Sunday, May 13, 2018


 One of my favourites from "Another Facebook" (with found text ) that I'm working on. 

Saturday, April 21, 2018

2018 Libris Awards

I had some good news recently when my little book "A Prayer in Hell" made the short list for the 2018 Libris Awards : Australian Artists' Book Prize which takes place in Mackay Artspace 26 May 2018.

I was lucky enough to make the last Libris two years ago, (seems like yesterday) and was able to go and see the books in Mackay. It was a stunning show and I'm sure this year will be similar.

I was stoked to make the short list again and excited to be included in the company of some of the best book artists in Australia. I'll post a few images to give you some idea of the little book that went to Mackay which I hope you will enjoy. It is so hard to appreciate the book unless you can physically hold and see it but Mackay is a long way for most of us so here's a taste.

The book is in the format of a palm leaf prayer book used mainly in Asia. Wooden slats are also often used, I saw a Tibetan one and decided it suited my book perfectly. I did start off with a dirty, blood-soaked piece of rag holding only one end so that the book fanned out to reveal the double-sided "pages".

Later, I realised that having both ends fastened like a Venetian blind worked well. The subject behind the book was raising awareness of the awful plight of our refugees and the way our country treats them. The pages include references and quotations from the Nauru Files published recently by the Guardian newspaper and snippets from an Islamic prayer book.

The book fits snuggly into its coffin-like slip-case and is quite small and intimate. It could easily be part of someone's hand-held personal luggage. 

The pages also contain medical dressings which become cleaner and more minimal as the pages progress to a more hopeful climax.

The slip-case and book are designed to be displayed together. 
My artist statement explains my intentions:

"I make artist books that examine social and political anxieties. “A Prayer in Hell” is informed by concerns of the treatment of asylum seekers. It is small, recycled, portable and intimate like the few personal belongings of the refugees.

Recycled timber slats recall the pages of a palm leaf prayer book familiar to the asylum seekers in Australia’s off-shore detention centres. This book is for the hundreds of men, women and children who were held for lengthy periods on Nauru and Manus Island.
The text and other collaged personal detritus gradually change from bloody, damaged and dirty materials and text, to cleaner less damaged ones, suggesting the possibility of hope and healing in the future. The work suggests the shameful quality of life and conditions in these centres. Hopefully, these broken refugees will be settled here in Australia to build a better life in safety and dignity."

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

what is this?

A little while ago I read an interesting book "A Field Guide to Getting Lost" by Rebecca Solnit and made some notes to come back to for an artist book later (perhaps). 
I  also revisited Michael Leunig's "Holy Fool" and was delighted by some of his thoughts on creativity and the need to lose it sometimes. I was in the process of making a small book for my friend in Finland and was reminded of what I too think is so important in my creative endeavours. Bring out the pomegranate ink and search for the B&W photos.
Once we concentrate on the difference between 'not finding one's way' and 'losing oneself in a city' we can achieve a practice of awareness. Leunig talks about "how not to know" and "how not to care", "to follow the messy path of unexpected regression" and achieve a state when "ego and ambition have sufficiently crumbled."
Solnit says it as "it's ok to sometimes experience not knowing what to do next -to run into a barrier." Or "it's ok to realise that life has a mysterious quality to it... an element of uncertainty. This is what drives my creative practice and helps me make new work. It is this collaborating with chance that provides the spark. 

Here's a final quotation from Michael Leunig that I think really nails it:
"getting lost in regression and solitude, a subliterate, semi-delirious way in the depths of one's being for a while- there to invent one's art freely and there to find enchantment, infinite surprise and the bright wonderous question - 
"What is this?"

Thursday, March 1, 2018

black & white

a lonely banana weeping

With so much beautiful colour surrounding us, why do we always return to the simplicity and drama of black and white or white and black? I started this series of drawings a few years ago when a colleague gave me a lovely diary to play with. I found it again while tidying up and resumed my mainly white drawings. 

Must tidy up more often.


drawing "fings"

I started by preparing the paper in the A5 landscape diary with black gesso using a foam roller and paper mask. This matt black surface is great to draw on with white ink or gouache using a nib or stick or home-made tool. Some of the lines are very fine so you may need to enlarge the images to see them properly.

