Design Play: Exercise 9 – Line studies

I’m jumping around with the exercises in the book and missing some out as I’ve done similar things multiple times in the past.

The goal: To explore the power of a line and the nature of a line versus a dot or shape.

Start Point:
I recently posted a comment on someone’s blog about kick-starting inspiration.
It’s a good reminder that I should just create whatever I want, whenever I want and however I want.  So, as I sat with my favourite-era books (1950s fabric designs) and reference material I was also reminded of RemPods – something I’ve researched and written about previously:

RemPods, or Pop-up Reminiscence Pods are the brainchild of Richard Ernest who presented his idea to the UK Dragons’ Den programme and received some substantial backing.  A RemPod is a room setting that can be erected in a care home/nursing home for those who suffer with dementia. They form a therapeutic and calming setting, often built with vintage items which remind the patients of a bygone era which gives them a sense of security and familiarity.

In 2015 I designed my own RemPod and created a collagraph plate and printed it in multiple colourways.  I was very much at the beginning of my printmaking journey so they aren’t great, but the idea still attracts me.  Click here to see them.

This week, as I sat mulling, my eyes fell on my (large) stash of beads – couple those with my vintage pattern books and RemPods and I was quickly visualising old-style beaded curtains; those tinkling  lengths of threaded beads, swaying in the breeze and separating kitchen from living area.




I drew something in this vein in 2014 when I was first looking at repeat patterns, wallpapers and fabric designs.

Fishing it out, I found that it perfectly represents an abstract idea of hanging lengths of beads.

I redrew it, etched it onto a solar plate and started printing.


The prints were then hand coloured, using Inktense pencils, cut, backed and laminated to create a set of bookmarks.  I’m now happily giving them to all my friends.

And all that from a little inadvertent inspiration from Michael Richards blog.
Thanks, Michael!

Check out some fabulous RemPods at

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2018 12 10 Image of the week

The Art Gallery of NSW is hosting an exhibition of works from the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg.

This postcard depicts The Bay of Naples by Albert Marquet (France 1875-1947) painted in 1909, oil on canvas, size 62 x 80.3 cm.  One of the pieces I particularly enjoy in this superb exhibition.

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Design Play: Exercise 3 – Creating a design

The goal: Take line drawings and create a workable design to print.

After my initial drawings of irises and grevillea (very loosely translated) a couple of weeks ago I spent a few minutes messing around with floral bouquets and was reminded of one of the drawings I did in my ‘Elian and his world of fantasy’ series, to the left.  Always loved this, especially the fronds made from bones.

Never one for realism, and always enjoying shapes and patterns, I had fun messing about with a new range of ‘unreal’ plants and flower heads.

Above: giant vase with flowers on a rocky outcrop overlooking a river.  Yeah, I know, strange – but I like it.

I spent a while finessing my sketch before transferring it to acetate and etching it onto a solar plate, ready to print next week.

Interesting fault in the solar plate to the right of the reversed image.  It’ll be interesting to see how that prints.  Hopefully I’ll get some texture in the background.

My friends remarked that my square flowers remind them of either circuit boards or fly swatters!  Love the idea of circuit boards, definitely something to keep in mind.

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2018 12 03: Image of the week

I’ve created a new blog category where each week I’ll be recording my favourite image from the last 7 days.

Flow magazine, issue 26, Page 32. Illustrator: Libby VanderPloeg

See more of her work here.
I particularly enjoy her depictions of people.

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Japan and paper

Having recently returned from 2 1/2 weeks in Japan and unpacked my purchases I have time to reflect on what I brought home.

Having said our farewells to everyone on our tour, my husband and I stayed a night in Tokyo and I just had time to skip from one paper supplier to another and gather a few special pieces to add to my collection.

Patterned washi paper, ranging from traditional designs to more contemporary patterns.  My choices will work well for book-making.  They are robust enough for exterior coverings (over box-board) but also lightweight enough for fly leaves.  About 90gsm I estimate.

This amazing sheet of plant fibre paper has flecks of gold leaf embedded here and there.  It’s very delicate and I have no plans for it but I couldn’t just walk past and leave it on the shelf!

These sheets, whilst looking quite plain, have a dense crinkly pattern across the surface.  Thicker than my other purchases, I’d estimate them at maybe 150gsm.

These stunning papers came in packs of 50, around 50gsm I’d say.  Can’t read a word on the packaging and no numbers I can identify.  They are embossed with delicate designs and some have tiny flecks of gold embedded.  Again, no plans for these but far too lovely to leave behind.

