Construction and Deconstruction

I went through my notes and samples for my identity project, from the beginning, and began to unpack my concept and all my thoughts to date. Something was nagging me about it which kept me unable to move forward. and I have finally worked out that it is too much stuff, and too many ideas, something I always struggle with.

So I went back to the beginning, and it all started with the empty Dilmah teabag box, which I looked at one morning and thought, tea, me, part of my identity, box, construction… a constructed image…

I took the box and covered it with part of a blown up poster I had been playing with as another identity concept. Then I added some red dymo tape labels a bit like Barbara Kruger, although I have been using this concept for years, before I heard of her, I have to admit it looks Barbara Kruger’ish’ and that ok. It is her concept that matters not the images themselves, and I like that attitude to art. Kruger in her way fits in with Warhol and Lichtenstein and Duardo Paolozzi, making art out of the ordinary, but she added another dimension with her labels and messages

This is a photo of that box, which I thought I had posted here right at the beginning, but I guess it got forgotten in all the other manic ideas!

photo 1

In this close up of some of the words, you can see I used an old Dymo tape labeller. My sister and I loved these when we were kids!

photo 2

I like this box, and I like my giant posters. I took them into college and everyone who commented said I should use them. So I looked at my fragments and fabric prints and decided that I want to stick with the posters, dots, constructed box concept, and not muddy it or dilute it with all the other stuff  I have done, (like the fragments etc.)

But I still want my tower of strength, so I went on another recycled cardboard hunt and I got lucky! I have printed out the rest if my posters and the whole lot will be pasted to cardboard and constructed into my tower. I am going to use the three colours here, because of an old joke I remember as a kid…

What is black, white, and red all over?

The newspaper of course :) But identity is like that too… and labels, we read into things stuff that appears black and white but isn’t. We construct identities for everyone we meet by reading things which we feel are balc and white but maybe they are not.

Now I have to think about how I will make this tower… it will have to be constructed in situ I think, or at least in easily assembled parts, in order to transport it to college. Meanwhile back to cardboard and glue and a whole lotta dots…



And then it was Purple…

Today was great… Cheri and I managed to print eight T-Shirts almost perfectly. I was playing around with colours, just like a pro, in no time at all.  We had quite a production line going. My first experimental print was a shirt for Cheri, it looks great, and so very Ms Luck :)


Then I did some for the boys, Russ and myself. I am feeling quite accomplished this afternoon :) I love playing in the workshop!


The sheet has a story…


Last Sunday of summer… well, it is to me!  Next weekend the clocks go back and my favourite time of year begins :) I must remember that there are now 12 hours difference between us and the UK, as their clocks went forward in the early hours.

So… today I worked some more on my Identity project, after I had finished my catalogue review and my visual analysis and comparison for other parts of the course. The image analysis and comparison was very enjoyable, I tend to go off on all kinds of tangents.  It amounts to adding more stuff to the vast and disorganised library that I call my brain. I love libraries.

I cut some bamboo for my Tower of Strength, but then I decided not to cut anymore as I want the tips,  (which will be at the top of my tower), to keep growing until the last minute. This is part of using bamboo, to have the tops still shooting, because the tower is still getting taller. It may be tricky getting them to stay together while I stitch the panels. I think I will lay them flat on the ground and stitch all the panels on, and then stand them up and stitch the last two corners together.

I have done a few trials of getting the images onto fabric. I tried citrus cleaner but that didn’t work. I then tried acetone but it was too smelly. Finally I decided to iron the fabric to wax paper and risk feeding it through my old black and white laser printer…

and it worked!

Initial prints were too dense so I turned the toner down as much  as I could and also lightened the photos in Photoshop.

So I now have two photos and two fragment panels ready to go! Now I know what I am doing it will be a faster process I hope. For the fabric that I print the photos on, I am using one of my bedsheets. The sheet has a story…

When I first came to New Zealand, and I got my bed, it was very symbolic. This was my bed, and mine only, for years I had shared a bed, but now I had my own bed, just for me. I used to walk past the bed and get this big grin on my face! What I wanted most was Egyptian cotton sheets, but I couldn’t afford them at the time. A few years later I got some, and my bed dream was fulfilled, although by then I had a partner sharing the bed.  My partner wore a copper bracelet which left green and blue marks on my gorgeous cotton sheets… and they wouldn’t wash out. In the end I tried bleaching them, but sadly it weakened the cotton, and the sheet got torn and full of holes in no time. I am using the bits of that king size sheet, stitched and layered, with my fragments and photos. It holds history of my bed, my dreams and a long and intense relationship, which although tough at the time, did make me stronger.

I will take some photo’s of my fragments and panels as I make them, but meantime, this is how I often work. Check out Blue, my gorgeous new grandson asleep on the bed :) No wonder I am single!





The Screenprinting Trials


So, today I took the images I designed, and Symon our awesome technician made up two screens. Then we had a few obstacles to leap over!



Firstly because we were intending to print in white on a black surface we had forgotten to invert the image…. it took me a while to work out why the first test print looked a bit odd:


As you can see Russ looks rather like a black & white minstrel!


So it was back to the drawing board, or rather Photoshop. Meanwhile I had some fun playing around with the acetates. I love to play with transparencies.




