The Sketchbook Project

ImageIf the Sketchbook Project Library is popping up anywhere near you, then you have to visit. It’s in Melbourne at the moment and I went to have a look at the weekend.

It’s a travelling library of artists’ sketchbooks. Every artist involved in the project started with the same blank sketchbook which they could then write, draw, paint, paste in, cut out, as they wanted.

The books we saw were absolutely beautiful. Some were travel journals, others filled with preliminary sketches to prepare for a larger work; some had a narrative, others were collections of random images and writing. It was amazing to be able to touch these books and leaf through them, to feel the paper that was almost solid with paint or to unfold pages that had been cut out to make intricate patterns. Getting such a close insight into an artist’s work and being able to interact with it is a very special experience. I went with two friends and we spent hours exploring the books.

Even checking the books out with our personal library cards was fun. We picked up a card at the entrance and registered it, then we looked at the online catalogue and chose a theme (travel, cartography, science, narrative, etc.). One book related to that theme was brought out to us along with a random book. This meant we saw amazing books on themes we might never have considered. We could only have two books at a time each so we went up multiple times to make different selections.  We saw around 24 books in two hours. There are a few thousand sketchbooks currently in Melbourne (the total collection comprises close to 28 000 books) – if only I had enough time to see them all!

I felt really inspired looking at the books. I wish I could draw! But the best thing about the project is that absolutely anyone can take part, regardless of their drawing skills. The next submission date is 15 January 2014 and you can choose to make a basic submission of a sketchbook only (25 AUD), or to have your work digitized (60 AUD). This means that even if you can’t get to The Sketchbook Library in person, you can still have a look at some of the work online in the Digital Library. Do it, it’s great!

The Sketchbook Project Pop-up Library is located at 234 St. Kilda Road, Dame Elisabeth Murdoch Building, Melbourne until 9 November.


Stitching Up City Square 2013 – Installation Day

There was a while there when I worried I would never finish my City Square piece on time. Three seasons of Downton Abbey later, I measured up again and found that my piece had grown to 3.94 m. Whew! That was close enough for me.

Bali from Yarn Corner suggested sewing the piece into sections since the height of the tree was only an estimation. I made a 3.18 m section and two 38 cm sections:

This is me lying on top of my city square piece to give you an idea of scale, and also because it was so lovely and soft.

This is me lying on top of my City Square piece to give you an idea of scale, and also because it’s so lovely and soft.

My sister came with me to City Square last Sunday to help with the installation and to take photos:

Installation Day - About to begin  Installation Day - An avenue of trees in rainbow colours

In the end I didn’t need to use the two 38 cm sections; the 3.18 m section reached right up to the branches of the tree. One of the City Square pieces did not arrive in time for the installation. We used left over sections from the other trees to assemble a yarn bomb for the naked tree. There’s one of my sections at the bottom:

Installation Day - Rainbow tree

While we were installing the pieces, many people stopped to ask questions and to take photos and to say thank you. It was lovely to be involved in a project that brings happiness to so many people. At the end of the day when I left the square, I noticed some tourists posing for photos in front of my tree! It made me very happy.

Art in Surprising Places

I heard a rumour that there was going to be a Shake Your Tail Feather flash mob at Southbank so I headed down there with my friend, Lucy, to check it out. (Youtube video by Miff D)

Afterwards we walked through Southgate Shopping Complex and came across artworks by Be Free. It was one of her colourful little-girl-with-bucket-of-paint paste ups in Degraves Street that started me off photographing street art just over a year ago.

Be Free Artwork in Southgate Shopping Complex

The first piece of Be Free street art I spotted in Melbourne. This can still be seen in Degraves Street but isn't in such good condition any more.

The first piece of Be Free street art I spotted in Melbourne. This can still be seen in Degraves Street but isn’t in such good condition any more.

Finally, Lucy and I went for a coffee in Manchester Press. Unfortunately, the amazing coffee foam art I’d been going on and on about was not evident in Lucy’s hot chocolate.

The picture in the milk foam of my coffee.

The picture in the milk foam of my coffee.

Lucy's hot chocolate looks dull by comparison

Lucy’s hot chocolate looks dull by comparison

More Prahran Street Art

Support Single Mum'sAnother snap of street art in Prahran, but this one is incredibly offensive, I think. I nearly didn’t post it because I didn’t want to give it a platform.

I saw it on the way to my trapeze lesson. When I got to NICA, one of the girls in my class asked if I’d come from the station. “Oh my God, did you see that piece of graffiti?”

I realised I wasn’t the only person the piece had made an impact on, so maybe it is worth posting for discussion.

Obviously the implication that single mothers are pole dancers is in itself repugnant, but I  also think it is offensive to suggest that going to pole dancing clubs supports women. People come up with all sorts of excuses to justify it – by talking about emancipation of women and freedom to do what you want with your body – but the fact is that stripping and dancing for money only perpetuates the idea that a woman’s value is in appearing sexually attractive to men.

Oh yeah, and there’s an APOSTROPHE CATASTROPHE!!!