Thursday, December 2, 2010

making tracks

When I did these I was thinking about walking through the wallum with my children.
Last time I did this Sweet P. got tired and I had to piggyback her. I lost my new sunglasses.
The wallum swallowed them up and in the glittering, sparkling, scratchy, wallum with the bright hot sun bearing down I looked and looked for my sunnies as the little girls sat under a banksia wilting and sucking their thumbs.

We didn't find the sunnies ...but the shy wallum did reveal her treasures as we saw many many of the elusive vanilla orchids with their pale,unphotographable mauve spots.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Wallum Windows

There are lots of different windows to find, portals pop up here and there.
In puddles, sky, leaf droplets, walls, eyes and up from under thickets and grasses.
What is hidden and what is revealed by the frame of a window?
Some new brooches and necklaces from Swamp Cartography. Etched images are both photographic and hand painted.
For sale at Cherish and our Studio Sale.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Wallum Porcelain Brooch

In the strange way of collaboration Rebecca's beautiful brooches inspired me too look again at the ways of connecting disparate elements.......

............which meandered me through to the varied and suprising things you might see as you wander in the wallum.....

....which directed me in a mysterious sort of way to cartography and mapping..........

....that made me think of these little silver claws as cartographic symbols....which led to the map bowls.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Mapping -wallum, creativity and collaboration

Swamp Cartography-
Cartography (in Greek chartis = map and graphein = write) is the study and practice of making maps (also can be called mapping). Combining science, aesthetics, and technique, cartography builds on the premise that reality can be modeled in ways that communicate spatial information effectively.
The process of making new work is harder than I usually like to reveal for fear of sounding a little too highly strung and artistic. It starts a long time before a single mark has been made and swirls and gestates for anything up to a few years. The collabotaive process adds another element that hasn't come into my working process before. Rebecca's brooches got me thinking about the ferns in the wallum, the way she connects two disparate materials with silver, the threads that connect all the wallum flora and all the ideas we continually revisit, merging and submerging. Sometimes an idea that one of us has bought up many times seems like a breakthrough when we are finally at a stage of being able to appreciate it.

These pots are maps. The marks are intended to draw the viewer over the surface, they map the volume and exterior of the vessel, the journeys I've taken through the wallum and the creative process.

Arthur H Robinson states that a map that is not properly designed will be a "cartographic failure". "The intent of the map should be illustrated in a manner in which the percipient acknowledges its purpose in a timely fashion. The term percipient refers to the person receiving information and was coined by Robinson. "(from wikipedia cartography entry)
I wanted the percipient of these bowls to feel their way over the surface and through the wallum. I also wanted the pots to contain a secondary map of the collaboration which doesn't sound so dry and boring when I refer to it as the inspiration and alchemy that occurs when two like -minded and wildly different artists get together.
Mapmakers claim that maps should contain a wealth of information and be multivariate. The richness of information in a map generates hypothesis, stimulates ideas and further research. Perhaps the purpose of art and the purpose of mapping intersect.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Full Coral Moon

Extreme detail of a new etched, roller-printed and pierced piece.

Sometimes I feel empathy for the metal - it gets dissolved in acid, squished in steel rollers, drilled and sawn and then heated to near melting pointing point during my sometimes inept soldering efforts.
I've certainly explored the outer limits of what is possible and have the failed experiments to prove it. But on the whole it is so good-natured and forgiving that it seems to embody a sort of loving kindness as it takes the maker gently in hand and teaches them about the matter of metal.
Of course at other times, one has to stop oneself from throwing said failed experiments against the wall in a temper tantrum!

Sunday, July 25, 2010


First day at Canberra Glassworks I was very nervous. I had to work with glassblower Annette Blair to make the "swamp bubbles" for the Swamp Cartography exhibition. I've never worked with glass before and, as I labored over my sketchbook only to produce some very basic drawings I realize how much I rely on touching my materials to make my work. I make thousands of little decisions when I'm making, from the very moment I cut the bag of clay open right up until deciding how slowly to dry the piece out I'm tweaking and adjusting to what the materials are telling me they can do. Designing a piece in a hands off way is a totally different mindset.
I'm so used to working in contact with the materials that in some ways I can't even tell what the piece is like until I touch it. You see this in crafts of all types from the way bakers touch the dough through to the way mechanics cradle engine parts in their hands. The touch is what's telling them about the object. Entering a process where there is no touch literally felt like being blind, weirdly panicky and uncertain.
But...Annette did a fabulous job. It turned out that we liked the same colours and when I said "Brownish /purple" she really knew what I meant. This was instantly reassuring! Here is what she blew...swamp bubbles
Aren't they beautiful?

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Early showings...

I have some early swamp cartography pieces in a Redlands group jewellery/metal show coming up soon and also a piece selected for the Waterhouse Natural History Art prize in South Australia.

I am currently taking some time to concentrate on new work for the project. It is proving to be a difficult labour but I'm hoping for a breakthrough this week!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Growing things

Shannon is correct in saying that art like Wallum takes a long time to grow. Of course there is some that obligingly pops up like mushrooms overnight, but this is definitely not of the fungi variety. Maybe I am using the wrong fertiliser. I won't go into what makes mushrooms grow so well under commercial conditions but I'm sure you are all familiar with the substance.

