Saturday, December 31, 2011

Not really a review of the year

I just wanted to mention some favourites for the year. My favourite fiction book was The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver. My favourite non-fiction was Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell.

The exhibitions I enjoyed the most were the handmade books at Framed Gallery, in particular the work of Winsome Jobling. And Nocturne, and exhibition at Territory Craft, paintings by Sandra Kendall and glass by Natalie Jenkins. Sandra’s work had a Victorian feel, a bit Beatrix Potter but dark and atmospheric, and beautifully painted. There were heaps of other great exhibitions (not to mention the ones I never made it to) and that is one of the joys of living in Darwin amid so much creativity!

My favourite kind of night out has to be ‘off the page’, the spoken word nights organised by the NT Writer’s Centre. Coming up in 2012 will be Wordstorm combined with the national poetry festival which should be fabulous – I can’t wait.

Right now it’s very quiet, half the population of Darwin is either in Bali or down South. I’ve been enjoying a week off work – in particular pottering in the garden pulling out weeds which are rampant in the wet, and riding my bike down to the beach, I’m hoping to build up my stamina enough to pedal to work in the dry season… we’ll see!!!

Thankyou and best wishes to all the people who drop by my blog. Wishing you a creative and happy year in 2012.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

More mermaids… if you can stand it…. and something about failure

I have been meaning to post a picture of these ‘dolls’ which were also in the mermaid exhibition in November.

It was really fun to work within the same shape/template but just play with colours/fabrics and my entire repertoire of embroidery stitches! (chain stitch, back stitch, running stitch and oversew). I have already started a couple more of these – sewing just might keep me sane over the xmas hols.

For the book group I go to, we have just read the Anh Do autobiography ‘The Happiest Refugee’, it’s an entertaining, easy read – a love story, a rags to riches story, a family drama all entwined. What impressed me was his willingness to have a go at anything and to try again after failure. He writes this, about his father’s attitude to failure when he didn’t get chosen for school captain.
‘But my father treated that loss as if it were a win and it was a lesson that stayed with me for a long time. If the worst happens, if you lose and fail, but you still celebrate coming second because you’ve given it a red hot go. There is no need to fear failure.’
I could have used that advice early this year – I entered a couple of literary awards and an art award and was knocked back from them all – and got discouraged instead of celebrating the fact that I had work finished and good enough to submit.

Well, one of the positives of the year has been starting yoga classes, I’m working on a poem about it, here’s a bit of the first draft.

Going to yoga

What I get is an hour
and a half of peace,
a view out to a garden
where water trickles,
once a bird flew down and
perched on a ginger stem
as I made the tree pose.

I love the asanas with names
like eagle and warrior
the name is powerful,
and how our teacher
describes a pose as strong
instead of difficult.

When she demonstrates
I think
no way I can do that
and then I find I am
balancing one foot on the wall
the other planted on the ground
one hand resting on a block
the other reaching up –
half moon pose.

Wishing you all a relaxing xmas and a creative 2012. Hopefully I’ll be back next week with a bit of a review of the year, favourite book, best exhibition, etc.
Bye for now.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Sirens opening tonight!!

The mermaid exhibition opens tonight at DVAA, I haven't seen it in all it's glory but I hear it is jam packed!! Wonderful Nat has an exhibition of paintings in the smaller gallery and I can't wait to see those too.

I only managed to produce this canvas in time for the show.

It was supposed to be a year of tackling big canvases (bigger than 5x7"!!) - a resolution I made early on in the year, which only seems to have stalled my painting completely...

In other news I have joined a book group at my local library. The first book we had to read was The Road by Cormack McCarthy which has about 6 pages of rave reviews at the start. The writing is beautiful, but the story is incredibly bleak, I had to keep putting it aside because I was too worried about the characters! I probably wouldn't have stuck at it to the end if it wasn't for the book group. If you've read it and loved it I'd love to hear why!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Hot off the press

I've been madly chiselling all week, this lino-cut.

