Weekly Photography Challenge: Collage

I thought I might make a new collage to photograph for this weeks challenge, but yet again, the week has run away from me (or with me?). Anyway, I made this little book some years ago, and it’s full of collaged elements. I cut words and definitions out of an old dictionary to illuminate the quotes I used in it.

Click on the images for detail.

Making collage out of a collection of miscellaneous scraps can be great fun, and I’m often amazed at how meaningful random juxtapositions can be. I think it’s about time I assembled a hodgepodge pile of bits and pieces and made another little book!

Weekly Photography Challenge: Underneath the Bridge

When I read this week’s challenge theme (a week that is nearly over…) there was only one bridge  I was thinking of. I did take some photos while crossing a bridge over the Murray recently – only there was no card in the camera…we’ll have to go that way again sometime, and try again.

We have plans to visit Aberdeen, Washington again someday, and if we do, we will certainly visit the famous bridge again. It must have been a great private spot forty years ago, now not so much…it’s a place of pilgrimage instead. Someone had carved “KURT” in giant letters on the mud of the bank, and every accessible surface was embellished with graffiti –  messages to Kurt, and quotes of Nirvana lyrics, mostly. All that will have changed by now.

Bryan insisted on taking a photo of me standing under it. I’m the photographer in our family, which means I don’t get in many photos. This was August 2011, and about halfway through our month in the Pacific North West.

Weekly Photography Challenge: Relax

At this time of year, with the clarion call of “buy! buy! BUY!” ringing across the land, “relax” is truly a challenge! Cats don’t have any urge to do Christmas shopping, so maybe that’s why Morgen can manage to sleep most of the day (and night). Me remaking the bed was only a temporary interruption…

I like my old eiderdowns (I’m not sure why they got the name – there’s no down in them) with their sweet rosey prints. They’ve usually got some wear and tear (literal) that has to be underneath out of sight.One of my cushions was made (upcycled) from a Nirvana Muddy Banks tee-shirt (wear and tear again!). The back of it features photos of the actual banks of the Wishkah River, from our visit there 5 years ago (they really are muddy…). Sewing is a way I like to relax, but I like to get the tidying up done first, unfortunately.

Friday Poem:Spread My Wings

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It is 21 years this week since I sat down on an ugly-but-practical brown couch and watched a Rage TV special – Nirvana Unplugged in New York. I’d heard of the band, I knew how the singer died, and I wanted to know what all the fuss was about. I know it’s cheesy, but it’s also true – that record changed my life.

I wrote this poem during the following year, expressing frustration with the constraints of my ordinary life. Nirvana fans might notice the influence of “Sappy”, but there’s a dash of Hank Williams in there, too.

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This jar is far too small.
There is no room for my wings;
There is no room to fly;
I want to spread my wings.

I’m not a moonbeam in your jar;
I’m not a pretty toy;
I need to move, I need to breathe;
I want to spread my wings.

These air holes are too small.
You must not smother me;
I want to take the air,
I want to spread my wings.

Let me loose, what’s the use
Of keeping me in here.
I might not fly away,
But I want to spread my wingsa-collage-2

One of the things I did as I escaped from the jar of proper lady-like behaviour, was to stick anything that appealed to me on my wall. Nowadays, that’s an “Inspiration Board”, but twenty years ago, it was weirdly adolescent for a forty-year old woman with 5 kids…At some point, the collection came down, and was upcycled into a series of collages, of which this is one. There’s an apt quote on there-

“Our lives improve only when we take chances – and the first and most difficult risk we can take is to be honest with ourselves”

Walter Anderson.

I also got rid of the brown couch, and as much other ugly-but -practical-with-kids brownness out of my house, and started surrounding myself with things that I actually liked.

After ordering and waiting patiently for “Nirvana Unplugged in New York (on cassette), I expanded my music collection, my library and my stash of art supplies. I now have the Melvins “Gluey Porch Treatments”, and  I’m reading  Bessel Van der Kolk’s ” The Body keeps The Score”, about the ongoing effects of trauma. When Micheal Azzerad asked Kurt, “Is your’s a sad story?” , he hesitated, and said “…No…”, going on to say that the events of his childhood were commonplace, which, unfortunately, they are. But it is a sad story, they are all sad stories, which Dr Van Der Kolk and his colleagues are learning to address with proper treatment – too late for Kurt, but there’s hope for another generation to have more than numbness – they will be able to spread their wings.

