Monday, 21 July 2014

Not much to do with art

The sea was like a mill pond this morning, not a ripple. It amazes me that such a vast expance of water can be so still. Down the steep hill to Xatt l-ahmar and on to Ras il hobz Raffi raffi raced. Zig zagging across the path to chase things scurrying through the fields. The sun still watery and cool at this time of the morning.

It's a bad time of year for my eco prints, the ground is so parched and the little vegetation still hanging on has not much to offer in dye. It would be nice to have an alternative 'Land Art' to work on at this time of year. Collecting grasses perhaps.

The view over to Camino was so serene.

By the time we had had a swim (Raffi is still a little reticent) the sun was up and I could feel its' heat already. Into the gallery this morning, finish a painting and then another swim me thinks.

Friday, 18 July 2014


 The Mill Room Gallery is an exciting new venue in Victoria showcasing local artists and contemporary craft makers set in a traditional old mill building. With two spacious exhibition rooms, artists’ studios surrounding a shady roof terrace along with a cafe it is a lovely place to escape the Summer heat.
Faith Vinal Pollina, herself a glass maker, is the founder member of this new venture. With an abundance of artists on the Island she hopes to create a buzzing artists’ cooperative, where the artists and other interested parties can become members. The gallery will exist as a non profit making venture with the cooperative members taking an active part in the running of the gallery.
Workshops, artists in residence, demonstrations and group projects will create constant interest for artists and the public alike. Already an eclectic mix of creative disciplines exist at the gallery including, painting, sculpture, glass making, silversmithing, jewellery making, mosaics and designer clothing.
The gallery will be open this Summer Monday – Saturday 10am – 1pm

A small selection of my work at the fair last weekend. One of the exhibition rooms is now housing more of my work.

Wonderful roof terrace.

Faith had a plan ! Some potential members were to work on a 'piece' as a group, just to see how we all gelled. More of a social experiment rather than an art collaboration !  We brought bags of fabrics, string, glue, paint, organic material etc etc there was a sisal mat to use as a canvas and we had 1 hr in which to do our best. There was a catch....we had to work in silence. Could we work together and not get upset with what someone else may do to our work, or could we get our ideas across without speaking? In essence how would we all work together without being able to speak  ?

Without any prior collaboration none of us knew what everyone else intended to do. The first 10 or 15 minutes we all concentrated on our own little areas, without encroaching on anyone else's area. It didn't take long for us all to realise that we had to somehow connect all our ideas. One person started to use gold paint to join us up, I started to sew red thread through all the works, not only securing them but as a visual link. The end result was messy but we learnt a little about how the others worked and a realisation that we had to pull together to make the Mill Room Gallery function successfully. 

A post mortem on how it went, a couple of glasses of wine, some new found friends and a jolly good and fun evening.
If you want to see the end result pop down to the gallery this weekend.

If you are an artist or contemporary craft maker interested in this project please contact Faith by sending a message her on The Mill Room Gallery facebook  page.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Wied Il-Hanaq

Wied Il-Hanaq is a little known gem of a valley running below Xaghra towards Ramla Bay. The air was cooler at 6am this morning as Raffi as I set out along the path. The sun coming up over the hill cast long shadows making it a pleasure to stride out. Raffi darted from field to field sniffing excitedly as he went. The lush valley is lined with cane, waiting be harvested for making shade screens or wind breaks for the fields. Apple and plum orchards heavy with fruit flourish in the damp atmosphere. We breakfasted on the sweet deep purple plums over hanging the lane. 

Looking back up towards Nadur

I recently watched a film called Tracks, about an Australian girl who trekked from Alice Springs to the Indian Ocean. She took four camels and her dog. It seemed like a mad thing to do and really she bit off more than she could chew, but what an adventure. As I was walking today I mused about an adventure that Raffi and I could embark on. Maybe not something quite so dangerous but a trek around the islands appeals. Probably not in the heat of the Summer or with camels but an prolonged Autumn walk to collect organic materials for my dyeing. I have always had itchy feet but feel very content with life right now, here on Gozo. Walking is a fabulous way to discover what on first sight may seem a limited island, and I haven't even started on Malta yet. There needs to be a goal in mind, like a circumnavigation along the coastal paths. Or a walking meditation linking all the valleys.....I don't know, it requires some thought and a little planning in order to make it an art walk.

