Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Tim Johnstone weaves

Bare foot cane climbing!
Over the four days of the project we worked early and late - avoiding the hottest part of the day, we built the main structure from the large bamboo-like European Cane Arundo donax, the same stuff that bassoon and oboe reeds are made from - alongside fences, roofing panels, baskets, bee hives, toys and no doubt many other things. The combination of Cane and Willow and sometimes Olive branches is a distinctive feature of Catalan basketmaking. With this in mind working alongside the makers from the Catalan Association brought a great wealth of material knowledge to compliment my own ideas about the structure and form of the project.

Text and image from here

Tim Johnston's work is captivating. He does a lot more than weavings and if you poke around his website and blog you see what I mean! I found his work a few years ago and  was delighted to get to this link today as I dont remember it being easy to find much in 2010 on this artist's stunning work.

His website and blog has lots of excellent images and info ... do go have a look wont you! Well worth the journey!

LOVE this found here

thorny issues ....

 see connections

and the biggest wow factor of all.... found here

I'm inspired ... makes me want to go live in the bush somewhere so I can explore the landscape! So far I have not managed to sway my family to consider leaving the city precinct during our house-hunting days ... so not sure when a house in the country will be in my sight.

Still there are always the weekends and holidays.

Enjoy our week wont you!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

reposting from 2011: visually eclectic!

This is a post from 2011: http://sophiemunns.blogspot.com.au/2011/08/what-little-excavating-will-find.html . When I came across it this morning it was missing images and looking quite sad. I had to restore it and in so doing found some interesting work ... some of which comes from sources you might well know.

I decided to repost it here now... well worth sharing!

Tonight I found time for 'breathing out' at tumblr after a most intense two days becoming familiar with a new laptop ... ironing out issues that resulted in a hour long conversation with AppleCare.

Mari Andrews Studio

Tumblr is great for when you feel short on energy but want to quietly peruse some visual ideas.

Umm Kalthoum overlooking a Cairo slum, Egypt

Can I suggest you pop over to Art Propelled - the infamous blog -and read Robyn's amazing post 'synchronicity-birds-and-healing' which I just did. Astonishing story from this South African artist whom many of us admire for numbers of reasons... this tops it off for me!

then take a look at this...


(by adour garonne)


“Silent Alcove” (Original Art from M. Lehrer-Plansky))
“Silent Alcove” (Original Art from M. Lehrer-Plansky))
cobaltika: Also go to the wonderful Maryanne's blog - blue sky dreaming


Spencer Wilton
Spenser Wilton


Field notes (flora & fauna) from the urban jungle « sakurasnow
Field notes (flora & fauna) from the urban jungle « sakurasnow
dear-ada:  Sakura Snow blog - hello Suzanne!


Sati Zech
Sati Zech  leslieavonmiller:


Voynich’s manuscript -
…garden journal’s are a beautiful thing!
Voynich’s manuscript …garden journal’s are a beautiful thing!
From Iran I liked the work of this artist very much:

Meem Art Gallery

About Meem

Since its launch in 2007, Meem Gallery has established itself as a leading specialist in the Arab and Iranian art world. The gallery's aim is to promote the work of modern and contemporary Middle Eastern artists, and inspire viewers to engage with, and gain a deeper appreciation for, the art of this region. Meem's strength lies in its unparalleled access to both private and public collections of the world's leading artists. In its first year, the gallery distinguished itself by gaining exclusive representation rights in Dubai for the work of Ali Omar Ermes and Nja Mahdaoui, bringing their art to the Emirates for the first time. Other prominent artists exhibited at Meem include Dia Al-Azzawi, pioneer of modern Arab art; eminent sculptor, Parviz Tanavoli; internationally acclaimed filmmaker and photographer Abbas Kiarostami; leading Turkish artist Ismail Acar; respected Gulf artist Abdullah Al-Muharraqi; and the rising star of the contemporary Arab art world, Hamza Bounoua

I was trawling  tumbleword  when I came across hanaa-malallah whose website revealed much food for thought!

