Thursday, January 31, 2008

Sorry, No Discount

Last May, I went to a workshop to learn about pricing artworks, commissions, how to approach galleries and shops, etc., etc., etc. And the one thing I learned was a stern warning artists should never undercut galleries and shops and sell work directly at a lower price; it's against the artist's code of ethics, she said.

And the woman leading the workshop was a gallery owner.

I'm not sure how I feel about this.

If you see the relationship as a manufacturer/retailer relationship, from the retailer's point of view, this would be true. From the manufacturer's point of view, since we are not paying commission to the outlet, we could sell the merchandise at a lower price. From the buyer's point of view, this would be true, wouldn't it?

So when prospective clients want to come and visit my "studio", besides the fact that our place looks pretty hidious right now, (well, the garden looks hidious most times), I feel a little paranoid wondering how to say no if they ask for a lower price than in the gallery. That's what happened earlier this week; I gave her an ever-so-tiny discount.

How do you work this out?

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Weaving Godess Giveth, Weaving Godess Taketh

I can't remember when it was exactly, but one month last year I sold three pieces at Red Art Gallery, resulting in a whopping big cheque (well, a direct deposit actually) which pleased me to no end. Then the next day, I received a bill from my accountant, for an amount quite a bit more than was on the said cheque.

In the last two days I was paid for two pieces, and combined with the "cheque" coming my way from the Red, I felt I could justify having signed up for a workshop in Blenheim, and the Symposium down in Dunedin, in March. This time the warm-and-fuzzy lasted about three hours; I got the bill from my accountant for the latest tax return work, which of course was a bit more than my three latest sales.

I know it's not polite to talk about money, and so publicly, but I also know this is one of those things many weavers/artists worry about.

In my case, I have a forgiving, indulging husband with a day job, and off of whom I have mooched for the last eight years. I wouldn't be weaving if it weren't for his tolerance, encouragement, and practical support. At the same time, this endless, relentless deficit skew my own outlook on my life in recent years. My soul is not destroyed, but I'm grumpy and stingy.

On the other hand, I’m not changing accountants because mine is a painter, and she knows very well how we “artists” work. And she’s a lovely. And because Inland Revenue Department and I come from different universes.

Floor Talk

Re:fine at The Suter closed today. At lunch time, they had a floor talk, to which exhibiting artists were invited to take part. (Is “floor talk” an international museum/gallery terminology? Until I went to my first one, I thought the word sounded somewhat... naughty!)

I’d been to only a few floor talks at The Suter before, but they were casual lectures, so though I wasn’t too sure what was going to happen, I thought I’d make an appearance. I did ask Acting Director Julie Catchpole if I needed to prepare, and she told me to bring a sample piece people can touch.

So I went. After Julie and selector and painter Sally Burton explained about, and illustrated, Re:fine in Wellington, we were encouraged to briefly say something about our piece/s in the exhibit. And you can guess, I prattled on. In front of the art-loving crowd of Nelson who are used to hearing artists talk. Go, Newbie!!

I did remember about the samples I brought, and said, “I’m a weaver, not a fiber artists” and said how the feel and the hand was paramount in my work, and asked people to feel my samples

I am a weaver, a maker of usable textiles. In this respect, I am not an artist who make objet d’art, though I aspire to make usable textile that is also aesthetically pleasing. Just in case you got confused with my serial blather.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Speaking of Rip-Roaring Financial Success...

After my last outing at Twilight Market, I tidied up my stock and brought some to Sue Bateup’s Weaver’s Gallery, (I must work on that post), while others sat in a pile on the floor of my living room.

Having received Martin’s email, I was recalling some of the earlier talks we had, when I didn’t have an outlet but was ready to sell my work. And as I was savoring the arrival of Martin's email, I walked into the living room and I burst out laughing.

