Pots of Gold

Training Rainbow

Train home to Ballarat

I am so incredibly inspired by my fellow artists, near and far. I am also endessly fascinated by the world, in all its beauty and horribleness. Hence the new name of this blog ‘Everything is Interesting.’ (I am totally bewildered by the fact that people can ever get bored!)

So yesterday I attended a forum for regionial artists put on by Regional Arts Victoria, themed ‘What’s Success Anyway?’ It was a great day, generating lots of new thoughts & connections and if I get a chance I will try to sort out my notes and write something cohesive up from them. But for now, just a few personal reflections I thought were worth sharing. So rarely as artists do we get the chance to reflect on our work and nourish oursleves through connecting with others in our field. Yesterday reminded me how important this is and that sometimes we don’t take the time, or have the space, to even recognise our successes.

When thinking about successes we might like to share I came to recognise my role with local group Ballarat Arts Alive, and their events I organise called Art Sparks. These aim to bring people together to celebrate different artists, artforms, and spaces and are a kind of extension of a casual event we used to hold at our house in Brunswick called Creative Dinners- a chance to meet people, share work (and cheese!) and discuss ideas and issues related to the creative life. Despite my stress sometimes associated with running Art Sparks (and self-care was an issue discussed yesterday too with one speaker mentioning the dangers of ‘worshipping your own ability’ at the cost of sleep, sanity etc) I am proud to say that this project that I got started in 2011- around notions of connectivity and inspiration- is going strong and now going into its third series. More here about the next one coming up soon!

Amie-and-Amy-1024x685

First Art Sparks. Image by Aldona Kmiec

Another thing that came up in the session was the enduring nature of artists (ability worship aside!) that linked in perfectly with a quote Erin at Yum Studio happened to share the same day, about ‘daring to do’ regardless of outcome, rendering concepts of failure and success irrelevant. We dig deeply, we persist, we keep throwing it out there. This is so important, as is the strength we draw from each other. In another serendipitous link, today I read a great discussion between artist and curator Kent Wilson and artist Anton Hasell on Kent’s blog Golden ArtNet.

There are so many beautiful parts to this interview and I highly recommend reading it but one is that need for artists to be bold in their thinking and to keep going despite difficulties. I was personally bolstered up by quotes like these:

“For an artist, one has to be on the edge of our seat in excitement and anticipation, seeing what’s needed, what’s important, before anyone else and feeling the frustration of trying to persuade recalcitrant others to the ‘rightness’ of the new vision, new forms, new processes and new feelings that lead to our better living.”

There is also the lovely image Anton conjures of art acting as a message in a bottle through time, a reaching out and I couldn’t agree more that “the embrace of loving hands by artists (and thinkers) from the past is reassuring. They are my friends and I connect with them through their works…Artwork is a portal through which the living meet their kind amongst the distant or dead.” Or with great events that bring artists together, we can find our kind close-by too.

Wandering/Wondering

Wandering/Wondering

And whilst recognising successes, no matter how small, a friend yesterday described me as one of the hardest arts workers and most creative minds he knew. Thank you for the kind words. I must be doing something right!

Ideas/Idears

Tuerong Ruined Piano Sanctuary

Tuerong Ruined Piano Sanctuary

I have always had an intense and intimate relationship with ideas. You can listen to an audio work I made here called Unrealised Ideas/They Keep me From my Sleep.

I recently watched a documentary about filmmakers where David Lynch spoke of ‘being in love with’ an idea. And the other day I found myself having an experience which I was later able to recognise as ‘grief for an idea.’

I realised it wasn’t to be then went through a process of grieving and letting go. How strange, but that’s what it was! I liked the idea, I was sad to let it pass (and there was some brooding and tears) but maybe I wasn’t in love with it? And then who really knows when and in what form it might re-emerge?

Below relates to one of my primary school projects or clubs. Apologies for the spelling! My favourite part is the ending: “Well there just a few idears. But you could do nothing. Maby you could think of some idears.”

Hilarious!

Idears

Idears

My Kind

Yesterday my good friend Erin McCuskey held an event as part of her project The Aunties, she being the youngest of five sisters. It was great fun and got me thinking again about family. Erin herself, along with others in Ballarat, has become a kind of aunty to me- offering love, advice, and lots of laughter.

Aunties!

I love my blood family dearly and they are the sweetest, most thoughtful people you will meet (in fact I sent my mum a message yesterday saying how proud I felt of her amid the election madness, for living her life (and voting!) true to her beliefs, simply put: of being a good person to the people and to the world around us. I really do admire this). And I’ll never forget my dear older brother, buying me my very first CD player at age 18.

Amy & Margot

me and mum Margot

However since a young age, I have also been fortunate enough to be welcomed into the fold of many other families and I love this. It is such a rich life!