Which is based on this sketchbook gouache.

The mermaid theme is because I'm part of the Sirens exhibition at DVAA that opens next Friday.
The text reads -she considers joining the mermaids - it's about yearning to be something you're not; about being part of something or excluded from it. About longing for a mermaids tail while failing to notice how comfortable you are in the company of birds...

Did you catch the art show on ABC1 Tuesday night? There was a great interview with British artist Tracey Emin. I'd heard of her but couldn't have described her artwork before this!! (which involves sewing and installation work, confessional and considered provocative I think) What I loved was how passionately she talked about her work, in a way that was accessible not full of impenetrable art language! It made me feel pretty excited about art making, and sad that I'm so out of touch with what's going on out there in the world! May be you can catch it online.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

still here

Hi, I'm still here...battling computer and internet issues. Dare not even try to load a photo in case the whole lot crashes again!! I've been down a hole artwise too, not doing much except sketchbook stuff. Luckily I'm part of a group show 'Sirens' next month which has given me a kick up the pants, but not too much pressure as there are 16 artists involved! Hopefully I can post some photos soon.
Here's a poem

My neighbour
raises a cloud of dust
pedalling furiously
down the hill, his dog
galloping alongside.
Too fast for me to nod
an acknowledgement.

By co-incidence
His wife is from Yorkshire too
and has been learning to play
I have never spoken to her
except perhaps when she
(or her double)
came to my shop
and I was too shy to ask
-do you live across from the school?

You would never let such
an opportunity pass
that difference is an icy cravass
I scale daily.

Friday, September 9, 2011

some sketchbook pages

I don't have much to show for the last couple of months except a handful of sketchbook pages.

In the garden we have 9 pineapples slowly ripening, I tried a few drawings this morning (some of the leaves are bright red amazing but I think it's a sign that the soil is lacking in something!).

Also I've done a drawing of the mango tree that's thriving (touch wood) the other one we planted keeps having it's new leaves chewed off - I think by possums. I might have to try a colour drawing next time as the new leaves are a suprising gorgeous copper colour that transforms to lime green and then the familiar dark green.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Interruption to regular programme...

I seem to have lost my mojo.
Not much enthusiasm for painting or doing or making at the moment. I had great plans for a series of paintings and maybe an exhibition next year, but the wheels have fallen off that.

I need one of those test cards they used to put on BBC TV when there were no shows to broadcast.

Of course life goes on... I'm reading To Kill A Mockingbird, because my 13 year old is reading it at school and needs someone to discuss his homework with!! This is no chore, it's one of many classics I thought I'd never get around to, it's also lovely to be in a tiny book group with my son!... which is a bit of a family trait, when I talk to my mum on the phone, after we've discussed how the kids are etc, then the important question, 'what are you reading?'

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Checking in

Just checking in really, these are busy times with family visiting, a weekend away and the twins turning 9!!!

Here is a painting I've been sitting on! I finished it a month or so ago and I was really pleased with it. It was one of those paintings that happened really easily, I think all the slaving over the other ones seems to be preparation for these ones that just paint themselves. So now I've sat with it for a while and I still like it I'm ready to share. Hoping to get down to some more painting soon, now that the kids are back at school.

I hope things are going well for you and the sun is shining!!!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

sketchbook snippets

I wonder if you have been taking part in the sketchbook challenge? Or checked out their blog/website...I especially enjoy reading the artist interviews. There are some very tempting monthly prizes!!! and all you have to do is post a drawing to the sketchbook challenge flickr group each month....Having said all this, I haven't managed to enter anything for May or June and it's nearly halfway through July and still nothing posted...sometimes the weeks just get away. BUT I have been drawing, and maybe this is the best prize, to be using my sketchbook again for the fun of it, to explore and play, some pages are awful and just get painted over, some are too private to share, some are a few scrappy lines that only mean something to me! Here are a couple of samples.

