We Hang in a Month

Installation is September 30. I've been working furiously during the day to try to get as much done, and totally blobbing out in front of the TV and/or computer games at night. Our entire house is littered with my stuff in various stages of done-ness and Ben's not allowed to move anything.The second hot water cylinder was "fired up" yesterday for the first time in... oh, I can't remember. 
This is Pillar 1, (or the top three-quarters of it,) the component closest to being finished among all my stuff. It's big in my house, but skinnier than I had envisioned, and I don't know if four of these are going to make an impression in Refinery's huge gallery. I hope to wash P2 today; P4 is half woven, but I haven't made up the draft for the top half. (All pillars use the same draft for the bottom half, but variations on a theme for top.)

I'm very behind in the Self-Portrait, but this one will be quick to weave as it is so small; I am making some progress in practicing the double weave with inlay for Friends(ship) but its design/draft is predicated on Self-Portrait, so I know which one I need to furiously work on next. 
Here's a wee thanks to Esmae Emerson as the last contribution to the Friends(hip) piece. She also called my attention to the fate of "the one in Milton" weavers always think about when we hear of mill closures in New Zealand: November 2011 and May 2012. Small victories, yay!

I hope you are all well. And feeling colorful!


On Comtemporary Art Writing - An Example

In May last year when we had "really big ideas" about our exhibition, one of the things I aspired to do was to advertise our exhibition in a proper art magazine. I volunteered for the task, but I was still surprised when Art News New Zealand accepted our submission. Their spring issue came out and I thought you might be interested in how my drab original was edited to read "contemporary" and suitable for the magazine.

This is my original effort, (I didn't even have a title):
Water, earth, dead birds, skulls, maps and cardiograms were some of the starting points for the works in Beginnings, a joint exhibition by Nelson-based textile artists group, Strands.

Maria Julkunen Dalton, Jo Kinross, Ronnie Martin, Meg Nakagawa and Pat Spitz make up Strands. They came from Finland, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and USA. And they make textile art using different techniques including but not restricted to: pattern and garment making, eco and Ikat dying, stitching, felting, painting, and tapestry and cloth weaving. Social and environmental concerns, personal expressions, or a simple desire to “see if I can make something pretty” drive them.

Members brought varying depths and lengths of practices, along with a mixed bag of “real” life experiences as a teacher, a translator, a counselor, a pharmaceutical executive, and a sail maker.

So what made them sit in one room long enough to start a group? A desire to share their passion (obsession?) for textile art, swap links and techniques, but most of all to celebrate and commiserate together their work and their lives. And to create more satisfying work.

So, to say Strands members’ vision, approaches or work vary is an understatement. Best parts of their first meetings 18 months ago were spent defining, discussing and expressing feelings about a word or a phrase. Still, they persisted. A concept for a joint exhibition took shape. The members met monthly to report progress, critique, challenge each other to extend themselves, and bring to life artworks representing their interpretations of beginnings.

Strands is now ready to go public.

Beginnings is from 2 to 26 October; Refinery ArtSpace Gallery, Nelson.
This is what appeared in the magazine, which Publisher Dan Chappell kindly allowed me to copy.
Collective satisfaction
A Nelson textile collective aims to share expertise and push conceptual boundaries.

Water, earth, dead birds, skulls, maps and cardiograms were some of the starting points for the works in Beginnings, a joint exhibition by Nelson-based textile artists group, Strands.

Members Maria Julkunen Dalton, Jo Kinross, Ronnie Martin, Meg Nakagawa and Pat Spitz make up Strands, and come from a variety of nations, Finland, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and the United States. Their textile art techniques are equally diverse - pattern and garment making, eco and Ikat dying, stitching, felting, painting, and tapestry and cloth weaving. They're also driven by different creative urges (italics mine) - social and environmental concerns, personal expressions, or a simple desire to “see if I can make something artistic (Italics mine)”.

The members of this collective have had different life experiences - there's a teacher, a translator, a counselor, a pharmaceutical executive, and a sail maker. Initially they came together to share their passion for textile art and to compare techniques, but mostly they enjoy the collective satisfaction of creating art from fabric, fibre and felt.

The concept of a joint exhibition came from their first meeting 18 months ago, and slowly this inaugural show has taken shape. The group met monthly to extend their practices, and to bring to life artworks representing the idea of beginnings.