My second family growing up were (and still are) the fair Staffords, Irish like the McCuskey’s, and they showed me the likes of different cultures and food, politics, Bob Dylan and the Beatles, and good times that involved song and dance, beach holidays, and a good old fashioned Banshee tale around the fire!

Clare & Amy

With my partner in crime Clare Stafford

Since then I have loved being welcomed into other, different families, where I feel both stimulated and at home. ie. The lovely Looneys- much kindness, laughter, and dancing to be recalled here!, The eccentric Alexandrovic’s- always so much drama and love, & The wonderful Wallaces! Talking art and life and enjoying the simple pleasures, what a joy. I hope that over the years I have never seemed an interloper (“she’s not even related!”) but friends have always been my family too and I love them and am nourished so much by them all. I hope that when PH and I are older that we too can offer a fun, kind, and fascinating welcome to any youngens that may be in need.

Carmel and Amy

Carmel and Amy

The Looneys

With Rhonda & Stevi Looney

Erin and Amy

Erin and Amy

Annie and Judy

Annie and Judy

And in my own family, aside from wanting to see my ma, pa, sis, and bro more and continue being known as the crazy one to try and get a bit of fun going, Erin’s event has spurred me on to go visit my aunty Lynne again in NSW, my mums elder sister, a great woman who still has that sparkle of mischief in her eye! And also to make more time to visit my own young niece and nephew. When Lucy was born, we did a baby special that night on my radio show, and I made a disk of that for her to have and listen to when she’s older. Cool aunty, ha? ha? ; )

Amy & Lucy

Aunty Amy with Lucy

Love to all you wonderful  ladies (and fellas) out there Margot, Lynne, Annie, Judy, Carmel, Erin, Belinda and so many more that have been so good to me!

xo

On being smart, sexy, and nervous as hell

Over the last two Saturdays I have been invited to be involved with events totally out of my comfort zone- modelling in a friend’s fashion show and speaking publicly as part of the Melbourne Writers Festival. I think it is so important and exciting to challenge ourselves and to try new things, but gee it’s nerve-wracking! It’s funny as in the past when I have said I’m nervous about doing something, people say- That’s crazy, you’re on the radio every week! But it’s not that simple, and speaking from a solitary studio is very different from facing a crowd- either on a catwalk or from a podium, and it’s a different way of engaging and creating repoire. So, managing my nerves is something I want to develop (if anyone has any tips) but it won’t stop me from doing things that scare the hell out of me!

Amy MWF

It was such a great day talking reading, writing, and ideas yesterday out at Ballarat’s M.A.D.E and I felt really chuffed to be involved. As one of the younger speakers, along with my Ballarat Writers compadre Melissa Watts, it was incredibly inspiring to hear from a wide range of strong females (as yes, looking around M.A.D.E and the event itself, women are playing a big and rich role. You can listen to my interview with M.A.D.E director Jane Smith- a good woman indeed.)

The event was also screened at Fed Square in Melbourne. My sweet mama went there to watch but unfortunately with my session being last, it didn’t make it to the screen- the footy had to come on! ah life, but she says she did see some shots of me in the audience of an earlier session. She and so many others are such good supporters of me and my adventures.

My involvement with these two particular events also fits with ongoing learning about it being ok to be both sexy and smart (and of course how these things are entwined). This is the kind of thing that you can be told many times but I think is something you have to find your own peace/style with.

Things are looking pretty bleak politically right now but it was great to see Greens leader Christine Milne speak in Ballarat during the week with a focus on the arts, so, as ever artists are vital both as the end of the world hurtles closer, and in helping to create better worlds, more ‘generous, thoughtful, and sexy’ (thank you Ashton/Chris Kutcher! Well worth watching this wise and honest speech).

And why not look good while we’re at it!

Amy and Liana

With the lovely Liana Skewes, dressed in Chitra’s Closet

The Mad Spin/Organising our Things

My last post was about ‘why’ we create, now this one muses on how we ‘archive’ what we create…

archiving

Today I am thinking about archiving again.

Where in the past – and it’s something I remember noting in my diaries – I have felt a sense of certain phases of my life closing and others beginning, now I can’t help this feeling of the ‘mad spin of ongoing days,’ things just keep rolling on. Is this something about getting older?

And then with archiving, both physical things as well as the mental, how to go about that process of putting things in a box and saying that’s done, it’s there in a neat ‘sense-full’ package that I can look back on and access at my leisure, now move on. The increase of digital data in our lives adds another dimension, including the great advancements in digital record keeping and archiving.

The idea of archiving was something I was interested in as part of my recent exhibition about books and reading, looking at paper and digital worlds. This included thinking around letters and the dominance of emails and online documents these days- how will these things be stored, collected, and understood in the future?

Serendipitously, Ballarat local Rhizome Digital specialises in the area of archiving and is running monthly info sessions so it couldn’t be better timing! Info here.