Just a little aside about sunflowers! I planted some sunflower seeds because of Van Gogh, they did grow and finally flowered over the last couple of weeks. I don't know if it's the kind of seed or if it's my poor soil, but they are a tiny stunted variety, knee high not shoulder high, and the flowers are very shortlived, they barely last a week before they start to shrivel and go brown - a bit disappointing. I'd love to hear if you've had more success!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

work stress lino

Dear reader I've been neglecting you... and lots of other things in my life.

The last 2 months have been hectic because a workmate has been on leave and a lot of her responsibilities ended up on my plate, it's been incredibly busy and by the end of it quite stressful. I've been feeling like someone swimming through an underwater cave, holding my breath, knowing I'll get there if I just stay calm and keep swimming.

Now I'm back out in the air and the light I'd expected to feel relieved and happy but instead I'm exhausted and out of sorts. It's been hard to settle down to painting, but I have started a lino cut based on this gouache drawing. Chiselling a lino is very relaxing for me.

Hopefully next time I'm here things will be back on a more even keel.
best wishes to blogworld!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Garden painting

From Feb to April this year I worked my way through The Artists Way by Julia Cameron. I did it half-heartedly, not expecting to dig up any demons from the past (to explain my laziness, lack of time, lack of drive) - but also hoping for some flashes of insight into what I might do with my life.

One of the things that did come up - was that I want to do some BIG paintings, it's a really long time since I've worked on anything bigger than 12 x 12 inch in paint or lino. (since before I had kids so at least 13 years). By co-incidence Sue from one of the blogs I love to read Mouse notebook has also been dipping into the artists way and had big paintings on her list too!

A month or so ago I started on a canvas 20x20 inch - huge for me! Here are some in progress shots.

And here it is now, I think finished.

My work tends to be about whatever is going on in my life, so of course it's about gardening.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

garden news

The dry season is here with cool nights (freezing for us softies!) and sunny days. I’ve really been enjoying getting into the garden and planting some seedlings, mostly veggies, and a tiny flower garden which my daughter has been keen to have a go at. (Also in theory, the flowers should attract bees and good bugs to the garden which should help with fruiting plants like tomatoes)

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while you’ll know I’m a learner gardener with plenty of failures last year! When I dig my veggie patch it’s full of the roots of nearby palm trees – stealing all the goodness from the soil. So this year as an experiment I’ve put some plants in those polystyrene veggie boxes with good potting mix, and so far so good…I have these eggplants fruiting now, so beautiful, they are a small Asian variety. And the cherry tomatoes are flowering so I have my fingers crossed. Now I’ll have to learn some new eggplant recipes!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

I'm still here

I dropped off the poetry challenge, and off the internet for a while... over Easter the kids had the flu and we just stayed home quietly. This weekend has been more exciting with an exhibition opening the Seabreeze Festival and a craft market I had a stall at today.

The Seabreeze festival has to be one of my favourite events of the year, a series of stages along the seafront that you can stroll to or catch the free shuttle bus. By the end of the day I want to go to dance classes, join a choir, learn the bagpipes!!! It's so inspiring and a wonderful community event of local talent.

Next weekend will be the DVAA members show of ATCs, here are my Trading Cards finally finished.

Monday, April 18, 2011

pad day 16 snapshots and 17 the big picture

Here are the little linoprints I promised last week.

I have bombed out a couple of days over the weekend on the poem a day challenge, but better late than never, 3 snapshot poems for day 16

My gardening gloves
two pairs of dirty hands hang
on the washing line.

At the pet expo
the dogs were obedient
the mic misbehaved.

the kids nag
for snacks, even though
they just ate their dinner, I yell
just as two strangers
come knocking
at my

My day 17 big picture poem (which is a lot like my snapshot poems!)