Artists seem to need a muse. An inspirational figure or a place or setting that affords the creative flow. I certainly feel that here on Gozo and walking silently with my dog often brings up new ideas and concepts. Having a purpose in my every step, making art as I walk is very appealing and my plant dyed works are a result of this. Books are also a great source of inspiration and I have many art books covering all genres. just flicking through them can spark an idea.  They are currently languishing in a barn in Essex. Little by little I am bringing a case of my 'can't live without' bits out here butI have made the decision not to have most of my 'old life' belongings sent out to Gozo. I have lived without them for this long and have decided I no longer need them. Though I have to say going back to the UK recently and riffling through the boxes I started to believe I needed some of that paraphernalia. No... all I need are some photos of my children and some much loved art, travel and cookery books. The rest my kids can have to furnish a house or flat when the time comes. It is very cathartic to let 'stuff' go. By clearing out the old one allows for the new to enter ones life. 
Have a good day x

I like this poem:


I glanced at her and took my glasses 
off -- they were still singing.  The buzzed
like a locust on the coffee table and then 
ceased.  Her voice belled forth, and the 
sunlight bent.  I felt the ceiling arch, and
knew that nails up there took a new grip 
on whatever they touched.  "I am your own
way of looking at things", she said.  "When
you allow me to live with you, every 
glance at the world around you will be
a sort of salvation."  And I took her hand.

- William Stafford

Monday, 30 June 2014

Doors and balconies revisited

Balconies are now an integral part of Maltese architecture, though this hasn't always been the case. Enclosed balconies only became fashionable in the 18C. Coming in all shapes, sizes and colours, most seem to be like a sort of conservatory tagged onto the outside of houses. 
On my first trip to Malta I was struck by the vibrant and often crumbling balconies and doors and painted a series of works using them as inspiration. I am now revisiting photos of my artworks done a few years ago and find that I am again being drawn into the wabi sabi ness of the architecture.
I have stacks of driftwood found on local beaches and will utilize this in my painting.

The Mill Room Gallery is hosting another weekend showcasing local artists and craft makers on 11th - 13th July. I will be there so come along, there will be lots to do and see. Check their facebook page for reminders and times,

The boxed in balconies offer a bird's eye view of the street below.

Some works I did a few years ago after my first trip to Malta. Some are on wood and some are large mixed media paintings incorporating newsprint and tissue to give texture.

A corner in Marsaxlokk,

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Out and about

My visit to the UK was a real mix of emotions. The excitement and joy of seeing my daughter’s degree show, followed one of the saddest weeks of my life. A very dear friend lost his fight in a terrifyingly short battle with a very invasive cancer. As always, a confrontation with death like that is a sobering reminder of how fragile life is.

AMB Jewellery is in it’s infancy , but I have great hopes for Alice’s ability to capture one’s imagination with her striking designs and use of contemporary materials. She is coming out to Gozo for the Summer, possibly longer, to gather inspiration and maybe find an outlet for her jewellery. You can read her Blog here and view some of her work.

James was a very talented photographer and his work can be seen here. His personal work was always very much a diary of his life and that of his family. He will be greatly missed but lives on through his photographs and the work he did for charity. He has produced a book -amongst others- for the Neonatal unit at Colchester Hospital you can buy it here. He lived his life through Buddhist principals and as such this poem is a nice reminder that all of life ....and death... only happens in this moment.

Breathe and you know you are alive.
Breathe and you know that all is helping you.
Breathe and you know that you are the world.
Breathe and you know that the flower is breathing too.
Breathe for yourself and you breathe for the world.
Breathe in compassion and breathe out joy.
Breathe and be one with the air that you breathe.
Breathe and be one with the river that flows.
Breathe and be one with the earth that you tread.
Breathe and be one with the fire that glows.
Breathe and you break the thought of birth and death.
Breathe and you see that impermanence is life.
Breathe for your joy to be steady and calm.
Breathe for your sorrow to flow away.
Breathe to renew every cell in your blood.
Breathe to renew the depths of consciousness.
Breathe and you dwell in the here and now.
Breathe and all you touch is new and real.
— Thich Nhat Hanh

It is wonderful to back in Gozo.  The scenery has changed yet again while I have been away and we are now fully into Summer weather.  I went out for an early morning walk to San Lawrenz with Raffi today, just as the sun was rising and casting a wonderful light over the Giordan Lighthouse. If I had been a better photographer I may have done it justice. It was beautifully cool at 6am, it’s much too hot later for Raffi to dash about as he likes to do.

I’ve had a lovely morning in the gallery, some interesting and generous people have been in. Not many folk venture down the cobbled back streets of Victoria. Most day tourists over from Malta don’t have the time to explore and tend to stick to the well known routes. It’s a shame because they miss so much of the old city with its many hidden secrets. Artisan workshops and interesting craft makers lie beyond the tourist market in the main square and really a whole day (at least !) should be devoted to exploring. Sadly many don’t bother.

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Back to Blighty

I'm back to the Uk for a short while. Partly to see #1 child's degree show and partly to sort belongings and visit reli's. Before I do, I managed to fit in a couple of driftwood paintings.

Raffi is a great help.

A few finishing touches on this one , then into the gallery.

Raffi has found a new place to view the goings on in the bay. He will be in good hands while I am away, it's a shame it's such a palava to move animals around Europe.

If you are in Victoria this weekend, try and visit the new Mill Room Gallery, lots of art and crafts going on. Click on the link for info.