Saturday, November 19, 2016

SciArt: Orokonui Halo Project with The Sandpit Collective

Some photos of process  - using art as a platform to encourage awareness and conversations around biodiversity and predator control.
HALO Project

Monday, October 31, 2016

St Margaret's College Welfare Staff Artwork

I was invited to make an art work of the St Margaret's College Welfare Staff @Otago University I have done this previously and always enjoy the interactions with the staff whilst taking their photos. This time we began by making some bubbles which helped everyone relax in front of the camera. Lots of images were captured, trees were climbed and everyone looked gorgeous.
The Bubble On kits give hours of fun
Shadows on campus

I could have made an artwork from one of the group photos but I liked the idea of having images that were clear and readily identifiable. Portraits were shot in front of a green screen which I later removed in Photoshop. Then I processed the photos through my favourite online tool ever, Photofunia.   Because it is a long complicated affair to turn a photo into a sketch in Photoshop this filter seems quite magical to me. The resolution is not high but it is enough!

Some images translate more successfully than others, it helps if the photo has a degree of contrast. I tried a few options and then printed these out onto transparency film ready to be processed as solar printing plates. 

Sarah option #2

Poor person's face swap, amusing myself layering transparencies

After making the plates I spent a couple of days printing them onto paper through my press whilst trying to decide on colours, backgrounds and layout. In my mind there are a couple of factors which influence my choices. The College has a very classic feel and the already collected art reflects this style so I choose to print in grey tones. (Perhaps spurred on by the fact that I had just purchased a new tin of Gamblin cool black ink.) Staff also gave me quotes which I tried incorporating as backgrounds but the overall effect of so much text became visually confusing.

working proofs

Yizhuo's quote

Consideration number two is that this group is very much a team,so I think their portraits should work together to make a whole. Often in compositions something is dominant but here I want to show equality. I was initially going to do a row but when I laid everyone out I realised I had made a miscalculation. The backing paper was not available in a big enough size so instead I cropped the prints into 10 x 10 cm squares and chose a grid pattern. This produced a small dilemma. With 11 staff there is the what would I use for the 12th square? I trialed lots of things - a koru shape from a sculpture in the College grounds, infinity spirals, the year 2016 stencilled.  I needed something that faded back more and did not 'compete' with their portraits so printed  lots of +++'s to signify the positive effect these amazing people have. I look forward to seeing the achievements of these amazing role models in the future. Thanks for involving me!

2016 Welfare Staff Print

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Otago Optics Chapter: Capture Science 2016- Earth Space and Weather

I was involved in judging this photography competition - a hard the task as many clever people are capturing interesting and dramatic images of earth, space and science. Part of the judging criteria was the scientific explanation behind the photograph - these statements certainly expanded my knowledge. We unfortunately did not have enough prizes to honour all so we put a lot of focus on encouraging young photographers/scientists.

"It is a little cloudy. The water comes from the rain. The rain comes from the cloud. I see the cloud in the puddle. It is a water cycle, recycling." Katiya age 6. 

 Two works that have stayed with me after the exhibition are the Weather Cock by Sharon Cook and A Sun In Love by Eyal Schwartz.  Check them and other great shots out for yourself at

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Stewart Island Print Gang

After getting a taste of printmaking at last years SciArt open print workshop weekend some participants asked me back to run a four day, small group workshop. Megan Cowley (Stewart Island Gallery and Gift Shop: )  volunteered her services as technician and Karen was the treasurer which was all invaluable as printmaking requires a lot of 'stuff' and organisation in the buildup to the decisive moment that the print goes through the press. Thank you so much - we made a great team! Megan even made a special trip to Fine Art Papers in Christchurch to get good printing papers. (Just have to do a little plug for these FAP- they have served artists well for years)
Morning view from Shona's house - luxury accommodation #1
At the entrance of Pip's
house Port of Call,
 luxury accommodation #2.

Participants didn't just draw and print. They each focused on self selected projects and collected research which was 'played with' and considered before being made into plates. We then wrote poems, did visualisations and asked ourselves questions - all of which supported the visual art making and helped define choices. A wide variety of plates were made - dry point etching, gelli prints, solar plate (relief and intaglio) and off set printing from a flat of colour. Jill even had some old photographically etched zinc plates from movie advertisements which we printed off for fun.

Creative poetry/thought writing sample
One of Jill's zinc plates
 Jonathan Livingston Seagull
Then came the printing. The clever adaptation of using clothes drying racks as paper flashers nearly kept up with production. Paper and fabric was printed - Jill even produced a gorgeous cushion cover and Shona bound a book.

Our Print Hub - we overtook the Bowling Pavilion.

Drying rack
Coptic bound recipe book.

Megan wiping up an intaglio print
Stretching inks
Busy at the coal face

Sue's printed ferns. Plate made by placing and exposing 4 types
of ferns directly on pre -aquatinted solar plate.

Shona's eel traps

Prints which will later be collaged into different art works.

Sophie joined us for one day - overprinting maps

Detail of Megan's prints (embossed fern in background)
 showing bravery for cutting up and rearranging - great risk taking
Karen's prints for a special dog
On the last afternoon locals were invited along to have a look-what an amazing buzz was going down. The only unfortunate thing is that I was too busy to take as many photos of the work as I would have liked but that just means I have to go back!

Ulva - maps and sketches of Ulva Island

Visitors admiring Pip's prints. These were laid out on
the 'deciding' table where we thought about what
 to collage together

Jill's work - prints of family wedding photos
Aside from the welcoming people, birds, place, accomodation, sea, ferry journey, printmaking  (I could go on) there is another reason I love to visit Rakiura Stewart Island. This small, jam packed interesting museum has big plans for expansion. I Bev assisted me in looking at the Lockerbie collection which contained a beautiful piece of Kokowai (translation: red water) which Maori used for personal adornment and to decorate  artifacts.  I was also fascinated to learn about the tin mining at Port Pegasus - sounds like a future destination via

Kokowai Red Ochre  I would love art to become a way to help the fundraisers reach the required financial goal...ideas are mulling - send me yours if you have one!Maybe the print gang could set up for a weekend and a limited edition print gets printed by many hands and then sold?

telephone exchange