Digging for victory

Digging in compost
to revive depleted soil
planting seeds of hope.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

pad day 13 - relationship


A steamy morning at the markets
we huddle in the patch of shade
under an awning, waiting to request
spring rolls and samosas.
The ladies are hot and hurry
to keep everyone happy
this one smiles and slips something extra
in the bag, does she remember me
pushing the twins in their stroller,
two buddhas for good luck
years back? Or is her kindness
for a familiar face?
One day I'll ask her name
for now, we exchange
across the counter, a few dollars
and true smiles.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

pad day 12 - a form poem

A slightly different poem than the one I posted over at poetic asides. A fib - the form is based on the fibonacci sequence.


cropped short hair
on the seat in front
on the bus
she wants

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

pad day 11 - maybe

Maybe or not

When the kids ask
to go bowling or the movies
I say maybe - we'll see,
not to fob them off
but because the future is uncertain
and in that fog it's difficult
to plan anything.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

pad day 9 - time of day


At this time of day
I am usually watching the clock
tick round to 5 and freedom.
Or sneaking off for a lie down
after too many hours of housework and kids.
Today the kids are packed off to the movies
and I am printmaking
a tiny lino-cut
woman and bird.

I do have this print to show you, maybe tomorrow I'll get chance to upload the photos, fingers crossed. Hope you've had a great weekend!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

pad day 8 - celebration

has let our pool
go green, no swimming
this wet season
celebrated this morning
by two kingfishers
swooping from the pool fence
to scoop up

Thursday, April 7, 2011

pad day 6 - Don't ......

If you just dropped by and wonder where the paintings are, it's poetry month and I'm attempting to write to the prompts at the poetic asides blog. This is my effort for day six.

Don't look down

Eating dinner at the wharf
everyone fights for the tables by the water
while we sit the next row back.
I couldn't comfortably spoon my Tom Kha
with that gap yawning at my side
I'd have to hang onto the kids wrists
so they didn't slide into the abyss.

After dinner they take their left over chips
to feed the seagulls or fish
with their Dad as escort
while I study the food on my plate
and look the other way.
I don't think I'm scared of heights
just the magnetism of that edge.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

pad day 5 - silly or serious

I completely flunked out yesterday. Today the choice was between a silly or a serious poem, I went short and silly.

My daughter came to work
and made us all shirk
our proper responsibilities,
played with sequins and paper
to make flowers that later
made our window display look pretty.

Monday, April 4, 2011

pad day 3 - a world without me

This one was like pulling teeth!!

Without me

The washing would pile up
the kids would scrabble for
school uniforms, but maybe
someone else would do one mammoth
wash a week, instead of everyday.

Without me
the dishwasher would get stacked
higgledy-piggledy and no-one would complain,
someone else would have to nag the kids
about their homework
or forget about it
the world wouldn't end.

I imagine a quiet place
a jewelled garden in a Persian miniature
a place to sit in peace,
while they sort themselves out
and then I'll come back.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

poem a day - day 2 Postcard

Greetings from Darwin

I have been turning over the veggie patch
half of it in fact, two square metres of dirt
riddled with roots from nearby palms
I could hardly get the shovel in.

A cloudy morning and the cyclone
that was flirting is still just a low
skirting the coast headed west.
I have spread the compost too
the other half still to do next weekend.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Poem a day - day 1

Just call me crazy!!
It's poetry month in America, the poetic asides blog is doing a poem a day challenge and I'm going to have a try. Here's my day one poem.

How I got here

By the power of my two legs
not fast from A to B
but allowing time for thinking
for noticing - the garden
with a cloud of cream flowers
open in the morning twisted shut
by afternoon, how I first saw
a double-barred finch flit
down to the footpath and up to the fence
I learned to look for them.
On windy mornings I long
to spread my arms out
dive into it like a wave
and ride the current.
I get to work knowing
I'm alive.

