Monday, 6 April 2015

Art and Craft in Northland

Easter Saturday shaped up to be a busy day. The Waipu Festival of Fibre was in my diary as a pleasant day out, an hour and half drive, nice beach, picnic, all sorted ...
Then during the week I also heard that Tahi honey farm near Whangarei was having its one and only annual open day on Saturday also. Tahi has only been operating for 3 years and is an amazing success story. They have been transforming and restoring a large area of run down cattle farm into to a fabulous ecosystem for native wildlife, work for local people, and worldwide sales of manuka honey. I also discovered that it was the Whangarei Heads Art Trail, which had at least 2 attractions. The first being that one of my favourite jewellers was taking part, and, it is one of my favourite areas to visit.

So, an early start. Being a holiday morning we took advice and avoided the SH1/Warkworth interchange by going north along the SH16, this only added 12km to the journey and took us along a much more scenic route. Fabulous early morning autumn mist wrapped around the valleys:

Can't you just see a piece in those images? Hmmm, thinking cap on ...
Anyway, it was really busy:

By the time we reached Waipu, the mist had dissipated and the weather was fabulous.
Waipu is very proud of it's Scottish heritage and traditions, including a New Years Day Highland Games which we must get to one year. The whole area seems to be garbed in plaid. As my husband is half McLeod, I suppose one day we ought to see whether there is any family connection to the founding McLeod family!
The Festival of Fibre had been organised by Kerry (Tulis Textiles), for whom I am running retreat classes in August (Find me Out and About). Though the festival wasn't huge, there were some interesting makers.

Penny Goodall weaves these organic vessels and incorporates beach finds.
Elke Radweld's pieces were versions of traditional weaving, allowing some contemporary forms to shape the pieces along with traditional techniques and materials.
Heketini Blanch has worked from her tribal heritage, creating a ceremonial korowai (a special cloak)
Jo Keith having fun with tapa cloth - look at those boots!

Jo Keith used another 'sacred' piece of NZ heritage to create this jacket - trusty old woolen blankets!
For my money, Rachel Maxwell was the most interesting maker in the show. Her pieces using harakeke flax weaving really do blend traditions and skills with a contemporary eye.

A detail from a Rachel Maxwell piece.

We then raced further north to join the Art Trail around Whangarei Heads. In it's third year, the trail gives a chance for around 40 artists to open their studios or create displays in community halls around the area. Being on a tight time frame, we didn't get a chance to visit everyone, so I can't really give a true overview. The makers we saw were very varied, from some basic craft work to accomplished painting. The main reason to visit was to say hi to Maike Barteldras and to order a couple of pairs of earrings.

Jewelery by Maike Barteldras
I first met Maike at Art In Action in Oxford and then showed her work at the Beetroot Tree before she moved to NZ. This weekend she was also showing some of her wall art, which was fabulous - I shall have to start saving! We had a brief chat about her experience as a designer maker in New Zealand and how her life is different her experience as a maker in Europe.

Lunch was eaten at a favourite beach, then we were back on the road with lots of fabulous views on the drive over the hills of Whangarei Heads to Tahi Honey Farm.

Lunch at Ocean Beach - going to bring the surf board next time

Looking across Whangarei Heads from Parua Bay - fabulous views
We were just in time to catch a factory tour at Tahi, though not for a good walk around the tracks - we will have so go back next year. Apart from learning more about the science behind why honey, especially Manuka honey, (it's all in the UMF rating) is so special, it was interesting to see how simple the operation of harvesting the honey remains. Finished off with a scoop of honey icecream. I am wondering if they fancy going into the production of mead?

High fashion accessories for the factory tour! (And I am not showing you how amazing we looked in our caps)
Not bad for a one day trip!

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Too wrinkly to be a model these days

I think that my conclusion to working on a self-portrait is that I am so much more old and wrinkly on the outside than inside my head!
However, I decided to set  myself this challenge and though the outcome looks nothing like me at all, it is another starting point to move on from.
The first question is the inevitable one - what makes a self portrait?  I would say that it absolutely does not need to be a recognisable 'head and shoulders' as per traditional portraits (though in this era of the selfie, we seem to have reverted to this at least in photographs). A self portrait could take any aspect of you whether that is physical, emotional, interests, skills, history, events etc. etc. and become a portrait. Any single image or artwork will not be able to encompass everything, so perhaps best to concentrate on one or two features.

I chose to use my 'personality colours' from the previous post as the background and to superimpose a version of a line drawing of my face as the foreground. The face was never supposed to be the main feature, it was just a hint that the colours are portraying the personality under the skin.

An interpretation of my personality (as decided by my students) in colour.
Then came the challenge to take a selfie in which my face wasn't too distorted, the angle all weird or my eyes looking in odd directions and which didn't show too many wrinkles! I realise that I do spend quite a lot of time with my hands under my chin and that as I work with my hands, perhaps symbolically it is a good thing to include them.

Sometimes it can help to use Photoshop to look at the image in different ways. It can highlight the strong lines or area or analyse the shapes and colours. So I spent quite a long time using different manipulations and filters to see whether in this case it was going to help - unfortunately not really, though I like some of the images and might come back to them another time. Here are a selection:

Perhaps I should have gone with this one? Except I thought the teeth might be an issue?

Eventually a simple crop and b&w transformation was all I used, then using the photocopier, enlarged the image to the correct size and traced the lines onto 'press and seal'. I hadn't come across this before, but it is a sticky version of clingfilm which presses onto the fabric and holds itself into place whilst being stitched over then can be torn away. Neat, though a bit fiddly when removing the last bits on the rough fibrous surface of the fabric.

Tracing off the enlarged image onto press and seal

Laying the press and seal over the background ready to stitch my face onto it.

Face on! Lots of blending and detailing to do yet

Getting there - more stitching and gilding to add highlights. Got to have a bit of glam, no?


Maybe finished. I am hanging myself on the curtain for assessment for a few days.

The light wasn't too great to capture the colours and the gilding in the piece, but you get the idea. May be I will call it 'Wrinkles-r-me'.