Sunday 19 August 2018

A day off in Winter

Well, this post has been in draft form for a few weeks now, owing to ongoing, boring issues involving my laptop (which doesn't work as well as it used to), my newish ipad (which I can't get to do everything I'd hoped it would) and finally the library computer. I was almost going to abandon it, with all the other unfinished drafts(!!!) but decided that it might still be on interest. So...

I had been working really hard over the past couple of weeks and so, despite several impending deadlines, I decided to give myself a day off on Sunday and took the train to Swan Hill - on the Murray River, which is the border between Victoria and New South Wales.
Sunday is the only day you can get there and back by train from central Victoria, or indeed from Melbourne. (From Melbourne it would be a considerably longer day!) A mid afternoon train from Swan Hill to Melbourne is scheduled on Sundays only - presumably to take all the Swan Hill locals back to work or study after spending the weekend at home.
Because it’s quite a long country trip the train is one of the really comfortable ones with a buffet car if you need it. On a mid-Winder Sunday, it was also confortable empty, with plenty of room to spread out. I really enjoy travelling by train - sitting watching the the changing landscape, the small towns and farms, the flat land and silos dotted around northern Victoria. I had knitting and music and found it very fulfilling and relaxing 'slow' time.
If you were travelling with small children, they may be enjoy the simple pleasure of watching the farm animals along the way. Because you’re higher up than when travelling in a car and the train passes only a few times a day, there was a lovely view of cattle and sheep along the line, some grazing contently, others dashing in fright from the passing train. I saw quite a few calves and was highly amused by gamboling lambs. Now I really know what gamboling means - a joyous kicking up of both front and then back legs, a bit like a bucking horse.
I discovered that you can’t actually get to Swan Hill using a Myki travel card; you need a paper ticket. Fortunately the conductor was friendly and helpful, touching my Myki off after Eaglehawk (just past Bendigo) and selling me the required paper ticket. Also fortunately I had enough cash!
I arrived at Swan Hill at about 12.30 and enjoyed a twenty minute walk along the river to the Swan Hill Regional Art Gallery - my actual destination. Before going in I stopped at Spoons Riverside restaurant, just next door on the river, for lunch.  It’s really quite nice, with a big bright indoor space with full length glass all around and plenty of outdoor seating, all overlooking the Murray. The menu is fresh, with a focus on local produce.  They didn’t have the delicious terrine I had last time, so I opted for a chicken pie, one of the just-baked second batch for the day. It was on the small side, but tasty.
If you felt inclined and were more organised than I was there are lots of tables and seating along the riverside.  I saw quite a few people, caravanners mostly, enjoying their sandwiches in the sunshine, watching the river go by. There's also a lot playground equipment and free exercise machines along the river

Later in the afternoon, I got adventurous and crossed the very rickety-looking bridge to the other side for a very quick visit to New South Wales. I thought I was pretty brave. Signs indicated that only one large vehicle was allowed on at any time. (What's a large vehicle?!) The centre part of the old bridge lifts up to allow large boats to pass...or, at least it did once. There was also a sign saying that no more than six people at any time should be on the footpath part of the lift section. 

So, the real reason of my journey was to see the Swan Hill Print and Drawing Acquisitive Awards. I caught it on the final day, in fact.  It was well worth the trip. There was a terrific range of works. 
The winning drawing was Jan Davis’s quite minimalist Georgica #25, 2017, ink and stitching on Nepalese paper. (below)

The winning print was a lovely quiet book by Elizabth Banfield, from Loftia Park, 2017, linocut prints and stitching on kozo paper.
Interestingly the two winning works are similar in many ways - the use of colour, stitching and light handmade paper. Elizabeth's work was one of two artists books, both inspired by bushfires. The other, by Dianne Fogwell, was also a wonderful book 
Besides her prize-winning drawing, Jan Davis also had a print in the exhibition,which I liked very much.