Thoughts of Forts


I have just finished speaking to Kay, one of our tutors, about my identity project. Kay liked the idea of keeping the ‘box’ idea as a part of my final presentation, and the more we talked about it, the more I liked the idea.

And then a whole journey of new and recycled thoughts began… I was wondering about the context of the box, and what it would mean for me to have my images outside the box, having grown too big for the smaller box, as it were. And then it came to me. Four walls is like a fort, or a strong hold, four represents strength and stability in the Tarot. Thinking of the box as a kind of stronghold gave me a meaning to the concept, and so I decided to construct my identity in the form of a big box, approx 1.2 x 1 x 1 metres. The other fragments of my exhibition could go in the box, or be scattered around the box.

Well, I was really into this idea and couldn’t wait to get started… but I kept on thinking…

Thoughts of forts led to thoughts of towers. Now I love towers, I have a real thing for them and I built one in England. So before two long my stronghold and fort had  turned into a Tower of Strength. And that is it… No more changes! I have followed the creative thinking process through from that original Dilmah teabag box and these are the heights it has reached!

Here are some pages from my sketchbook, illustrating my thought process… albeit rather roughly…


The tower will be constructed from four lengths of the bamboo that grows in my garden. I will leave the shoots growing out of the tips as this will symbolise that my Tower of Strength is still growing.  The footprint of the tower will be approximately 35cm square, to make it portable and strong.

The sides will be filled in with the images that I was originally going to make into giant cardboard posters. I am printing the photo’s onto fabric and these will be stitched to a backing fabric which will be stitched around the bamboo. Among the photos will be my fragments, (ie the one of the jug and spotted cup, shown in a previous post). The fragments are things that are part of who I am now.

This will project will indeed be a constructed identity on more than one level. What would be nice is if I still liked it once I have finished. I have issues with stuff I make. I love the process but as soon as it is finished I cannot wait to see the back of it!


And just to finish off this post I will leave you with a sketchbook page featuring a photocopy of one of my almost finished ‘fragment’ panels. This has some favourite china, including a cup, cups and mugs are very much a part of my everyday life, and I am sure my body 25% black tea! Also in the layer are old baking paper from England, and part of an antiquarian book which was  given to me by my in-laws when I was married. The embroidered words are part of a poem I wrote a couple of years ago.




Old style Kiwi…


I worked with Staju’s design that I posted earlier. I liked his photo, but not the fonts. It gave the poster a trippy, more psychedelic kind of look, than a Blues look.

This one is less cluttered than my first,  but a couple of the group feel it loses some of the old style ‘Kiwi’ look of the guy in his workshop, that the previous one had. I like them both. I definitely like the fonts  here.



T-Shirt Take Two


Staju sent us this design for consideration:


I like it because it is a bit cleaner looking and less cluttered than the first design, but I don’t like the grey splodges on Russ’s skin. Also I think the fonts and their treatment look too psychedelic. Other group members prefer the look of the first design as they feel the workshop adds a Kiwi flavour. I will work on this in Photoshop because I do like this photo.



I think it would look good huge…


This post is to introduce another group project that I am working on. For this we have to curate an exhibition from scratch. This means finding sponsors, finding an artist, arranging promotion and advertising, exhibition events, producing a catalogue, designing and making invites etc.

Well, we have our artist and our title. We have a date and an opening event planned. Our group, which we call Curate & Resonate, pretty much rock.  This morning I designed a T-Shirt.  I thought of this idea yesterday, as extra promotion… walking posters :)

Our exhibition is a narration of our artists life. The exhibition will tell his story and celebrate his artwork, his passions and his music.

Here is a taster, with the T Shirt design. I like the comic book effect, as it fits with our theme, which begins with the artist as a lad. I am awaiting approval, but it could be a poster too. I think it would look great blown up huge. I may even attempt that, as I am into blowing stuff up right now. Shame my flipping printer toner replacement hasn’t arrived yet, I could do it today. Anyway hopefully we can screen print the T-Shirts at college next week!



Fragments that define us…


As part of the Identity project I am also working on smaller coloured and textured mixed media pieces which will support the larger posters. These will me made up of parts of my life that fit with the particular Bobby board. Things that are symbolic to my journey at that time. For my first experiments, I played with some paintings of special pieces of pottery that I got during my marriage. This will be stitched and embroidered with bits of my poetry.




I am afraid of paint, and painting and drawing.  Although I can do it when I want to, it is something I won’t allow myself to admit I can do, if that makes sense. I want to try and work with this and find out why I have this fear. I am making small drawings and paintings of fragments of my life that I have carried with me.

In my art I like to use old or recycled materials wherever possible, I like things that have stories, that can blend with my own story. The unfinished collage above is made up of old envelopes from birthday cards, baking paper from back in my marriage days, and other leftover pieces from old projects that I did in another life.

On a box hunt…

I need cardboard boxes…BIG ones… I went dumpster diving in the huge Warehouse Stationary bin, to no avail, and then I hit the electrical stores, not much luck yet. I have found an old art packing box from when my ship came in from England, but it means emptying it!

Anyway here is the first poster/Bobby board.


I will play with it, it is actually a bit bigger than life size I think!