Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Collage for a Composer: 'two-hundred-and-fifty-three years young'

On this day, 253 years ago, the Austrian composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born in the beautiful city of Salzburg. We are listening to his Clarinet Quintet as I write. Three years ago, to celebrate the 250th anniversary of his birth, I was inspired by that occasion to create my first mixed-media collage, 'Mr Mozart'. Very experimental, lacking suitable materials, and it had to be completed in a hurry.

For our daughter had invited us to a Mozartian evening with her husband and their three children. We were to eat Austrian food which Kate, Dominic and little Lara (then aged 7, 4 and not quite 2) helped to prepare. CDs of Mozart's music would accompany the meal, and we would share readings from his letters. What could I bring? With only one day's notice, the paint and glue were hardly dry! The panel measures approximately 24"x12", has a base of heavy card and now hangs in the children's bedroom. 

You could say it is a visual journal of sorts, for it includes cuttings and magazine scraps, a word-recognition game, the covers of two Mozart scores (one with my husband's musical notation exercise scribbled on the front!) and a sort-of-painting of mine, representative of the Austrian mountains outside Salzburg to which I was introduced by my daughter not that long ago.

Double-click on the picture to view it in more detail.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Scrapbook-style Island Travelogue


AND before you read any further, I apologise for this blog layout - I am struggling with making the template do what I want.  

I will share it nevertheless and hope the poor presentation will not detract from my visual travelogue. (I have now bought a teach-yourself book on HTML and will eventually re-configure this posting.)

I cannot recall exactly when I made the scrapbook-style travel journal shown above and introduced in my last post, but it must have been three or four years ago. It began life at an Embroiderer's Guild workshop, not as a journal but as an exercise whose exact purpose I cannot now recall, nor can I find the notes I made then. All I do remember is that we were asked to bring along a photo that we liked and bits of yarn that matched in colour. Then we had to mess about with different papers, tinting them to match the photo and yarn. The left hand 'Scilly Idyll' page is the sheet I made documenting this exercise, with some of the papers I created and notes on how I mixed the colours I liked. (I think, that if you double-click on any of the pics, they will open full-screen. Certainly the photos I included in the previous post will do that.)

When I arrived back home, I looked at all the photos I had taken on our last visit to the Scillies, and two things struck me: first that we would not be going again due to cost, and second, that whenever I have made practice pieces over the years, I always tend to use the same colours! Rummaging through my samples boxes from numerous day classes, I found lots of little pieces of textiles - machine-embroidery, bits of knitting and so on. So rather than create a wordy travel journal, I decided to use the photos and bits of this and that to create a scrapbook style travelogue.

I made extra embellishmenys in suitable threads, rooted out shells to hang below the papess and found hand-made papers for backgrounds, plus others to frame each spread (two pages facing). I added words - which would have been better on vellum, but at that point in time, I had never heard of modern vellum paper, or of the correct glue, or even tried using bondaweb (wunder-under) as I now do to fix transparent paper. So I used tracing paper for the words and quite the wrong adhesive; it shows as a dark blob behind the text! One day, I will replace all the page photos. Raymond spent all morning taking them for me. First in our north-facing guest bedroom, but the light was too dim, then outside balanced on a music stand in a howling - and cold - north-westerly gale. How many times have we said to each other that we MUST set ourselves up with appropriate equipment to take studio shots. That was a facility we enjoyed when we were still involved with our publishing business; cameras and dark-rooms and all the facilities necessary to produce and print magazines.

I hope you enjoy this first cataloguing of my journaling experiences and endeavours. They will be interspersed with new work as I complete it - but I am very slow, very tentative. Meanwhile, maybe these early attempts will encourage other beginners to have a go.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Poetry Moment - for all Americans who believe

Here is my 'poetry moment' that happened this morning - a day I wanted to record because it will I am sure remain in all our memories, no matter where we live in this world. It is written for anyone who believes in hope, determination and perseverance.

First, lest you should think I take credit for the beautiful 'booklace'  (above) into which it will be copied: that was a gift given to me by my dear friend Kristi (Kristin Steiner of South Carolina) when she came to stay with us after teaching at the Oxford Summer School in the UK last summer. To learn more about Kristi's booklaces, click onto her website and look under 'Altered Arts and Creativity Workshops'. 

Now for the poem that happened this morning, scribbled initially on a bit of paper (above). Maybe it is impertinent of me to dedicate this in the way I have, but truly, it is what I feel.

Crow Morning

The rooks
leave their roost
and fly over
our slice of sky
Dark against the blue
In twos and threes
so early on this
Obama morning
What is their journey 
- and his?

asm 20.01.2009

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Why do we Journal?

In creating this new journaling blogsite, it set me thinking as to why we journal, and to reflecting on the journals I have made, and those in progress. Do we create journals because we love writing, or photography, sketching and painting, or scrapbooking? Are we impelled to 'say something' about a moment in time? What is the catalyst that sparks some new journal? For me, my inspiration is usually somewhere we visit: 'a sense of place'.

I have been writing diaries since I was a little girl and the results are stored in our roof-space or littered all over the house. Those devoted solely to the written word will not be covered here - in this blog I want to share my visual journals.

It wasn't until the year 2000 that I began a form of visual journaling (I'll cover the formats I have used in a later blog). I'll begin by sharing the magic of the Scilly Isles - a tiny archipelago set 28 miles off the Cornish coast in England and the nearest land to the USA. Five inhabited islands and dozens of outlying islets and rocks. We first discovered this idyll in 1965 and have visited on and off occasionally ever since. I recently made a scrapbook-style journal of our latest visit; two of the pages are illustrated (see the lower pic of the two shown above). Few words, mostly photos and a background of handmade paper and memorabilia.

The second journal (the front cover is illustrated in the top pic above) was made from silk noile with photos and my own poems about the Scillies transferred onto fine cotton lawn and stitched onto the silk, then folded into a concertina, stab-stitched toegther with embellishments added to the spine: shells, beads, buttons and other bits and pieces. The poems were written over many years - it's one of the ways I like to remind myself of that 'sense of place'. My poems usually just happen, and it's very inconvenient if I don't have paper and pen to hand as I walk along a beach, or anywhere else for that matter. Once, all I had in my pocket was a pen - I still wrote: on a white stone I picked up from the foreshore! I still have the stone. It's part of my accumulated 'stuff'. Double click on either pic so the text is large enough to read.

I will post photos of the pages from these two journals when a) I have taken the pics and b) I have discovered how to post multiple photos in the sort of layout that I am used to creating. I am so new to all this!

Saturday, 10 January 2009

Begin at the beginning

It seems ridiculous to be creating yet another blog but of all my passions, journaling is my greatest love (apart from my husband, children and grandchildren).

So this new blog will 'journal the journal' - I will post finished pages not only of the journals I create, but also the pages in my accompanying notebooks. These include my experiments, ideas and experiences discovered whilst journaling; samples and achievements and if things failed, why.

I journal in many places: workroom-cum-laundry room, living room, attic space, garden, shed and - when we are away, in our car, caravan or motorhome. I have journaled on beaches, by the side of rivers, up mountains, on walks, in aeroplanes; anywhere I can perch with a  notebook, you will find me pen in hand.