Even if I sell every piece I weave, I will never be able to survive on this income, because I am a slow weaver. I made a quick calculation, and figured the utmost best I can ever hope for is an annual sales of about Ben's one month's pay. Tops! If I dither around like I do, it’s likely to be a lot less. And that’s sales, not profit.

So, Ben, I'm retracting my earlier promise; I’m sorry but you will never become a weaver’s pimp.

Anniversary, Martin Rodgers, and Venice

A year ago today, I opened my first tiny solo exhibit at Gallery 203 on Trafalgar Street. It was a hot, sunny Beach day, like today, but after a long cooler-and-greyer not-quite-summer couple of months, the town was deserted. Just as well as I didn't have my last, seventh piece finished.

I had great fun, (yes, fun!) preparing, and learning about putting on a small exhibit, doing thing myself, with a lot of help from new friends whose company and opinion I've come to appreciate even more over the year. And so much pep talk from artists I've "met" only through the Internet.

Serendipitously, (or did he remember? Nah...), this morning I received an email from Martin Rodgers, then-CEO of Arts Marketing. I hadn't been in communication with Martin since he left for a bigger, more exciting job in Wellington last August. But I did send him my "business" Christmas card with all kinds of things scribbled on it, the kind of things I would have told him to gauge his reaction and solicit his expertise about how I should go about the business of “being an artist”.

I couldn't read it right away, but had to I savor the moment knowing I had it in my Inbox. When I finally sat down to read it, I got a bit teary.

He's the man who catapulted my career as an "artist", and by that I mean the public, participating, exhibiting, trying-to-be-known side of my weaving. The idea of having an exhibit was my own, but the way I went around it, most activities which helped me meet other artists and arts administrators, most activities I’ve taken part in to sell/exhibit have been Arts Marketing projects during Martin’s reign. And I took plenty of advantage of one-on-one sessions to make sure I was on the right track. By far the biggest gift he gave me was the knowledge that, after all the discussions, Q&A’s and debriefings, I knew what I needed to do in this unknown world.

I was a pathetic, dependent newbie who couldn’t afford to pay the annual subscription, so he even allowed me to do office work in lieu. And I was tickled pink when he said to be in touch when I visited Wellington. You bet, and I’ll be sure to prepare my A4 page of bullet points so we cover everything when I see you next.

Earlier in the morning a woman came to my house to buy a specific cashmere scarf she saw at Twilight Market (an Arts Marketing project) back in December. Besides the fact that she was so lovely and delightful, it was wonderful to have an income! Jay from Red Art emailed me to say she also sold a cashmere last week, so I'm off to a rip-roaring financial start this year.

This evening, I received a card from Golden Bay artist Kathy Reilly, whom I met at the Arts Expo (ditto) last year; she bought a cashmere scarf at the end of the Expo, and she wrote me to say the scarf started 2008 in Venice, Italy! How wonderful for the scarf, and how wonderful for Kathy to tell me. (Next trip, however, take me instead!)

January 29 – another anniversary in my life. I think I’ll start having some kind of a ritual on this day every year.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Oh What Fresh Weaving Hell

Sometimes it’s like that, isn’t it. The two extra warp ends was not a counting mistake, and I knew this, because I measured two ends at a time, so if I had four extra it might have been a counting mistake, but two, nah.

And the intelligent, experienced weaver that I am, I went ahead and sleyed before I corrected the threading! Goodness gracious me; it took me most of today to remedy everything. And that takes all the gloss off of this new thing I’ve done.

With 110/2 merino and other wool warps of the same size, I like to use my 6-dent reed and weave at 18EPI. With this warp, for the first time, I bunched together every three ends as I just threaded through the heddles. Theoretically, (that is, assuming I don’t make threading mistakes), I can put one bunch in each dent, cutting down on sleying time, and if I have to count how many ends I’ve already threaded, it is easier with the bunches.

I know it sounds so simple, but I never thought of it before last week.

I had just enough time to sample after that, and I was quite confident because I’ve woven with these yarns plenty of times, I’ve woven the structure on which this is based, and the color combination was a no brainer. Until I saw the sample on the loom.