Beginnings, 2-26 October 2012; Refinery ArtSpace Gallery, 3 Halifax Street, Nelson. For more information visit www.refinerygallery.org.
©Art News New Zealand
Before I wrote my draft, I read more than enough similar pieces in the past issues. Dan told me not to make it "too arty-farty, if you'll excuse my jargon," which, to me apparently means homey. I tried to make it sound personal and different. I took out, (and personally dislike overindulging in,) words in vogue like "contemporary", "conceptual" and "boundaries", which were amply thrown around during group Strands' discussions, and they're back in.  The group concluded some of us in the group did not set out to "push conceptual boundaries". As well, felt as material was never mentioned and I'm not sure if anyone is using it. And I took pains not in call this "inaugural" because we don't know if there is to be a second.

I gave Dan free rein to edit. The only part I regret having had edited was "see if I can make something artistic artistic” which was originally "pretty"; I don't do conceptual and I felt it showed the diversity of motives in our engagement with textiles, and on Monday the group agreed.

As a piece, though, this sounds edgy and new, fits the tone of the magazine and the group was pleased. And, oh, "urge" I was most pleased with; that's not part of my writing vocabulary, and I normally consider "drive" (sounds too aggressive) or "need" (too needy) but adding "urge" seems to soften the mood and yet express, very accurately, our itching to get our tools and material out and continue making.

The piece was accompanied by photos of close-ups of one piece by Jo Kinross and another by Pat Spitz.



I'm going to post the next few posts in a random, somewhat illogical, order, in which I can get my head around the subject concerned.

Strands members have been working on blurbs because we want to get print-related tasks out of the way, and at our last meeting on Monday we worked on our personal profiles. The problem is, for me, exhibitions are about the work. I can wax lyrical about each piece until the cows come home and leave again, but about me, I want to say as little as possible because I feel it takes the energy away from my work. (Even though I love to read other artists' bio. Encouraged/prodded on by others, I finally managed to finish drafts for my print-related blurbs. As regards words, I've the scripts for the Opening night and the Floor Talk to go.

Artist's Statement, which will go into the catalogue with one or two photos of my work:
“I weave cloth on looms.”

Personal Profile or Bio, which will be printed on paper and included in our collective book piece, facing my Self-Portrait piece. I'm still not crazy about the text but I don't want to spend more time on this to tell the truth:
"I grew up watching my mother knit, sew and embroider while listening to her chant how much she longed to weave. The view that weaving is the ultimate textile work was thus ingrained in me. She started weaving when she was 60, and I followed a few years after her.

"The simplicity of weaving suits my personality. The vertical warp threads are either up or down, and they trap the horizontal weft threads. With each linear step in weaving, there is a point of no return, leaving no room for doubts or excessive editing. When I discovered this, I let go of my lifelong (since age six!) dream of becoming a writer and dove in head on."

A View from the East 
"As a child growing up in Japan, I knew the Silk Road started at our end, winding through China and India, reaching somewhere beyond the Big Buddhas. I imagined colorful cargo undulating on camelbacks. Early this year I learned there are indeed tributary routes traversing though my old stomping grounds; silk products from the greater region were collected in Hachiohji City, transported on carts pulled by animals and men to the port of Yokohama, and shipped beyond. I imagine growers and weavers then had no idea where their silks ended up; I imagine they had no idea what the ancient capitals of Persia, Greece and Rome looked like."

Self-portrait, a page in our collective book-shaped piece, facing my Personal Profile/Bio above. I'm not sure if a blurb for this piece is needed, but anyhoo:
Title undecided
"Growing old and becoming an invisible middle-aged woman is not fun, even if one’s body shape never changed much from the age of 3 onwards, skipping the svelte teenage stage. But of late, I have most decidedly become terribly and permanently annoyed by the exponential malfunction. Why, I was26 only last year!"

Friends(hip) Piece: 
You Got my Back; I’ve Got Yours
"I am a self-taught weaver. In the mid-90’s my greatest living resources were weavers who took part in an Internet weaving list. In the last six and a half years since I discovered blogging and blogger weavers, they have been my community. Though I work alone on my looms in the basement; this community enables me to learn and thrive as a weaver.

