Retirement for me has been like a 3 stage rocket launch. I finished up with classroom work sometime ago but continued with the one-day-a-week sculpture project for another year, then that finished at the end of last year. On July 1st 2018, the final stage occurred and I officially retired. Today I attended a morning tea where the Principal Judith Stuart thanked me on behalf of the education department for my 30 years of service. I can’t say that I have missed the routine of work as I have been so busy and focussed on the future of my own creative life. I don’t see it so much as ‘retirement’ but as FREEDOM. This freedom begins with an upcoming trip to Emma, an artists’ collaboration in Saskatoon in Canada.
The Taralga Art Show has been running for over 20 years and is truly a community event. It is always freezing cold and it always has the most diverse range of talent and subject. This year however, only my sculptures could make it as I was in Queensland teaching.
Sculptures Exhibited (to purchase enquire here):
- Volcano Jam in Black Sea
- Tap Head
- Worshipping the Almighty Eye
EMMA Collaboration, Saskatchewan, Canada
Last year, Pre Trump.
I was elated to be invited to Canadian collaboration, EMMA. This was the original Collaboration now held at the beautiful Ness Creek site in the Boreal Forests two and a half hours north of Saskatoon in central Canada.
Needless to say, a crap long hall flight passing through LAX, big mistake. This was the only down side of an amazing 6 week Canadian arts experience.
Moved in with M. Craig Campbell and Bev Orr in Saskatoon. Craig is a blacksmith I worked with at the NZ Collaboration and Bev his long suffering artist support system. As part of the jet lag recovery i joined Bev and Craig at the 4 day Ness Creek Music Festival which was fantastic. I felt young again and could stay up really late (I was still on Aus time). This was held at the site we would use for EMMA and was fantastic. I'm sure i met and chatted with half the 4000+ people there.
We returned to Saskatoon and prepared for EMMA. I was Craigs worshop bitch and while he did all the organisy committee bits I built racks and vice stands and drank gin and beer. Life was hard as I also had to meet new friends, catch up with old friends as they arrived for EMMA and drink and eat with them all. Enough of the hardships.
Words fail me so pictures take over.
Cyclones and storms seem to cover my creative journeys of late. New Zealand Collaboration last year was under threat from a kick arse cat 5 cyclone, which managed to pump heaps of energy into the collaboration, before changing course in the last hours and only hitting us as a lower category cyclone . The just completed journey to Cooroora Institute, in the Noosa hinterland, had Jasper and I driving 1200 km through a huge East coast low with pouring rain and destructive winds buffeting us most of the way.
It was still raining while I setup the workspace for the Metalwork for Sculptors workshop, but then on the day and for the next few days, out popped the sun. A busy and exciting 3 days with many techniques and processes covered including safety, plasma cutting, oxy welding, LPG cutting, riveting, shaping, bending, forming, texturing, metal recognition and characteristics, MIG welding and more. It is always amazing to see what people draw out of their head and hands; this was no different with all 8 students coming out with something completely different. Some came with designs and ideas of what they would like to do, others an empty mind and looking to see what would happen. There were furniture makers wanting to include metal in their palette and other artists out for play and discovery. Some pieces were tiny and others, well, let's just say I'm glad I left before it went up or was moved; "I beams! RHS! 4mtrs high! Excuse me, gotta go!"
Thanks to Ross, Tamsin and Anika for inviting me to teach at their wonderful Cooroora Institute and for being such great supporters of the arts, the Earth and its people.
Thanks also to Tom Day and BOC through Days Industrial in Goulburn for their generous support with great show/sample bags for everyone.
When this was over there was a further 3 days collaborating with Ross Annels (Artist and furniture maker), Dr Tamsin Kerr (writer and director Cooroora Institute), Tunji Beier (Percussionist), Jason Dreise (Artist and Fellow IA Teacher), Linda Black (printmaker/animator), Jasper Dorman (Art student, UOW), Anika Annels (Potter and Barista) and Alex McConnell (IA Teacher). It was, as with all collaborations, an interesting mix of ideas and outcomes albeit tempered by rain, trying to fix the MIG and then Anika needing an appendix removed.
On the last full day in Qld, good mate and fellow collaborator from Brisbane, Richard Vaughan, master cabinetmaker, came up to play and catch up.
On the way South the next day we dropped in to say goodbye (and thanks for all the amazing coffees) to Anika at Nambour Hospital. She was in fine spirits despite the impending keyhole surgery that afternoon. Thanks again for being so wonderful Anika, you can always put a smile on someone's face; hope you're feeling better.
Out of the land of Joh (that era is still etched into my political psyche) and over the border heading for Coffs Harbour and the promise of two days playing with sculptor and designer, John Van Der Kolk, who I met at the NZ collaboration in 2013. With only a brief stop at his place on the way up (during a near cyclone) we didn't get a chance to sticky beak into his work space. Now was the time. We had a great three nights and two days with John and Sue and had wide ranging discussions about art, life and politics, excellent food and some wonderful play in his workshop (although we could not match his 4am starts). His generosity in sharing his knowledge and skills was fantastic with both Jasper and I coming away inspired.
There is something to be said for spending blocks of time with your children. It is a time of change for both Jasper and I. He starting the uni side of his art this year, discovering other paths, views, mediums, people and influences. As for me, getting away from the dominance of teaching and raising family, getting out of my teaching workshop and focusing on my maker workshop and headspace. 3000kms driving and talking with Jasper and 2 intense weeks making and talking with many other artists. Thankyou to all the wonderful souls we met and worked with.
Well here i am, coming up to my 58th birthday, the kids have nearly all left home and the time is right. I'm standing back from teaching metalwork, woodwork, design and sculpture and heading full-time back into the Arts.
I have been a maker all my life and a teacher for much of it. I didn't need to pack shelves as a kid because I sold my enamelled jewellery and later silver jewellery, mainly to my mother's friends at first then to the wider public. I have journeyed through and around photography, community arts, theatre, installations, blacksmithing, silverwork, junk work, furniture, visual arts coordinator for major arts events, sculpture and many exhibitions.
After my workshop burnt to the ground in 2011 and a lot of angst and soul searching I was invited by a friend ( thank you Ruth) to attend the Australian Collaboration, something i had never heard of. It was mainly wood based, and I was asked to help build up the metalwork area with a couple of other metal artists. This collaboration changed my life. It picked me up, dusted me off and set me back on my creative journey. I have rebuilt my workshop and a website (shed was more fun)
I have been to the amazing New Zealand Collaboration twice and have been invited back in 2017 as international artist; an honour and a compliment. This year I also received an invitation to the collaboration that started them all, EMMA Collaboration, at Ness Lakes in Saskatchewan. I will catch up with old friends, make new ones and live the creative life.
I have just started the process of replacing my long loved and recently handed on kombi ute, Bob. It is a hard act to follow as Bob had practical and cool by the bucket load but he was not practical if we want to become a one car household.
The two criteria for the new vehicle was to be able to carry stuff, and carry people at the same time, be it a car with trailer a van or a dual cab ute. I was impressed with the VW Amarok and the obvious differences between Bob, a 1973 kombi, and a modern VW go without saying.
We will start 2016 with the Amarok while Bob has joined a surfer in Adelaide.