I guess if these were any kind of fungi, these would be the tiny wild ones that may or may not pop up under decaying leaves and branches by their own unfathomable whim. Which leads me to suspect I have been inadvertently clever in not tidying up the rich litter layer that is my bench as it has finally produced some results.
Shannon' hands scratching back the resist to reveal beautiful leptospermum flowers drawn from photos.

These delicate little leptospermum flowers scratched into ashphaltum coated silver plate by Shannon have been sitting on my bench mocking me for months, too precious to commit to. Visitors say 'what are you going to do with those?' I mutter expletives under my breath. But now I have a much more polite answer.
I think patience is a great virtue and one that is good to have when dealing with acid. Like gloves. They were etched very slowly over days in a very weak brew of nitric acid so the detail is superb even though the etch is shallow. I'm thinking of starting the slow etch movement. I'm sure it will make my practice even more lucrative and in this age of conservation it is probably time to start dissolving precious metals alot more slowly.

So after procrastinating for ages, I cut them out, soldered posts on the back, drilled some holes and made this necklace. It is very simple. Why I couldn't do that earlier I will never understand.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Wild and Secretive

Originally uploaded by shannongarson
The process of making new art takes almost as long as the process of growing a flower. This is the second generation of the leptopspermums. The surface is very intriguing as the scratchy drawing is inlaid into the surface of the form and the veil of shiny glaze raindrops overlays the form. I'm playing with the idea of the surface of a ceramic piece being so absolute. The glaze drops reflect the light drawing the surrounding environment into the form and the most satisfying interaction of all is picking up these vessels the smoothroughshinysmoothscratchy-ness.

The wallum is a wild, secretive environment, full of detail and wonder I think pieces of work that capture the wallum should try to capture this.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Tips for fungi hunting.........

Tips for fungi hunting.........
Start in Autumn, after rain

Keep your knees bent and centre of gravity low (this is also a good tip for hip-hop dancing should you ever want to rap about fungi with the guys in da 'hood)
Get your "fungi eyes" on. Once you start seeing them you'll see them everywhere.
Look around the roots of trees, on rotting stumps and under ferns..fungi pop up in the strangest places.
Expect weird and unusual shapes and beautiful colours.
These fungi are all from Stradbroke Island and the process of fungi hunting became totally addictive, the variety of these wonderful organisms is fascinating. The fungi we see aboveground is often only 10% of the entire organism. Fungi have no chlorophyll and feed by producing enzymes underground that break down complex molecules found in organic matter. As they exhaust the food supply the underground mycelium move further out. The actual fungi is the fruiting body of the organism known as the sporocarp, it's purpose is to disperse the microscopic spores which get carried by the wind far and wide to produce a new web of mycelium that will erupt with a sporocarp when the conditions are right. There are so many interesting fungi facts for instance :"All fungi need existing organic matter for their food. A fungus that feeds on dead organic matter is called a saprotroph and one that feeds on living organisms is a parasite. While there are species that are always parasitic and others that are always saprotrophic there are also those which may feed on either live or dead organic matter and so change from parasitic to saprotrophic behaviour (or vice versa), depending on what food sources are available. " Read more about fungi here.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

3 Brooches

Fresh from the jewellers bench: 3 etched silver and gold brooches. These are the forerunners of a larger series for Swamp Cartography.

Each has a portal of sorts to take you under the surface or deeper into the landscape.

Storm Brooch - front and back
Brushbox Brooch

Hakea Brooch

Saturday, May 8, 2010


I'm working on the scribbly gum for the wallum project. Rebecca made me some metal plates etched with impressions taken from out photos of the wallum. After the yunomi were thrown I re-dampened them by the highly technical process of putting them in a plastic box with a wet plaster slab in the bottom of it overnight and then used the rounded end of a rolling pin to press the bases of the yunomi onto the etchings from the inside.
These are the second incarnation of this design and the third incarnation will be pared back further. I'll keep going until the pure essence of the bush is distilled into the drawing. Until picking up these yunomi captures first the smoky rays of sun touching the tops of the eucalyptus, the cool damp smell of the dew and the "wheeeeeeee- CRACK" of the whip bird's call.
As tea drinking vessels these pots will be handled a lot. From the setting of the table through to the washing up a drinking vessel constantly interacts with the body and brain of the user. It needs to be stimulating yet calming. Sometimes I feel like having a cup of tea is a tiny island of calm in the midst of a chaotic world. It is really important to me that the drinking vessel is the focus of this expanding circle of calm, yet leads the mind to wander in a creative direction. Having a cup of tea is not just for quenching physical thirst.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Not quite symmetrical

These wallumy earrings are made by smoodging tiny porcelain coils flat which are then pressed into clay and silicone molds made from direct impressions from nature. Then they're painted, sponged and fired. Finally pairs silver hooks are made.
Pierced ears anyone?