Friday Poem: I +II

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This week marked twenty two years since Kurt Cobain’s untimely death, an event that sent shock-waves around the world. I wrote this pair of poems months later, after my boring life had been “changed forever”, thanks to seeing Nirvana Unplugged on TV. These were the first in a flood of poems and art that came after…IMG_7956 (Large)

I

A soul hung out to dry
Hangs tattered in the wind:
A song grows ragged
As the voice wears thin:
These slender hands
Knew tenderness and sin:
No sunbeam shone:
There was no hope for him:
And all alone
He let the darkness in.

II

His life and soul
seem tangled into mine
He robs my sleep
He fills my head with songs
And he is dead.IMG_7962 (Large)

I don’t lie awake at night wondering why Kurt did it any more, but my life is so much richer for all the songs he (posthumously) led me to. Also, I don’t think I would have gone to Washington State on The Trip of a Lifetime, if it wasn’t for the Taking Punk To the Masses exhibition (featuring Nirvana) that was at Experience Music Project in Seattle – let alone to Aberdeen and the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah (and yes, they really are…).

The images are of an Imperial White butterfly, which I found dead and took home to photograph, a detail of a lamp-shade I made from wire and eucalypt-dyed silk tulle, and wax-coated photo of a pre-school Kurt Cobain, resting in a vintage cup amongst my jewelry.

Creativity: The Party Props in Action

My recent Creativity posts have been all about making props for my 60th birthday party – Punk’s Not Dead. Today I’m making a gallery of some photos from the party, featuring those pieces. It’s not every day (or year) that I have a sufficient excuse to hire a band and the local Hall, so I thought I may as well make an event – an art project – of it.

Guests were invited to dress up in Punk Rock Style, and most of them did, with a broad range of interpretations. To me, Punk (Rock) represents freedom of expression, a DIY aesthetic and a can-do approach, so I was little bit surprised at how many of my guests associate “punk” with obnoxiousness – there was a lot of face-pulling going on! There was even concern expressed about the possibility of violent behaviour, despite the fact that my friends are very mild mannered, middle  class types who would never dream of such a thing. Thinking about this afterwards, I realised they were reflecting the biases of the Murdoch Press reporting on the Sex Pistols et al way back when…sad!

Creativity: Playing with Paint(.NET)

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As you may know by now, I am celebrating turning (gasp) 60 by having a punk-themed party. I am also a Nirvana fan, and a feminist…I decided a detail of a collage would add something to the party decor, but the slightly blurry photo wasn’t all that exciting. So I decided to jazz it up a bit, using paint.NET.

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After fiddling with brightness, contrast and saturation, I played around with curves until I had a look I liked (making the discoloured old newspaper clippings pink and orange). But that still seemed a bit dull, and I felt the dark spaces needed…something.

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Writing using the mouse is a challenge – so I did that. I was surprised how neatly I managed to write the name of my “event”. I filled some more empty space with my “peace love empathy” bleeding rainbow heart symbol, and wrote in the words. Filling in the colours of the rainbow took a lot of effort, and frequent use of “control Z” to fix mistakes…because the original background is unevenly coloured, it was not a simple matter of filling the space between the lines, and the lighter section (the newspaper clipping) read as the same as the heart outline – resulting in the whole thing being coloured in….several times before I gave up and left that corner “as is”. Finally, in case anyone missed it, I underlined the more pertinent parts of the quote about women. I made the collage from bits and pieces that had been stuck on a wall in my studio a long time ago – 18 or 19 years – so unfortunately I have no idea who it was that said/wrote either of the quotes.

Creativity: Upcycled T-shirt Cushions.