Bright teal weft killed the purple variegated warp. I also sampled with muted teal, which looked more in harmony with the warp. If I were to go ahead with the muted, I had to order it right away.

Muted looked nicer.

"Oh, blow…. Wash and sleep on it," said the weaver.

Friday, January 25, 2008

End of a Strange Week

I'm glad this week has come to a close. I've had a strange and uncomfortable week.

I'm having trouble with my eyes again, not being able to focus, so much so that when I had lunch with my friend Marj, I kept shifting my eyeglasses, shifting my position, just shifting restlessly so I can focus on her face across a small table. So measuring the warp for the latest project took a little bit longer, but that wasn't so bad.

I wound and started threading yesterday. I couldn't shut out the noise in my head, so I put on an orca call CD. After a while, I felt a little giddy. I do like weaving and all the preparations associated with it. (I told several people during Twilight Market I actually get an adrenaline rush when I throw the shuttle.) And the mundane, ancient-ness of weaving keeps me grounded. Who else besides weavers use sticks and strings for work this century? And we don't even require electricity in many cases. The only plugged equipment was the radio yesterday. I thought even if I ever become a billionaire weaver (dream on!!) I'd never let anyone else dress my loom, because bad tension or broken warp, I find the process of dressing a loom soothing. But that was yesterday.

This morning, I still had threading to do, and still couldn't focus, but this project has a simple threading, almost straight, so I worked slowly. When I'm anxious, deliberately slowing down my movement helps me psychologically and increases my accuracy. Since I got started a bit later than expected in the morning, I thought I'd go on until 2, then have lunch, and I expected to finish prepping and weave and wash a sample before the end of the day. Except at around 1.50, I noticed a mistake; the numbers of heddles already threaded didn't look right.

I made a mental note, and had lunch. And I thought about how I was going to fix the mistake. My eyes were so tired I didn't get back to the loom until after 3.30. Straight away, I started to look for the mistake. I knew I had it correctly up to Repeat 20, so I looked this side of R20; I looked from the left, and then from the right but saw no mistake. So I looked at all the warps threaded so far, first from the left then from the right, and saw nothing. I repeated this for over an hour and saw nothing. The halogen lights in the basement flicked like a bad disco joint, but my sparky (electrician) is on a long holiday and can't come until February. I finally counted the heddles already threaded again, and there was nothing wrong there, the numbers matched.

Two and a half hours later, I resumed threading, slowly. And all went well, except I had two extra at the end. I'm hoping I measured 569 warps by mistake, instead of 567 as planned, skipping two somewhere.

After 6PM, Ben came home, Megg Hewlett came over, and I finally had a shower. The evening was a lot more pleasant than my strange day. I hope tomorrow's sampling and weaving goes well. I'm weaving Liz's Warren's shawl.

Music to Murder Pansies By

Not that any of you would doubt me, but Rose Pelvin sent me this photo as proof that the group did have live harp in the background. So here's Cherie Maffey and she is also a felter.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Book and Jewelry

A little over a year ago, I was jumping out of my shoes to see my name in the latest Nelson Arts Guidebook. Lately, I've been having to look in this book to find friends. Which, to me, is a remarkable thing.

I don't wear jewelry, but have always liked looking at them, or watching jewelers at work, and have played around with the idea of taking a short course on jewelry making just for the experience. I love studying people who wear jewelery well, and I've also been interested in matching broaches to scarves and shawls.

The reason why these two paragraphs appear in the same post is just now I had to look up jeweler Liz Kendrick because we are in the process of doing a swap; a shawl for Liz's friend for one of Liz's broaches. And she's having to make a smaller broach for me because I'm short, and I do well when pieces are somewhere between 60-80% the normal size.

Well, I better dress that loom and get cracking now.

Monday, January 21, 2008


I went to get the straps/handles for the blue striped bags, and this guy was looking at me from a hook on the button section. I could not come home without him.

