Saturday, February 09, 2019

i'm going back to weaving!

when i went back to the magical randbøldal on wednesday evening, it was like coming home. and i wondered how it was i stayed away so long...sometimes we have to lose ourselves for awhile to find ourselves. i'm going to make a long runner for the kitchen. and it doesn't matter how long it takes.

Sunday, February 03, 2019

kom med mig... / come with me...

my friend christina and i have been planning an exhibition together for over a year. and by planning, i mean we made a pinterest board in january of 2018. we've put it off a couple of times because life and mostly work got in the way and we didn't manage to create anything worth exhibiting, but on saturday, we redeemed ourselves and held an opening - with snacks and drinks and everything! and i have to say that i'm really proud of what we made.

back in october, we had a getaway on the island of samsø, where christina's sister has a lovely summer house. while we were there, i made sewed up this little paper feathery dress that had been rolling around in my head for ages. once i allowed it to come out, it came out very quickly and i had it made in under an hour or so. i had painted abstract atoms on the newspaper and cut out the feathers in advance, so it was just a matter of coming up with a design and sewing it all together. when we were first hanging the works, i didn't think it was going to work as part of the exhibition, but was very happy that we found a way to show it as well.

the centerpiece was this mannequin with a spectacular headpiece/bird mask (more about that below), encircled by long banners of different scenes painted on old book pages and sewn together on the sewing machines in long garlands of 7 pages each. the book was chosen randomly from my collection of old books that i was saving to violate.  it was the right size and the pages were quite thick, decent paper and there were illustrations, so i cut it up and painted a whole lot of abstract atom-like shapes on one side using payne's grey ink. those abstracts are my attempt to try to break out of my fear of placing brush to paper and of making mistakes and being a bit more wild. it's surprisingly hard for me to do that. but after painting a 100 or so pages, i felt a bit more free.

christina then got to work painting her speciality - birds and bits of birds - on the other side of the pages - sticking to a limited palette of payne's grey, bordeaux and yellow, with small accents of a more true red and some black. the book turned out to be biblical illustrations and a retelling of the old testament from 1923. though the book was chosen rather haphazardly and without thought for the subject matter, the pages began to speak to us - causing painted wings to seem like they belonged to angels, rather than birds, and provoking christina to paint a few scenes with breasts.  i painted quite a lot of birds and feathers as well. and a whole lot of small boats came out here and there. i found myself surprised by what ended up on the page when i gave myself over to the process and let it flow.

we knew we didn't want to hang the works on the walls, but have it be more of an installation. we painted ourselves a payne's grey forest on sheets of plastic that's normally used under insulation in building a house. the way the light comes through it looks pretty amazing and we hung it in two rows so that it felt like you had to step into the forest to enter the world of the exhibition. we did one tree in bordeaux, which was one of the other colors we had in our limited palette. the limited color palette helped our individual styles come together and harmonize, despite the differences in the way we paint and the lines we put down on paper.

i spent hours cutting out paper feathers for this mask and enlisted husband's help in forming the headpiece itself - which is a beak. it was originally a mask in our minds, but ended more as a kind of hat. the creative process sometimes takes you in surprising directions. naturally, when husband got involved, he wanted to use wood (i had been thinking paper or maybe papier mache). he used a big hunk of wood and started off what ended up as an absolutely exquisite piece, by whittling down the log with a chainsaw. i wish i'd filmed that.

he also was the one to place the paper feathers i had cut out, taking ownership of the piece and finishing it absolutely spectacularly. it really was the crowning glory of the exhibition, bringing together our vision, which started with this video by thievery corporation. we loved the uncanny feeling of it - the way it was repulsive, yet attractive and fascinating. we wanted our bird woman to be the same, tho' she ended up not at all repulsive, but strong and assured, eclipsing our birdman, who was painted flatly on one of the sheets of plastic. she was the star of the show and although she is beautiful, she is also rather uncanny.

i found a dress for her in a second-hand shop - it had flowers that matched our payne's grey, with a kind of white slip underneath. once we had the headpiece on, the dress was the wrong pattern and took away from the beautiful headpiece, so we stripped her down to the slip and it was absolutely perfect.

at the opening, people could walk in among the works, looking closely at the details on the pages. people noticed things we hadn't even noticed ourselves. like wings on pages that spoke of angels and breasts on a page that talked about the lord's heaven. we had many wonderful discussions with people - about the creative process, about the biblical pages, about the payne's grey, about sewing on paper. it was such a pleasure to share the work and to see how it was received and to once again be reminded that ideas are always better when they are in dialogue with other people's ideas. our work became richer and deeper, even to us, when we shared it with others.

this little boat was another thing that's been in my head for some time and which just had to come out during this creative process. the paper is some very thin but strong chinese paper that we used to make  seaweed prints on the beach during that weekend on samsø back in october. i fashioned the small boat out of fine wire and just glued the paper in place. The boats are light and airy and looked just gorgeous in the window against the blue sky when i took the pictures today.

i'm really proud of this work and this collaboration. we had a few prints done up of some of the best of the small paintings we did on the book pages and there are a few leftover from the opening. i put them in my big cartel shop here, if you're interested in having a look. they're signed and numbered and will only be available in a limited edition of ten of each.

where did january go?

goodness, i let january get away from me without writing here. i blame the cold/flu from hell that just wouldn't go away. i finally started to get healthy around the third week of january, just in time to start a new job. as you can see below, i did collect a few links for this post and it has been open here in my browser since the beginning of the month. i really don't ever shut down my computer i guess is the lesson we can learn from that. i made the airy little boat above for an exhibition that i'm doing with a friend. i'll tell you more about that and show more pictures in the next post. i just have to get this one posted so i can clear the deck for that. i hope your january flew by too. it's the darkest, dreariest month, so it's good that's over.

