Focusing writing energies

12 11 2013

I have just realised something! Over the last few months, I have been castigating myself for my lack of focus and discipline about writing, spending lots of time trying to find ways to improve the regularity and quality of my writing.  Today, I realised that I do write – and write regularly! But most of it is pointless in a way, beyond keeping in touch with friends and sharing information and commentary around topics.

What am I talking about? I am talking about my interaction of social media channels, especially Facebook and Twitter, where I love to share and discuss information around a broad range of topics.

What I realised is that if I stopped commenting and writing stuff on Facebook, I would probably have at least 500 words a day I could use for some other writing activity. But it is not that easy to do, conversational chit chat is not the same as trying to come up with writing that is both meaningful and elegant. I also enjoy the conversations had on social media and do not want to sacrifice that activity as it helps keep my mind active and in touch with friends and colleagues.

Anyway, it is good to know that I am writing, even if it is not quite what I am aiming for, it is a step in the right direction.


10 11 2013

I have been back home just over a week and trying to adjust to being back in Australia, back at work and trying to refocus my energies.

The garden is not too much of a job catching up, the mulching and weeding we did before we went away was effective, though as any garden, needs attention.

Our little cat Sooks (Genji) has not come home, which has changed the energy of the house somewhat, he is truly a member of our little family and his presence is sorely missed. When we travel and I get homesick, it was always for our little unit of four, thinking of sitting together, out the back on a beautiful Spring day.

Trying to refocus includes a desire to be more routine about writing, starting small, hoping that by regular attention to the practice of writing, that the writing will flow.

In all the blogs I follow is there a consistency about the writing, a discipline that I need to adopt. Writing regularly engages readers, which is the purpose of writing a blog after all.

The thing I love about writing for mediakult is that I can play across many professional and personal areas of interest: media, technology, environmental sustainability, arts, culture and ideas of place (which are also published on

I am also hoping that writing in this public context will help me with writing in a personal context, like as Virginia Woolf describes writing a diary as “a method of practicing or trying out the art of writing.”

Although the practice of writing sometimes frustrates me, it is also driving me in a way, there is a need to get better, to explore more, to learn as a writer. One thing is to learn balance, between the passive activity of writing and to be actively discovering new experiences and places.  Also, how to write while travelling, is a skill I would like to improve on. I have not yet perfected the art of regularly writing every day and I blogged very little on our last trip overseas, which was unusual compared to earlier journeys.

Being grounded I find is both a positive and negative thing – it gives you a chance to breathe, to take stock and clear one’s mind for fresh ideas and energy. On the other hand it can grind you, bringing you down by slipping into the repetitive routines and behaviours lived at home.

My little writing effort is to avoid that monotony one experiences about the every day grind, it is a chance to explore possibilities and think outside of the routine of working life.

Some favourite blogs

10 11 2013

I always wish I had more time for reading, it is one of my favourite activities and I like reading about all kinds of topics, from current affairs, media trends, gardening, art, etc.

Anyway, one way I have found useful to keep informed is by setting up Google Alerts, on a range of topics. I receive regular emails reporting of media and blog articles related to the topic areas.

I also follow a few blogs and always find something interesting in brain pickings, check out this article about Author’s self portraits. I also like this article about advice on writing from famous authors.

Another blog that regularly has interesting articles is gov loop, here is one – 8 lessons to guide your career and an interesting one on selfies.

I also like Purpose Fairy, for all kinds for reasons!

There also also a few email lists that I have followed for nearly 2 decades – nettime and -empyre-  are two examples.

It would be good to just sit down and read a novel now and again, but nowadays it seems that there is only time on holidays 🙂

Finding Balance : Mura Gadi

1 09 2013

It has been a really long time between blog posts, but I have had a good excuse. For the past few months, I have worked on an exhibition and publication – Finding Balance : Mura Gadi, which is now on at the Belconnen Arts Centre.

Here is some documentation of the show.

Sign outside gallery - photo by Martin Drury

Sign outside gallery – photo by Martin Drury

Wall 1 of the show - photo by Martin Drury

Wall 1 of the show – photo by Martin Drury

It has been a massive project and I have had so much help, especially from my husband Marty (Martin Drury), who has done heaps – from being a sounding board for ideas on design and layout of the publication, to patiently cutting all the mounts for the prints, to helping with the exhibition install. Catherine Summerhayes, Linda Carroli and Shannon Novak all contributed to the publication and many other wonderful peeps supported me on pozible, which was really fantastic.

Augmented media - photo by Martin Drury

Augmented media – photo by Martin Drury

Book display - photo by Martin Drury

Book display – photo by Martin Drury

Wall 2 of the show - photo by Martin Drury

Wall 2 of the show – photo by Martin Drury

Here is some more documentation of the exhibition, with a lot more to come – especially demonstrating the augmented reality feature of the book and exhibition.