Another work that I really enjoyed was one of the two video works in the show. Todd Fuller's Billy's Swan is a very beautiful and moving stop motion video created using hundreds of chalk and charcoal drawings based upon a dream sequence from the 2000 film Billy Elliott.  The drawings are bookended by footage of Fuller himself dancing the sequence.
I caught the exhibition on its last day and unfortunately couldn't get a catalogue as they were sold out...which is a good thing (although not for me).

Fuller's work can still be seen at Bendigo Art Gallery, as it is a finalist in the Paul Guest Drawing Prize. I would recommend a trip to Bendigo to see this too, especially as you can also see Myuran Sukumaran: Another Day in Paradise, curated by Ben Quilty and Michael Dagostino.

Below is an installation shot of part of the Swan Hill exhibition.

After spending  some more time wandering along the river I returned  to the station, admiring the giant Murray Cod, before catching the train back home. It had been a really lovely day!

Monday 5 February 2018

Something different - print and knitting come together

I've been thinking for a while about having a go at printing linocuts onto fabric. My first attempt brings together two of my interests - printmaking and knitting. I have cut quite a few plates of knitted textures over the past few years and so decided to print some onto calico to make some knitting bags. This was largely prompted by the fact that I've begun the journey into the Artists Market thing and feel the need to have a diversity of products.   I used some fabric ink that I've had for a very long time, from when I had a Print Gocco kit many years ago. It seems to have worked okay. I've ironed them to set the ink and all seems well, although clearly they need some more ironing!)

Friday 25 August 2017

Working with what I have

I know I'm not the only one who has days sometimes when nothing works, I have no ideas and I feel like I should just give up trying to be an artist.  Last Friday was one of those - just terrible! (It didn't help that I was trying to print in greens. That, I think I should give up on!)
At least I have other creative interests and after giving up for the day I could do some knitting!

I have had a couple of much more positive days in the studio in the last week and also have to remind myself that part of the issue at the moment is that I'm working under the self-imposed restriction of working with what I have. As a printmaker who doesn't often work on a large scale I have lots of small pieces of 'leftover' paper and this year (being somewhat financially challenged!) I am attempting to use up what I have.

Also, I suppose part of the problem at the moment is that I have been working on a body of work that will hopefully have several  groups of outcomes - a series of square format prints in different (smallish) sizes, some larger works that will be pieced from yet smaller squares and a series of small artist books. So currently I have a lot of work in progress, but at times have difficulty in seeing how I will get to a finished state with much of it.
So these are some of the pieces that hopefully will eventually be part of something!

And trying out some possibilities for a pieced work in blues...

or this

(Most days) I have enjoyed experimenting with colour and layering forms both natural and manmade, using stencils on a gelatin plate, working with cardboard collagraph plates, and finally overprinting some with linocut text - fragments of Leonard Cohen lyrics/poetry.
Still a way to go!

Saturday 15 July 2017

Workshop with Lorna Crane

This time last week I was deep into a very stimulating workshop with artist Lorna Crane from Pambula.
It was part of the FibreArts Australia forum held at Ballarat Grammar - almost of week of art-making and mixing will lovely like-minded people. It was excellent!
Lorna is primarily a painter, but her speciality is that she makes her own brushes from a range of found and natural materials.  The brushes are themselves works of art, but are also the means for some very expressive, gestural mark-making.

So these are some of the brushes I made....

 and these are some of the first marks...

After a bit of messing about with the ink and the various brushes, we began to make some books...
working on different types of found papers and fabric, which we were then encourages to tear up and use to collage.  It was all very liberating experimental.  A bit like a good way!

There was also some stitching (as this was a fibre foum).

Most days I went for a late afternoon walk around Lake Wendouree, which was very close and much bigger and more beautiful than I'd realised.

Sunday 7 May 2017

Work in Progress - and some finished!

I have been working!
I've been enjoying experimenting with collagraphs and gelatin printing, layering and experimenting with colour.

