Saturday, November 17, 2018

Assembling the Unassembled

When I start a mixed media assemblage piece, I usually start with a rough sketch with just enough information so that I don't lose the idea, because sometimes it takes me a while to get around to actually making it. Here is the sketch for my latest piece: "Artemisia's Chest #2"

I then start assembling all the pieces I need to make the piece - a combination of found objects and sculpted parts, usually. I play around with these bits and pieces before committing to the final arrangement.

It is then a process of permanently joining all the parts together into a cohesive whole. Usually, because there is a great disparity between the materials, I use layers of colour to harmonize everything and make it look like it all actually belongs together!

 In this piece, I sculpted one foot, two hands and a head. I made a stiffened felt conical hat and everything else was found: empty silkworm cocoons, fabrics, driftwood, rusted, flattened hose wrapping, a tiny jar, snake bones, a pulley, a box and some plywood.........a whole bunch of very discrete things pulled together into a cohesive whole. I have been fascinated by some of the interesting feedback I have had about this piece - some see it as a statement about lost childhood, which is something that had not entered my mind! Mostly, I work fairly intuitively when I'm making something like this.....I like meaning to be hinted at, but not spelled out. After all, those looking at it have to do SOME work!
The doors are hinged, so the cam be closed.

Friday, November 2, 2018

A New Doll

This as-yet nameless doll is nearing completion...........just a few more details to be added over the weekend. She's quite small - around 14" with jointed hips and knees (so she can sit without her legs stick straight out!) I'm planning to make a chair for her. She has loosely attached arms, so they can be placed in any pose and her fingers are wired. There is a lot of blue/green in the painting of her face and this colour has been repeated in the clothing, which is made from a really fine cotton knit fabric which I over-dyed by spraying stains onto the surface through some old lace in a fairly random way. Her hair is made from hand-knotted Suri alpaca - a beautiful lustrous, long new favourite!

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

The Ancestor Project

Some years ago, my late husband and I spent an extended time in England and Europe, touching base with our roots, to some extent. During that time we stayed with my aunt in England (Gwen) and my aunt in Germany (Annelotte).........I discovered that both aunts had photographs of my grandparents that had all been taken at around the same time: ca 1917. I made quick little sketches in my travel sketchbook of all four of them for no particular purpose other than that I felt some connection to them. At the time the pictures were taken, they were 18, 17, 16 and 13 years old.

Time rolls on, loved ones die and one starts to think a bit more about mortality and the transience of our time here on earth and where we come from........hence the birth of The Ancestor Project. I resurrected  the little pencil portraits (I have to say, they are all good likenesses) to try and do something a little more permanent with them. I enlarged and transferred them onto silk organza and mounted them onto canvas using a special acrylic medium that encases them and preserves them forever. Here are the first two "Ancestor" pieces.: the first is 20" x 20" and the diptych is two small canvases - 6" x 6".

There is some acrylic overpainting on both and red stitching on the larger piece.

You'll notice that my English grandfather, Bertram Johnston, is wearing a British soldiers' uniform and my German grandfather, Heinrich Klatt, is wearing a German Red Cross uniform (he had a club foot and couldn't serve as a regular soldier) They were on opposite sides at the Battle of the Somme and I sometimes fantasize about them meeting behind the battle lines. Didn't happen, of course, but I often wonder what would have transpired if they had. I think they were both pacifists and hated war and would probably have got along quite well!

My English grandmother, Gladys Barnes (far left in the larger piece) was only thirteen at this time. The story goes that just before this picture was taken, she'd cut off her long hair and had got into a lot of trouble! Rosa Mohr was my German grandmother - apparently she had a very sunny disposition. I never got to meet my German grandparents, but when we were growing up, they used to send fabulously exotic Christmas parcels to us that were stitched into linen covers that had to be unpicked.....all sorts of exotic aromas were released when the box finally disgorged its contents.....cigars, marzipan, dark chocolate.......just the thought of those scents evokes feelings of great nostalgia.

There may be more to come in this series.....I have a few ideas fomenting. 

Sunday, October 21, 2018

It's Spring!

Winter is something of a time of torpor for me.......I tend to stay close to the fire and be a bit inward looking. Which might go some way to explaining why I haven't posted here since April! It's not as if we even get particularly severe winters here - in Tasmania, the coldest state in Australia. Our winters are mild by North American or European standards. No snow to speak of, a few frosts, some rain but also lots of sunny days, but still I like to huddle up inside in winter.

Spring has arrived quickly and greenly this year - things are burgeoning in the garden and I feel more inclined to look outwards. Longer days, warm sunshine and life feels good.

But my winter days by the fire do produce a fair bit of artwork, so here is a sampling from the last few months.

A sweet red-haired girl in a smocked dress and winter woollies:

An Izannah Walker-style doll in clothing trimmed with feather stitch and crochet:




And a doll made to Deanna Hogan's "Verity" pattern. I called her "Patience" because she waited ten years to be made! I also made her a little wooden chair to be patient on.

 And that was about it for winter projects, apart from a few more jobs around the house which you can read about on my home reno blog at  

I've started working on some new things now and I promise to blog about them very soon! 

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Simple Pleasure

While I enjoy the challenge of stretching my doll-making abilities into areas of innovation and experimentation, I sometimes also love the pleasure of making something quite simple. The recent work I made for an exhibition stretched me a bit technically so these little dolls were a bit of an antidote......and what fun I had making them!

Very simple constructed in basically two pieces (front and back), they are softly stuffed and I used a bit of basic needle-sculpting to define the neck and the arms. The mask faces are glued onto the front of the head and a few extra details added. This one is Kiki:

......and this one is Coco:



Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Upcoming Exhibition

I'm participating in a group exhibition in Adelaide, South Australia later this month entitled "THE DOLL REDEFINED" I think there are around thirty participating artists, so the work should be interesting and varied. It's at Gallery 1855 in Tea Tree Gully, opening on the 15th April at 2.00 pm.
As a native of Adelaide, I'm excited to be showing my work there and looking forward to the opening. Here are a some of the works I'm showing..........


Thursday, March 15, 2018

New Work

I must apologize for not posting more often.........getting this house and garden licked into shape takes a lot of my time! At the moment I'm repairing and painting the roof while the weather remains warm and fine. I have broken the back of it - should be done in a week or so if the weather stays dry. You can read about it on my other blog:    

Meanwhile, I AM working on my artwork - I'll have work in an exhibition in Adelaide next month - I'm busy completing the pieces so I can send them next week. The exhibition is called "The Doll Redefined" - should be an interesting diversity of work!

Here is a selection of work I've completed recently:

Mr Foxx Out Strolling - jointed cloth with a sculpted cloth-covered head. Painted and embroidered.

"Cirque Des Enfants" No 8 in a series.

"Transmutation - Mor-Rioghain"

"Spiritus Loci 2" w.i.p.

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