Sunday, 26 June 2011

light + new york + weaving

Winter light + hipstamatic seems to give the house a lovely soft glow.

Congratulations New York! This is an important win for many reasons even if I personally have views about marriage more aligned with Elizabeth Gilbert's. But it's all about choices and having them. So yay NY!

On a totally different note have you seen the promo for IOU Project's fair trade for weavers? How fantastic is that?

Sunday, 19 June 2011

two places

work in progress
work in progress
work in progress

A new series of woodblock prints is in the planning stages. These pics are snippets from my drawings. I'm a little bit excited about them but the proof (as every printmaker knows) will be in the printing. I'll be using some of that gorgeous shina ply I had shipped over from Japan via woodlike matsumura.

On other creative matters have you heard the debut album from seeker lover keeper (aka Sarah Blasko, Holly Throsby & Sally Seltmann)? I especially love this song. I've even put it on my blog side bar - see the ipod widget. Three amazingly talented Australian musicians! Sadly, I will miss all four of their performances in Melbourne next month as I'll be in Arnhem Land on the weavers trip. Some say escaping Melbourne winter for a bit of northern territory warmth is a good thing at this time of year. But this is one time I'd really like to be in both places at once!

Friday, 10 June 2011

do we value art + design?

hand printed tea towel

Challenging times we live in. Those of us who value art and design, that is.

I recently read this story about a glass studio at Monash University (in Melbourne) having to close. I hear it's an expensive course to run. And that may well be true. But hear me out as I have a few thoughts to share. If universities keep closing specialist courses like this one where will our next generation of artists, makers and designers go to learn about their chosen fields? Sure, there are ways to learn an art or design process outside of the walls of universities. I'm not suggesting that it's the only way someone can learn to paint, weave, design computer games, or blow glass, for example. What I struggle with though, is the idea that universities are on a roll with the idea that art and design courses are too specialist in nature and too expensive to run. Small, niche fine art courses are closing in many universities. The unspoken seems to be that they're not valued for what they can offer. If art and design programs are not valued in universities, what does that say about what we view as important in education? And what does it say about our society more generally? Do we value art and design? Do we want our world to be without art and design? Can we even imagine how that would look or feel or be like?

I've been thinking about these questions for weeks (you can blame the PhD) and was even more intrigued when I saw that the UK is about to open it's first ever super-private, US-style ivy league university - the New College of the Humanities. Yep, that's right, for a very big price tag (about $AUD 27 000 per year) you will be able to study with some of the finest philosophers and thinkers at this new university. Astonishingly, this has happened because public funding to the arts and humanities has deteriorated so badly in recent times that the folk behind this venture felt the need to rescue these disciplines from the deathbed of education. There are huge equity implications for such an education venture and the media has been full of articles questioning the direction this new university has chosen to go in (see the UK Guardian for more stories).

So this is where my mind is going - will university fine art and design courses be forced to go in this direction too? That is, set themselves up in private (read very expensive) universities because publicly funded universities keep cutting costs and courses in these areas? Is that even possible? It will be a sad day indeed if art and design courses are siphoned off into mega-expensive private universities only for the rich to enjoy.

What do you think? Let's hope it doesn't come to that.

Friday, 3 June 2011

tea circle in two

tea circle
tea circle in blue

Tea Circle is finally available in print form. And in two colours. It's taken me a while to get around to transforming this sumi ink illustration into prints. So here they are. I also have a green version but am still not happy with the colour so I might just leave it at two.

Thanks for those lovely comments about my botanical sketches [last post]. I'll gradually keep adding to them and may post an update to the digital album once I have more completed. I love drawing plant life. The lines and shades and tones and squiggles and swirls all add to up to some crazy nature activity. Fascinating stuff.

Am deep in reading for the PhD. I'm loving it but the more I read the more I find to read. Still it's a luxury and I'm conscious of it and thankful for it every day. I might be deluded but am hoping not to give up reading fiction over the next three years. So many people have said that it's impossible to keep reading fiction while doing a [non-fiction related] PhD. That would feel like cutting off an arm to me. So I'll keep reading fiction at night and see how far I go. Am reading Siri Hustvedt's The Blindfold at the moment. Very intriguing.