"The colorful and varied weft threads in this piece were sent by the weavers from around the world. Thank you: Kaz Madigan, NSW, Australia; Connie Rose, CA, USA; Cally Booker, Dundee, Scotland; Mette Frøkjær, Allingåbro, Denmark; Margery M. Haber, NY, USA; Gaye Sutton, Carterton, NZ; Dianne Dudfield, Katikati, NZ; Peg Cherre, NY, USA; Holly Haynes, WA, USA; Sampling, Melbourne, Australia; Donatella Chiesa, Genova, Italia; Kathryn Harmon, OR, USA; Judy Nolan, NSW, Australia; Sandy Gunther, CA, USA; JM, Blijham, Nederland; Daniella Zeni Bomatter, Willer, France; Rachel Beckman, MD, USA; Dorothy Lumb, Derbyshire, England; Nancy Sayer, ACT, Australia; Terri Bibby, BC, Canada; Gail Gondeck, NY, USA and the member of New York Guild of Handweavers, NYC, and Jocky Hollow Weavers Guild, NJ, USA; Esmae Emerson, Nelson, New Zealand."

I had intended to add your blog urls innitially but since tehre are so many of you and this will only be printed and posted on the wall, I've decided against it. Apologies. If you'd like your name/location changed/corrected in the above blurb, please leave a comment or email me.

EDIT: I had hoped to go short and sharp with my Profile/Bio, but I didn't like what I posted here exactly; the end and comparison to editing was too abrupt for something so important to me. The rewrite, on the other hand, is so long it reads like a blog post and counter to my intent. I would so appreciate your input. (Long version omitted.)

EDIT: I rewrote this again, and unless I have a big change of heart or too much time on my hands, I think I can stick with this version.

Personal Profile or Bio, Draft Three
"I grew up watching my mother knit, sew and embroider while listening to her chant how much she longed to weave. The idea weaving is the ultimate textile work was thus ingrained in me. Mother started weaving when she was 60.

"Since I was six, I had hoped to be a writer. In the 90’s, while learning to edit, I discovered my two contrasting preferences: to write detailed and flowery descriptions and saturate the pages with ambiance and pictures in the first draft, and to cull to the bare minimum in the second. I could not find a happy compromise, so I took up weaving to relax.

"The simplicity of weaving suits my personality. The vertical warp threads are either up or down, and they trap the horizontal weft threads. Weaving requires many linear steps, most of which are not the weaving on the loom, but setting up the loom and finishing the woven cloth. With each step weavers cross points of no return, beyond which backtracking or drastic editing are onerous. This appeals to me. Now I blog for relaxation."

40 Days and No Longer Counting

More or less. The Group Strands met on Monday, and we had 40 more days to work on our respective pieces.

I've been weeding in between weaving. I think I've mentioned numerous times that we live on a steep slope. The area of the garden I've been working on, weeding, planting, pruning and feeding, is not as steep as some other areas, but it's still about, ohhhhh, 30 degrees. It's outside my kitchen windows, and is the only part of our garden we can see from the inside without making an effort to look at our garden. Anyway, We bought 15 bags of compost material for the local school fund-raiser, and as I liberated plants I intended to have from ones that grew on their own accord, I gave a bit of this nice compost. It's lovely dark, dark charcoal brown, and the view from the kitchen tell me every day how much I got done. In fact, I got almost all the weeding done for that area on Saturday, even pulled out a shrub that had died, and I was pretty pleased with myself.

Sunday night we had very heavy rain and all I could imagine were the liberated plants soaking up the goodness of the rain and the compost and magically growing, oh...., 30cm overnight.? What happened instead was some of the nice new compost got pushed down by the ran, flowed across the path, through the gap created by the absence of said dead shrub, down the retaining wall, and spread across the patio and down the storm water drain. And outside my kitchen windows were these miniature canyons of compost and soil cut in rather stark, acute angles, tributaries converging where the dead shrub was, and, well, you get the picture.

My life feels a little bit like that, too. I finally finished Pillar 3, but with great difficulty. Every day I have to consider how much my seemingly-suddenly-ancient body can take: 100 picks twice a days is fine, 150 is manageable, but 200 in one sitting, and heaven forbid two sittings of those, seem to render me useless the following day. Whereas Pillar 1 took four days to weave, (albeit even then I knew it was break-neck speed,) Pillar 3 took around 10 just for the bottom portion.

