Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Wellington Christmas

Hot weather

Christmas lights

Fake snow

The jelly melted

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas

It is 7 minutes into Christmas day in New Zealand. It is very warm and it will probably be hard to sleep.
I hope everyone has a good Christmas and right now I envy anyone who is experiencing a white Christmas.

Here is a card from New Zealand.

Best wishes from New Zealand

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Bitter Harvest dyeing

Last Thursday was the opening of 'Wind it Up' the Whitireia student exhibition. Here are some pictures of my pieces as the dye starts to travel through them. I really hated the lurid colour of the turquoise in the middle one so went back the next day and added extra dye to the cups which changed the turquoise to something less nasty.

The bowls at the bottom of the panels contain from left to right: Barley, Wheat and rice.
The barley and wheat are not human food grade and were sold as animal feed , anything not contaminated will be recycled as wheat bags or given to chickens. The rice was from a damaged bag begged from the supermarket. They were going to dump it in the skip. So I don't feel like I am depriving anyone of food. I am a bit worried that the smell of the grain might entice rats/mice/sparrows into the gallery though - so far its been OK.

 Day 2. I added extra dye to all the cups. The two on the left are made of pre-washed fabric. The one on the right is made of unwashed fabric.

At the opening of the exhibition there was a prize-giving. I was taking photos as 'official photographer' but had to have the camera taken off me when I won 'Best in Show' which was a big surprise.
I am in the centre, with the joint course coordinators, Chris White (left) and Deb Donnelly (right).

This is work by Kerry Reddy who was in my class. She is also a quilter, and there is an article about her solo exhibition work in the latest New Zealand Quilter magazine.

Below is a detail of work by Chloe Reweti. It consists of hundreds of laser cut screenprinted moths attached to wire stalks which are drilled into the wall. It is very time consuming to put together but very effective. It is on the feature wall of the exhibition at Pataka.

To see more of all the students work go to

Sunday, December 9, 2012


If anyone would like to see another example of vertical dyeing, my work will be on display at Pataka Museum in Porirua (New Zealand) from 14th December to 14th January 2013. The work will be dyed during the exhibition and the dye will follow seam lines into bowls on the floor. If you would like a preview of the whole group exhibition please go to this blog for 'Wind it Up' .

As my work is already showing on the group blog, I think I can safely show it here too.

The pieces are based on Korean Pojagi and the first two I made used up the scraps left over from the previous 'Watermark' exhibition.

 These are the three which will be in the exhibition. The dye follows the lines down into the bowls at the bottom which contain grain. Wheat, Barley and rice.

Here is my artist statement

Bitter Harvest
Clare Smith

Sometimes it is possible to forecast  fashion colours for the season ahead, from the colour of rivers seen on Google Earth.

This is a spare wallhanging that I made, I tested how the dye would run through it and it wouldn't be as effective as the three chosen so I will keep it to show separately.

I hope some of you will be able to see the exhibition while it is hanging, if not, I will put pictures on this blog after the dye starts to run.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Sydney and Hobbitville

I've been back from Sydney for a week and haven't had a moment to write on the blog. The house seems full again with tall young men home from university and school. They have been for a catch up round of doctor appointments, opticians, etc and I'm making a vest/waistcoat for one to wear to a school formal. We've had to hire a 'tux' and I'm making the vest. Yesterday I spent rather too much time making welt pockets which were successful after I fixed them when the welts didn't meet in the middle. I could have left the welt pockets off but I was challenging myself. I felt that my year learning costume construction should be put to the test!

Next year I might be studying again. I have applied to do a Postgraduate Diploma next year at Massey University so some of this week has been preparing a portfolio. The course is billed as part time with block courses and late classes which have to fit in with people who are working. At the moment it looks like I won't be working next year , which is a shame as it would have helped to pay the fees.

Wellington is in the grip of Hobbit fever. My kids went to see the parade of people on the red carpet for the movie opening, but I was in Australia. However on the way back I noticed the bag collection area at the airport has become 'Bag End'. They have built up the centre between the conveyor belts and it looks like windows in the Hobbit village with the lights on. Very cosy looking.

Now I realise I should have taken a longer view of the whole set up so that it was easier to understand.
Here is a link to a website with a selection of photos of Wellington in full 'Middle of Middle Earth' mode.

Other than coming back to Hobbit mania, in Sydney I really enjoyed the lace exhibition at the Powerhouse Museum. It is well worth seeing. The theme was lace but any media could be used from paper, steel and wire to video projection. I have been pondering whether the same could be done with quilting? Instead of specifying 'quilts should be made of two layers of fabric or fabric like materials' , the exhibits could just be an impression of a quilt in any media. I know that Quilt National has had some wood quilts in the past but most exhibitions do specify fabric somehow.

The lace exhibition talked about the importance of interconnections and how negative and positive space was just as important. With a quilt are we just talking about 'cosiness'?

Anyway, that is what I am thinking about at the moment.

I really took very few photos in Sydney but here are a couple of things that caught my eye.

I did a little shopping, walked through Newtown and Surrey Hills to look at the quirky shops. I enjoyed spending time in an anonymous room at the Travelodge where no-one asked me to take them anywhere in the car and I didn't have to cook meals.

