Wednesday, 30 June 2010

The tide is high and I'm movin' on........

This morning I have been rolling beads, I have made a test rack of some new colours and they will take a few days to dry before I can fire them. As you can see I am in a vest which means it must be higher than 20 degrees C! Yes in fact I think it may be pushing 22! So I have decided that the time has come - it must be done -  the tide is high, the sun is shining  and therefore perfect for a dip in the sea. 
I say 'dip', you will note, because technically to say I am going for a swim would be misleading  as the water is still cold and I am not sure when the Gulf stream current is going to kick in - if in fact ever. Therefore the water is about as cold as in Cape Town. When you emerge from the pain of throwing yourself into the water it feels as though a sheet of ice is clinging to your body. Invigorating to say the least but not exactly enjoyable until after the sun has warmed my bones and I feel the salt drying slowly on my skin, then it feels as though I am slowly returning to normal.........

Monday, 28 June 2010

Birds and Tulips

'Lonely bird' by Julia Ogden

mosaic sample tile, me

I have had a thing for years about tulips and always thought I would like to use them as inspiration for mosaic designs. Last year I also developed a passion for birds - not in terms of going out and watching them and ticking their illustrations off in little bird identification books but in the representation of and Artists interpretation of birds.
They seem to pop up so often in designers work; sweet little, quirky birds with bursting personalities and a confidence I would love to have. I have started noticing them in jewellery designs, illustrations, paintings, and even textiles - they are everywhere. I have in fact, finished a mosaic with fat little, puffed up robins in it (surely one of the cockiest of the bird world). My mosaic also has tulips in it and I only remembered I had finished  it and pasted it up but not actually installed it when I came across the photo at the top. So that is one of my tasks for this week - finish  the mosaic and get it up onto the wall.

Friday, 25 June 2010

A bear with a sore paw

Modji watching the 'birds' at a bird hide here on Anglesey

Poor Modj has had a very sore ankle (do dogs have ankles?) for the past 4 days and it has slowly worsened.
She is already on meds for arthritis and usually they help but she has something else going on here with her joint. She has been milking it for all it's worth - getting lots of sympathy and hugs (not just from me!) Ever the little Ozzie Battler she wants to keep exercising and insists on finding her little ball every morning and wanting to go out, but not today - today she is housebound. 
She does not understand why and keeps giving me the furry eyeball. If by tomorrow there is no improvement it means a trip to the vet - which we try to avoid at all costs. She is terrified of the vets and goes into a quivering, dribbling, panting mess as soon as we pull up to the gate.  For now however she is on her back, on her bed reading the latest edition of Marie Claire!

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Jack's (Comfort) Curry

Whenever Mark is away I always end up making a huge pot of his Dad's special curry. 
It is so easy to make, so tasty and it reminds me of so many memories. In it's way it is a perfect comfort food. The best Masala to use is Packo masala blend (if you can find it) and the best chutney is Mrs Ball's Chutney. I always add aubergine (brinjal) and potatoes. Last night I got really adventurous and added coconut milk - YUM. Some friends are coming to help me eat it tomorrow night  - because as Jack always said it is best if cooked the day before and allowed to stand over!

Sunday, 20 June 2010

The soundtrack to my life

Modji and I, Sunrise. Sydney     2005

The subject of music has come up a lot these past few days, first starting with a post by my sister who spoke of being transported to a different time and place and all the memories evoked when she hears a particular track. Like so many of us, she remembers getting ready to go clubbing while listening to the 'right' music at that time,  music to get you into the mood, hyped up and anticipating what might happen when the DJ spins his black circle on the dance floor. 
Then last night some friends and I discussed how easy it can be to connect with people through music, how a mutual love of a particular Artist can instantly connect you. How music informs and reflects your mood, enlightens your day or diverts your attentions. 
When I think back to so many pivotal points in my life, they always occurred in tandem and were heavily bound to music. In fact I could even say at times my travels were guided by music. 
Whilst backpacking through Europe in the early 90's, I used to drown out the night time youth hostel sounds and fall asleep listening to  Bjork, INXS, ambient house music and acid jazz  - all playing on my walkman. Tapes - weren't they great? You could re-write them over and over, each time you came upon a new sound that would usurp the current selection. Like sound layers, sitting over the top of each other silently building up an historic account of your musical tastes and discoveries.
And the mixed tape - nothing better than sitting up for hours making a mixed tape - THE party tape, THE driving tape or a tape for a new friend. I had so many of those tapes with neatly written accounts (often crossed out) of the Artist, Track and number.
Agh but back to the walkman - such a cumbersome, heavy, battery hungry device. So many travellers I met would rather leave behind anything to make their load lighter but not their walkman. Some even had Discman - even heavier and clunkier and the batteries would last all of about 30 minutes. But the music was essential, we would swap CD's and tapes, listen to new and exciting artists and experience bands that we had never heard of.
Later while travelling through the States, Mark and I spent 5 weeks camping  in a town, no  money and little food, just in anticipation of seeing Pearl Jam, who along with other grunge, rock bands - were the absolute essential soundtrack to our mutual lives at that point. Alas the beloved PJ cancelled 3 days out from the concert.
Once back in Australia after 3 years of travel it was years of concerts and music festivals and the rise of dance music - festival days, crammed into hot, dusty, smelly tents jumping and screaming with a mass of anonymous, seething bodies to an array of bands and artists.
Just recently we went to a festival here in Bangor - our first in a few years - and we were instantly transported back in time. We once again found ourselves in the midst of jumping, sweaty, exuberant fans all united by the  adoration and respect for the band on stage - this time Faithless. With their loud euphoric anthems, underpinned by heavy bass, insightful lyrics and a sound that simply defies you to stand still. The crowd, young and not so young, were transformed into a united organism all jumping and swinging and grooving as if we were all ONE. 