When I'm engaged in a stash reduction project, the hardest thing is to go to a fabric or notions store and buy only what I need to complete the project. I know this is part of how my stash has grown so big.

Our local Spotlight (Australian-owned sewing & craft material shop) started stocking some good looking buttons, so that's another isle to avoid.


Sunday, January 20, 2008

Megg Hewlett Again

This was a good weekend. Today, we met Megg Hewlett for breakfast. We've both been busy at different times the last six months so we hadn't really time for visiting, but this morning was wonderful. She's had a good break and she is now a proud owner of a Lumix (same Panasonic digital camera as mine, but newer and a black body; Ben's a bit nutty about black body cameras).

I was happy to report that I sold one of her bags at the Market, but sad to return the other 11 to her. I shall miss them adding vibrant colors in my studio.

We'll be meeting regularly, starting tomorrow, Monday, for regular walks on the beach together.

2008 is going to be a terrific year.

Pansy Murderers

Ben took me to Marlborough yesterday for the first Marlborough Weavers meeting of 2008. It was lovely to see everybody, and plan the year ahead.

We have, it appears, three workshops this year; one on design, and two on weaving, possibly on woven shibori and lace weaving. I've done neither, so it would be fascinating. And I can always use a good dose of tutor Alison Francis's design wisdom.

In addition, we have these challenges; we are given project guidelines at the start of the year, and we bring our results at the last meeting in November. Marlborough Weavers' topic is postcards; we are to make postcards out of fiber, preferably out of our woven textiles, and they must be post-able. I am so excited about this one, because I've always loved postcards and cards of any kind, and we were shown quite an intricate fiber art postcard as an example by leader Rose Pelvin. I hope I can make more than a few extra, so I can actually post them to friends.

The other challenge is for the Guild (of which Marlborough Weavers is a subset) and that's... mind-boggling. We're calling it "the book", where we take an existing book, and lavish upon it textile/fiber/embellishments to create a totally different book. Whether we use the existing texts or graphics, or obliterate the original content and use the book as a physical base, is up to us. Rose, forever original, brought a fantastic book she started on, but I'm struggling with this one. I'm not original and I'm not good outside my square. I might take a different angle, and combine bookbinding, textile, and maybe even the postcard, ideas. Or... Ur...

The photo above shows a "stitched" panorama; Peg Morehouse took the original photos on film, and Ben just lined them up on the coffee table. I think the most stunning thing is this is the view from Peg's living room, (and studio, and bedroom, and kitchen if you're tall enough!)

Oh, and the post title? At the last 2007 Guild meeting, apparently a group put pansy flowers between textiles and bashed them to a pulp with hammers to see if they could dye with pansies, with live (yes, live) harp (yes, harp) playing in the background. Gosh, if I would have known the guild AGM was so much fun, I would have tried harder to get there. Oh well, this year!

PS: Almost forgot. I'm leading a monthly meeting this year; the April one. Imagine a newbie weaverette leading/convening a meeting for a group with a collective weaving experience of somewhere between 300 and 500 years!!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Twilight Extra

At the Market tonight, before the official Twilight Market performance started, a band at my end of the street was performing music with South American flavor. They were very well received. I just caught a glimpse of them on my tiny camera once we set up my stall. (I always kick myself afterwards that I don't record longer on these occasions...)

Twilight Market, Gig 2

Tonight was my second and last Twilight Market gig. I had a terrific corner spot, and met some nice people. I didn't sell any of my weaving, but I did sell Megg Hewlett's small pink bag, the one that was consistently the most popular in the two times I was there. Thank you, Megg, for loaning me those beautiful treasures.

So what do I think? Well, my prices are outside the "market" prices, so I probably won't be terribly successful even if I repeat my effort. And if I were to do this again, I was advised by other stall holders to sigh up for February slots, because this is when the older Kiwi and overseas tourists come, after the school year starts.