I took this particular book with me travelling making drawings at night back in the hotel. I continue working at home too but don't usually finish the whole series. I find that allowing some time between makes it easier to explore new ground.
leaf "fings"

Friday, February 23, 2018

a great match

Another little zine to share while the work on larger work is developing (also called procrastination). I will let you know if the "serious" works make the short list.

This zine uses images and collage of scraps of paper from an old exercise book of my mother's school days which I was using for another book that didn't make it. The writing was in pomegranate ink I made from a recipe online. It has a walnut colour which looks ancient and works well on the old paper. 

 As usual, if you are interested I can send you a jpg to print or post you a real copy by mail if you send your details.

Found text allows you to frame your imagination and make your own stories.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

A New Year

The first blog for 2018 and hopefully another creative and fun-filled year. I hope my regular followers stick with me for my ride and share some of their thoughts again as usual. I know I should have chosen a dog for the Chinese but ended up with a pig (an earth pig)for 2019 instead. I'm a year early. The pig is the last of the animals in the Chinese zodiac and then we go back to the beginning again. 
I have been working on some other artist books for various exhibitions but they are still works in progress. I will blog about these as they are completed.
I always like to make a few light-hearted zines to get my imagination back to the right side of the brain (or is it left?). The images for this one came from my mother's old cookery book, a Japanese comic, old newspaper ads, a ration ticket, maps, tickets and stamps amongst other things. You need to make your own connections. As usual, if you are interested I can send you a jpg to print or post you a real copy by mail if you send your details.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017


The image is a digital manipulation of  flowers of the New South Wales Christmas Bush I have in my garden. This year they have been at their best. Here's hoping we all have a very healthy creative 2018.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

back to books

After a little 3D diversion, I am back on track trying to catch up on my book a month project I set myself at the start of the year. This will be my 10th book (which includes a couple of zines I posted recently). I started this book ages ago after a trip to Japan and discovered it when tidying up, with lots of work to do before being able to say "finished".
We had been in Japan during their autumn to see the changing colours of the leaves. We were not disappointed but the beauty was too much for me to try to use in my books. So "red leaves" is not about the leaves, but the experience of getting to see the leaves. 

The mixed media images use :
acrylic paint, gesso, wax pigment,stamped letters collage from maps, white ink, chinagraph pencil and linseed oil on Kraft paper. The very fine spider web like lines were made with a Japanese Pilot,  Hi-Tec-C 0.25 .

Friday, November 3, 2017

for a change - "fings"

I have been trying to tidy my life a little of late so have to make use of a lot of bits of wood and things I have been saving or else throw them away. But after saving something for many years how can you just tip it out? So I've had a little detour from my artist book and drawing activities to make some little sculptures for my grandchildren. 
This little "teacup of exploding bean juice" is Hannah's description of one she has chosen as her own. What a gorgeous word picture! It's made from a piece of Macadamia branch from a tree in my garden which I've been saving for 15 years in case I needed it . The beautiful Madagascar beans are from last years crop in my garden and the bright coloured plastic cord from my whipper-snipper. I've added a small piece of dull grey lead flashing to contrast with the bright colours and striking grain of the timber.
This next one was for my other granddaughter but she hasn't had a chance to name or describe it yet.
My grandson Thomas chose this one. A happy little spiral shell head with a belt holding in a split split tummy. He also needs to give me his ideas of what name/description or personality his little sculpture suggests.

The smaller ones are only 7-8cms tall and the tallest (a piano key) about 20cms. The other tall ones are also parts of an old piano I found years ago. The lead and felt provide a great contrast with the other materials and add to the whimsical character of these tiny maquettes.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

A married woman

Another page from the 8 page zine is revealed.  As before, each page allows you to play about with ideas that suggest themselves when you see the image and text.I wonder what the Japanese manga girls are saying to young Florence Nightingale? Another blogger has joined the small group of bloggers taking up my offer of a free download to make their own book. If you wish to try please let me know and I will send it to you.

