Saturday, 19 June 2010

2010 Scarf Festival

Well the secret is out…..last night I went to the National Wool Museum in Geelong to the launch of the 2010 Scarf Festival. Now in its 4th year this year's theme is 'transformations', which embodies the notion that all materials (plant, animal or synthetic), raw and/or existing, can be changed in form, appearance, nature or character to produce a new object - in this instance, a scarf.

I have been involved from the beginning in that each year I always make a ‘special’ scarf (or 2 or 3) that I enter just to keep my creative juices flowing – for of course when I make these special one off scarves they invariably take quite a long time to design and piece together and are not something I could viably make on a repetitive basis.

This year for the first time – I won a prize. Best 100% wool scarf. Entitled ‘Circles’ my work is inspired by the colours of the reclaimed materials found in my travels. Circles is about the journey that these materials take before they are upcycled into a new garment. Red represents my creative life; the tonal shades of red from the different jumpers used, remind me how day by day my desires to create are supported by the circle of my craft circle of life.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Paper Dolls

  I have always LOVED paper dolls. When I was little I remember cutting them out and folding the tabs just right – so I could change the outfits over and they wouldn’t fall off. I was never really a doll person (that was more my sisters love – she was right into Barbie there for a while – but I really just liked the plastic wardrobe with the little drawers, a mirror and the tiny coat hangers).

I have a few paper doll books now that I have collected over the years. I have done one or two with Kitty – but most of them I feel like they are too ‘good’ to cut (isn’t that funny….) and so we just get them out every now and then and look at the pictures.

Apparently paper dolls have been around as long as there has been paper. Faces or other objects were applied to the paper and they were used during religious rituals and ceremonies in Asian cultures many centuries ago.

In Europe, particularly France, the first paper dolls were made during the mid 1700s. The paper was jointed and they were called pantins meaning dancing or jumping jack puppet. They were intended to entertain adults and spread throughout high society. They were drawn or painted like people with fashions for each doll. These were more similar to contemporary Western paper dolls.

When I was looking for various paper doll images to go with this entry I found the most fantastic website of Betsy McCall paper dolls from 1951 to 1961 all scanned from the originals and ready for you to download, cut and play. How fantastic! I got totally engrossed in looking through all the different ones – they are just so gorgeous and I really loved them all. Next time you have a spare afternoon on a wet and rainy – indoor activity kind of day – I can highly recommend a visit with Betsy McCall – she’ll keep you entertained for hours!

Monday, 7 June 2010

Outré Gallery

I worked in the city for years – Melbourne City that is, and part of my average week (the part I particularly enjoyed) was to pay a visit to various shops, cafes and galleries that I liked during my lunch break.

I am always interested in what is new, different and cutting edge. Not necessarily to buy mind you – but I always love to ‘have a look’. I think this is how the mind of artist, designer type people work….visually we take it all in and then eventually we settle on something and out comes our idea – pop! Anyway I digress……

It must be at least 10 years ago now – when on Elizabeth Street in the city – amongst a variety of pretty well non-descript shops – Outré Gallery (pronounced ‘oo-trey’) opened its doors. French for out of the ordinary and unusual – Outré Gallery was an instant success in that it bought ‘fun’ to art and specialized in showcasing contemporary international pop, lowbrow, pop surrealism, street, tiki, modern folk, retro with a twist and underground art. They dig art that crosses over with design, pop and counter culture. Gotta love that – I certainly do!

Over the years I have had a number of very special gifts given to me from Outré – my favourite is a signed and numbered limited edition framed print called Hexagram by Andrew Brandou. Our wedding gift to each other - my husband Sam and I used the image as the basis for our Winter solstice wedding – featuring elements of it on our invitations, place settings and thank you cards. Andrew Brandou says of the piece - ‘I try to use something like the hexagram pretty specifically, as not to violate anyone’s sensibilities, while at the same time tweaking it to fit the theme of the work. In the painting “hexagram” for instance, the animals carry the symbols of the tarot, march under the evergreen, and have laid the hexagram to symbolically represent themselves reclaiming their space in nature, acting as agents of change.’

Next up would have to be the King and Queen Salt and Pepper shakers given to me by Sam for Christmas. Designed and made by Gus McLaren. Gus and Betty McLaren together made a legendary body of work which represented the mid-century folk warmth of Australia in the 50s and 60s.  In the wake of Gus's passing last year, Betty continued to produce these classic pieces of Australian pottery from the original molds. Lucky me!

And last but certainly not least is the Tree Show Micro-Portfolio by Mark Ryden which is the most gorgeous set of 15 postcards of paintings from The Tree Show.

Just some of my favourite things……..keep up the good work Outré!