I get the feeling, if I'm in it just for the sales, market is not my best venue. I could, for example, prepare less expensive "market" priced merchandises, but I'll have to balance the time it takes to make these things, and the likelihood of my selling them. All very unpredictable, really.

I do, however, like talking to people who like textiles. I like talking to people who weave, or used to weave, or whose mothers and grandmothers wove, and I had plenty of chances this evening to do just that. I like watching people try on my pieces, how they handle them, and how they adorn themselves. And I do like mingling with other artists; I like being among them, and asking after their latest work, exhibitions, processes, experiences, or training, and being asked the same.

Almost two (or is it three?) years ago when I first met Martin Rodgers and learned about Nelson Arts Marketing, he repeatedly stated that one of his missions was to create places where artists can network. Back then I didn't understand that, but now that I've done a couple of years of being holed up in my basement toiling away on my own, (which I love), I do also love the chance to talk to others who, more or less, live like that.

At the risk of sounding pompous, I'll admit to having another reason I'm glad I did this: I believe, in my small way, I contributed to people seeing handweaving has changed since the 60's or the 70's or the 80's, and there are lots more variety of material available in New Zealand, and finer (skinnier, not better) work is being made. I'm still a newbie, and there are lots of superb weavers in this country, but at different levels we need to not only please ourselves or each other, but educate the public as to where handweaving is. That's the conclusion Lloyd Harwood (who is an artist and an art administrator but lives well outside the weaving world) and I reached at the debriefing of my exhibit almost a year ago, and it still stands.

Having a market stall is labor-intensive, and Ben did so much for me, from packing the car to setting up the tables and chairs and the mirror, to taking them down and putting them back in the house. I couldn't do all this on my own. I'm glad I did the market, and I had fun, but at this point, I'm not sure if I'll do it again next year, especially if this year proves to be as hectic as last year.

Tomorrow I go to Marlborough Weavers' first meeting of the year; Sunday I have a working breakfast meeting with Megg Hewlett. Then I have three weeks to weave two commission pieces, and around six pieces for an exhibition which opens on February 15, followed by one more commission piece. I can do this.

As you approached the market from Hardy Street, I was the first one on the right, and behind me were two of our all time favorite Nelson potters, Laughing Fish Studio's Shona McLean and Martin Lindley.

I stuck to the messy look; in fact, I spread even more of my pieces out today, so people felt and touched and tried on many more pieces than last time. Thanks, everyone; I enjoyed watching you.

Hello from Refinery

I'm doing something new right now. I'm posting from the reception desk of the Refinery Art Space gallery; I'm their volunteer relief receptionist for the afternoon.

In the last year or so I've been helped by a lot of arts organizations, art galleries and other artists. I like the camaraderie of the arts community in Nelson, and in my small ways, I've been wanting to give something back.

When Martin Rodgers was the head of Arts Marketing, he let me do office work for a few hours on a few occasion. I'd like to think knowing how these organizations support artists keeps me grounded, and I get to learn more about Nelson art and artists. I've also relieved Lloyd on one occasion at Arts Council.

I was asked if I can help out at the Refinery late last year, and I jumped at the opportunity. This is a new and exciting gallery that's rebranded itself last September, and I want to get involved as a Nelson art aficionado, and I support the direction the gallery is heading. I had a meeting with Deb Hunter and agreed tentatively to be a relief receptionist in the foreseeable future.

Tentative and foreseeable only, because though I like being asked, I hate not being able to comply, and last year, because I felt I was so busy, I had to decline more often than comply, especially Lloyd's requests, and I hate that. My desire to contribute is genuine, but my actions said otherwise.

I wish I could be more generous with my time, but I struggle with time management, work/life balance and procrastination, and I believe the right thing for me to do just now is to concentrate on my weaving. Yet all these public art organizations are underfunded and understaffed, and in Nelson, as it probably is true around the world, they are supported by many selfless volunteers. I'd like to grow into one of those people who say "yes" readily and lightheartedly; it's one of my criteria for aging gracefully, quite separate from weaving and arts and such considerations.