Hanaa Malallah

Hanaa Malallah

Hanaa Malallah

hanaa malallah

Hanaa Malallah
Shroud 2 2010
Folded burned canvas and
mixed media on canvas
150 x 150 cm

Hanna Malallah (b. Thee Qar, 1958) received a Diploma in Graphic Art from the Institute of Fine Arts, Baghdad in 1979, followed by a BA in Painting from the Academy of Fine Arts, Baghdad in 1988 and an MA in Painting from Baghdad University in 2000. In 2005, Malallah completed her PhD in the Philosophy of Painting, at Baghdad University, where she wrote her thesis on Logic Order In Ancient Mesopotamian Painting. She also holds a Postgraduate Certificate in Islamic and Modern Art from SOAS, London.
She has held numerous solo exhibitions including Schedules and Signals, Athar Gallery, Baghdad, Iraq, 1998; Anda Gallery, Amman, Jordan, 2002 and 2005; and Vivid Ruins, The Mosaic Rooms, Qattan Foundation, London, 2009. International group exhibitions include Contemporary Iraqi Art, Institute du Monde Arabe, Paris, 2000; Baghdad International Festival for Contemporary Art, 2002; Iraq's Past Speaks to the Present, British Museum, London, 2008-09. She has several awards including Prize of Arab Organisation of Education, Culture & Sciences, 1984-85, First Prize in Painting, Eighth Festival of Al-Wasiti, 1991, and Honorary Award, South Lebanese Cultural Council, 2002. Her work is held in collections at the Centre for Art, Baghdad, Royal Jordanian Museum, Amman, and British Museum, London. She lives and works in London.

Hanna Malallah
Certain Knowledge (back
(detail) 2010
Needlework and mixed media on canvas 
150 x 150 cm

Shroud 3 (detail) 2010
Folded burned canvas and
mixed media on canvas
200 x 200 cm

I have posted here below the full 'artist's statement' from her website and suggest, if time permits, you read it for the acutely poignant way it speaks to the history of her country of origin, long past and recent past. 
I found this intensely interesting reading... I'm always drawn to think about what it means to be born to a certain geography, time and atmosphere ... and how people work with what is presented to them that may or may not be possible to overcome... at least in the short term.

My contributions to this exhibition are the result of my art practice since the early 1990s and also represent a point of transition towards the inclusion of figurative ‘similes’ as part of my ongoing quest for knowledge in the heart of abstract systems.
I began researching abstract systems (geometry, numbers, mathematics, letters, religion and art, for example) during a year and a half of seclusion in my studio on the first floor of my parents’ home after an intense materials and practice oriented painting degree from the Academy in Baghdad. Iraq was barely recovering from eight years of war with Iran whilst getting ready for armed engagement with Kuwait leading to the disastrous 1991 Gulf War and years of sanctions. At the same time, Shaker Hassan al Said, one of Iraq’s great artists and teachers, was refocusing the gaze of an entire generation of local artists towards the Mesopotamian past enshrined in the phenomenal collection of artefacts housed in our National Archaeological Museum.
Viewed as ‘modern’, these objects – many of them marked, or ’ruined’, by the passage of time – informed the aesthetic direction characteristic of the Eighties Generation. We deemed traditional art materials as incapable of delivering our artistic message. Instead we worked with burnt paper and cloths, with barbed wire and bullets, with splintered wood and found objects, borrowing from history and our catastrophic present alike. For many of us, this ‘Ruins Technique’ became the visual signifier of our cultural resistance and a carrier of our identity as Iraqi artists.
We also challenged received art terms and invented new ones. For example, in 1991 I recreated a three meter long segment of the ancient Al Warkaa temple wall with clay and cement on wood depicting ancient geometric symbols. In western art historical terms, where abstraction is defined either as non-representation or as the conversion of observed reality into patterns independent from the original source, the work can easily be considered abstract art. In my practice, however, the original source is an essential element of the composition process. I have thus coined the expression: ‘significant abstract’, meaning that the aesthetic aim has to reflect the original source in the very material presence of the art work. The spiritual quality of this perspective has become increasingly important to my practice.
As sanctions continued throughout the 1990s and art supplies became sparse, necessity rather than rebellion forced us to increasingly utilize found objects, recalling perhaps the Dada movement in Zurich at the time of the First World War. In 1999, as part of an exhibition called Icons of the Environment, I showed a work composed entirely of an accumulation of things picked from the streets of Baghdad, one each day, and pressing it into the surface of the work. This accumulation of signs became a document, a diary of daily life. Movable red squares allowed for audience interaction, signifying the playing of futile political games generating a vast amount of new ruins whilst simultaneously referencing our ancient Royal Game of Ur.
This kind of work led me to formulate a theory which postulates that if any image (figurative or abstract) is distilled to its rudimentary components, the result can only be abstraction. Therefore, all representations must, ultimately be considered a collection of abstract symbolic systems. These systems have their origins in our first global civilization, Mesopotamia, and are consequently embedded in all subsequent –global- systems. For many years, I have negotiated my practice on the intersection of these systems. I also agree with my philosophical mentor, Wittgenstein, who states in his Theory of Symbols that we create pictures of facts which serve as our models of reality, and that representation must share a logical form with the fact.
My immediate reality changed four and a half years ago when I left Iraq, and though I still burn and tear canvas and cloth, my work increasingly focuses on two vast fields of thought: religion and art. In testing the veracity of art’s spiritual roots as well as the limits of abstraction, I seek knowledge in the space between abstraction and figuration. The representation of the Hoopoe, the iconic leader of the Attar’s avian seekers, in his epic ‘Conference of the Birds’, for example, serves as a simulation of reality, which in itself is a simulation of perfection. Many of my works assimilate the idea of the hidden and the process of emergence based on awe of the unknown and the notion of transformation in the promise of the Secret.

