Saturday, 22 April 2017

Musica Viva Family Day 21 April 2017

On Friday 21 April 2017 I had the good fortune of running a Paint a Piano session for Reverse Garbage at the Musica Viva Festival Family Day. It was located at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. The Musica Viva staff and volunteers were a joy to work with and the Conservatorium Staff were wonderful.

Preparation at  Themes and Variations with Ara and Nyree Vartoukian and a team of Musica Viva volunteers.

As is often the case when working with children all design concepts went out the window as they embraced the activity.

At the end of the day when all the kids were tucked up in bed  Ara Vartoukian from Themes and Variations sneaks in for a quick play on the pianos.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Back to the drawing board

Elements from Haemoglobal -  work in progress. February 2017

1-6,  pencil and marker on paper 13.5cm x 28cm







Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Another year bites the dust.

Another year flies by.

My year long residency at Reverse Garbage has come to an end. It has been a great year and now I am look forward to the new year.

December is a bit manic for many people. I am usually pretty chilled about the holiday season but this year I am playing catch up as I had surgery in early November and have been recuperating. I can't lift anything for 6 weeks. This is a sculptor's worst nightmare. So I am busying myself making some gifts and attempting to sort out the mess in my studio.

Doodling with polymer clay

I find January a difficult time as I often feel at a loose end.  Fortunately I will have a bit of work facilitating workshops at Reverse Garbage so that will keep me out of trouble. Teach kids about sustainability while helping them develop construction techniques is rewarding.

I always think twice before binning anything.  The Ninja Monkey and I made our Christmas Tree with items out of the recycle bin.

Here it is! Made from a cardboard box, old magazines, toilet rolls, a pizza box, a soda bottle, patty pans, skewers and some decorations we made from salt dough. The tree folds flat and can be recycled again. 

Monday, 29 August 2016

Reverse Garbage-Artist is Residence

The  last eight months have been busy busy busy. I am currently Artist in Residence at Reverse Garbage. I have been working with the amazing staff at Reverse Garbage to return a shipping container to it's former glory as a gallery space. Half of the container is now studio space for the Artist Residency.

One of the difficulties of forging a career as a visual artist is finding gallery space to exhibit work. With some galleries taking +40% commission and high production and exhibition costs, it is hardly surprising that many artists opt for more secure employment. 

This residency is allowing me space to work and to exhibit.

One project I have been working on is "The 1000 Year Garden". It was inspired by 'Bloomin Rubbish', a pop up recycling project originally devised by Deidre Nelson and Frances Priest in association with Cove Park, Scotland.

You can see lovely examples of the project here on Frances Priest's website.

"The 1000 Year Garden" is made entirely of plastic.  It is a work in progress with new plantings every few weeks.

Why call it The 1000 Year Garden? Plastic can take 500-1000 years to decompose. The garden has been getting quite a bit of attention from visitors. It always makes me smile to see people taking photographs. I hope they are inspired to create a garden at home or at work.

Recently the garden has become part of the warehouse tour  for school groups attending workshops at Reverse Garbage. The students love to touch the blooms and always have lots of questions.

Who or What is Reverse Garbage I hear you say:
Reverse Garbage is committed to diverting resources from landfill – each year we accept approximately 35,000 cubic metres or 100 football fields of items which may otherwise end up in the bin.Reverse Garbage was established in 1974 by a group of teachers who were determined to help  the environment by diverting industrial discards from landfill and by reusing materials in their classrooms.40 years later, Reverse Garbage is now an internationally recognised, award-winning environmental co-operative committed to promoting sustainability through the reuse of resources available at its Marrickville warehouse, as well as providing support to other community, creative and educational organisations. This support is often in the form of donated materials, service-in-kind or small financial sponsorship.
The Crew at Reverse Garbage are a wonderful group of people dedicated to sustainability. The warehouse is a cornucopia of reuse materials.


When I am not in the studio or wrangling the Ninja Monkey I work as a casual workshop facilitator at Reverse Garbage. This has been a great opportunity for me to put my teaching experience to good use and to focus on my passion for sustainability education. I have also been able to use my curriculum and syllabus design experience thanks to Reverse Garbage Education Coordinator, Rachel Rothwell.

Kinetic Creations -holiday workshop

Alien Invasion - holiday workshop
Big Box City- primary school workshop
Bespoke high school workshop
        NO GLUE
Shelter Shelter - primary school workshop

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

No, I am really back.

Landing back in Sydney has been tough.  After swanning around Europe for a year I have found it hard to get back into the swing of things.  In fact I have been questioning "the swing of things".

I can safely confess the last six months has been pretty miserable for me but things are starting to improve.  My Solo Exhibition "Stone Circles" opened at Gaffa Gallery in Sydney on Thursday the 3rd of September 2015 and ran until the 14th of September. Liz McCrystal, Co-Curatorial Manager at Gaffa was wonderful and so easy to work with. The Gaffa staff are super efficient and organised.