As if this slowness is not problem enough, this incremental weaving is bad for beating consistency in my case, and because I'm now always thinking about my back, I've gone soft. And Pillar 3 was woven entirely with the two-ply weft, which took in a lot more air as I wove. To make matters worse, the draft for Pillar 1 with the thicker single weft was around 1770 picks; Pillar 2 with the thinner single weft 1790 to accommodate, and these two pillars came out within 2cm of each other in length off the loom. Pillar 3 draft is about 1810 picks; I knew this but I like the look of it so I went ahead expecting it to come out slightly longer than the other two.

Well, that "slightly longer" turned into around 25cm!

And for a couple of days I couldn't look at it. I felt the pictures that lived in my head crumple and die. Was it indulging in the loveliness of the draft that caused this? The rushed last minute sampling with the double and lazy calculation? The incremental and inconsistent weaving? Or the cumulative out-of-shape-ness that worked against me? Wow is me, bring out the violins, start backing girly cupcakes for a grand pity party. You get the picture.

But you know, I found myself in that home stretch where I don't get too emotional. My immediate concern was what to do with Pillar 4, which will be the last one looking at what's left on the warp beam; I'll keep it around 1800 so it'll be somewhere between the two length, and hope and pray that in the wet-finishing these two will shrink at a greater rate than the first two, which is what did happen, sort of, in the last sampling. And I'll change the shape I'll hang these so they are not lined up in a nice line/curve right next to each other, but staggered so the longer ones are at the front and the smaller ones at the back, hoping for some kind of a perspective thing taking place.

But then, it dawned on me this morning that the original idea was not to hang them straight anyway, but to make some look crumbled and ruined. Su-weet!

I've accumulated half a dozen post drafts in the last wee while, as I've done some work on the Friends(hip) project, blurbs, and what not, as well as thoughts on post-exhibition ideas and the usual personal growth/groan stuff, but all these are taking a/the backseat to the actual work. I miss speaking to/with you, but not the sound of my own voice as I seem to get over problems more quickly if I don't try to verbalize it but just let it live in my head for a day or two.

Anyway, talk some more soon?


50 Days and Counting

P2 is off the loom; P3 has been started. Now the weft take on a softer, fluffier texture with one end of two-ply wool in combination with two ends of the previous Merino/Mohair, and the new draft has more round bits. I think I will end up with four pillars. I worry that grouped together, these two textures will look different enough to each other, making the set a collection of pillars from different buildings/eras rather than from one ruin. The more I see what comes off the loom, the less clear my mental picture of these hanging at the Refinery becomes. As an old acquaintance's mother (who had eight kids) used to say, "I'll burn that bridge when I come to it."

"Collective Book/Self-Portrait/Friends(hip)"
To clarify, because I'm now confused about the names, my contribution to the collaborative book is going to be a self-portrait-based woven cloth, 270mm wide by 235mm high, roughly A4/legal size in landscape orientation. I've been doodling and manipulating images by hand and on the computer, surprising myself for emphatically preferring doodles over photos as starting points. It's too, too early to know where I'm going, but I have in mind:
* If not woven on RH, max 14 shafts for "Self-Portrait". I still want to use this as the base for "Friends(hip)".
* Use colors.
* Consider asymmetrical to give it a different feel from "Pillars".

I foresee some problems with "Friends(hip)":
* I have only one warp beam so one set, probably the plain weave "tapestry" warps, will be weighted another way.
* I've never done inlay or tapestry-like work, so must practice with my own misc wefts. I'm certain there will be strange size- and tension-related pulling and puckering. I expect lots of pressing with lots and lots of steam.
* I don't know how far the wefts you sent me will go, the size of piece or area it will cover, yet I'm pretty determined to use them all. I can't get a feel for the size/shape of the piece and that worries me a little bit. But all in due course.

Without further ado, (for those, like me, who prefer pictures over text,) here are a few to chuckle over.
Sorted by colors, but you'd expect that of me. I think the warp will be mid-dark reds.
This is the only visual I chose (out of about 200) for the variation in values, though while manipulating other material, values come to play. Middle-aged jawline and neck, parts of me I would deny I'm attached to under normal circumstances, I find have potential for the lines and shapes.
Unattractive body shapes are somehow less painful in quirky caricatures.
This looks to me like an x-ray of a halved tamarillo.
This is the front half of a profile done in water color pencils, values reversed.
Like, but by the time this is made into a draft for 16 or 14 shafts and woven, it's going to look less interesting and the shape resemble what I have in the "Pillars" anyway.
Austrian venus, born in Yokohama, raised in Minnesota, living in Nelson. Yes, I like this. But for this project, I think asymmetrical is better.

