Friday, 11 October 2019

Work Spaces

I have always been interested in studios and work spaces of artists and makers so I have included a couple of photos of the area I use to work in. We live in a tiny home so I use a corner of our living space as our studio to build nests and create our other products. Although it is a very small space, I actually enjoy being in the heart of the home and I am lucky that this area is filled with light most of the day. 

On one end of a long table there is a collection of natural found objects that I work with or collections that provide inspiration while the other half of the table is kept clear for making. If the truth be known I have various baskets and boxes under the table to store all sorts of other materials and also a set of map drawers in another room for paper and other art materials. It is tricky when your home is tiny but as long as there is a table with good light, anywhere can be a good place to create - even the kitchen table! Although I always dream of having a designated studio space, at this stage it will have to stay a dream and I will just continue to inhabit every nook and cranny of our house!!

Thursday, 6 June 2019

River Stones - small treasures

For some years I have been stamping and painting onto stones that I have collected from the shores of local rivers in Tasmania. My fascination with stones and pebbles started as a child and, like everyone else, I absolutely love the feeling of a warm stone in my hands and the weight and smoothness that is so satisfying and reassuring. My collection stems from all corners of our beautiful island and they have become markers and keepsakes of times spent at each place with my family.

It was a natural progression to begin working onto them with imagery so I began stamping using permanent inks and was surprised at how long the images remain intact. I have also enjoyed painting onto stones and have an older collection of various designs dotted around the house. Recently I decided I should include some of the painted stones in my online store to accompany the stamped stones and the ones that have a golden heart painted on them. Keep an eye out in the next few weeks for new stones arriving on our online store.

When my daughters were little I had plans to paint a small stone with a gentle kind face on them so that the stone could be a pocket friend and be held closely where ever they were. Unfortunately, I didn't quite follow through with this idea at the time but perhaps now might be the time to bring this idea to life? My grandmother always said it is never too late!

Thursday, 25 April 2019

Nesting in Autumn

I really think Autumn is my favourite season! I love the amazing array of colours that nature blesses us with as the weather changes from warmer days through to the chilly colder days to come. It is also the time when we celebrate Easter - a time that many families get together and enjoy a short break from the demands of work or school. In the 'two in a teacup' studio we traditionally create our much loved eggs covered in vintage maps and old book pages at this time but this year we have focused on creating a series of nests that incorporate seeds, moss, ferns and twigs from our family strolls over the Easter break. We are lucky to live in the foothills of beautiful Kunanyi/Mount Wellington and there are also many other walks close by in Hobart that showcase the splendid Autumn foliage from some of the introduced deciduous trees. 

This nest includes lichen, bracken fern, dried sedum flowers and quail eggs as well as the lovely orange toned spent flowers of watsonia bulbs. We also like to collect the small beautifully shaped leaves of our Japanese maple trees to press and incorporate into nests. 
Nature has so many treasures to inspire and to collect! 

Monday, 15 April 2019

More Venice

La Serenissima! What a beautiful city so rich in music, art and history. Although we were only in Venice for a short stay we were so inspired by this creative city. Yes... there are many, many 'touristy' shops selling a vast array of pseudo 'venetian' souvenirs but it is still possible to see local artisans creating authentic products using time honoured processes. Beware of plastic masks described as traditional and look for the masks made of papier maché that are authenticated. Our visit coincided with the two weeks before the famous Venice Carnivale and so we were lucky to see local artisans painting and crafting masks in small crowded studios packed with fabulous creations to be worn during the Carnivale. There were also small costume studios designing and creating amazing shoes and gowns.

There are so many extraordinary churches throughout Venice in which beautiful frescoes, paintings and gilt mosaics can be seen. The usual place to start is in San Marco Square with St Mark's Basilica. This massive Byzantine cathedral is sometimes known as the church of gold. At night there are designated times when the incredible golden mosaic imagery at the front of the Basilica is lit up so it glistens and shines. Of course a visit inside the Basilica is a must.

One of our favourite galleries was the Peggy Guggenheim Collection. It is housed in an old palazzo that Peggy Guggenheim herself lived in and so it has an intimacy and scale that is less daunting than some of the grander galleries and you can still see images of how she lived with some of the artworks in the palazzo. The collection has amazing works of art by artists such as Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Max Ernst, Alexander Calder, Marcel Duchamp, Paul Klee, Salvador Dali, Jackson Pollock and the list goes on! It really is a wonderful gallery to view so many treasures from the twentieth century modern art world and the gallery also has a lovely garden courtyard dotted with sculptures. 

We also visited the Accademia Gallery which has an extensive collection of works of art from the 14th to 19th centuries and includes fabulous examples of works by Veronese, Bellini, Titian, Giorgione, Bosch, Carpaccio, Tintoretto and many other eminent painters. While we were there we saw also an exhibition of Medieval illuminations which was so beautiful. This is the premier painting museum in Venice and close to the Peggy Guggenheim Collection just a bit further along on the grand canal. 

Of course a visit to the Doges Palace is extraordinary and it is amazing to walk through the rooms of this palace richly adorned with wonderful paintings, tapestries and sculptures. The building itself is incredibly beautiful as it leads you into St Marks Square and it is stunning at night when the moorish architecture is highlighted with the evening lights. 