I've also been helping a fellow weaver, Sue Bateup, in a small way this summer, but that's a whole separate post.

Thursday, January 17, 2008


Ordinarily, I'm not in favor of embellishing my weaving with what I see as frivolity. Especially where glass beads are concerned, I think there are safety concerns which I as the maker need to keep in mind. But as a consumer, I'm not against a bit of trinket from time to time. After all, embroidery was my first textile-related hobby.

Back in October or November, I bought a couple of small bags of decorative "buttons", thinking I'd like to make my swatches into Christmas ornaments or tiny bags for Twilight Market, and adorn them with these. I never did, of course, (for one thing, my textiles looked so at odds with these decorations!) so I still have them in my sewing box.

At the end of last year, one of my yarn sources gave me a plain calico bag, and I think it was on Boxing Day, I couldn't help but to take out a few of these "buttons" and stitched them onto to the bag. The "buttons" I chose are distinctly Christmasy, so I knew it would be a little strange to carry this around all year, but never mind, it made the bag so cute and personal. I was very pleased with myself; ergo, the continuation of this style of embellishment as part of my stash-reduction sewing projects.

Because weaving, for me, is not something I do only when I'm working, but I think about designs and colors and possibilities all the time, towards the end of last year I was very aware of the lack of work/life balance, and wasn't sure how to deal with it. As a result, I felt as if I was on the clock 24/7 and was exhausted by the thought of weaving, though I wasn't tired of weaving itself. And I stayed away from fun, personal projects, because I thought I'd waste time when I could be weaving.

One of the ideas I'm toying around with is to have a few personal textile projects going at all times, so I can always escape to "my thing" and have fun. In other words, having textile-related hobbies once again. This would include re-learning to knit, because I think it'd be wonderful to have a huge piece of knitted square as a couch blanket, as our living room is dominated by woven ones at the moment.

Just a thought.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Changing Mood

I finally worked on my work Christmas/New Year greeting card in lieu of a newsletter that small business mentors recommend. When you're blogging, newsletters seem so stale, but I still wanted to do something to thank my past clients of commission pieces and yarn sources and supporting arts organization.

Anyhow, words like "whimsical" and "fanciful" popped up on the screen easily; words I used to describe other people's airy fairy work. I'm correcting my direction a wee bit now, and I feel a little more relaxed.

PS Of course, after I've printed them all up and started writing personal messages, I found a couple of things I wanted to change. &^%$# But not the whimsy/fancy bit.

Guilty Pleasure

In March 2005, I went to the annual Symposium of The New Zealand Costume & Textile Section of The Auckland Museum Institute (that's a mouthful!) for the first time, mainly because it was held in Dunedin and I had been to Dunedin only for horribly cold rainy three hours mid-summer years before. I thoroughly enjoyed the Symposium, and the city of Dunedin, especially the University Bookshop nearby.

I knew exactly nobody there, except Robyn with whom I'd corresponded, but it was heavenly to be so anonymous and yet sit amongst people enthusiastic about textile. Making new friends, strangely, wasn't high on my list that weekend; I wanted to melt into the chair and soak up the atmosphere.

There was something else I discovered. I mentioned before that all my life I thought I'd naturally go into the family business and become an academic. Well, I wasn't getting anywhere near that at age 30, and was living in a town without a university at age 40. I tried to get back in the swing of things when I left my last office job, but I found I horribly lacking in creativity and the ability to think for myself to study at university level in New Zealand. I was quite crushed about this, and continued to feel guilty about not following my destiny.

During the morning of Day 1 at the Symposium, finding out what the Symposium was all about, I thought perhaps through this experience, I would feel encouraged to look into academia once more. But by that afternoon, I had discovered something totally different.