So with all this: personal, cultural, and creative (for artists archiving of creative projects themselves) how do we choose what to keep and what to discard? And what are the best ways of doing this?

That is where I am at now, trying to make some order in my life, or still working out how to accept that this dream of perfect organisation will only ever be a work in progress.

407 Finch St eposterPart of this is also the fascinating relationship we have, personally and creatively, with our past lives/works. This morning I took a stroll down Finch St, and peeked in at the place where I was involved with staging an interactive installation adventure in a run-down but magical old vacant house owned at the time by my mother-in-law. The house looked pretty much the same, except for the addition of a marmalade cat and a satelite dish. Life is funny, and as with my Masters research into sites and their multiple meanings through time, traces of the past exist in both tangible and more intangible ways… perhaps this is what is called memory? ; )

Well there it is, I’m sure I will ponder more on this topic as I begin my work again for next year’s Heritage Weekend event in Ballarat. More soon, and as always- thoughts and advice welcome!

Why We Create

Recently I changed my Facebook profile picture to a rather striking image of me in an amazing vintage dress taken by a very talented photographer friend of mine. I don’t believe I put it up out of vanity but because I thought people would like it, which they did. Based on this response, I then made a joke that perhaps I should dress like this in the gallery and more people might come see my exhibition. Hilarious aren’t I? Anyway there were two interesting comments in response that I felt were worth sharing.

First up, was my wise and awesome mother-in-law with the following:

“Amy, Courage, stamina, a vision to share, stick-to-it-ness, playfulness, and a generous, wholehearted compassion and understanding for all of life will ease an artist through the stark reality of exhibition of their art.”

At a quick first glance I thought she was listing my good qualities to bolster me up, but on closer inspection I saw some damn fine wisdom, and something solid to heed and aspire to as an artist. I don’t call her ‘Mother Mary’ for nothing! She is the best.

& Second was:

“Remember who you are doing your art for- first and foremost- you do it for yourself”

Now this is something I consider a lot- Why do I pursue a creative life? Obviously I am incredibly inspired and nourished by my creative work (and recognise my extreme privilege in this) but I also very much make it for others to enjoy and engage with in public showings of one kind or another. When I raised this issue in an arts forum recently the complexity of the creative life was explored a bit, but a strong response did seem to be that people make art for themselves because it makes them feel good, or because they are driven to, and that the other side of engagement is secondary.

Sometimes making art makes me feel amazing, rising above the mundane, losing myself to inspired moments, and making new connections with ideas, people and forms of expression. But a significant amount of time is also spent with uncertainty, sleeplessness, disappointment, and worry.

Perhaps the reality is that all lives feature these ups and downs, not only artistic ones. Anywho,  it is an issue of deep interest to me and would love to hear any other wise thoughts on the matter!

; )

P.S- they really are stunning dresses and their owner Dorothy Nicol is the sweetest woman in the world- you can check them out here

P.PS- despite my jokes and grumbling, so many lovely people (friends new and old) have visited me and explored ‘The Space Between’ and I have had the opportunity to delve into and spend time with a theme very close to my heart, and all this makes me very happy!

One small kind thing

Hello fellow people of the world,

There are some pretty crazy, horrible things going on around the globe (hell the Ballarat KFC was held up last night!) but I did a lovely interview with Melbourne musician Mikelangelo yesterday who reminded me how important a role art can play in offering moments of sweetness and beauty. I urge you all to engage in one small kind thing today. And maybe it could be this: As part of my current exhibition The Space Between I am working with a local book artist to create a collection of inscriptions. I am inviting visitors to bring in books with their favourite inscribed pages to be copied then added to the artist book of inscriptions. People in far away places could also send a jpg of your inscription to weavelength@gmail.com.

Here are some of my favourites so far:

x

My Book Project!

Wow, being an artist is such a mixture of joy and anxiety but I am very excited about my latest project! It also involves a bunch of fabulous people who are sharing their creativity, skills, and knowledge- something I am so enriched by and grateful for (big love to my mentors Erin McCuskey at Yum Studio and Barry Wemyss at Red Echidna Studios).

I have loved books, reading, and writing for as long as I can remember so in a way this is a very personal work, but I think the great thing is how universal the joy of reading is too. I will look forward to posting some more images and things when I get the chance but for now, here are the details, as well as a whole programme of events happening over the two week exhibition period you can check out on the Weave Length Productions site. Enjoy!

The Space Between Invite

Reading Books Makes Me Happy

Reading Books Makes Me Happy

Last week I was invited to speak to a great group of Year 9 students from Ballarat High about happiness and some of the things I do in the local arts community. An introductory exercise was run where everyone wrote down something that made them happy, put it in a balloon, blew it up, then passed along to someone else to pop. Imagine my joy when I received this!

Am working away on my next project- an exhibition/installation/extravaganza all about books and reading. Follow along here and as my childhood diary used to faithfully sign off- WML (wish me luck!) ; )