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!





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.




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!



Artists & Identity – Barbara Kruger

Until last week I had never heard of Barbara Kruger! It seems strange to me that I haven’t heard of her as I have done a lot of work in a similar vein to hers over the years. It seems she has also inspired a lot of other artists, except they were aware of the fact at the time. Trying to find original Barbara Kruger images was quite difficult for one who doesn’t know.

Kruger works with images from magazines and other mass media, over which she collages slap bang phrases of big bold text. She works with themes of power, image and identity, and often in the paradigm of feminism. I am not a feminist, but I do like her work, mainly because I love text, I love typography and I love black white and red as a colour combination. I was shocked to find that large prints, of what appear to be very simple messages in typography made by Kruger, sell for around 50,000 USD! Check out the one  below:




This is typical of the early work I have see of this artist, although it was done fairly recently. It seems ironic that the T-Shirt was designed for the large fashion label Gap, and the theme of the design appears to be about consumerism!



The crown image below is one of her earlier works and appears to be a parody of the words advertisers use to make viewers feel that buying their product will make them feel special.



I will search for some of my old image and text collage work and post them here, because I was certainly reminded of them by this gal’s stuff. Because it is such a widely used method, although I like it, I think it would be quite a challenge to give the style a personal identity of ones own. I take my hat off to Barbara though, selling a few words for fifty grand!

 All images in this post by Barbara Kruger and retrieved from the websites below on 18th March 2014

Life Without Pain from Artsy

T-Shirt from Dexigner

Crown Image from Art Edu for Kids






Constructed Identity…

Well, yesterday’s late night, looking through my old art and thinking about identity and what it means to me, definitely revved me up for today. I was up at first light, drinking black tea, (I drink a lot of tea, but never with milk), and I used the last tea bag in my box of Dilmah. I picked up the box and I was off on a mission which got bigger, and bigger! I love how my mind works sometimes, even if it does mean I have to hang on tight and be whizzed around at lightning speed.

The empty box made me think of how the world puts me in a box, as it does to most of us. Those who hardly know me probably label me, as most of us do to others, without thinking. I guess my labels would say stuff like:






Going grey etc.

But, I am way too big for that box, and I don’t fit and it is not comfortable, and actually, apart from Mother I don’t fit any of those labels very well at all. OK, I will give you woman, sometimes, but I prefer earthling. I don’t feel very female, or very male either. I may be fifty and middle-aged, but I feel like twenty nine. So I decided to make something to demonstrate this. To construct a new identity, a bigger, better Bobby. Actually I am just fonally beginning to appreciate myself and all I have accomplished in my life, and this project is somewheat of a celebratiuon of that.

I have previously been playing with half tone photos blown up to just dots and I used one of these to cover the box with.

Inspired by the process, I made a huge poster of me in bits. I used one of my favourite photographs of myself, the one that really feels like Bobby. I printed it on to sixteen sheets of A4 paper, and pasted it  onto a giant recycled cardboard box.  It looks fantastic to me, and this is ALL ABOUT ME!!! So now I am outside the box…

I was not sure about the posters making a box though, as my original thought was that I was too big for a box. So I cut off the sides of the box and ended up with a giant cardboard poster, which I thought I could hang from the ceiling so people could walk around them.

I have been through my photos and found some more images that I am going to treat the same way. On the back of the cardboard mounted posters I will write bits of my own poems.

In fact I believe they are mainly life size or a bit bigger. They are made up of thousands of dots, because I am made up of thousands of points in time, each dot represents a point in my life that went towards making the person in the image. I have used recycled cardboard because I have been recycled over and over and made into different things, I am not perfect, there are rough edges, like the posters.

I will hang these posters from the ceiling, it is important to me that they move, that people can walk around them and life can flow through them, just like it does to me. If people want to touch them, draw on them or write messages, then that is ok too… because that is what life does and that is how I got to be the person here t0day.

I have made an image with labels, I am trying to decide whether to use these on the front of the images or not. Each of the images represents a part of who I am, or have been. There will be posters for daughter, sister, wife, mother, lover, poet, artist, grandmother. Some may have multiple labels.

I wanted to make more today but my printer ran out of ink, so I have ordered a new toner. I also need to go and find some huge cardboard boxes to recycle. Warehouse stationary often has some in the size I need, I guess desks and stuff come in them. Or maybe Powerstore, giant TV or fridge boxes would be good!

Oh and the box that started it all, well maybe I will make things to put in it… isn’t that what boxes are for …? Here is a small picture of one of my images that I am using, with labels added.






Who Am I ? Identity Project

Hmmmm…  that’s a difficult one.

Who are you?

I am branching out here and choosing not to do the ‘safe for me’,  graphic design option. Instead I want to use this opportunity to find out more about me, who I am now and where I want to go from here.

My first thoughts are quite painful, because I often feel that I am no-one, defined only by the other people in my life, and my relationship to them. I sometimes feel that if they were not there then there would be no me. I think this may be a common feeling with other women too, especially long time single parents.  A huge part of our life has revolved around the needs of others,  but with no one to care about our needs.

I guess most of us have had it tough at one time or another, I certainly have. I never knew a father or a father figure. I have always looked after myself, (or not), and others. It seems to be my lot in life to look after others, not just my own children, but waifs and strays from all over the world have found me, and just about demanded my care, since I was little more than a child myself. I always feel I have to be responsible for others.

I went down all the sad and crazy paths, depression, breakdown, suicide attempts, psychiatric wards… for most of my late teens and twenties. I still had no idea why or who I was when I had my first child 21 years ago. I grew with my kids, while I nurtured them, but there was little time to nurture me. I am still a bud.

Coming to college last year was the best thing I have ever done for myself, apart from stand up to the authorities to have the births I wanted with my four children. Since then I have started to grow into more of who I am, I think, and I need to continue to feed that. I feel blessed to be where I am in my life, because I feel I have a way better idea of what is important, than I did 20 years ago, and I have discovered some simple things, for better quality living. I will share a few here:

There is almost always a choice as to what path we go down in life, at any time.

No one can make us feel small or unhappy, unless we consent to it.

If you feed the black dog, it will grow bigger and bigger until it eats you all up.

When something needs to change, look to your attitude first.

Gratitude is our most powerful magic.

So those are my initial thoughts. Exciting, and daunting at the same time, but it’s going to be a great ride I hope, and one that will take me to many other viewpoints, from which I can stand back and look at me, and figure out some more about the mystery.



Image from an original lithograph that I bought many years ago, by UK artist, Nicola Slattery. (1996)