See, most papers by the PhD candidates were "academic"; they classified, categorized and described textiles, textiles made by someone else. Paper after paper, albeit intriguing, it was the same. And while becoming inseparable from my seat, I had a strange, chuckling satisfaction that though I may obtain another academic qualification, it was okay, because instead of studying other people's textiles, I made textiles.

I can't describe the magnitude of relief I felt, in the middle row towards the left. I mean no disrespect to the would be PhDs, but for me, at that moment, I preferred to make cloth, not analyze and agonize over something someone else's cloth. That was as close to an epiphany as I have ever experienced and as you can see, I haven't looked back.

And when I'm 60 or 70, if I want to go back to school, that's fine, too.

Though the speakers came from all over New Zealand, and some from Australia and beyond, the topics, I thought, reflected the location of the Symposium. In 2005, in Dunedin, there was an emphasis on mainly-English immigrants mainstream New Zealand and their heritage, and the most memorable talk was the clothes people wore on short railway trip designed by the railway company for young men and women to meet and mingle in a healthy way.

The 2006 Symposium was in Wellington, at the old museum building that is now one of Massey campuses, and we had many young Australian curators and academics practicing presentation; great topics, good for their carrier, but tiresome for me. The topics were more varied, but the most memorable was the history and trends of Australian fashion photography. I was, in all honesty, more interested in exploring the grand building than the lectures.

2007 was in Auckland with a strong Pacific flavor, and this would definitely have been my favorite Symposium, but it was shortly after my exhibit and my parents' trip here, and I was exhausted. It would have been extremely interesting because I would have stayed with Brenda, someone I met in 2005, who works in the public art arena, and who would have had a presenter or two billeted at her house to boot.

2008 topics look inviting. I'm already recalling the sensation of sinking into one of the seat at the Otago Museum auditorium. I think I'd better book a cheap ticket soon. That the Symposium never fails to secure good caterers is a big bonus, too.

Whangarei Museum Exhibit

While on holiday, we went to Whangarei Museum's World Wide Web textile exhibit, introduced in Creative Fibre (Dec 07); also in Scene (Dec 07), the Whangarei tourist paper.

It was chock full of exotic garments, and probably good support information, but I was so in awe of the textile I didn't pay too much attention to the writing. The exhibition as a whole was big enough to show a variety of world textiles, yet intimate enough to feel as if you've been invited to curator/collection owner Linda Wigley's attic. I came away with the distinct feeling this is just a small portion of what Linda has or has access to, and I could not help feeling her love and enthusiasm for textiles and individual pieces in her collection.

We are allowed to photograph if it is for your own use, but I'm not sure about flashes; mine were taken without, as usual.

The hour-long DVD was engaging, pertinent and informative, though I didn't like the editing: it bundled together stages of weaving across regions in the world, so sometimes you had to travel from Asia to South America and Africa and return to Asia to see how the next step is done.

Still, a giant chocolate fish to Linda and Whangarei Museum. It's on SH 14 (a little beyond the hospital if you're starting from Whangarei ), Maunu; open daily 10AM - 4PM, until 27 January. $10 admission is well worth it, especially if you stay to watch the entire DVD, and it allows you to enter the Kiwi House, an even darker room, to see a tiny bird that didn't move one bit while we were there.

Friday, January 11, 2008


If you would have asked me as recently as last August who my all time least favorite painters were, I would have instantly listed van Gogh, Rothko and Mondrian. I find van Gogh unpleasant. Of the last two, I tolerated Mondrian because at least his lines are straight. As to Rothko, I thought he was a overblown graphic artist.

Simon Schama's BBC series Power of Art changed all that. The series focused more on the artists rather than the works, an approach I like especially regarding writers. I understood just a little better why van Gogh is so morbid. I am now interested in his life, and his paintings as a reference to his person, but still find the paintings opposite of exhilarating, very unpleasant.

More importantly for me, I took a real look at Rothko for the first time, and the way the doco showed details of the paintings helped me understand just how enormously abbreviated even the large format arts books are, let alone postcards or postage-stamp-sized snippets.

