Landscapes In Watercolour

September 17th, 2018

This morning I was pleased to find a major article in ‘El Observador’ about the Uruguayan water colourist, Alvaro Castagnet, one of whose paintings of a wet night streetscape in downtown Montevideo has graced our living rooms wall for some years.  Every time I look at his work I’m reminded how much I’ve always loved water colours.

A little water colour painting I bought over 60 years ago was my first art purchase  You may well ask why I didn’t bring it over to Uruguay instead of leaving it in my studio in Perth all the years I’ve been here?  Well, when my geologist husband came to Uruguay to search for gold on a shoe-string budget financed by some Perth-based investors in the late 90s, I was assured that ‘…it will be a quick job, in and out 2-3 years…’  Given that most exploration ventures prove there is nothing economically viable in any given area under study, plus at that time we were financially stretched and could not afford to move our stuff around the world, we decided to temporarily leave the house in the care of a friend’s daughter.  She became the first in a long line of ‘caretakers’, and we never actually ‘moved’ to Uruguay.  But our time here has extended for so many years, I now think of myself as an ‘accidental immigrant’.  Nothing stays the same for ever, though, and we’ve just sold the Perth house.  Our main goal next trip back will be to clear out our stuff there; and one of the first things I will do is pop this little painting into my handbag 🙂

The current website re-organisastion is going well, and a powerpoint on  the home page will show how landscape has always been the inspirational backdrop to my art.  Maybe this little postcard-size painting could be background for the title slide, since it is perhaps the most important art purchase I ever made 🙂  Naturally, my young eyes and brain didn’t make a connection at the time, but the fence or hedge lines in this little painting are the tracks of human activity.

Tracks And Marks

September 12th, 2018



Almost no one currently alive will ever find themselves in a landscape of any kind where they could be 100% sure no human has ever been, although on a deserted beach or a windswept landscape stretching into the distance, if you ignore the sometimes subtle tracks ahead, squint your eyes and forget your recent flight, bus, train hike, bike or boat trip that got you there, it may just be possible to imagine you are the first human to ever set foot on that landscape …

Though it took me years to actually name a group of works ‘Tracks’, I know that landscape shapes, colours and textures are all track marks left by Mother Nature on those surfaces.  Modern Man, too, has left many complicated marks – fences, pipelines, railways, roads, power lines, canals, airports and ports, marshalling yards, to say nothing of small towns and vast cities with horizontal mazes of streets, bridges and roads, and multilevel vertical mazes of human habitation –  really, the tracks of human activity are everywhere.  Though I have focused more on the patterning on artifacts and drawn images on rocks, cliffs, cave walls and open plains, the ‘tracks’ made by Man on landscapes are not limited to the ancient ones that I’ve always found so awe inspiring, intriguing as those are.

In the design of my quilt, New Directions, 2000, the multitude of lines from every direction represent the paths and tracks of human migration onto our continent in the last 60,000 years.  I have just read Bruce Pascoe’s Dark Emu  which details the agricultural practices of Australia’s indigenous Aboriginal people.  Until now, having grown up in Tasmania, and lived overseas for many years, I’d never heard of extensive fish traps on the great inland river systems, and the extensive areas planted with grains on the open plains, many of which were seen by the colonists but dismissed by settlers and farmers with European farming practice backgrounds.  Ignorant of the sustainable land management practices the indigenous people had practised for thousands of years, they dismissively assumed they were not civilised enough to have devised such systems.  This fascinating book has me thinking more about tracks and pathways.

A Museum Visit, Buenos Aires.

September 9th, 2018

About 30 years ago on my first visit to Buenos Aires, capital of Argentina, we visited the Museum of Fine Arts and were blown away by their collection, containing many European classical, C19 and C20 art works, but also some wonderful Chinese and other Oriental art.  It’s always nice to go back to revisit somewhere you’ve enjoyed before, isn’t it? We had need to be in B.A briefly recently, and spent some time in this wonderful museum.

These may be the same two large urns or vases, labelled Ming dynasty (from mid C15 – mid C17) that enthralled me back then, and maybe not; but they’re stunning all the same.  The same lack of security barriers or alert systems still apply, but there are still a good number of watchful attendants hovering close by.  I was so taken by the huge pots with rims around chest height, that I barely glanced at the group in the case between!

What really impressed on this recent visit was a suite of rooms containing a huge collection of paintings, sculptures and beautiful objects, thousands of them, acquired on the travels of Argentine father Manuel Jose de Guerrico (1800 – 76) and son Jose Prudencio (1837-1902)   The collection is said to be the beginning of private collecting in Argentina by two people who were aware of their pioneering role building an important collection; so it reflects principal tastes at the time, and also documents material cultural changes and preferences in daily life.  De Guerrico descendents donated the collection to the nation in 1938.   I gazed at a beautiful collection of the very large tortoiseshell combs or peinetas worn by elegant spanish mantilla-wearing women –


Nearby was a large cabinet loaded with beautiful small decorated boxes made from all kind of materials and techniques, ornamental vases, candelabra and small urns.  In another were hundreds of fans, though most were folded and the ones opened out didn’t photograph well.  In another case were more lidded containers with many netsukes though my photos seem to have focused on the boxes – never mind, there are lots of images of those online – Netsukes are highly collectable these days, and many of the older ones are very valuable indeed.

At a time when Argentina was far more relatively wealthy than it is today, C19 and early C20, people in much of Latin America imported huge quantities of fine furniture and art, everyday items like fabrics and high quality household items, plus machinery, cars and boats, from European manufacturers.  The de Guerrico collection is presented in galleries painted strong bright red – sumptuous, in every way. Those frequent father and son trips to Europe must have been hectic and fabulous shopping trips!

Backgrounds, Continued

August 28th, 2018

As a background to my blog page, there needs to be something interesting, but not too overwhelming, happening out on the edges.  I went back and re-manipulated several pics and came up with some more, and although my final choice may be none of these, I feel I am getting closer to something that I will be happy with.

Influences Everywhere

August 28th, 2018

As I said the other day, I’m working on a re-design of my website, though it is more correct to say that the technical work is being done by the wonderful team at Gloderworks who built this now 10 y.o. website. The current background is based on Timetracks 1, which began the Tracks series, and led to some new thinking about my art. It reflects where I was then, just as did my first (19 years ago) and subsequent sites. I still have some more rewriting to do, and choices to make on what I really want the website to convey.

I’ve been looking at other textile artists’ websites and blog pages in many different styles. There are lots of combinations of bio, cv, galleries, exhibition news, publications, class schedules, blogs, archives and most have a contact page. They range from very formal to madly, crazily, informal.  Some have plain white, black or other colour backgrounds.  Others have some kind of texture, subtle or bold, and some are so lively and full of visual stimuli that it’s hard to see the main focal point.   It might be an age thing, but I’m looking for something uncluttered, almost ‘minimalist’.

I spent much time yesterday looking at quilted works and some landscape pics in my photo files. I manipulated some of them in fairly faint pencil sketch mode so they are not intrusive, and compiled a file of about 15 possibles plus several hand drawn liney things that I’m thinking over.  However, thinking I was a bit clever, saving these as very faint B/W pencil sketches when I put some of these up to show you, they looked just too severely washed out of colour, and rather boring, so I’ve just left a couple for the record, and it looks like an afternoon of a fresh round of manipulate+saves coming up!






It’s time for some lunch!









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