Sunday, October 22, 2017


"Hatman" is featured on the next page of my tiny 8 page zine. Each page has a different idea starter for you to play with. What do you think about when you see this image and text? What is that on his head? Where is he and what are those laser-like light streaks? My thoughts give me a sore head too! Only had one satisfied blogger take up my offer of a free downloaded image to make into a book. It worked well so if you want to give it a try please let me know. I don't even need to spend money on postage although I am quite happy to send you an original signed and numbered zine instead.

Friday, October 6, 2017

new zine

If you enjoy very small books that tease your mind this may be of interest to you. This little 8 page zine of found images and text has been put together so that each page is a separate narrative for you to unravel. There are no correct answers or solutions and you are encouraged to use your imagination. Maybe even make your own and bounce it back to me on line. 
If you would like a copy leave a comment and an email (above right) and I can send you the whole book to print on an A4 sheet and assemble yourself. Too easy!

Friday, August 25, 2017

POST/CARD disruption

After making a special card for a friend, I just kept going. Just a couple of post cards while the bookmaking has a wee spell. It is a while since making some for a book "Yesterday" and even earlier as Travel = Postcards  about 4 years ago.
I think we might be entering a new Post-Card era now that the digital mode is taking over (for most but not all!) My poor disrupted post man or is it Post/man. 
This one is an infra red version of the much more colourful original. Amazing how the mood changes.

The collaged bits were arranged on an old photo of graffiti on a rusty wall. Might make a few more to post online if not in the mail, even though they have none of the feel and intimacy of holding one in you hand.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

my confused vegetables

It has been so warm this winter in Queensland that most of my vegetables are quite confused. Spring onions are usually my summer crop as well as my Asian Greens but I've planted early this year. This has thrown the rhythm  of my normal day and I am spending so long in the glorious sunshine tending my crops that some days I don't even get into my studio. Consequently, my book a month is behind schedule but maybe I can catch up during the rest of the year.

My red bok choi, is spectacular and tasty too. The backlit leaf makes the veins stand out and reminds me of the Mekong delta from the air. I love planting and eating my Asian Greens as they and the food they make remind me so fondly of travelling in Viet Nam, Japan and Malaysia. Now that the garden is pumping I can get back to my normal practice of working in my studio every day as well.

Meanwhile I have started on a little book "roadtalk" with photos I took ages ago and always wanted to use but the photos got lost amongst my other source material until the other day. It's intriguing how suddenly a familiar footpath or roadside get written on with a spraycan with strange code. It must be a bit like the Beat instructions or signs to their homeless mates about conditions of a nearby squat or the presence of the police. Signs and codes also used by artists like Basquiat in their own work. At this stage I am editing and reprinting some photos in B&W as well to use later.

Friday, June 16, 2017

a road less travelled

"A road less travelled"with be my 6th for the year so I'm still on target for my "one a month". I made this little codex book  for my daughter Katie for her 40th birthday and it refers in an abstract way to various aspects of her life so far. Most of her work has been in education with Australian indigenous children and the images and stains and waxes refer to this with a bird's eye perspective. 

The images were made from graphite rubbings of a didactic plinth for a sculpture of Pastor Sir Douglas and Lady Gladys Nicholls in Parliament gardens in Melbourne. These images on ordinary photocopy paper from our hotel  were then stained and waxed with turmeric, xanthorrhoea resin and bees wax when I returned back to my studio to seal in my drawn mixed media images.
The tracing paper interleaving to stop the waxy pages sticking together, has been pierced and torn to look both forward to the next or back to the last page and get little glimpses of the future or past.
The title refers to the way Katie's life is a little different to that of most of her friends and peers.

Friday, May 12, 2017

for Carina

While I am working on a new project for completion in month 5, I've also been busy reworking an artist proof from a small edition of 5 of "Counting" I made recently. I've called this one "Who is Counting?" 
In case my project takes longer than I hope, this will be book 5 of this years work for "one a month". This copy is for my friend Carina in Finland.
By looking back at the original "Counting" , you can see that as well as a new cover , the pages have acquired some translucent overlays with additional drawings.

As you can guess, there are also some changes to the page underneath the new liftable flap which will remain a mystery to all except Carina. I am seriously thinking of using this process for more of my copies in an edition so that they are all similar but also individual and different.


I think there may be a name for this sort of varied edition. Please let me know what it is .