Sunday, August 16, 2009

.....and another intro

Hello to everyone! I'd like to add my intro into the mix.

My name is Amanda Watson-Will and I live in Brisbane. This year is my first year post-masters and I have been enjoying the freedom to explore and experiment with new media. My background is in ceramics, and I have mostly worked in the area of installations, combining ceramics and projections.

A few years ago I discovered artists books, and fell immediately under their spell. By this stage I was half way through my masters at RMIT, but was able to incorporate three artists books into my final body of work. Two of those books were porcelain and the other was archival inkjet.

My foray into artists books has lured me into taking some time to explore printmaking. While studying ceramics we did some linocuts and monotypes, and ever since I've felt strongly drawn to printmaking. Now at last it seems that all my interests are coming together.

I have a blog, Amanda Watson-Will, where I write up my various experiments with different media and slowly track the development of my work. I've been posting for a couple of years now.

I'd like thank Sara for getting this project off the ground. It's a terrific idea, and I am very excited to take part. The poem by Rosemary Dobson is an excellent choice and my head has been whirling with ideas, imagery and book structures for the past few days. I'm beginning to think that this poem may provide inspiration for me for quite a while! Some of the photographs I have taken over the past couple of years resonate quite strongly with the theme of absence, so I have started by pulling together a folder of that imagery. Looking forward to seeing how other people are getting started.

Friday, August 14, 2009

a personal introduction...

Hi gang (and assorted bystanders)

I figure this is a great time to give a real introduction to myself and my blogginess (I've just realised that I've never actually done this on my own blog... oops!)

I'm Rhonda Ayliffe (and I answer to 'Ronnie pretty much everywhere) – I live on a large farm (by comparison in my part of the world) on the far south coast NSW – and you can read/see a bit more of this over at my sams creek farm blog (which I forget to update and generally neglect.... )

(the very dry creek bed of sams creek - it's a pitiful sight presently)

There you'll see that I have a couple of young children, a long suffering farmer/partner/mulch mover. Much to his angst, I LOVE gardening – and we have a damn large one for him to tear his hair out in (hee hee hee). We grow a large chunk of our own food (I'm planning to add a HUGE berry patch this weekend.... husband is planning to have a mental breakdown around the same time). We have dogs and cats and chooks and a monster load of cattle (including one calf who is living with us for the moment as he is currently being bucket-fed)

(presently picking peas, broccoli, rocket, cauli, bok choy, tuscan cabbage, silverbeet, parsnips...)

ON the arty side of things (and most folk think that's all I think about – all the time...) My website is currently out of action (you can find some of my older calligraphic bits and bobs on a friends site)... oh and I blog over at Art and Etc.

I have a rustic studio (the word 'rustic' excuses the rodents and drafts and cobwebs and snakes and dust and general grot of the place) where I mostly fiddle with booky type things. I'm a Guild Member of the ASC (Australian Society of Calligraphers), and when I tell folk this I usually have to add that means I'm a peer acknowledged 'master' of the craft (yes, you may now curtsey... hee hee hee). I contribute to calligraffia – a blog that focuses on all things calligraphic (and it's a project that I'm very proud of).

I am absolutely passionate about traditional crafts - calligraphy and book arts are obvious inclusions – but I admire the skills and history of most traditional crafts - I'm also interested in how these traditional skills can play a part in a contemporary art context – (I am absolutely NOT a fan of Tracey Emin and her ilk of artists.... I don't like contemporary artists who debase skill for no real net gain – except to their bank account..... OOOOH them's fighting words!)

('you are' - concertina booklet from 2006 I think... I wrote the poem just after EJ was born)

Hmmm what else should I say here – oh I know - I'm completing a Master of Visual Arts with Monash Uni and I'm due to finish in three (count 'em ) months time – wheeeee!!!!!!!! so I KNOW that I should be putting this project over to the side until I get through the next little bit (but I also know that I won't be able to resist temptation....)

soooo that's the long and short of it from the creek – except to add – I'm really looking forward to interacting with the book-art-object mob here assembled (and anyone else who may stumble by....)

and now you know where you can find me – feel free to drop by and drop me a line (follow the links and you'll easily find me)

cheers from the creek

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


I should say I had such fun chosing a poem from the book of Rosemary Dobson's collected work. On a brief riffle-through of the pages, with the only criterion for me stopping and reading being the shortness of the verse, I stuck seven markers in different pages, all of which would have given us inspiration material.