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Sumptuous Silk


Off and on over the years I have pretty much stuck to working with the same materials in my jewellery. Stainless steel, linen thread, sterling silver and of course my ceramic beads. But with my foray into playing with beach glass, I thought I would mix it up a little and was inspired to buy some silk ribbon when a friend of mine sent me a birthday present wrapped in the most gorgeous piece of multicoloured ribbon. Alas I could not track that particular ribbon down, regardless of the fact I spent hours scrolling through ribbon vendors on the net (there are some truly beautiful and horrid ribbons out there!).
Eventually though, I found this seller on Etsy and they had so many gorgeous, hand dyed silk ribbons in an array of enticing colours, I did not know where to start. I settled on some lengths in turquoise, silver, green and  browns - all slightly variegated and subtle.
Best of all they are from a seller in Oz, so that was nice! They arrived yesterday and I immediately wanted to so something with them. I hung them in front of an open window - to stop them getting grubby and they looked beautiful blowing gently in the breeze. In the past I have done a lot of hand wrapping of stainless steel using linen thread in my pieces and think that the silk will lend itself well to a similar treatment.
So off I go to get started, hopefully with a finished piece to post by tomorrow!

Wednesday, 16 June 2010


gorgeous colours on a gorgeous day

I had an email from a Dr de Bruyn, telling me he was not in Singapore any more (before Borneo) but had absconded to Thailand. 
He is supposed to be working - instead he is sitting on a beach or beside a pool in Thailand. There is something dramatically wrong with this scenario. I am here in cool, windy Wales and he is in hot, sunny Thailand - where everything and everyone seems so impossibly beautiful and exotic and serene. 
Not to mention the outstanding food.
But wait, I am being unkind, because in fact we have been having beautiful weather since Dr de Bruyn left.
Gorgeous, sunny, champagne days - the kind that make the mountains shine in all their glory. 
When the sun sets behind them the outline of the ridges against the clear sky, echoed with a faint line of light is truly breathtaking.
So enjoy your cocktail Mark, I am off to salute the mountains and sip on a glass of champagne!

Monday, 14 June 2010

This time last year - Almost.......

Fishing boats all lined up Kota Kinabalu harbour

I was up at 4-30 this morning to drop Mark at the train station to begin his journey to Borneo for what will be the last of his research and commitments for his current project. We were both  there, almost this time last year, for nearly 3 weeks and we had a fab time. 
Of course the fact that I was enveloped in a warm, sultry heat for the entire time, helped make me feel alive and provided  me with a much needed hit for my tropical nostalgia. Kota Kinabablu was a fantastic starting point, it provided the right blend of Asian sights, smells, sincerity and succulent food. 
The famous night food market, that suddenly appears like a shimmering mirage on the port at dusk was such an exciting place to wander through, soaking up the smells of the BBQ's and grills on which  all sorts of  seafood, chicken and the most amazing vegetables are grilled, steamed and fried. 
Both Mark and I were salivating, walking around trying to decide on what to have. I settled for grilled fish - straight off the coals with an egg plant dish that tasted like no other I have ever had. Doused in plenty of soy, chilli and sweet sauce we enjoyed our meal under the tents, inhaling the food smells of the markets, listening to the unrelenting banter of the traders and looking out to the twinkling lights on the few fishing boats moored in the harbour. 
I can picture you there Mark, in a few days, sampling the chicken wings and kebabs but please remember to stay away from the Udung galah!! 