Thursday, March 24, 2011


Just dropping by to show that I'm still keeping up with the sketchbook challenge. This month's theme is 'spilling over' and eventually I came up with this -

I also did a colour version with gouache which you can see over on my flickr page.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Flower Gardens

The last couple of weeks I've been painting flowers. When I think about it lots of flowers grow her - frangipani, hibiscus, bougainvillea, just for starters. Not to mention all those gorgeous helliconias and gingers. But I haven't been painting any of them, I've been painting sunflowers (I think, they're not very realistic!) I was inspired by a lovely photo on flickr by Dalbhat - if you've never been on flickr take a look around it's vast and inspiring!!

In my Mum's garden in England I imagine the snowdrops and crocuses are up, and the daffodils soon to come. Here the seasons are all upside down - it still feels that way after 20 years. And in the tropics it's even more confusing - this is summer but it feels like winter, not because of the temperature but because of the rain. Soon will come winter that feels like summer with blue skies and sunshine everyday. We're about three quarters of the way through the wettest wet season on record. Maybe the flower paintings are just to cheer myself up mid-deluge.

I'm re-reading Barbara Kingsolver's 'Animal Vegetable Miracle', and thinking about another attempt at veggie gardening when the dry comes, maybe I'll plant some flowers too.

Monday, February 21, 2011


Everytime I say I'll be back in a day or two with something, it never happens. Once a week at best seems to be all I can manage with blog posts - sometimes blogger is so slow I start and then give up. Today it seems to be behaving so here are the sketch book pages I wanted to share.

Drawings of a tea cosy I was given for xmas, the colours are brighter even than my acrylic sketch...I think I prefer the charcoal drawing though. Being part of the sketchbook challenge is keeping me inspired to keep drawing and playing. I've also been enjoying dropping by their blog, especially the interviews with artists.

It looks like being a busy couple of weeks I seem to have a few deadlines looming, most of them are optional things but I really want to have a go, I will maybe say more as I leap through the hoops!
Best wishes to all!!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Bus blues

Here's my effort for the big tent poetry, it didn't come so easy this week!

An antidote for the blues

On Monday
someone will flip the switch
the bus driver will be smiling,
passengers will embrace
like long lost friends
the security guy and the office worker
the chef and the shoplady
will clasp hands
and meet the other's eye.

Serene as a cruise ship
we will glide in and out
of bus stops
no one will have to run
no one will be left behind
and at the terminus
a round of applause
for the driver
a brass band playing and fireworks
for a safe trip on schedule.

I'll be back in the next day or two with more sketchbook pages.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

A Few Things Poetical...

On my wanderings around the internet I came across Big Tent Poetry, a poetry site that posts a prompt on Monday, then you can post your poem inspired by the prompt on Friday and over the weekend.
This week's prompt was a wordle (I'd never heard of this - it's a group of words) you could include one or as many of the words as you like in your poem - I think I managed to use about half:-


Not exactly fearless
but determined,
gripping the handle bars
poised at the lip of the ramp
alert to other riders
timing his launch
into the flow.

His scooter is
an aluminium blade
slicing the air, down the ramp
across the flat, left foot pumping hard
to make it up the slope
get air, rotate 180

And repeat
until his shirt
is drenched with sweat
and the sky is darkening
storm clouds banking up
and we run
at the first drops.

For xmas I treated myself to a book of poetry by Adrienne Rich with essays and criticism. I think I'll be dipping into it all year, there's so much to get my teeth into! I was attracted to some of her poems I read in anthologies. I've been trying to work out what it is that hooked me, and I think it's the imagery, the way she describes things is striking and beautiful, also the feeling that there's a lot more going on in her poems, they're full of emotion which made me curious about the underlying themes or meanings - the essays are really helping with unravelling these. About being a woman, and a woman in relation to a man/men, and being a creative woman. I'll point you to - Storm Warnings, The Roof Walker, Diving Into the Wreck and Integrity, as a taster!! I think I'll be back to talk about these more another time!!...