Small Items to Sell
I'm not weaving, but leaving head space and time to invest in quality and care of the works; cards with photos of my work are the only things I'm selling during the exhibition.

I have to write a few different blurbs; I have my one-liner for the catalogue, but I need a short bio, and blurbs for each piece to go on the wall. We're also holding one floor talk for which we each have around 10 minutes including Q&A. I need bullet points, and possibly visuals, after I decide what one or two points I want to blather on about. 

Because I'm weaving only one big project instead of the intended two, and because I haven't see others' work, I's rather worried about the volume of work we will have. The group never discussed the aesthetics/visual plan for the exhibition as a whole. Generally the colors will be muted, (not a bad thing,)  but I feel personally responsible and disappointed if there aren't a few big things. I also know I worry about the volume/size because of my initial visualization for the exhibition; there have been plenty of tidy, minimalist exhibitions in that cavernous space, and I do know collectively we have a big enough bag of tricks so we will do alright. But I can't help feeling responsible.

We hang the show in 50 days.

What Inspires Me??

I finally met up with Esmae for lunch yesterday, joined later by Ronette. And the sun even made an appearance, so overall it was a glorious Friday afternoon. When Esmae came over and I showed her Pillar 1, I was reminded once again that when I embarked on this project, I really didn't have any idea what I was hoping to accomplish. I try not to dwell on this as now is not the time, (the pillars need to be woven!) but I hope to have some time to think and therefore plan well before installation.

I was also surprised to hear me say I wanted to make something very tall, but "If I were nature-inspired I may have created tree-, mountain- or rock-face-inspired something, but because I love the man-made, it had to be architecture." I know this; I constantly think of architecture, but it was the first time I was able to articulate. (Although, you know, if I made banners that made you feel like you were surrounded by tall trees, I could so easily attach some kind of a political statement/concept and put it in a conceptual exhibition.)

At one point Esmae asked me what in Japan inspires me, and my immediate honest response was ceramics. And the way people dress, because many Japanese love to dress up. I had some additional thoughts this morning.

Colors. I think I try to put on my Kiwi/American eyes and look for color combinations and nuances I don’t find here, which is super easy. They are often color combos we ignore if we lived there. But because Japan is both big and old, there are ALL KINDS of color and combos. I particularly like to look for “typically” Japanese colors, i.e. kimono shops, paper shops and ceramics; even tiny kitchen shops, department stores, supermarkets and discount stores, and note my reactions. I like Japanese ceramics colors more than kimono colors. I also look for colors from other places that I can’t find easily or as much of here: Central Asia, Middle East, Scandinavia, the US. I may not use them in my weaving, but I like to look; sometimes they pop up on my loom unintended.

Aesthetics. I love asking people which colors/shapes/things they like. I’m interested in people's perception/description, more than their preferences. I love to hear people defend what on my books are ugly. And boy, taste vary in Japan.

Still, what inspires me most are stories. Just the same as I’m listening to the National Radio at home, I visualize scenes from stories and then develop them in my head. I find that works for me best.

While in Japan, people's language use, (because they are SO indirect,) and words/concepts that don’t translate also intrigue me.

If you like things Japanese, it's a visual feast of different colors and shapes, especially if you travel and see new/old/urban/rural/noisy/quiet places. (In fact, I've come to see it's not the specific subsets but the mishmash of all kinds, and the individual ability to tune out what you don't like, that make up Japanese aesthetics nowadays.) And to that end, Osaka is probably a better base than Tokyo.

But tell me, what inspires you???


Life Goes On

The last three and a half weeks have been bizarre.  I was sick, then I was better; I had a great time with Finn for two days. Then I was sick again and didn't to go the second day of the Symposium; then I was well and finished my first Pillar and we went to see a play about Frances Hodgkins and Ben bought me a book of Hodgkins' letters, (great read but a heavy book.) Then we were sick again. I missed out on helping hang an exhibition at the Refinery and a lunch with Esmae, (who now lives in Nelson!)

