Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Why 'Beyond The Ballast'?

I was very happy to agree to take part in an exhibition in which we would be given papers made by Zizania Paper Products in Te Kopuru. This small business creates papers from local plants such as papyrus, linseed, flax, pampas and others. 
I have shown you some images of my work in 'All Washed Up'.
What I didn't quite understand was the exhibition title 'Beyond The Ballast'. So when I popped to see it at the Muddy Waters Gallery in Dargaville (open till 9 May, 10 - 4 daily) I asked about the derivation and it is a great story, if not for the local flora, then historically and a pertinent reminder for us today as we travel around.
Dargaville was once a centre of shipping and boats came from all over (the remains of one of the earliest ever European wrecks was not long since found, possibly as early as 1705). It is a known practice that cargo boats need to carry something as ballast if they have no cargo on board, and this is often dumped at the harbour before taking on the real cargo. Boats from China were not uncommon and they used briquettes of mud and other inclusions as ballast. As these disintegrated in the harbour seeds of the Zizania grass (Manchurian Rice Grass) washed up along the river and took hold. They are now a pest species in the area. Hey ho!  So, the original papers made by Zizania Papers were taking advantage of the plant and making efforts to reduce the pest plant from the river edges in the area. How cool is that?

A selection of lovely papers - guess who brought another bundle of them home after visiting?

Here you go - Beyond the ballast!

Beyond the Ballast

Beyond the Ballast

Beyond the Ballast

Beyond the Ballast
A couple of apologies before I leave you - to be speedy I've not cropped and lightened the images, and I have lost my programme with the names of the other artists to be able to credit them. If I can find it, I'll add names later.
I hope you agree that it looks great and feel free to use the link for Zizania to get hold of their papers for yourself - I am sure they will be very pleased.

Saturday, 7 April 2018

Starting to feel a bit like Autumn

Walking down the track to the market this morning it definitely felt as though the season was changing. Though the days are warm and sunny once they get going, there is that chill in the morning and evening which presages the colder months. The trees are changing, loosing leaves and most significantly and sadly the cicadas have stopped singing.
The seasonal changes here in north NZ are much less dramatic than the UK or New England, the signals are more subtle. But look closely and there are fabulous patterns and designs to be seen in the small things - grass and wild flower seed heads, patterns on the drying leaves, the delicate encasements of spider webs ...












And then in the slightly surreal way that NZ has, what was a camellia doing in full bloom at the beginning of autumn?


Yesterday seemed the right time to get into some eco dye/print/rust experiments, so a few fabrics and papers have been soaking overnight in their mordants ...


And a variety of fabrics and papers have been bundled with rusty nails and other bits and some copper scraps.

Fabrics soaked in vinegar, salt and water, then wrapped into bundles with old nails and other scraps

Papers and nails left overnight in a plastic bag and squashed with a weight

Fabric and nail bundle

Actually I love this as it is - not sure I want to unwrap it!
All I have to do now is be patient (!!!!) whilst my fabrics soak, stew and ferment for a while longer.

If you want to know more about eco printing, there are of course loads of ideas on the web, also, Decembers 'WOWBook'  has a lovely chapter by Caroline Bell.