Augmented - Booroomba Rocks - photo by Martin Drury

Augmented – Booroomba Rocks – photo by Martin Drury

Wall 3 of the gallery - photo by Martin Drury

Wall 3 of the gallery – photo by Martin Drury

Augmented - Birrigai - photo by Martin Drury

Augmented – Birrigai – photo by Martin Drury

Finally, a big thanks to all the lovely staff at Belconnen Arts Centre, it is a wonderful gallery.

Now onto new projects 🙂

Email newsletter available

2 06 2013

Over the weekend I put together a newsletter including some great articles that I found on The bytetime newlsletter covers many areas relevant to mediakult, including social media strategy, new tools, media art and the work of media artists.

For many people this is a more convenient way of keeping up-to date, which is why the newletter has been created.

This is the 1st edition

The plan is to publish one once a fortnight and they will be archived under news.

If you would like to register please let me know. Also, if you have received the newsletter in the first post and would like to unsubsxcribe, please contact me – apologies for the spam!

I hope you enjoy keeping up-to-date via this new channel.


ISEA2013 workshop

26 04 2013

Just saw this great workshop as part of ISEA2013. So disappointed that I won’t be able to participate.

If you are interested in the connected themes of art, education,  technology and sustainability, try to get to this event.
I can vouch for the great energy and ideas of Nina Czegledy, Ian Clothier and Nigel Helyer and the other workshop leaders look fantastic too.

Here’s the blurb:


A workshop presented by ISEA2013 with Leonardo Education & Arts Forum (LEAF) in collaboration with ISEA2013 Education Workshop and in partnership with the MCA and the National Institute for Experimental Arts (NIEA) at COFA, UNSW.

Location: Creative Studios, the NCCL (National Centre for Creative Learning), Level 3
Museum of Contemporary Art
140 George St Sydney, NSW.
Date: 14 Jun Friday.
Time: 2-5pm

What is the role of art education in an age of ecological crisis and the globalisation of knowledge? This workshop positions transdisciplinary approach as the key to sustainable, meaningful solutions. It will address the development of an art and science cloud curriculum, based on cross-disciplinary initiatives in North America and Europe in Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics (STEAM) and Science, Engineering Art and Design education (SEAD).

About Leonardo Education & Arts Forum (LEAF)

The Leonardo Education and Art Forum (LEAF) promotes the advancement of artistic research and academic scholarship at the intersections of art, science, and technology.

Workshop Structure:

1. Presentation by workshop leaders and theme moderators – 1 hour

2. Breakout discussions – 3 groups – 1 hour

The role of the art institution in developing sustainable cloud curriculum that address the STEAM/SEAD vision (globalisation of education).
The shift needed to take place in art education in order to explore the new realities of evolving reorganisation of practice, research and knowledge.
Current thinking on the role of education in the age of ecological crisis, and sustainability of art and science’s mobilisation of collective group learning methodologies.
3. Summary of groups and general discussion – 1 hour

Workshop Leaders:

Nina Czegledy
Paul Thomas

Theme Moderators:

Jane Prophet
Mike Philips
Andrea Polli
Ian Clothier
Nigel Helyer
Joanna Hoffmann

LEAF, a working group of Leonardo ® /ISAST

New book!

2 04 2013

Thanks peeps from INC!


Hope the Unlike Us conference went well 🙂

Archibald Prize 2013

23 03 2013

I really love the portrait of Hugo Weaving titled ‘hugo’ by Del Kathyrn Barton, the winning entry of the $75000 Archibald Prize for portraiture for 2013.

To be honest, I don’t usually write about painting. Probably because my professional and creative practice has focused more on the online and digital space where objects are created via an interface, electronically using software keyboard and mouse as opposed to canvas, paint and board.

Painting as art occupies a commodified space as a media form, because of the sale-ability and collectibility of the object, creating networks of power to barter the objects, something I have never felt comfortable with to a certain extent. When I started to use digital imaging to create souvenir objects in the Big Banana Time Inc. project and making my first vanilla html website in 1995, I was drawn in by the potential for people to edit and share media, and for the possible creation of new and different art forms as a result of that convergence. Art for everybody. Of course, that is a utopian idea, as there is still a digital and economic divide.

I think it was one of my painting teachers stating that it was the only media that mattered in art, and that it was the apex of art forms, that put me off being a painter. This is beyond paintings I create for myself, better known as therapy art.

From memory the teacher went on to say that within painting was another hierarchy of value –  portraiture, followed by landscape followed by still life. Funnily enough, it was my pencil drawings, portraits and self portraits copied from photographs and images from women’s magazines, that got me into art school. Autobiography plays a continuing role in my work, although not via a form of literal self-representation, rather it is via transmissive media and a connection to place, that a narrative is constructed around ‘self’ and experience. Scalpland was an exception of course, but it in a way it was a necessary linking between the body and the map.