Venice is also the city of music and in particular Vivaldi. There are small concerts in numerous venues showcasing Vivaldi's Four Seasons and we were fortunate to hear a wonderful concert which included the Four Seasons as well as divertimenti from Mozart and Lully. This concert, by the small chamber orchestra 'Interpreti Virtuosi', was presented at the Chiesa San Vidal which is just near the Accademia Bridge. The venue is more like a concert hall with exquisite old instruments on display and the music was of a professional standard and very much enjoyed by the 200 strong audience. Strolling back to our accommodation over the Accademia Bridge, past Harry's Bar and through San Marco Square in the evening was a perfect finish to an amazing day in Venice.

During our time in Venice we also visited many churches which house beautiful paintings by many of the early prominent artists such as: Titian ('The Descent of the Holy Spirit) in the beautiful Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute and Tintorreto ('Wedding Feast of Cana') also in this church as well as a smaller 12th century Cretan icon of 'The Madonna of Good Health'. In the Chiesa di San Zaccaria, near our accommodation, you can see the beautiful Bellini painting 'Madonna with child and saints',  a work by Tintoretto, a romanesque crypt and frescoes. We often heard the bells chiming from this beautiful church. There are splendid Tintoretto's in the church of San Rocco too.

Every aspect of Venice is a feast for the eyes. Fading subtle colours, beautiful textures, ornate  moorish architectural elements, crumbling soft patinas and stunning reflections and glistening light on the water. 

Friday, 8 March 2019

Some Travel Musings - Venice 1

Hi Everyone,
I thought I would share a few snippets from our recent travels and start with our short stay in Venice during February.

Although the temperature was crisp we also had beautiful sunny days and did not encounter any aqua alta problems at this time of the year! In fact we feel it was a wonderful time to experience Venice. The crowds, on the most part were manageable, particularly away from the beautiful but crowded St Marks square, and because the city was gearing up for the famous Carnivale Festival there were artists and creators crafting masks and stunning costumes in many of the small artisan shops.

On one of our days in Venice we walked along Riva degli Schiavoni through Castello and out to the area in which the Biennale is held and strolled through the gardens. It was a very peaceful area with some of the pavillions in view and there were seats at the edge to sit and enjoy the expansive vista looking back to the Doges Palace and across to the island of San Giorgio Maggiore. We began our time in this area with a fabulous lunch at a traditional Venetian osteria - Ai Nevodi in Via Garibaldi. The atmosphere and food were wonderful and I would definitely recommend a visit for a delicious lunch. 
We then walked through the park - I Giardini  della Biennale - from the entrance off Via Garibaldi and, part way down the promenade, we discovered the historic greenhouse where you can also have coffee outside amongst the plants and on the other side we found a co-operative of ceramic artists selling their wares on a table in the garden. 'I Bochaleri' is the name for this ceramic association and they organise workshops and regularly set up and sell their work outside the studio in their garden. The artist, Giuliana Rolli, was keen to talk to us about her ceramic pieces and it was so lovely to meet her and purchase a little porcelain pot to bring home. 

On another day we walked to the famous Rialto Market to marvel at the wonderful fresh produce - vegetables, fruit, spices and of course fish. We also dropped into a tiny corner coffee spot to stand by the bar and enjoy a hot coffee with many of the locals. Everyone knows that it is easy to get lost in Venice but that really is part of the magic. Winding your way along tiny canals and unexpectedly entering an open campo with a beautiful church or, as we did, stumbling across a gorgeous and quirky book store opening right onto the canal and crammed high with books - Aqua Alta Libreria!

Venetians have a fantastic tradition of having cicchetti late afternoon/early evening after work and on  their way home, so there are many bars that offer a wide range of these small tasty offerings to enjoy with an aperol spritz or glass of wine. We enjoyed trying these morsels at different spots and mingling with the locals where it is often standing room only in the smaller bars. We also found a great coffee spot in S. Polo (Adagio Caffe & Wine Bar) that was preparing wonderful looking cicchetti on the day we were there. It is near the San Rocco church that houses fabulous paintings by Tintoretto and is run by two young women.

I plan to share a second post on our time in Venice as a follow up to this one and with just a few more of the treats that Venice offered us during our stay including some of the wonderful artworks we viewed and the music we heard. Needless to say we loved every minute of this magical watery city and would return in a flash! 

Please feel free to leave a comment about your own experiences in Venice - I would love to hear them.

Monday, 24 December 2018

Joyeux Noël

    Part of our table decoration in the living room

In the southern hemisphere in Tasmania, we are having a glorious summer Christmas day. This year we are celebrating at our home and we can hear the happy sounds of people everywhere in our street enjoying the day outside.

Even though Christmas in Australia is usually warm and sometimes beachy we all still think of the Christmas season in a European way with snow, woodland animals, crackling fires and warming food when the reality is more often than not sun, surf and salads! Our European heritage is hardwired and I must admit I love the classic winters Christmas imagery.

     On our verandah 

So here's to a lovely Christmas where ever you are and may you share it with the people you love.


Tuesday, 18 December 2018

Happy Christmas

We hope at this very busy time of the year you are all able to find a little time to savour the special moments and enjoy the festive season with friends and family.

We have made some small Christmassy nests for our friends and some have included little pine cones and berries. We often think of nests as a quintessential symbol of Spring but I also like to think of them as a metaphor for all that is 'home' and 'family' too.

Our family will be traveling on holiday for four weeks in January and February so we will share some photos about our travels on our return.  We will still be posting in January to herald in the New Year but our shop on Big Cartel will be closed from 20th of December and while we are away until 25.02.2019.

All the best for the last few days leading up to Christmas.

Joyeux Noël