six months in a nutshell
Bit chilly on the gills - good dump of snow on the mountain.
Winter is a good time to reflect - here's a summary of summer:
It was the summer that kept on giving. It was long and it was hot. We took the van on it's swan song summer rendevous, to the top of the south, the top of the north and to Aotea Island. Magic moments melting in hazy heat. Upside was warmth, parties, mates, water holes, laughter, ice-blocks, oceans, hot pools and funny kids. Flipside was sweaty butt cracks, crash starts, flapping tarps, roadside sobs and tick bite itches. But time smooths quibbles and memory blurs like bonfires blaze. It was a summer for living and loving, lushness and luck.
In January I travelled to Napier for the PCANZ (Print Council Aotearoa New Zealand) Summer School. Our tutor was Dianne Fogwell from Australia, who focused on relief printing for the three day workshop. Generous with her knowledge and very thorough with all technical aspects of planning and execution, Dianne offered us a lot to learn. I came away with little to show - one carved matrix and lots of notes - but armed with skills, techniques and tricks of practice that will keep on giving. Cheers to all who make it happen and to the print studio at EIT for having us.
In late 2015 I was invited to participate in a 100 Day project by local artist Lisa Walsh. The outcome would be 10 artists, 100 days, 1000 artworks at the old Scout Hall in Waverley as part of Whanganui Artists Open Studios 2016. I took on the challenge, so from November to March I was worked on making etchings everyday. The plates were thin aluminum and I played around with a few themes using different drawing tools - an old engraver, fork, pen, fingernail - before settling on the dremel for a series of reproductions of 17th century engravings. These evolved into The Menagerie - An Alphabet Book', a 27 page handmade book with etchings, hand stamping and lettering. During the project I also made some new multi plate works (Storm in a Teacup and Sugar Loaf Islands), a series of botanical works (iris, hibiscus and poppies) and a pair of hand shadow portraits. Apart from getting RSI from the scribe vibration, the experience was a good one for being disciplined and absorbed in the task, aided by the continuity, the counting and the drawing/biting/inking/proofing/doing of it all. But I was pleased when it was all over too.
Due to an exhibition of Frida Kahlo's photographs at Te Manawa Museum in Palmerston North I've been printing many Fridas for the gallery shop. The show is a deep, intimate view into the life a strong and spirited woman.
I've been printing Lovely Nature on plywood. My Luchadore + San Pedro has made it onto the label of some seriously addictive hazelnut and chipotle chilli brittle at Baron Hasslehoffs. I covered a plaster of paris skull with etchings of natives and curled ropes for the Skulltopia event in New Plymouth last weekend and featured two works in the NZ Art Show in Wellington.
,I'm gearing up for the Taranaki Arts Trail next weekend - 10, 11 & 12 June. Opening my studio to the public is both exciting and invasive. I'm setting up a gallery area on the reception side and am planning on doing some demonstrations of print techniques. All welcome - 38 Leciester street, Patea. Opposite the Four Square.
A few weeks ago we went and stayed at the Sisters Of Compassion up the river at Hiruharama. An annual pilgrimage. I am going to go back for many days alone to work on a project that I feel has scope and depth. Something about and for and after Mere and Hemi.
The last five days have been fraught with my dear Grandad in hospital with pneumonia. He is a remarkable man whom I love very much. It is his 93rd birthday on Friday.
And harvest comes and the leaves yellow and fall and here we are. Here and now.
six month report
It's been a whirlwind. A flurry of cyclonic hemispheric emprise. Seasons come and go, ebb and flow.
In July I turned 40, celebrated in true bacchanalian form with a customary Patea Ho-Down. Beloved revellers from around the country congregated for a three-day sensory feast. While the home-fires were burning, I swam through pools of liquid love. Sensational performances by Orchestra of Spheres, Boss Christ and random jam-gems had me screaming like a lunatic, rendering me voice-less for three days. An epic way to kick off my fifth decade.
In August we travelled to Europe in a big plane with 500 strangers. Jetlag was cunningly avoided by fermented grape juice, deep fried fishes and other welcoming rituals on arrival in London. And, so began five weeks of goodness.
I saw Patti Smith play in Berlin. My self-adopted god-mother of poetry, clarity of spirit and depth of love, she performed Horses, forty years since conception - I wept and soared. We traipsed over 20kms a day on foot, soaking up the art and pain of walls and halls, sweating it all out again in the heat.
One night in Paris, sleeping in a room behind Moulin Rouge with fake Keith Haring paintings made in Thailand.