The paintings in this post are the ones I did a week ago. Yesterday I did some monoprints which you can see on my flickr page, I also finished carving a wood-cut that's been on the go since September...hopefully I'll print that next week.

I hope you've had a productive week.
Best wishes xx

Friday, January 28, 2011

Sketchbook again

Just a quick hello, and to share a few more of the sketchbook drawings I've been doing over the xmas break. I don't do much drawing from real life - I have a friend who will sit down anywhere and find something in the scene to draw, she's a fabulous sketcher and I'm so jealous of her sketchbooks, it's something I'll try to spend a little time on this year. My drawings are usually from the imagination, but based on things I've seen or done, that stick in my brain!

In early December I wrote this in my notebook-
For some reason I just don't want to draw at the moment, I can't force myself to do it even. I don't seem to have any ideas that I'm desperate to express - it's a really strange place to be.

Thank goodness, slow days hanging out with the kids has relaxed me and let me see moments to draw, like the bird reflected in the puddle! Now the kids are back at school and I'm back at work I hope I'll beable to hang onto some of that slowness and openness. I've done a bit of painting this morning and hope to share photos of those soon.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


Do you have a subject that won't go away? Mine seems to be birds, in particular double-barred finches at the moment. Tiny little birds that I see in other people's gardens when I'm out walking. Recently I did see a pair very briefly in my garden and it felt like a gift or a blessing! I did a painting of them a couple of months ago.

By co-incidence I picked up a back copy of the journal Meanjin at a 2nd hand book shop and there's a poem about double-barred finches in it, by Martin Langford. (unfortunately I can't find a link to the poem) I've been working on my own poem in response and some sketchbook pages that I'm using as the design for a lino-cut.

This is my poem in progress so far - I'll be taking it away for reworking in a couple of weeks.


You might only see them as a movement
from the corner of your eye
you have to look in the right way, focus
on something small, like a thimble.

Pale faced with a dark bonnet
common, from the Kimberley's
to Groote Eylandt, from Darwin's suburbs
to Sydney's, an ornithologist might not
look twice.

I've seen them on neglected nature strips
taking off in a wave at my approach.
Today at the backdoor, I looked to
where the palm tree was cut down, now
perfectly overgrown.

There a pair of finches flit and perch
make the long grass bow, peck a seed
and flit again to the chain link fence
and go.

Saturday, January 8, 2011


Lucky me I'm still off work for another week. I've been doing some sketchbook drawing, trying to be playful and open-ended!!I've had time to be exploring other blogs, which is a treat, and via the lovely blog Stitchworks, I discovered the sketchbook challenge, the challenge of one themed sketchbook page per month sounds like something I can manage...we'll see...

I've done some not very successful monoprints - the paint was too thick I think - but I cut up and collaged this journal page.

Here's the story behind it.
Last Sunday we went to the local markets to grab some lunch, the day after New Year's Day, there were not many stalls and not much food left by the time we got there. The kids really wanted a fruit milkshake so I joined the queue. The milkshake lady was on her own, maybe her helpers were on holiday or didn't turn up. It was hot and the queue was slow moving, she was determined, dogged.
By the time we got to the front of the queue there was no ice-cream or milk left, she made a banana mango drink with water and ice and honey, I said 'that will be beautiful' and it was. The kids were as happy with it as they would have been with a shake, it was cool and fruity and refreshing. She could have packed up her stall and gone home, I guess that's why I wanted to make a piece of work about her.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Haiku New Year

At midnight fireworks explode
dogs bark then settle
geese pass honking overhead.

Around the dinner table
kids ride their scooters
outside rain is still falling.

Happy coincidence!! a few days ago I rediscovered Watermark a poetry blog by Sharon Brogan. It used to be on my favourites list, but got lost in one of the computer crashes of 2010! She is welcoming in the new year with haiku and anyone can contribute via comments at watermark blog.

As promised here's a random snapshot from one of my walks. Where rapid creek meets the sea, storm clouds are brewing.