Though I suspect he was a terribly difficult many, and could not stand to stay in the same room for a minute because of his smoking, I share his dislike of noise and consumerism. In fact, I was thinking about just that before I was given links to this episode in YouTube. (You see, this was the only episode of the series I didn't tape.)

Now I can't get enough of the nuances and the wobbly boarders. His paintings help me escape the noise of modern life easily, which is an accomplishment in itself. I don't find any dread or morbidness he is said to have have expressed; instead, his paintings pull me out of my body and lets me soar or freefall as I like inside the colors.

I don't mind being proven wrong, but I do lament the time I wasted disliking him. (I could have gone to Tate Modern in 2003 but I couldn't stand the idea of being in the same building as a Rothko!)

And or course my taste has certainly been changing, living in a different place, getting older, and being involved in textiles. I mean, what weaver would fail to see any Rothko color patch as a scrumptious wool blanket?

I am, this year, totally in love with his colors and nuances I just can't get images of his paintings out of my head, and he's threatening to replace my favorite painter of the last decade, Macke.


Here's BBC's blub on the series. Here's the episode in six parts on YouTube: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5 and Part 6.

So, 2008

My To Do list this morning includes:

* 3 commission pieces

* Cross Country Weavers sample exchange samples

* 1 exhibit opening in mid-Feb; I'd like to weave at least three pieces for the selectors to look at.

* 2 possible micro exhibits; one I need to wait until the organizers set their schedule for the year; the other I need to get back to the organizers to say when.

* Collect data on other deadlines, e.g. the New Zealand Weavers, Spinners and Woolcraft Society National exhibit, Area exhibit, etc. I know I have newsletters scattered around the house; I need to put dates on the calendar.

* Continue discussion on a possible joint exhibit with Megg Hewlett.

* Overhaul stash room and make it a usable design room. I have too much stuff, including non-weaving projects. I'm not sure what to do with all the stuff, as my stash room is only a small bedroom, and I haven't got any more space for additional shelves, but I don't want to throw away anything at this point. I find having different variety of things inspiring; I do need to store them in an organized and easily accessible way.

* Dismantle and oil the two floor looms. Make necessary tools, e.g. a raddle for the tiny KLIK loom, replace and/or sand down new sticks on both floor looms.

* Complete the Design Merit course I signed up for in 2004! (I am shocked to find I signed up this far back; the main part of the design course, I signed up in 2002 and finished in 2004, which was bad enough!)

* Dye.

* Ummm.... send out my "work" Christmas/New Year card 2007. Lordy.

What have I been doing?

* Digging up non-weaving projects and rethinking/redesigning them.

* Sewing a little. I finally clothed my naked living room cushions on Christmas Day, and I remembered how much I liked sewing. I was never much good, but I sewed often in high school. I would like to make little things out of my fabric samples, including simple vests.

* Painting. And you're supposed to gasp. I can't draw nor paint, and my sketchbook is full of words, photos and magazine clippings, and child-like line drawings. Some are so bad I can't even recall what I intended when I drew them.

I was led to Simon Schama's The Power of Art - Mark Rothko episode on YouTube yesterday, and was totally inspired, so I brought out my paints. The results were hidious, but I managed to have a modicum of fun when I didn't think too much. I should try to do this, and draw, more often, just so I learn how to have fun.

I found the hardest part to be mixing paint and coming up with the colors I want. And knowing when to stop, but not stopping until it's time to stop.

I think, most of all, I want an unrushed year, even if it means I won't be able to participate in as many things as last year. Now that I've learned to weave more or less continuously, and by that I mean consistently do things that will improve/contribute to my weaving, though not necessarily working on the loom, I hope I can have a year of input and still create cloth at the same time.

Now, what have you been doing so far?

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Welcome 2008

We came back from a short trip to Northland on the North Island on Monday, and I've started to think about work today. I hope we all have a creative, satisfying, and rewarding year together.