Liz McCrystal is also an artist so understands both sides of the relationship. Here is the link to her website ELIZABETH MCCRYSTAL.

Sardinha, Tanya Ljubic, 2014, block ink on paper.

I am surrounded by amazing Artists with children. They get how difficult it can be to balance the needs of the creative mind and the needs of a child.  The Ninja Monkey is now eight years old.  He is more independent and able to contribute to  domestic operations but is also less compliant and more argumentative. This is not a negative, though it can feel like it at times. He is learning to navigate life with out a chaperone.

I find myself looking for role models. I haven't had to look to far. Sydney's Inner West is home to many such role models and I have had the pleasure of working with some of them and made the acquaintance of others.

Robyn Chiles and Angela Hutchings are both artists and mothers. They run Drawn to Seeing a fantastic programme run during school holidays.  Robyn is also the current Chairperson of WAVA the Wilkins Association of Visual Arts.   WAVA  have lead the way in bringing great art projects to the Wilkins Public School.

Liza Hölzl  is also a talented and dynamic artist with kids. Liza  juggles her art practice with teaching and running workshops at the Bakehouse Studio.

Working alone can be tricky. I really enjoy the quiet time to think and reflect but I miss the interaction with other artists when in a group setting. Sometimes the mental fatigue brought about by Ninja negotiations renders me capable only of drinking coffee and doodling on the ipad.

So I start seeking artist residencies again.  This year has slipped by quickly.  What I have finally accepted is that as an artist and a sole trader it is important to have a plan.

I'll just pop the kettle on and get back to you later about my plan.....

Thursday, 8 January 2015

I'm Back!!!

After 11 months abroad I have made it back to Sydney. 

2014 was a great year for me. I met so many inspirational people and saw so many interesting things. A huge thanks  to  Karine Argile and the team at  Can Serrat in Spain.  Carolien van der Laan &Ludger van der Eerden, at Foundation OBRAS Portugal.

At both these residencies I had the time and space to work. I started off slowly in Can Serrat. Chilling out and enjoying the company and conversation of fellow residents. I learned some printmaking techniques from the wonderful  Toni Mosley and started working in 2D again. I also discovered the wonders of Catalan food and wine.

At Foundation OBRAS Carolien and Ludger created a warm and welcoming environment for my family and me. I was very productive and enjoyed my time in the studio while the Ninja Monkey and his dad made use of the pool and explored the local area.
Granada, Spain 2014

In Ireland and the UK we stayed in Airbnb properties. If you haven't tried Airbnb you should. We stayed in 13 Airbnb properties in 2014. While in Ireland & the UK we finally had access to good strong tea!! Fueled by my favourite beverage (yes I drink a lot of tea) I did a lot of block printing and sketching.

Two months in Croatia visiting family and taking advantage of the warm waters of the Adriatic allowed time to explore aspects of folk culture and its place in a post communist society. In Ireland and Croatia I began to steer back to my original path tying contemporary cultural identity to traditional needlework techniques.

In late October I had to purchase another large suitcase to carry my new collection of old linen and new works. 2 months in Seattle USA began with Halloween. The Ninja Monkey was so excited and had been talking about it for months. He was not disappointed. Thanksgiving followed a month later and then Christmas. This was a great time for us. I had a break from my art practice. Instead we embraced family life with our dear friends.

Another large suitcase was purchased in late December to carry the Christmas Lego haul. Then on January 1st 2015 we arrived back in Sydney.

So what is install for 2015? Lots of studio work, a solo exhibition in September and who knows? Can't wait to find out.


Saturday, 11 October 2014


roughly translated as "wall advice"

While visiting the Ethnographic Museum in Zagreb I saw an exhibition curated by Irena Kolbas 
"Vic o Plavuši" (A Joke about a Blonde). The exhibition addresses gender stereotypes.

It was an interesting exhibition.  In the wider contemporary art scene perhaps not a show stopper but well conceived and curated. Croatia is in so many ways a forward thinking dynamic place, but gender stereotypes abound. 

What grabbed my attention was a display of Zidnjaca. These are embroidered tea towel sized pieces displaying domestic scenes with "appropriate" aphorisms. 

These little gems of sexist wisdom could be found all over the country. They are now found in museums and in the hands of collectors of kitsch.  I just had to have one.

This one is from Northern Croatia and roughly translates..  
"A meal cheerfully prepared will be praised by hubby." 

I must admit to loving the literal translation 
"Dining cooked all in jest, but the hubby that it praises."

I can think of a few alternatives for my own kitchen. 

"A meal cheerfully prepared is called a mud pie."

"A fun meal to prepare is toast."

" I'll cook if you wash up."