I serenaded the Eiffel Tower, post-champagne, vermouth and mescal when it could have been absinthe.
A train to Provence, stunning azure calanques, bouillabaisse, virgin epiphanies, grengage and infinity pools.
On to Amsterdam - bikes, bongs and canals. Hosted by fine folk. Then nestled in the Cantabrian hills, homebaked cheesecakes and fish stews, the moonscape mountains, baby donkeys, kids with sandy bums, paella, cool river swims. Too many images, so many faces, increased spatial and navigation awareness. The best hosts. I loved it all.
The final photo is me at my exhibition of Mexican Icon prints at Climpson & Sons cafe, Broadway Market, London.
Coming home brought some mixed feelings. Patea is a very small place, in a little island at the bottom of the Pacific. Massive streets with little sign of life. The light is so bright. Where are all the people? I did not think I would miss watching people 'put their face on' on the tube, but I did. I hit a wall of restlessness and chronic itchy feet. I wanted to keep moving, seeing, doing.
A month or two on, I've settled back into things. Suprisingly, I came home to a couple of cheques in the post - I won first and second prize in the Franklin Art Festival in Auckland. My documentary has been launched. We held an exhibition of work by eleven Patea artists, Toi Patea. And I had my portrait by Sue Morton exhibited.
I'm pleased with the result - a fusion of my passion for nature, print and ink. Tattoos and etchings, two of a kind.
I learnt the magic of mezzotint last month, from the queen herself, Julia Ellery from Whanganui. The deep velvety blacks are deliciously lush. An entirely new process for me, all about burnishing in the whites, gentle and subtle.
We embarked down to the heart of the South Island for a reunion of the tribe from 20 years ago. Big bonfires, rafting down rapids of the mighty Buller river, feasting and a sense of belonging that only whanau can give us.
My mate Di took me up in a two seater Aerobat last weekend. We flew out to the coast and then looped up high enough to look into the crater of Maunga Taranaki. My cup overflows. Onwards to summer.
we are islands
An early autumn jaunt to Great Barrier Island - aka The Barrier. Aotea. The Magic Island.
Unhindered by possoms, mustelids, brown rats, deers or hedgehogs, the bush is different from the mainland.
So are other things - pace, space, breath, dark, love.
Seaweed garlands and water blue as liquid icebergs.
Mermaid pools and soft rivers with hot healing fissures.
Off the grid, warm waxy light. Coal range and long drop.
Sweet smelling scrub, soles caked with red mud. Shafts of silver and gold.
Last nights snapper sitting in fillets.
A slice of life.....
As we beach-crawled the canines ran sprints and surfed for sticks. The days began with the sun and nights with fire.
We are lucky to have friends who live in the island; one is a ceramic artist. We swap her works for coffee beans and have accumulated a fine collection. Recently she has been making sculptural pieces from firing chucks of clay that fall off a roadside cliff. Her work is pretty special.
"Island can represent the locus of a psychic factor that maroons one from what is most vital in the self. Or, it may express the unforeseen, inviolable space where the treasure of self is found."(The Book Of Symbols - Reflections on Archetypal Images)
disneyland in Patea
2015. The year of realised fantasies.....
Following another brilliant CPCANZ Summer School in January where I came away with a wealth of insight from masters of print Rodney Fumpston and Alexis Neale, I revisited my urge to have a studio just for art making.
So, I asked a friend with a building and he said yes. The press was relocated (many thanks to K&T) and I was spinning the wheel within a week. I'm sharing the space with Beck White. She calls it Disneyland - an exciting place where magic happens.
The new studio used to be a doctors surgery. On one side there is a receptionist booth with sliding glass doors. It is built so close to the neighbouring building a skinny person can only just fit in the gap.
I have been making a lots of new work. Three new etchings (with multiple plates and print processes) and two large series of lino cuts. All the new work is in response to things seen and felt in Mexico last year. It's been a pleasure having the time and space to do this. I've really got stuck in and the self-imposed discipline feels good.
Some progress. I'm learning all the time.
Getting geared up for the next stint of Ink Inc. in three weeks. Check out out space this year here.
Had an interview for Taranaki Arts Trail too.
I'll leave you with some snaps of the past few months. Adios.
X hola ADIOS Mexico X
Three weeks home, the trip is like a dream we were in. Thirty days in Mexico.
A crash and burn style summary seems the only way to disseminate the mission.
Mezcal, mole, tortilla, nopal, chilli.
Olmec, Toltec, Teotihuacan, Zapotec, Maya, Aztec.
