Monday, June 25, 2018

Kiwi hospitality

After an unusual night of complete insomnia, I got a ride with Tony to the airport in the dark and wee hours of the morning to fly to New Zealand. The South Island has less than a quarter of the population of the whole country and Christchurch really suffered after its two big earthquakes in 2010 and 2011. But I'm not here for any touristy things, only for research. Here is one of Mark Lander's pieces hanging in his workshop.
Two of his beaters that work outside. Both are full right now, one with rag and one with rag + New Zealand flax—known as harakeke by the Maori. It's not related at all to the flax that is in the Northern Hemisphere. Misnomers run rampant and it would be nice to restore the names given by the original keepers of the land. Anyhow, this is Mark's main material and he makes beautiful paper with it.
Here are two of his floral wreaths made of paper, and you can see the harakeke big sheets hanging like gauze. He originated lots of methods of making huge paper, with his biggest sheets measuring 10 meters square (almost 33 square feet).
He creates pigments that he paints with from the earth, getting a wide range of colors, all from the area. Using local materials is important to him, and he also always asks for a blessing before harvesting his plants.
He taught himself piano and has this gorgeous grand in the workshop. Janet, his wife, is behind—can you believe they allowed me to come and stay right as they finished up moving?! After having moved to a new house only months ago, I have a hard time believing I could have hosted a stranger from another country right in the throes of it. They are so kind and generous, and Jan has been cooking up wonderful meals for us throughout.
The day after I arrived, they were kind enough to drive me around Christchurch to see bits of the city, including the earthquake ruins. This church has shipping containers stacked up on the other side just to keep the whole thing from falling down.
This is the famous cardboard church made to temporarily replace another that was damaged, though it is now permanent—also created by a Japanese architect who had done similar structures in Japan after natural disasters.

Part of Mark's hospitality is that he sews up these wolf onesies, complete with hoods and tails, so that guests can climb into them and stay warm. He's been sewing since he was a kid. Amazing!
After seeing buildings, we drove through Sumner, a lovely seaside town, and up an old volcano rim to see stunning views. I was so busy gawking that I didn't take pictures of the eastern shoreline but we did jump out of the car to look at the harbor.
Jan is down there amidst the tussocks (after we came back down, on the way home she rooted around on the ground behind her old garden to find the last of the feijoas so that I could have a taste. A gorgeous green fruit). What a beautiful drive, which they would do on bike and foot. The weather has been stunning for my entire visit down under. Only tomorrow will be cloudy and potentially rainy, but I'm grateful for all the sun throughout their winter solstice and beyond.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Melbourne in a jiffy

Melbourne was my "time off" when I scheduled zero teaching, no work, and only time and space to explore and relax. Here is the tapestry workshop.
There wasn't a ton of Korean art in the NGV but this hanbok was more interesting than it looks in this not very good photograph (I think for sure I need a new camera, but I don't want to carry a real camera around).
Women were rowing on the Yarra River as I crossed Princes Bridge. I walked a bunch that day but was not particularly productive. I did find a Korean place for good soup, though, so that's not nothing.
Barb was incredible! She picked me up, set up papermaking from plants that grow in the area, had Gail come over to join us for show and tell + papermaking + a delicious lunch (more soup! I love soup and winter is the best time for it), took me to a shop for local artists, showed me her brilliant garden, cooked me dinner, and drove me home.
It was chilly so they filled the vats with nice hot water. It was almost like spa papermaking. Barb has a perfect home setup with foolproof couching stations, tons of moulds, a lovely screw press, and the perfect floors and light. What an inspiration (the second wood floor paper studio I've worked in. I want one very badly).
THEN, she hand delivered the dry paper to me the next day when I was out. Amazing! I was really touched by how generous and warm hearted she is.
I had kumquats from her garden, delicious, and admired her chair along with so many special touches. Lots of ideas for home, though of course their climate is different from mine.
The last day was a visit to Colleen and Brian. See a theme? I love this and wish I could do the same to my utility sink in the basement, but that's really not a wise use of my time.
Ilka pointed out the eyelashes on the other alpaca (you can't see her head). They're both pregnant.
Anne, Colleen, Ilka, and Brian around the special onions that grow up and then fall down, only to root themselves from the head that becomes the root, and grows again. What a smart plant!
This is how textile folks travel: Ilka's spinning wheel, gifts that Brian dug up (New Zealand flax, those onions, and woad that grows like a weed), and so much more. We had hot chocolate at the theatre in Castlemaine before scattering again. The entire time, Anne cooked the most delicious meals. Tony was kind enough to wake up earlier than he had to so we could share a cab to the airport: he to Tasmania, and me to New Zealand.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