Hanaa Malallah
London in 10/06/2010


Shroud 2 (detail) 2010
Folded burned canvas and
mixed media on canvas
150 x 150 cm

I know I have posted on this before ...but a favourite piece from the ancient world is this decorated box below. 
The Standard of Ur (also known as the "Battle Standard of Ur," or the "Royal Standard of Ur") is a Sumerian artifact excavated from what had been the Royal Cemetery in the ancient city of Ur (located in modern-day Iraq south of Baghdad). ...Wiki  - 
The two mosaics have been dubbed "War" and "Peace" for their subject matter, respectively a representation of a military campaign and scenes from a banquet
© Trustees of the British Museum

Banquet scenes such as this are common on cylinder seals of the period, such as on the seal of the ‘Queen’ Pu-abi, also in the British Museum. The Standard of Ur – The British Museum

The Standard of Ur is actually a hollow box decorated with mosaics of 

lapus lazuli red limestone and shell set in bitumen Sumerian 26th century BCE (2)
This is a rather long post ...but its been a while since I really had time to blog leisurely and so I have enjoyed taking time out to spin some visual threads and simply enjoy the process.
Have tried to pop in and say hello to the lovely bloggers who take the time to visit here...and to notice new followers coming along!

Its been ages since I spring-cleaned my blog roll...there are people I wish to add... please forgive the neglect!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

rethinking everything...

An apt thought for the moment...

Michael Chase: area of interest 
I'd posted this word/image on a much earlier blog post here: http://sophiemunns.blogspot.com.au/2011/03/we-must-rethink-everything.html and tonight, doing a major renovation at this somewhat neglected Visual Eclectica blog it just seemed to sum up my current preoccupation in general.

Nothing like having a good think about things... not just the old stuff that ails us... or what we are doing tomorrow... but the big stuff... the out there stuff that we are all part of anyway. Like how one can open the covers of a book such as this one... a library book I started to read a while back... to be reminded about big ideas, big inventions, changes, eras and such.

I remember being curious about why the writer chose to include what he did in his history of the world in objects... 100 is not many to narrow it down to.. 

Its fascinating to consider the uniqueness of our responses to questions, big and small.

Years ago I was deeply touched reading about a Dominican priest, Matthew Fox, who'd been silenced by the Pope in the late 80's for his outspoken views on a number of things ... but if I recall properly it was his speaking about was happening in Central and Sth America at that time that had really brought this about. Liberation theology rings a bell.

From WIKI:
Matthew Fox (born 1940) ... was an early and influential exponent of a movement that came to be known as Creation Spirituality. The movement draws inspiration from the mystical philosophies of such medieval Catholic visionaries as Hildegard of BingenThomas AquinasSaint Francis of AssisiJulian of NorwichDante AlighieriMeister Eckhart and Nicholas of Cusa, as well as the wisdom traditions of Christian scriptures. Creation Spirituality is also strongly aligned with ecological and environmental movements of the late 20th century and embraces numerous spiritual traditions around the world, including Buddhism,JudaismSufism, and Native American spirituality, with a focus on "deep ecumenism".
Fox has written 30 books that have sold millions of copies and by the mid-1990s had attracted a "huge and diverse following".[2] He was likened by academic theologians in one New York Times article to the controversial and influential 20th century Jesuit priest, philosopher and paleontologist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, particularly for his interpretations of issues such as the doctrine of original sin and the Cosmic Christ and for the resulting conflicts with church authorities.[3]

I particularly loved one of his leading thoughts : Its not what we are in the habit of doing that matters but what we might be able to do... the world doesn't really need people to do what they habitually do... but to ask what would the world really like us to do... or what it needs.

OK...to be honest the words are terribly hazy now... anyone familiar with this whole story might shoot me down and say I've got it all wrong. I apologise for misleading you if thats so... BUT!

Think of that question: What does the world need us to do?

I like to think that somewhere between what we like to do and what the world needs / is aided by... there is a task for each and every one of us... should we chose to consider that, believe that and move towards it. 

