to Spotswood was done very carefully with Zette our careful driver, Geoff (our firing master) and myself (me in the back in back nursing the pieces as best I could).  The unpacking at the other end was going to be telling as well.  I was beginning to wish I done a big solid piece like Zette had!  Luckily I only lost one or two more pendants (I've done quick a few), but alas I also lost the other lattice piece - the bowl pictured up above.  So I never will know how that clay in that kind of fine work will fire ... so on to the porcelain version as it seems less risky.

Next will be learning about glazes, that is if all the remaining pieces survive the firing - there could be some more lessons there as well!  I'm particularly curious about decals and also about using house paint to decorate pieces.  Yes house paint!  I read somewhere that you can use it on greenware.  I find this a little hard to believe as I would of thought it would burn off, but apparently some artists used to do it in the 50s.  If that's the case I'm imagining lead based paints, which some glazes used to be, or enamel paint rather than acrylic.  I've tried research this on-line, and although I've come across the odd comments on pottery forums where someone suggests you experiment with house paint they don't go into any details.  Like at what stage?  On Greenware, a second firing, no firing - but after all the process?  And what type of house paint?  I guess I'll just have to do what the pottery forums said ... and experiment!!

So tomorrow it all gets stacked up into the kiln .... fired for three days making sure the kiln has plenty of time to cool afterwards (opening too soon can also crack pieces).  I can't wait to see the end results and start my next lot of experiments!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Beach Huts

I've been meaning to do a photo session at a little known corner of South Werribee for a while now.  While the South Eastern bay beaches in Melbourne are well known, and frequently visited - the western parts of the bay coast are not so known .... which is why I love them so much.

Admittedly the beaches aren't quite so long ... and often covered in seaweed ... but I love them all the same.  Years ago I knew a couple that owned ("leased") one of the beach huts at Campbell's Cove, and one summers day and night a whole group of us went down there ... and ended up sleeping on the beach ... and I've always intended to go back ...

I eventually did - a couple of weeks ago .... the first sunny day we had had in a while.  Unfortunately I got down there all keen to take photos ... before realising I had left the battery out of my camera .... I did finally get back there ...

The thing about Campbell's Cove is not the scenic beauty ... or immaculately maintained beach huts like you might find on the other side of Melbourne ... but there's a different kind of beauty here ... one of character, history and many untold stories.  It's a secluded little corner of Melbourne which I am almost reluctant to write about ... but I am.

In fact, I wouldn't mind owning one of these!

My Campbell's Cove photos were actually taken over two days.  I took a mate of mine down here late one Saturday afternoon .... I think on the way there he was wondering where on earth I was leading him too .... however once there he got it as well and was surprised he'd never known about it.  We took photos until yet again I had battery problems (it ran out!!) and the light was fading fast  Disappointed we returned home ... not without me pointing out to him that there's a nudist beach not far from here!  As soon as I did he slammed on the brakes ... that was until I pointed out that in August it really is too cold for any sun bathing!!

The next morning I woke up to a brilliant sunny morning ... in fact with much better light conditions than the day before ... so I jumped out of bed and headed back down to finish my photo taking.

Pirate Booty

With so many bright colours, left over boating bits and just things to see .... it's little wonder that in under 3 hours I took nearly 700 photos!  Yes - I am a little ummm keen on photography!

If you want to see more from this little Urban Adventure, please see my Flickr profile ... but here's a couple more of my favourites.

I somehow think I will be returning here in different weather conditions ... there's still so much I could take photos of for a start.  Secondly, I seem to have a thing about water ... whether it be the sea, a creek, a river or a lake .... I should probably live closer to the coast.

I hope you like this little corner I've found you ... but shhhh ... it's a well kept secret!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Urban Exploring

Wikipedia defines Urban exploration (often shortened as urbex or UE) as the examination of the normally unseen or off-limits parts of urban areas or industrial facilities.

However, my definition is a bit looser than this.  Mine is purely exploring ... whether it be urban environments or rural ... I like to see things in different ways - to find beauty where you least expect it, and my eyes and my camera are the tools to share these finds.

Sometimes I will plan an exploration, sometimes I just decide to see where a road or a path leads.  And as I usually have a camera with me, if I find a good shot, out it comes!!

Its amazing what you find, and I've surprised some friends from finding things in their local areas they have never even known about ...

Open a map - throw down stone ... go and explore where it lands!!

Here's some photos from a recent trip.

I have been driving through Altona a lot for medical appointments.  The Petrol Refineries fascinate me ... and some of the wide open spaces around here (which unfortunately are quickly disappearing).  I had noticed some old signage in a field that amused me and that inspired me to try a different road one day ....

Abandoned KFC bucket ... in a field in Altona.

With time to kill before an appointment I decided to follow a road that appeared to go nowhere ... but I had to find out how to get to it first ... and this nicely took me to a different angle of the petrol plant ....

And to the Altona East Soccer Club ...

But I finally found the way to the road I had seen .... and to my delight lead to Kororoit Creek or lower Kororoit Creek since I leave near the creek but much further up.  Slowly over the past 3 years there have been attempts to clean the creek up a bit.  It was once quite clean apparently - up near me there used to be a swimming pool built into the creek - that stopped being used between to the two world wars ... when the creek became mucky with pollution ...

Somewhere in the past year, they have built a bridge over the creek and joined up two parts of Altona ... and alongside the creek they are making walking paths, and planting trees ... but the bit that I loved the most was the public art that had been installed here.  The day I discovered this I was still quite unwell ... massive headaches, dizziness ... I walked only a short distance along the path before realising I just couldn't do it.  I did end up coming back a few weeks later with a friend and her dog and we followed the path.  The following photos are first of the sculpture on first discovery, and then a couple of photos when I shared my discovery with Zette and her dog Peanut.

The Art piece from a distance

I love the effects of the sticks, the red and white and the shadows of the late afternoon.

When we did come back for the walk the thing that struck me the most was how quiet it was ... yes there was industry just over the fence ... and some noises associated with that, but apart from that there was so little other signs of life ... no other people out walking ... just us two and the dog ... oh and a lot of rabbits, which of course got chased!

Unusual growth spied on the walk.
Although late in the day, the bushes were all laced with droplets and sparkled at you as you walked past.

One of my favourite things to see in late winter ... Wattle blossoms ... to me they are a sign that spring is coming ...
One of the neighbours to the creek path.
So that's my exploration of Lower Kororoit Creek - well that section of the creek anyway - there's others!

I'll be coming back here later in the year when it's not raining so much and I'll get more pics.

But of course I have other places I must visit ... other photos to take ...