The main collagraph plate I've been using recently - a bit steam-punk!

Building up layers - gelatin prints and collagraph.

Recently got to the point of finishing some small  (18 x 18 cm) works off - with some linocut text for an exhibition with a 30 x 30 cm size limit.  The size they will be when framed.
Still a bit Leonard Cohen obsessed!

For Leonard 1

For Leonard 2

For Leonard 3

For Leonard 4

Wednesday 3 February 2016

Too late for a quick look back !!

Oh my goodness, I started writing this post as a quick look at the last few months of 2015 as the year was finishing!
But now it's long gone!
I was just going to touch upon some of the highlights of the last two or three months of the year.
I'm going to have to give up on that and just mention a couple of things here now, then start off 2016 with a new post about current things.
Forgive me.

During 2015, my first full year of living in central Victoria I was very happy to become part of the Goldfields Printmakers group. More information about the group can be found here.
James Pasakos, from Federation University, Ballarat, attended  IMPACT9 - the international biennial printmaking, held in 2015 in Hangzhou, China, from 18 to 21 September. There he presented a folio of prints by members of the group referencing the history of the Chinese prospectors in the region during the gold rush of the later 19th century.
For my research I visited Bendigo's Golden Dragon Museum and Chinese Garden. I was very impressed by the huge collection of artefacts, objects and installations.  I could have stayed much longer than the time I'd allowed! I'll have to get back there.

I've always been attracted to ginger jars, so used one on each print, combined with
calligraphy on the first taken from the inner wall of the garden.
Well-known Beijing poet and calligrapher Ke Wen Hui arrived in Australia for a family visit in 1998. Upon viewing the Golden Dragon Museum he was impressed by the Chinese heritage in Bendigo, and composed several poems, painting them on the walls.
The given translation of the poem I used is:
'In deep thinking, visitors will go home with cranes nestled in their sleeves. Behold the beauty and prosperity of the Garden. Surrounded by the tranquility of this environment, you will only think reflective thoughts.'
The other image on the second print is a detail from an embroidered garment.
(Somewhat dodgy images, sorry.)

My last post was just before a small solo exhibition I had in October/November at 69 Smith Street gallery, a small artist-run gallery in Collingwood (an inner suburb of Melbourne). The gallery is a double-storey shopfront with multiple spaces. It's nice to exhibit there because there are always several other solo or group shows there at the same time and so you get quite a good audience.  I had a small space upstairs and showed prints from four different bodies of work.  The last year or so has been a time of trying to work out where I'm going.

At the opening, with a couple of works from the series With these hands - self portrait.

I have made quite a lot of work relating to knitting and other needlecrafts over the years.
The works in the image above continue that theme.

There were a couple of recent works from the ongoing series, A Taxonomy of (Art) Cats and new works messing about with still life elements and layering.
This one is more recent; getting a bit braver with colour!

I'm really enjoying working on this series, being very playful and experimental with colour.
I'll post some more images quite soon.

Friday 16 October 2015

Simple Things

I've been very busy making work for various exhibitions and frequently forget to take photos of works in progress. But i have a small solo exhibition opening next week and so post this quickly here and hopefully may get back at more length very soon.

With these hands - Self-portrait 2 2015

Simple things - Linocuts
69 Smith Street Gallery

69 Smith Street, FITZROY 3065
Opening - Friday 23 October, 6 - 8 pm
21 October - 8 November 2015

Wed – Sat 11am – 5pm, Sun 12pm – 5pm

Penny Peckham works primarily as a printmaker, and with a background in Art History, much of the work she produces relates to her areas of research, particularly art by or relating to women. This exhibition includes linocut prints from several series.  The newest, which gives its title to the exhibition, is an exploration of simple still life elements. There are two works from the series  A Taxonomy of (Art)Cats,  prints of cats taken from various of Art Historical sources, and organized into playful scientific classifications, and the With these hands (self portrait) works are part of an ongoing series of long standing.