Conquests, colonisation, independence, war.
Corn and cerveza.
Plumed serpents, jaguar, hummingbirds, mermaids, iguana, flamingo.
Poncho. Pinata. Pyramids. San Pedro.
Turquoise. Egg yolk yellow.
Empires, dictatorships and revolution.
A tarantula on my forehead. Crocodiles on the shore.
Pacific and Caribbean. Frida and Guadalupe.
El Santo, Mascara, Blue Demon, Black Shadow.
Cenote, margarita, camaron and agua azul.
Cacti forests and the widest tree in the world.
Swimming blind. Hammocked, swinging.
Post-trip, it does feel as though a heightened level of sensory stimulation was reached.
Signs and symbols ignite like silver-tongued midday lightning storms. Flashbacks.
And the people were beautiful and kind and clever with their hands. Deep felt hearts and real-deal ways; death walks side by side with life. My identity compromised by strip-teased language, pictures speak louder than words.
Mid winter Momento
An observation: Things slow down in winter. An enforced change of pace due to foul weather, less daylight hours, airborne bugs and other burdens. But although we're in the thick of our coldest days, the sap has started rising. Lambs are being born. And the kaka beak is flowering with unsurpassed vigour and rampant enthusiasm not often seen in the middle of July.
Last month the Patea Planting Trust and friends put another 1300 natives in along our river. Its a simple and rewarding project that feels good. Nurture the future. When digging the holes, these sci-fi gems popped out of the ground, all screwed up. Then they just kind of open up, like magic. Fast-motion footage, but actually in real time. Weird, white and latticed; smelly, slimy and spore covered. Ileodictyon cibarium, commonly known as basket fungus is endemic to New Zealand. The basket is the fruit.
Last weekend a couple of mates from Wellington came up to stay a few days to shoot a documentary about some of the things that I do up here in Patea. It will be a learning resource for students at the art school where they work.
It was quite odd being in front of the camera. Initially, it seemed like a narcissistic sort of self-conscious trumpet blowing. Then I got over myself and into the process of telling a story, sequencing and continuity. I let them get on with it and did what I was told. They shot me cooking dinner and drinking coffee. They shot me at the beach, under mountains, at galleries and Old Folks Halls. They shot me driving, walking and talking and pointing at quite a lot of different things.
Photos below by Vanessa Patea (who has her own story up here) featuring Kate Logan, shooter extraordinaire.
This is home. Jim, me and the paparazzi. I look forward to seeing it all come together in a few months. Cheers.
post-solstice quarterly report
Tomorrow is the first of July. Such a cliche - to say the year is flying by, but it is anyway.
Life has been full. I've been chasing my tail. Metaphorically speaking, whirlwinds have spun.
In summary, here are a few snippets captured:
All downhill to summer now. Spotted a sprouted jonquil today. And the kakabeak is doing its thing already.
Slowly learning Mexican Spanish for our imminent trip. How do I feel about that? Bien, gracias!
My cup runneth over.
Adios, amigo x
Its Monday. Following advice from a friend I'm going to give it whirl, posting a blurb once a week.
Today I spent some time in the shed grinding steel rings.
Some mates in the next town south bought the Scout Hall and inherited many steel and wooden chairs. They have given them to 35 artists to do something with for an exhibition in March at the local community centre.
I cut my steel frame tubing up into little pieces to make rings. I've cleaned them up and next i'm going to etch them. They will end up joined together as a chain. Not sure what I'm doing with the wooden bits yet.
I'm enjoying it - lots of sparks off the grinder wheels. Had some Flashdance moments. Hot holes melted my gloves so I patched them with gaffer tape and persisted until the job was done.
They are super shiny.
And a snap of part of the shed. There's a lot of stuff in it. Lots of hoarders in Patea. Could be something in the water.
Its all good stuff though.
how to begin this new thing?
I live in a small town on the west coast of the North Island, New Zealand. Home is a kauri BNZ on state highway three. Built in 1873, it holds its own stories (and skeletons) and with a large fruitful garden, it sustains us and keeps us busy. A keen traveller, I draw and print things that are around me - islands, dogs, volcanoes, oceans, fossils, moons, old stuff – and things in my imagination – myths, creatures, dreams, demons, icebergs and fantasy worlds.
I thought it would be a good idea to get a bit more serious about making art this year - take on some of the advice I give freely to others - get stuck in and enjoy the journey of doing what feels good.
First day of the Chinese New Year - Year of the Wood Horse - NEIGH NEIGH, WHINNY WHINNY!!