I’d like to have bought more but time was limited. shops were overheated and overcrowded and I had to think of transporting paper in hand luggage without damaging it, seeing as my suitcase was already packed, locked and ready to go.

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Exhibition Review – un:Seen

I recently visited the un:Seen exhibition with a friend and we came away with very different views on what we had seen.  It got me thinking about what I expect from exhibitions and what I take away from them.  Obviously I view things very differently from her, as our opinions were so opposed; so should the exhibiting artist(s) consider the viewer when creating works for public display and, possibly, commercial sale?

Jeffrey Smart, Bus Terminus, 1973

Visiting a solo-artist exhibition gives the viewer some expectation regarding content.
Most people will have an interest in that particular artist; their style, their stories and their method of interpretation, before venturing to a solo exhibition.

I recall discovering Jeffrey Smart and being drawn to the quiet, uncluttered, flat style of his paintings.  Nowadays I always search for his work in major galleries and I get the same buzz from each piece I see.  But I know others who scoff at this artist.  However, I own a tomb-stone sized book recording much of his life story and works and I take pleasure in turning the pages and following the progression of his work over many years.

But what about exhibitions where many artists come together with their own interpretation of a theme and exhibit together?  un:Seen falls into this category and, as textile artists, this creates a varied visual array.

The very theme itself ‘un:Seen‘ has one considering words such as: hidden, underground, covert.  In fact, the thesaurus gives us:




Not exactly a range of positive connotations.  So the viewer can, and should, expect some works depicting confronting and disturbing messages.

Personally, when visiting exhibitions, I scan the room and choose the pieces I would like a closer look at.  This idea was taught during my art studies courses and works well to avoid examining every piece in detail and coming away overwhelmed and without an appreciation of particular pieces.

I explore the visual aspect, then I read the artist statement when I’m satisfied with what I’ve seen.  Then I decide what to take away from the experience.

Brenda LivermoreCommon Ground
54 Vessels – Mulberry paper, paper string, paper casting, fringing

Artist statement (in part):
The imprint of memory on the landscape.
A shared experience over time.
Oral storytelling.
Many individual stories forming a whole history.
The essence of lives forever part of the landscape.

The artist has clearly indicated what she is interpreting in art and I both respect and understand that but the viewer will always arrive with their own background and baggage and may well take away something different from that intended by the artist.

That’s what I love about exhibitions.  No matter what is displayed it will never be seen in the same light by multiple viewers.  They will all enjoy, dislike, dismiss, engage in their own unique way – myself included.

Back to my original question: should the exhibiting artist(s) consider the viewer when creating works for public display and, possibly, commercial sale?
My view is a resounding NO.  An artist can never produce work that satisfies the vagaries of every person who should chance upon it.

Below are a few noteworthy pieces from the un:Seen exhibition with a summary of their artist’s statements, but first a range of their on-line advertising and postcards.  Each of the 20 artists had one of their pieces used for the publicity campaign.


Mandy McAlisterCore Memory
Purpose made circuit boards, beads, threads and fabric, hand and machine stitching

Artist statement:
Magnetic core memory, used in early computers, was the forerunner to modern semi-conductor memory.
These memory holding zones are unseen in our device controlled lives.  The memories essential to our core being are held in interlaced zones.
Strong, faded, fragmented, secret and shared memories of place, family, emotions and action exist in the seen and unseen.


Samantha TannousRamifications
Merino fibre, wet felted

Artist statement (in part):
A graphic score in response to the composition Ramifications written by Gyorgy Ligeti in 1968.
The graduation of warm colour and varying sizes of the ridges reflects the subtle tonal differences, the unique pulsing rhythms created and the tension between the players as they attempt to re-tune each to the other.


Katherine KachorChildren Who Come unto Me Suffer
Mulberry paper, fabric, rosary beads, perspex, collage, machine stitching

Artist statement (in part):
Numbers of people have used institutions as a front to camouflage their real identity and intentions towards children.
In this work sexual misconduct by the clergy is addressed.
Hiding in the shadow of the cross assuming the name of a Good Man, these individuals conduct their evil with impunity.  Protected by their status, remaining unseen, they prey on children of all ages.



Click here to see a review of other pieces in this exhibition posted on behalf of Primrose Paper Arts Inc.

Resources: and Untethered facebook page

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Etching: Hobbiton

Sepia & a touch of black + 40% translucent on 250gsm Dutch etching paper

Sepia & a touch of black, with slight blue highlight in the sky + 40% translucent on 250gsm cream Stonehenge

Sepia & a touch of black, with slight blue highlight in the water + 40% translucent on 250gsm Dutch etching paper

Great results!

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