Ideal world perhaps you say? The stories we love it would have to be said very often have this key theme at their heart. The person who finds their joy doing something that gives joy or hope or support or aid or ideas and learning to others comes to stand as an inspiration to others. Then again, some are so under the radar most have no idea what they spend their time giving to others.

I remember in late 2011 when in London taking in the crowds at the Brick lane market marvelling at the vast crowds or people from every corner of the globe. I currently live in a city with a remarkably submerged cultural diversity. It exists... but not in the populous, exuberant way it exists in a city like London.
Brick Lane Market London

I walked for hours taking in the multiplicity of offerings... the sights, sounds and aromas ... and then I came across this plaque on the wall on my walk through the teeming masses!

Buxton I had not heard of... but I had to stop and say to myself ... well... if this isn't a reminder that it takes people, not just one either, to change things... I don't know what is. Loved that juxtaposition of the plaque to the masses swarming around me sharing the late Sunday afternoon party of many nations!
LondonVia here.

So what are we in the habit of doing?

Why do we do what we do?

When we fail to find some enriching relationship between what we do and what others are supported by, the world is supported by... it can be a tough life. Stuck in really difficult jobs we are certainly challenged to find a way it bring something more to that work. Life can really test us... so we need people who can remind us of other ways through... other things to strive for or risk doing.

The Groucho Marx question is interesting! I've borrowed that quote to include in slideshow presentations I do on my Homage to the Seed project. It gets a chuckle but is of course quite poignant.

Recent blog posts of mine this year are discussing change on the personal front with the current transition I'm in ... studio packed up and in storage, work on hold... selling one home and looking to find another. Its so interesting to be reminded that when one uproots, soon enough the questions start flowing. Initially one can feel inconvenienced and unsettled and be out of sorts or simply disoriented. Things are easily misplaced and ordinary tasks can become more challenging.

Then, if one is fortunate to gain some time to think during this change, it can become an intensely creative period. Many have said this to me also... its been very much their experience.

Tonight I decided to focus on this one blog. Rethink what its been, how it developed and where its going. I started with the visual element and borrowed 2 background images to use from Lost and Taken Gallery. Free high resolutions textures was an interesting place to search.

Lost & Taken textures are made freely available for use in both personal and commercial projects including web templates, designs, and other materials intended for distribution. Attribution is appreciated, but not required.

The background n this blog is from the paper samples... watercolour on old paper and the header background in the old worn cover of a book ... loved the particular green... so mellow and I'm happy it works with the other background so well.



Theres 100's more for you to see.

Well i have edited just about every possible part of this blog... but the one thing I have yet to do is update the blog-lists i follow. They are tow years out of date in some cases. New people I follow I have not even added to the list.

Ive been very remiss in blog-land... but that was how it was.

Next Tuesday it will be 4 years exactly since I started this blog... my first online site... but now one of many I attempt to keep up with. So if you are reading this and you have visited before and returned... i thank you... and if this is your first visit ... welcome indeed!

I want to say a special thankyou to all who have popped by or click on to follow ... whether its just been a week, a month or a long time now... thankyou ! The opportunity for exchange has brought so much that I could write pages on that alone!

Best wishes to all!
Sophie x

Friday, April 19, 2013

What I am learning about this city I live in!

There is nothing like house-hunting to reveal some of the layers of a place!

In 2011 on a train to St Ives in Cornwall I was captivated by the views all the way from London! Gorgeous landscapes, sea vistas and those dramatic tidal inlets. What I did take note of that was memorable in a different way were the rows and rows of houses all the same that lined some of the streets closest to the rail line.

The city I live in now is filled with a number of styles of domestic architecture.

A most appealing traditional style is known as the Queenslander and I have been enjoying living in a smaller-sized Queenslander these past few years.

65 Reeve Street, Clayfield, Qld 4011
home sweet home
Some of these homes can be rather massive... with huge verandahs and extending over a a couple of normal size house blocks.

21 BEATRICE TCE, Ascot, Qld 4007
Not far from where I live!

When I said the can be expansive... I meant it!

Far north Qld,  Cairns

I found this excerpt below at the Queensland Museum Website:

The Queensland house or ‘Queenslander’ speaks eloquently of our distinctive lifestyle and is one of the most distinctive architectural designs in Australia.

