Oh dear

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It’s one of those grey days: low cloud hiding the sea and the hills while the rain pours onto the roof accompanied by the satisfying sound of water slowly filling up the tanks behind the house.  I’m glad of the fire, and I don’t mind the rain after several days of gorgeous late winter sunshine.  Sunny days mean that our solar panels collect enough energy for us not to need the backup generator, but the garden and the orchard badly need a drink and I’m happy our own water supply will be topped up.

I’ve been very slack the last few months and – evidently – haven’t blogged anything.  It doesn’t mean I’ve been idle, though; far from it.

Last week I attended the opening of my new exhibition at Coffs Harbour Regional Gallery.  As you can see from the photos, not only have I been busy making prints, I’ve also engraved slates and (shock, horror) done some painting!

I showed with my friend John van der Kolk, an amazingly talented sculptor.  We showed in the same space back in 2011 and have been gingerly skirting each other ever since, wanting to work together but lacking the courage to negotiate each other’s boundaries.  After our 2011 show we were invited to have a double-solo show (it still counts!  John’s work is on plinths and mine is on the walls, so we fit neatly into the one space), and we managed to overcome our natural reticence and work together on a collaborative piece that was the subject of the artists’ talk we gave last weekend.

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The paintings have been fun!  I hate painting on canvas – well, I don’t paint on canvas – because of the texture.  I love painting on paper, which is flat, but paper warps when wet.  And yes, I know that you can damp/stretch/dry paper and then paint on it, but apart from the fact that life’s too short (especially when I want to work on BIG pieces), there’s also the fact that it still doesn’t have the strength I crave.  So I was delighted to discover that I could buy a 10m roll of 1m wide Tyvek!  And that’s what I’ve been painting on.

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The beauty of it is that you can sand it, burn it, wet it… and it stays relatively flat and has no surface texture.

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I’ve been making prints as well, of course.  Multi-layered monotypes on 300gsm Somerset Rough, my favourite paper.

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And I’ve been engraving slates as well, over 20 of them this time, hung as a single wall installation.  (this is a work-in-progress view with background printing and the engraving done, but no gold leaf as yet)

While all this has been going on, I’ve been working full-time at TAFE and battling my insides.  It’s nothing dramatic, just painful.  Several years ago I was diagnosed (by default) with irritable bowel syndrome, which in my view is shorthand for “go away and stop complaining – just put up with it“.  Against a backdrop of constantly irritable digestion it’s hard to discern when things get worse, but they have been getting worse for the last few months so I went back to the doctor.  It was slightly surprising to be told, after much painful prodding, that the problem may be lurking appendicitis and that if it got worse I should go to the hospital!  Anyway, that’s how I spent Tuesday (at the hospital, with a needle in my arm and ready to go into surgery) until the blood work came back and suggested that there was no infection, at which point I was told to go home.

Since then I’ve been very sore, have tested negative for Helicobacter Pylori infection and am at a loss to explain what’s going on… but I’m back at work, albeit trying to have a gentle weekend.

Possibly it’s all just a message to tell me to slow down and relax!  (I’m imagining my family laughing hysterically when they read that sentence)  I’m not very good at doing that, but I am going to give it some serious thought 🙂  Next year I may well be studying again – academic stuff related to my on-going quest to stay in a meaningful, interesting and relatively well-paid job rather than anything to do with my ‘other’ life as an artist!  If that’s going to work I definitely need to be more effective at work and more relaxed at home.  Watch this space.

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