As a viewer, I enjoy looking at paintings, particularly portraits, and marvel at the technical skill and broad interpretation of the genre. Earlier this week I was checking out the finalists of the Archibald prize on the website and spent some time looking at the mediums used by artists selected as finalists. I was curious because I primarily paint with acrylic and am starting to play with watercolour. Many entries were oil on canvas or oil on linen. One of the things stuck me about ‘hugo’ was the use of mixed media – watercolour, gouache and acrylic, it was good to see such skill in handling the media, each medium is recognizable in the work in a way that strengthens the image.

Archibald winner - hugo

Archibald winner – hugo by Del Kathryn Barton

I love how the cat ties the picture together, its tail wrapping like a snake and then morphing into the gum leaves. There is something appealing about the way the figure of Hugo is painted in watercolour, making his form translucent, like background painting, giving the sense that the painting is not quite complete, a story not fully told. The gesture of how he is absent-mindedly holding the cat, its claws creating scratches on his arm is quite intriguing. Is it a pet, is it a wild cat?

As yet I have not seen the exhibition ‘in the flesh’. I can’t wait to head to Sydney for a weekend soon 🙂

Having the freedom to make bad art

23 03 2013

A while ago I was talking to a friend about my art making ‘therapy’, who had incidentally also been playing in the studio, experimenting with painting and mixed media just for the sake of it. We were discussing how this form of making is very cathartic as it takes the pressure off the production process. Therapy work is often made by artists and it is usually work that is not made for the public domain.

Bad art logo surrounded by elegant polar bear blanket - gift from grandma

Bad art logo surrounded by elegant polar bear blanket – gift from grandma

Quite often this type of work is considered ‘bad art’ as catharsis is not a quality valued in serious art, hence the reason it is usually work that is made just for the artist’s benefit.

My friend told me the great story about how she had gone as far as creating a separate mark for this type of work, stamping it as ‘bad art’ and thus letting go of the pressure of the work being serious. I thought this was a fantastic idea and have started to incorporate this symbol in all my self-proclaimed ‘bad art’.

The mark of bad art: M.A.A

The mark of bad art: M.A.A

This symbol is composed of my initials T, M, B, and also features the initials M, A, A which stands for ‘middle aged anarchist’, a joke nickname given to me by friends a couple of years ago.

So, if any time in the future you happen upon my work and it has this symbol, you can be guaranteed that it is bona fide ‘bad art’.

Walking on Mt Taranaki – Maketawa Hut

28 01 2013

On Saturday a small group of SCANZ residents (incidentally all Australians) got together and did some bushwalking on Mt Taranaki. This was an important part of my project for SCANZ as the artwork I have made for the exhibition at Puki Ariki focuses on aerial maps of the mountain. I needed to have an understanding of the terrain and the vegetation that was ‘felt’, not just observed.

It was probably one of the most beautiful walks I have been on for a long time and one of the most physically challenging. As we walked from the Visitor’s Centre, we headed up to the three way turn off to the summit walk, then headed towards Maketawa Hut for lunch. The first part of the walk was walking uphill along a series of ridges, with beautiful views of the valley below and the coastline. Mt Taranaki however was hidden under cloud so we were not able to see the summit.

Around the mountain circuit - from Dept of Conservation website

Around the mountain circuit – from Dept of Conservation website


After lunch we started to head down the track, through what I can only explain as an enchanted forest, with tree roots in many parts acting as natural steps. Once we arrived at the lowest point above sea level, we then went up and down some steep ridges and creeks. I found the landscape was both gentle in its beauty but difficult in terms of traversing. Along the way were a number of ladders up and down, giving a real sense of the undulating land formed by lava so long ago.

It was also wonderful to see elements of the imagery that I had collected of aerial views in the landscape. For example, these beautiful shapes in the image below.

Mt Taranaki

Mt Taranaki (from ‘Message to the mountain’ 2013)

Here is some information about the walk we did from holidays in New Zealand website (note we did the walk in the opposite direction):

Maketawa Hut Round Trip – 4 hours

This is for those who are fitter. Take the Ngatoro Track from below the Information Centre and turn left at the Maketawa Track Junction.

This takes you through more mossy forest, changing to nikau, cordylines and other flora and fauna. It takes about 2 hours to Maketawa Hut.

Walk through the hut to the outdoor deck for extensive views. Leaving the hut you walk up through alpine vegetation………….steps…steps… and more steps! Eventually you come out on the road just below the Translator Tower. From here you walk back down the road to the Camphouse.

One of the things I have learnt about mountains in Māori culture is that they are like people being male or female.  In an earlier post I discussed the story of how Taranaki came to reside in this region. Something else, I found very interesting is that in Māori culture, one should avoid touching the top of the head as it is the centre of all knowledge and memory. For this reason, it is not culturally appropriate to climb to the top of the summit and ‘stand’ on someone’s head. To learn some more about cultural protocols go to

A special thank you to Jo Tito for reviewing this post.