I was so tired of being sick by last week, I wove a bit on Wednesday, a bit more than what my left arm was telling me was a good amount, and by the time I went to bed that night my lower back was in trouble. Last Thursday and Friday I was stuck in bed; I could walk or stay standing with a good measure of discomfort, but getting up/down and sitting was agonizing. It wasn't the acute back pain I have had twice in my life, but a dull, posture/motion-specific one. Lordy. Just as I thought I was coming to terms with living and weaving with wonky arms. And just as quickly as it came, by Friday night I was 95% fine, except I didn't know what/when I can resume life, so I stayed low.

Came yesterday, the weather was lovely, and I was revving to go; I hoped to do some housework, weed a little and weave a little. It turned out I was too slow with housework and I ran out of time to weed, but thought I should do one of the W's, not both, so if I hurt again I'll know what caused it. So I wove 100 picks, vacuumed the whole basement, wove another 100 picks, and had a long hot shower. At that rate, I estimated, I could almost finish Pillar II today, but better take it easy and give it two days.

(Oh, I got Trojan'ed in the morning while looking up a Japanese Olympic athlete; first time it happened to me and second time at Chez Nakagawa. Luckily, about all I've stored on the laptop these last few months have been drafts for Pillars I didn't much like, as I and II are safely stored on the loom computer. We noticed the Trojan right away so the damage was minimal, though I've been going all over changing passwords, just in case. By 10PM, Ben had it all fixed but customizations were lost. Not dire, but did you know a slight difference is much harder to detect than a big difference? I feel somethings have changed on my laptop, but I can't tell exactly what.)

In the middle of the night I woken up by hot pin-pricks on my lower back. Damn. I was so annoyed I just went back to sleep. This morning, I'm back to OTC pain killers and gel, but it's after 11AM and I'm nowhere nearly in pain as I was earlier. For today, I had in mind developing the Self Portrait/collaborative book idea. By fate, Polskie Wrzeciona (not her name; means Polish Spindles, I think,) shared a link to this picture, and the cogs started moving: if I plan to the Self Portrait on RH, I can weave it concurrently with the Pillars, and this suits the exhibition title, "Beginnings" as well, though I may need to develop a totally separate Self Portrait for the Friends(hip) piece. Worth looking into.

Because I've spent so much time in bed, I've watched all eight episodes of Craft in America and have started the second+ round with Ben. They are very well made, as you might expect from PBS, but I am surprised how I enjoy episodes about makers who didn't go to art school, (that used to be my Big Hangup;) and discussions on communities and teaching, (I'm not good at the former and am uninterested in the latter.) Cally asked me a while ago which part I like the most: the makers I most admire, besides Randy, are Mr Simmonds the blacksmith and Charles M. Carrillo primarily because of their emphasis on helping others in their field. The episode I enjoyed the most was VI: Messages; I agree with Cally that compared to others, VIII: Threads didn't bring as many new things to me. The discipline I would like to take up, if I had a better body, is blacksmithing; I've always loved iron work and the junction of craft and architecture I find irresistible. So on the back-of-the-back-burner goes another item: "architectural cloth".

And did you know a couple of volcanoes are getting active in New Zealand today? Here in Nelson, we might get thunder and lightening today, something we don't see too many of here, so I'm holding my breath in anticipation. Life is never boring, is it?

* * * * *

Frances Hodgkins
The Play 
The male actor is John, our mate Tim's little brother, of whom we had heard of for six years but finally got to see!

This ongoing, mostly-mild cold keeps playing this song in my head.


Simplifying Life

As you know I've been trying to simplify my life for a while, and though I've been making progress on the stash/books front, there are a few things I've been wanting to do online for a while.

At the end of the month I'm terminating my MegWeaves page on Facebook. I haven't decided about the personal Facebook profile yet.

I am considering closing my Flickr account after that. This will have direct implications here as portions of our online events were posted there, but I can save a small amount of money this way as well.

As the next phrase, I am going to combine my websites and blogs so I have only two weaving "things" on Blogger to worry about. (Heck no, Unravelling isn't going anyway.) This is something I had looked into a while back but had decided against. But then I may not get to work on this until after October.

Thank you!

EDIT August 4: My Facebook page has been "unpublished"; apparently FB wanted to give me a fortnight to reconsider. I have transferred some of the pics from the challenges to this blog; though fewer in numbers, I hope the transition has been relatively painless. Ta.