Saturday, 12 June 2010


playing with ideas

green beach glass and st. silver

My work has been selling well at Janet's Gallery, so I spent the last part of the week with my head down, beavering away at my bench for hours on end.
I was hoping to get a few ideas, that had been brewing in my subconscious for several weeks, out and in 3D form. For months now, I have been collecting (and then more recently with Markus' help) gorgeous pieces of sea glass from the beaches here on Anglesey. 
The Menai Straits were used as a dumping ground for all sorts of unwanted glassware and ceramics - a lot from the Victorian era. As a result this 'rubbish' has spent scores of years under the water, being tossed, turned, polished and refined.  Eventually, they are washed ashore by waves or uncovered from mounds of tiny pebbles, that have been harbouring these little gems. 
Along comes Markus and I, collecting them by the handful. Some of the ceramic shards are so gorgeous with faint, ghost like images of birds, flowers, patterns and colours, left visible on their bleached surface. These ceramic pieces are scattered all over our cottage and a few are being used in my mosaics, as accents and features. 
Pieces of glass however, have been sitting on my workbench for months, beckoning me to make something with them, urging me to bring them to life again. With their frosted, etched surfaces, they are such a contrast to my shiny, glossy beads and so it has taken some time for them to perculate into my designs. But at last, these past few days I have started playing with them, and I know over time the designs will evolve to let these little pieces of history truly shine.
It felt good yesterday to replenish my work in the Gallery, with both ceramic jewellery and new glass jewellery, now let's just hope there are lots more sales!

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Getting Started

Modj welcoming visitors to my gallery, Durham. 2008
jewellery display Durham 2007
Becca Pely-Fry & Chrissie Morgan setting up Bec's exhibition 2007
Opening, Steve Sproate's exhibition, Durham 2007

Hmmm why is it sometimes we find it so difficult to get started? To pick up from where we left off and just get on with it? We can spend hours and hours procrastinating, letting the lizard brain convince us this is the best way - take it slow no fast moves. 
Eventually though, we have to shake ourselves out of it and force ourselves, if necessary, to just start. I think, for me, part of the problem is deep down inside I know once I start the process of the next project it becomes an almost obsession, which then in turn takes up all my time and suddenly there is not time left for those little things I would have procrastinated over in the beginning! 
They suggest trying to get the right life balance, but I know once the  creative desire kicks in it's not so simple. I read a great interview on just this topic here if you are interested in someone else's perspective. When I look back at the photos above I remember just how much can happen when finally the floodgates open. 

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Friday, 4 June 2010

Garden on the Moon

We have had a bit of a tumultuous week.
Suddenly some plans that we thought would carry us neatly and clearly through the next few years have evaporated and left us feeling a little stunned. Not so much that we cannot cope - it is just now we have to think and make decisions that will decide our near future. We are at a fork in the road and the signs are not clear - east or west?  The choice is hard.
Looking through my old photos to inspire me to remember how far I personally have come in my own work; I came across this image that I had forgotten about.
It is a photo from a production produced and performed by a group of people who are very inspirational. I worked as an arts development tutor for alot of years for The Cerebral Palsy League in Australia. The day respite centre I worked in was a wonderful, pioneering organisation and as a collective we created many awe inspiring arts projects, public art works, controversial exhibitions and this performance entitled, 'A Garden on the Moon'.
Performed at night in the open air it cleverly utilised silhouettes, music, colour and  pattern  to tell the story of one of the participants who had been born with severe cerebral palsy and who had  endured years of heartache and isolation due to the ignorance of the time in which he was born. It was a mesmerising ride to watch this tale with all it's heartache, humour and soul. It was uplifting and thinking back to it I remember walking away from that performance feeling humbled by the notion that at least I have the luxury of choice.
So east or west?
Who knows but bring it on I reckon' we can handle the ride.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Mount Snowdon is the mountain you can see in the middle, just to the left of my Dad's head. This was taken a few hours before we attempted to climb the peak that has been taunting Mark and I for the last 2 years.
Ok, so by European standards Snowdon may not be all that high but it proved enough of a challenge for these intrepid explorers! We thought we were walking one of the easier tracks up and so only allowed a few hours to make the climb. However after making it 2 thirds of the way up, I decided to call it quits as I had a cold that was causing me a little discomfort. Also seeing the peak from a closer angle I appreciated it was not quite a spring jaunt to get to the top. I also figured Modj, at the tender age of 14, may make it all the way up but may not want to come back down! So I sensibly turned around.Mark and Pa however were not perturbed and continued on their way, quickly disappearing before Modji's and my eyes like 2 little Hobbits out on an adventure into Middle Earth.
Hmmmmm it seems we should have read the guide book a little more thoroughly - for as it turns out those 2 little Hobbits took over 4 hours to return to me, 15 km's later and courtesy of a mini-cab they turned up at the car park where we had set off from.  It seems they somehow wandered up onto the wrong trail and for the final ascent were actually climbing one of the hardest sections - a stretch they recommend you have serious mountaineering experience to traverse! 
But as they were so very close they could not stop and just had to make it to the top. So, after risking serious damage to limbs, hearts and heads and with a sheer drop to one side and nothing but boulders to the other; our 2 little Hobbits huffed and puffed and finally hauled themselves over the last rocky outcrop to be met with a wondrous view, like no other they had seen in a very long while. They concurred however, that under no circumstance would they be returning the way they had come and so walked an easier track down the other side of the mountain.