A decorative Queenslander house in Annie Street, Torwood, built around 1890

A decorative Queenslander house in Annie Street, Torwood, built around 1890 (Queensland Museum, 1993)

Queensland has more than one type of housing but a tradition of timber building is dominant. This distinctive tradition originated with rough timber huts of early settlement and developed into the multi-gabled bungalows of the 1930s. Buildings continued until, and were adapted after, the Second World War, leading to contemporary ‘Environmentally Sustainable Timber Houses’.
The most typical early twentieth century Queensland house is characterised by:
  • timber construction with corrugated-iron roof;
  • highset on timber stumps;
  • single-skin cladding for partitions and sometimes external walls;
  • verandahs front and/or back, and sometimes the sides;
  • decorative features to screen the sun or ventilate the interior; and
  • a garden setting with a picket fence, palm trees and tropical fruit trees.
There are many styles of the famous 'Queenslander', but share distinct construction style, internal spaces, furnishing, and gardens. They are now valued as a key element of Queensland heritage and conservation and renovation of Queenslanders is widespread.

So... in my internet search for houses Ive noted many a Queenslander in the listings. we are steering away from these beauties for various reasons. Upkeep can be demanding, but it must be said, they do have a great amount of character!

So it was quite a leap to look at this one today:

9 Northam Avenue, Bardon, Qld 4065
Minimal architect designed home

Bardon Home

9 Northam Avenue, Bardon, Qld 4065
Living spaces

9 Northam Avenue, Bardon, Qld 4065

9 Northam Avenue, Bardon, Qld 4065
How about this bed... looks like a verandah with the bifold windows pushed right back!

If you wish to view more of this home visit  HERE

As you can well appreciate.... its quite a process ... even if its an online process... to even begin to work out what places to take the time to go and see in person. It would be tedious indeed if I didn't pop off on tangents regularly to make the task more interesting!

Even the more likely homes I've been looking at offer, at best, a flight of fantasy.

In order to work through various criteria its a busy task of ascertaining prices ( NOT always obvious)  and reading though the list of features a property offers. I spent hours today.... taking my search further than before having identified other suburbs that might hold appeal.

Not near rivers and creeks that flood... hopefully near a bike path. Studio space... of course... but in our price range.

So much imagining is called on to breathe life into pictures and words that aim to tell of the place.

I found this studio

79 Bilsen Road, Wavell Heights, Qld 4012

In this house...

79 Bilsen Road, Wavell Heights, Qld 4012

Roomy enough?

79 Bilsen Road, Wavell Heights, Qld 4012

well...  this wont be my new home! A tad pricy!

This one had some wonderful elements....

18 Lemnos Street, Wavell Heights, Qld 4012

Designed by a Landscape Architect there was a particular space in the kitchen looking out on the garden that took my breathe away. The garden itself was intimate .... so like an art work! Sorry I can't share the best of what I saw here!

Wavell Heights, address available on request

The gardens keep drawing me in. Courtyards and intimate spaces...

18 Alleena Street, Chermside, Qld 4032

18 Alleena Street, Chermside, Qld 4032

This one had a sensational garden. It didn't meet out criteria but I had to go see the garden. I'm 
so glad I did!

I could have painted during the day on that deck with its city views!

18 Alleena Street, Chermside, Qld 4032

And walked these gardens every day... seeing what was doing!

18 Alleena Street, Chermside, Qld 4032

This would have made an excellent studio I'm sure!

18 Alleena Street, Chermside, Qld 4032

And at the back there were food gardens!

But alas... I am not the only one looking and the stairs were too steep
here for an elderly person!

The agent asked me what I thought of this property and I commented
that it felt like being at a Botanic Garden. She was bery keen to say 
that it was the home of a horticulturalsit form the Botanic Garden ... 
the same garden where I did a residency n 2010 in fact. 

I was not surprised... the garden was magnificent and filled with all 
kinds of tropical species so artfully laid out and lush! I'm hoping the 
right buyer wil come along for that house... the garden needs to be
kept as is. 

I've seen so many new kitchens of late I rather liked this one!!

40 High Street, Ashgrove, Qld 4060

Then you find some that are further from the city but have SPACE! 

And maybe you can see the stars!

25 Caladenia Court, Everton Hills, Qld 4053

When it comes down to it though our needs are simple really. What does have
 me thinking though is how we are building for this era... and some of the 
issues that stand out with comtemporary homes and in the older areas.

There's not enough trees and growing things in so many place and streets 
I see. I would rather see different ideas in play... like shared green spaces for 
gardening and fresh air. I'm glad to be connecting often with architects, 
designers, gardening types here where I live. I cant wait to see more innovation
reaching the masses... and somehow I think it will need to.

The other thing I reckon for sure is more art needs to find its way into peoples 

Its been wonderful to hear that there has been some art appreciation going on 
at our own house's viewings. For many of us it does make such a difference 
to walk into a home where something conveys mindfulness, or an attention 
to detail in the way the space is lived in
I could go on but its late so I will bid you goodnight!

See you soon with more reports perhaps!