I've got very lazy about reading. When I lived in Bristol I followed the herd and joined a book club at the university where I worked and it was, sadly, a bit too focused on long and erudite analysis and I gave a small sigh of relief when that job ended and I had a graceful excuse for leaving. Then I found a literary home among a group of friends who all lived nearby. We met once a month at a wine bar once we'd exhausted each other's hospitality; our partners all laughed about "the girls" going off for a boozy evening, but over a bottle of wine and several coffees we had great discussions and a lot of fun. I was teased for months about my book choices, when we took it in turns to offer up titles for the coming meetings. The first book we read was Orhan Pamuk's My Name is Red, the title of which is enough to set the others off in giggles because they all hated it whereas I loved it then and love it still! That book club was - is, although not for me now I live half a world away - an invitation into other worlds. I went outside my comfort zone many times, into the dark world of Lionel Shriver's We need to talk about Kevin or the lighter comedy of Alexander McCall-Smith's African stories, or John Banville's The Sea, The Sea. I miss that: I miss my friends, I miss the anticipation of a good night out with the girls within staggering distance of my garden gate (no car required), and I miss the challenge of reading something new and stimulating and not having permission to give in and give up.

To make up for it (at least a little bit) I make books, and I read books to my daughter*. Together we've finished reading SEVEN of Joan Aiken's children's books, from The Wolves of Willoughby Chase through to the last story in the series, Is (* Michael listens in, too, although he likes to pretend that he's busy doing something else...). Rumour has it that Joan Aiken added a few more volumes late in her life but we haven't seen them yet. We don't have an excuse to buy them because I found a bumper edition of Mary Norton's The Borrowers stories. Six stories in one volume! How exciting. We've only just finished Chapter Three and are entering the tiny world of Pod, Homily and Arriety in their home under the kitchen floorboards of a big, old house.

Anyway, reading Rosemary Dobson's poems - although I confess I've only read the ones against which I stuck a marker - has made a refreshing change, and I'm enjoying the opportunity to concentrate really hard on one short poem, in the way I used to do when studying English Literature set texts at secondary school. I'll find all the nuances, the rhythms, the stop and start of the punctuation and the set of the lines, and while I'm thinking about it I'll be thinking about making it into a book...

Thank you Ronnie!

Thanks Ronnie for the fab new header... infinitely better than I could do, and without all the attendant bad humour!

So exciting

Hello everyone, I just wanted to introduce myself and say thanks to Sara for having this brilliant idea to bring us all together. I make books, both commercially and for myself - that's my main mission in life - but I also dabble in marbling, draw strange fish, garden, collect stuff, read, write a bit and spend a lot of time with my grand daughters.

I think the Rosemary Dobson poem is beautiful, very poignant and full of wonderful images. Good choice Sara. As yet I have no idea how to use it to make a book but my head is full of fleeting ideas which I need to corral and try to make sense of. It's not only an exciting project but quite scary so I need to tell myself not to panic. I'm glad there's a deadline because that's essential for me so now I'm off to do some serious thinking. After I've fed the chooks, of course.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Hi Sara and everyone else involved in this fantastic project.
Thanks for including me - there's nothing like a group of people working on the same project and a deadline for inspiration.
The poem is beautiful - a hundred ideas are already running round my brain.
I do have a blog set up (well sort of) called Ida Musidora- so I suppose for the purpose of these posts and the exhibition that's who I am.
Can't wait to follow what everyone does and watch it all evolve.
Cheers Jane A

Monday, August 10, 2009

The first project...

Thank you Amanda for pointing out that the set text for the first artists' book club collaboration isn't even on this blog yet! I must admit I stopped in my tracks after setting up the blog and inviting members... didn't even think about what to do next!

For anyone new to reading this blog and wondering what on earth we're doing, a group of artists interested in books and book objects is using different texts as a starting point for making a small edition of artists' books. This is the inaugural project and about eight artists are going to make an edition of nine books each; participants will get a full set of the books and the final set will be available for exhibition.

So here it is: the poem chosen to kick things off, by Rosemary Dobson, one of Australia's leading poets.

Learning Absence, 1986

Being alone is also to be learnt
Long time or short time.

Walking the length of the house, shutting
The doors and the windows

No longer calling casually over one's shoulder.
Returning to find no trace

Of the other, companionable living -
Bread smell, the stove still warm,

Clothes on the line like messages,
Or messages written and left on the kitchen table:

"We need to keep watering the cumquat."
Or, "I have paid the milkman."

At night, at this season, lingering at the window
Not being certain where to find Halley's Comet,

And looking a long time at the darkening sky

Text taken from "Rosemary Dobson, Collected Poems", part of the Angus & Robertson series 'Modern Poets'. Published 1991, ISBN 0 207 16864 4. Text copyright © Rosemary Dobson 1991.

I hope you like it!

Saturday, August 8, 2009


Thanks for setting up this site, Sara. I've completed the "paperwork" and this just activates it. I think! My profile link should redirect to
Now...back to Ms Dobson...