I went to the Francis Bacon exhibition and was very taken with the photos of his incredibly messy studio. It makes my studio look incredibly tidy in comparison - I really must pick up all those pins that the cat knocked over by walking on the bookcase and finish off James' vest.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Lace exhibition sydney

I'm in Sydney for a few days to wind down after a busy year. Yesterday i went to the lace exhibition at the powerhouse museum and found it inspirational. i recommend it to anyone. will send links later, i have 2 minutes left of internet before i get chucked off the machine.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

New work

I've been working away on my pieces for the end of year show which is a groups show with the other graduating students from Whitireia. The show is at Pataka in Porirua from the 15th of December to the 15th of January but the work has to be in on Monday (5th ) for marking. Once again I am working with white fabric so I am having to do most of my work at home or the fabric gets very dirty. It's hard to work with white in a shared space. As technician I am also helping the students with their work and its getting a bit too close for comfort for some of them who left it a bit late to get started.

Here are some detail shots of my work for this show. They are based on pojagi, Korean pieced textiles and the patterns are field patterns from google earth. Once again they will be dyed vertically in the gallery but the dye will probably only run on opening night as it is too hard to control unless I am there all the time. The dye represents the dye which is dumped into rivers which then is used to water crops such as rice or wheat.

Actually I don't even know whether I will be allowed to run the dye in that gallery space. maybe I should match the dye I use to the carpet colour just in case!

These are detail shots only. Don't want to give the game away before the exhibition opens.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

getting a bit behind with stuff

It is holiday time and I have been frantically trying to make work for the end of year exhibition before we all go back to work next week. I work part time as the 'tutorial assistant/technician' and do a few hours of part time teaching as well as being a student myself. I am trying to get ahead so that my own stuff is nearly done and then I can help the other students with the technical stuff to get their work done.

Looks like there will be  lots of screenprinting and silk painting to keep the textile room busy.

I've made one and a half wallhangings which is way less than I had hoped to get done so I feel like I am getting left behind. It is all due to be handed in on the 5th of November.

Does anyone else feel under pressure from technology these days? It isn't good enough just being able to use a computer and a cellphone any more. I feel a bit of a failure that I'm not really able to do wizzy things in  photoshop, make images in Illustrator to use for Lazer cutting, take my own top quality photos of my work (even if they are hard to photograph being nearly 3 metres long), set up my own super duper website, do video editing etc. Comments such as "You should video this and use it in the next exhibition" are guaranteed to make me feel inadequate but with the help of the Whitireia computer technician I did actually manage to video one of my Watermark wallhangings being dyed, filming and editing the video took 2 days of the holidays.

Some technology is fun though when the pressure is off. I used my prize money from the Queenstown Symposium to buy an Ipad which I love.  The Ipad makes great kaleidoscope patterns. I was helped by a 13, 10 and 5 year old.

 Agapanthus flower on concrete

 These few are pictures taken of an Agapanthus flower on a wooden table

Apart from Kaliedoscope pictures you can also do some very strange mirror image pictures and make weird soft toys and cars

Monday, September 17, 2012

Google Earth art

I have 6 weeks to come up with a second 'body of work' (i.e not just one piece) on my theme of water pollution, for the end of year show which is a group exhibition at Pataka in Porirua.

I've been so busy writing essays that I haven't had a chance to think of what to make but today is the day for brainstorming and making some samples - which i have to show on Friday.

In the meantime I am getting distracted by pictures.

The Yangtse river in China has been running red this week. Apparently it often has an orange or brown silty colour but this is a much more unnatural red. Check out the pictures in the Telegraph and BusinessWeek

There is speculation that it could be illegal dumping of dyes, some say it is just natural rusty water from iron ore and some think it might have something to do with the major earthquakes that happened just before. No one seems to know whether this is a natural phenomena or something synthetic but I'm glad I don't have to drink the water or eat the fish. This article in the Huffington Post is sensible.

Now I am getting further distracted by art which uses Google maps. This website by Jenny Odell led me to the carved books of Guy Laramee.

Monday, September 10, 2012

The departmental phonebox

Now that Whitireia Polytech has fancy phones linked to computers, the art department is a bit short of phones. I suppose everyone has cellphones these days.

We did a class with Gabby O'Connor. Have a look at her website, she does big sculptures with tissue paper.
The brief was to interfere with a space by making an installation, we had about 2 hours. Our group made a phone box.

I might have to go and take some more photos today as these don't really show the shape very well. It is a red wool old fashioned English phonebox with cone phone and vandalised phone books.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Trip to Christchurch

I visited Christchurch over the weekend. My son went down to look around the university as he is interested in studying engineering there. It was the first time I had been there since before the September Earthquake in 2010. It is over 2 years since the first earthquake and the rest of New Zealand doesn't hear much about what is going on in Christchurch unless something big happens like another after shock or demolition of a big office bock using explosives. It was a real eye opener to see what Christchurch people are putting up with; the dreadful potholed and lumpy roads, broken bridges, shops inside shipping containers, huge areas of rubble and lots and lots of vacant land where shops used to be. I got very disorientated and couldn't work out where I was as all the landmarks I knew from previous visits were gone or blocked off by wire fences. I was amazed that the roof and ceiling of  Knox Church is still there, you can see right through. The people I was visiting try to avoid the centre of the city as much as possible so hadn't seen how much it had changed since they were last there. There are road cones and piles of bricks everywhere. Here are just a few of the photos I took.

 This bridge has been squeezed in the middle

 Knox Church

The picture above is the house next to where my husband's grandparents lived. Looks like the chimney fell off.

I was sent the link to this video by Dave from Christchurch. It is called 'There's a fraction Liquifaction'