The last bit of Tasmania

This is a paper sculpture by Ruth Rees and Pam Thorne from 2006 called "A Man & His Dog" that is at the whisky distillery in Burnie where I had lunch overlooking amazing landscapes that included seeing snow in the distance and a pair of eagles flying overhead.
This is obviously a terrible shot because the sun is RIGHT THERE but in the distance you can see Table Cape. This was during Lynne's grand tour that she gave me of the area that is all so beautiful. I was learning about house prices and property tax rates! If there was reliable work, it seems like a nice place to live.
Penguin is ALSO a place that seems like a wonderful place to live, right on the water with a very cute downtown.
Pam is admiring a project in progress that we walked by on the beach. Lyndal insisted that we come down to shore before getting me to the airport. It's so nice here the way domestic flights work out of the tiny airport: you just have to arrive about half an hour, maybe even less, and there's ZERO security. I was shocked.
More water and sky and sun.
When we got back from the beach, we of course had to go see the penguin! Two seagulls were perched on top.
Somehow we had time to stop at Pam's and Neil's house on the way to the airport, where she showed me this beautiful tapa from Papua New Guinea, in exquisite shape, and explained how the pattern was made in one section, then folded over, and then approximated from that point, and so on.
Before loading back into the car, Pam showed us the remnants of her tests of native Tasmanian plants for papermaking, which included a native help that stripped beautifully (the woody core in her hand). The leaves to the side she said were split in half to scrape by the indigenous people and that makes SO much sense when I think of how hard it is to scrape things like yucca leaves from the outside. Donna had also mentioned Maori traditions of scraping similar plants with mussel shells.
Pam is a remarkable sculptor, and these are small paper figures. Apparently, her large figures that she made with Ruth are all over town in various places that I didn't have time to visit.
Pam also made all of this string by hand with dress pattern paper. She then makes beautiful pieces from that, including the costume and hat that Lyndal wore on the Friday night event, and her own beautiful collar that night.
To cap it all off, I raced down to Neil's shop. I didn't know until I got to town that Neil also makes paper moulds!
I was being called off to get in the car so as not to miss my flight so I wasn't able to shoot the very first mould he made but it was using what looked like plastic crating as a support. I love that these toolmakers keep their early efforts.
He showed me their little critter by Mark Lander. In several days, I'll be in New Zealand to finally meet the maker himself.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Post-workshop, still sunny in Burnie

Burnie has a long paper history, and you can see the image up top of those huge paper rolls that still remain in this town.
This was my first group of intrepid beaters. Not sure you can see, but it was COLD and WINDY throughout. They were real troopers!
This was the papermaking area and we had six vats going in these built-in sinks. So much stainless, so fancy!
Boarding was on these lovely glass walls that encase more walls inside for their regular production drying.
Here are Jan Marinos and Pam Thorne, talking about their experiments with native Tasmanian fibers to see if any could substitute paper mulberry in our process. No luck, but LOTS of learning.
I was really impressed by all of their attempts and how hard they worked to see what was possible. They learned a lot about one particular native hemp that looks promising in other ways.
Darren ran the press for us and did so much other work that made our lives much easier. Very luxurious options for a paper studio!
This was day 2, with almost all of the sheets made on student sugetas that Neil Thorne had made—and then gave away at the end of class! The generosity of the hosts here has been incredible.
Of course, also lots and lots of dry work with hanji manipulation that everyone got into.
Stephanie was so focused throughout and later I found out that she had done an internship years ago at Dieu Donné! And her parents are from Ohio, though she grew up in Australia. It was fabulous to have such a big range of students and experience, with those who had made paper before to those who hadn't. Donna came all the way from New Zealand and shared beautiful Maori knowledge with me, including how they spin their native fibers to make 2-ply string, on their thighs. I even got to the studio yesterday to collect dry paper and find students telling me I was on the front page of the local paper. Yesterday was my free day and Lynne, president of Burnie Arts Council, took me on a magnificent tour of the coast, all the way to visit Jan in her home studio. I could do this forever. Alas, my flight leaves today for Melbourne! It has been a nearly perfect visit, and I hope the good juju will continue throughout.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Beautiful Burnie

Have to run over to the studio to start class prep but here I am in Tasmania! The tide went out so I was able to walk a bit on the sand this morning.
Birds do that all the time.
Can you believe this paper studio?? Creative Paper Burnie in the Makers Workshop (I don't know where the apostrophe goes in Makers...).
That glass area is for drying paper.
That little cube is where I'm staying. To the right is the paper studio! Wonderfully convenient. The ocean is just beyond, where the boardwalk is, and town is a short walk from there.
The regional airline is so nice to remind its workers to bend their knees.
The sinks will be vats for us. A little worried that they are too deep but better that than too shallow.
The vat room, again...
Burnie has a long history of papermaking, resulting in all of these huge rolls.
It looks smaller here due to my angle but it's really big. There's Lyndal, showing me the roll in the gallery after she picked us up from the airport.
Time to start class! We will have a view of the water. The sun has come out after a bunch of rain and storm when I first arrived. So happy to be here.