These are all old band t-shirts, but the idea can be used for any printed tee that is beyond wearing for whatever reason, but still loved. The three Nirvana ones I made years ago, but the others I was inspired to get made for comfy and appropriate party decor.IMG_7432 (Large)
I found the Twentieth Century Breakdown shirt in an op shop/thrift store, and teamed it with a flowery print in toning colours. I used iron-on interfacing on the back of the t-shirt panel to stabilise it. The stretchiness of the fabric isn’t really an asset for cushions, especially when using it alongside woven fabrics.IMG_7433 (Large)
Two more Greenday shirts belonged to my daughter. I asked her before I chopped them up. One was wide enough that I could simply cut  straight across the whole shirt, top and bottom, to leave a square with the print on it. Then I stitched a long, preloved zip into the top seam, sewed up the bottom, and that was it. A new cushion from an old t-shirt! One thing I found out the hard way – it’s a good plan to UNDO THE ZIP before completing the seams – much easier to turn your cover right side out if you do! From the other shirt, I cut a panel with the printed image and appliqued it onto a patched background. I used fusible web to hold the layers together, then top-stitched around the edges.
Also, unless you are making your own inserts, measure your fabric before you cut, and make your cover to fit standard inserts. ( 14″/35cm,  16″/40cm, 18″/45cm ).

I was given two round inserts, so I made two round cushion covers! The Vines shirt I found at the Salvos. It was in good condition, but I only used the front as the back was blank. Any spare sections of t-shirt have been cut into continuous strips of “yarn” and put aside for a later project. I’ve used the “Trouble” print on a chair and another cushion, so they all play well together without “matching”. The tiny P.J. Harvey shirt I’ve had for years after buying it at the Save The Children shop. I cut it into two discs, front and back, and cheated on the zip by sewing it onto the outside – a line of stitching either side of the zipper teeth – then slit the fabric behind the zip…It worked, but it’s probably not a good method if the zip is to be used often, as the raw edges would snare the teeth eventually, I think!

Weekly Photography Challenge: State of Mind

This week, an invitation to be moody, or rather, to show a state of mind via photographs. It’s odd that when we say “moody” or ” in a mood”, it always has a negative and gloomy/grumpy connotation, whereas the word “mood” simply refers to a state of mind, which could be excitement, bliss, apprehension, boredom etc etc.

I’ve gone back to August 2011 – our Trip of a Lifetime – and chosen some different states of mind in Washington State…There’s elation in the pink’n’orange cladding of the Experience Music Project, wonder in the amazing architecture of that building, mixed feelings with the Here Forever sculpture -I love it, but it’s not quite true – pleasure and contentment sitting on the grass at an outdoor concert (where I saw Sub Pop photographer Charles Peterson at work! Exciting!), and awe with every sighting of the Space Needle. I picked up a flyer somewhere in Seattle for a photography tour that promised the “right” view point for the “perfect” shot of the Space Needle. I was disgusted with this idea, and made sure and take pictures that were not “perfect”, but interesting instead. I just don’t see the point of reproducing a postcard…

Creativity: Party Guest Book

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I’ve got a birthday not far off – one of those landmark ones, and I’m having a party…A book for guests to sign as a memento is fairly standard on these occasions, and being an artist, I made my own.

It’s quite simple, with only one signature. The pages are 110gsm cartridge paper, and the cover is repurposed card with the printed magenta card glued over it. The cover design is a variation on the cover of the invite ‘zine I made, and I used the same orange thread to stitch the booklet together.

I couldn’t just leave it at that, of course! One of the pages already had this quote on it – an alternative verse of Nirvana’s “Territorial Pissings”. Since it’s a birthday party, and there will be cake, and my guests are invited to dress up in Punk Rock Style (there will be cliches) the words seem oddly appropriate. So I added a cake.

I’d bought a packet of pretty scrapbooky sheets, so I added some of those. Where I liked both sides, I hinged them with washi tape. When only one side fitted my theme, I stuck them down, again with washi tape. I picked two designs to use, a pretty one, and a punkier one. In the back, I put a copy of the invitation, and an old envelope to put some photos of the night in later. Camera and balloon stickers from Kikki K illustrate its purpose. I also put in a peony stamp, which I coloured with watercolours, and my Peace Love Empathy rainbow heart design.

I hope that the scattering of interesting inserts, stickers and drawings removes the terrible White Page anathema, and that the fact that something is already there will encourage my guests to be more adventurous in adding their names for me to remember the occasion.