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maybe it's good for you to hold a grudge.

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love dave barry's year-end round-up.

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these memed captions for medieval paintings cracked me up.

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the truth about that stupid wall.

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this made me laugh, even tho' i quite like marie kondo and her tidying up.

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concentrating in a digital world. advice i could definitely use.
but it's a bit harder to follow.

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so, about that 10-year challenge...

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art that makes you slow down and think by david opdyke.

Friday, December 07, 2018

layers of history

while in istanbul a few weeks ago, i visited the ayasofya. it must be one of the most magnificent human made structures in the world. built by justinian starting in 532, it has stood stoically through regimes and wars and earthquakes and fires, shifting religions and rises and falls of empires. it remains, implacable, its scars visible, but none able to mar its beauty.

the layers of its history are there to be seen - mosaics of kings and saints side by side with enormous quotes from the quran in arabic. tiles on the floor that saw the coronation of emperors and sultans. stone staircases worn smooth by the feet that trod on them for millennia.

we got in at the very end of the day, so there weren't many people. it was quiet and monumental. and in the quiet it felt like if you listened hard enough, you could hear the whispers of the stories that vast, ancient place had seen - the multitude of voices which had passed through, the games played, palace intrigues conducted, prayers said, speeches and sermons proclaimed. all of those stories whispering from the walls. i wanted to hide in some corner and stay after closing, to hear them all...

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i'm so sad - andrei bitov is dead. 
i wrote my master's thesis on pushkin house and
had i finished my Ph.D., i would have written on his work.
but 81 is no bad age. my dad nearly made it there as well.
and today he would have been 85.

Thursday, December 06, 2018

the body knows

i've been sick all week. fever. headache. ringing ears. persistent cough. it's that time of year, but also surely my body saying "enough!" i haven't been that happy at work of late. my wonderful boss left. what's left of our department has been tossed to and fro across the organization, used as pawns in political game-playing, for more than a year now. we've landed with a manager we were told was interim, but who is looking more and more permanent and who hasn't, shall we say...settled into the role as of yet. even tho' it's been six months. good colleagues are fleeing. there's too much work and too little appreciation. and come january, there is micromanagement on the horizon. and i think that my body took a look at all of this and said, "you need some rest honey. you need to snuggle under the covers with netflix and a kitten and get some rest. you need to stop worrying about things you can't change or control and get right in yourself. and if it takes giving you a temperature of 39.6 for two days, followed by slowly ramping down to almost normal as of today, then so be it young lady." my body still thinks i'm a young lady, you see. and my body knows me and what i need. but it also knows that i don't listen to it very well, so this time, it took extreme measures, and i listened. and i'm starting to feel better.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

making my way through the fog

we have the most beautiful, long, strangely warmish autumn this year. since my dear bloggy and real life friend, cyndy, died, i've found myself consciously paying more attention to the beauty of the world around me and stopping to appreciate it. i've been pulling the car over and carrying a real camera with me again, rather than only relying on my iPhone (tho' that camera is pretty good these days).  the other day, the camera actually had a hard time finding focus in the fog, but i liked the shot anyway. it kind of conveys my life of late - the path ahead is a bit foggy and uncertain. things are a bit in turmoil at work, with multiple reorgs over the past year that have bounced our department all over the organisation, landing it finally in a strange place where it doesn't really fit. it's draining. i'm a person who can tolerate a high level of uncertainty, but being tossed all over the organization and not really feeling as if all the work you do is particularly appreciated takes its toll after more than a year. so, i've been feeling a bit like i'm not sure what's next. do you wait for things to get better or do you seize other opportunities? i'm doing a little bit of both at the moment. the actual work i do is wonderful and engaging and i get to work with some amazing photographers and filmmakers and tell great stories and that's been keeping me going. i've also been seizing every opportunity i can of late to travel and it helps to be away from the cramped, dark space we've been been banished to in another building since just after the summer holiday. i've really come to realize how important your workspace is to your satisfaction at work. and how important it is to have enough space around you and not feel like the desks are all crammed together. we've very crowded now and when people are on the phone, it's completely impossible to get any work done. i find myself dreading going to the office these days and i never felt that way before. your surroundings just matter so much. and so, i travel all i can. this week, it's berlin and istanbul. and i can't wait!

Thursday, October 25, 2018

venice for the first time

sparkles in the water. sunshine. a winding maze of streets. earthy tones, laundry on lines hanging overhead. gondolas. glass. coffee. pasta. buffalo mozzarella. bacalao. art, architecture. canals. dead ends. did i mention the sunshine?

venice is spellbinding in its beauty. it's been there so long, you feel it resting in itself, rather oblivious to the hordes of tourists. and yet still overrun by them. there's no escape really. i myself was acutely aware of the excess noise my suitcase made as i wheeled through the ancient pavement towards my hotel. i wanted to be quieter, more gentle than that. to step lightly, and i did, after stowing my bag at the hotel.

once again, i had that sense of awe in the face of the first time. this was it - my one and only first time visiting venice. i may go back, but that will be with this experience under my belt. i'll never see it again as a venice virgin. i'll never feel the duality of the weight and the lightness of that experience again in exactly the same way. and i did my best to be conscious of it. to look around, observe, enjoy, savor, bask. there is so much beauty, so much history, so much awesome coffee. i tried to just take it all in and just BE in it, no filtering, and no processing, just enjoying. i think that for a change, i was able to do that.

and on that cloudless autumn day, venice must have been at her very best and it made me feel that i was too.  what an amazing experience it was.