Tuesday, February 26, 2013

insects i've met recently

Here are two insects I've met recently. Firstly a manuka chafer beetle which made its way into the house, I usually find them dead outside.  Bright shiny green, and quite large by NZ insect standards. Which is how I managed to take some half decent macro photos on my point-n-shoot camera.

And off it flew, that's its shadow following take-off!

 Second up was a cicada that spent the night in the laundry basket with the freshly washed clothes. In the morning I carried it outside, and it greeted the sun. Once sufficiently warmed up, off it flew too.

So why am I devoting one of my few and far between blog posts to insects? Well once upon a time insects were a passion of mine. I went to university with the aim of becoming a Landscape Architect, which in those days involved getting an undergrad degree first, but after the first entomology paper I was hooked.

When I was in my mid 20's  I had to make a couple of decisions that looking back were significant turning points in my life.

Firstly there was leaving my first husband and getting on a plane at Manchester Airport to return to New Zealand. In hindsight not that hard a decision to make, but it was still definitely a turning point. Once back home I enrolled to do a PhD in Entomology. Six months later, and having gained a good scholarship, with an excellent supervisor and with my mum terminally ill, I made another hard decision - to quit. I realised I was doing a PhD for the wrong reason, because mum wanted me to, and I didn't want the life it would entail - research or lecturing. I knew I wasn't cut out for either. Maybe I should have done an arts degree instead of science?

I've no regrets about the four years I spent at university doing the degree I did, even although I don't "use" it in my present life. Do you ever look back on your life, and pinpoint one or two major decisions that you made which changed the trajectory you were on?

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

changing threads

Since the Mapua Makers Market (which was on 9 Feb) I've been beavering away on another deadline - my entries for this years Changing Threads National Contemporary Fibre Awards.  I have entered this award three times and been chosen twice, both with blanket wall hangings. As I blogged about last year here.

 This year I've stepped away from wool and felt into the great unknown - environmental art! Tomorrow I drop my entry into the gallery on CD, so I've been taking photos and writing my artist statement and going slightly crazy. But hey even if I don't get one or two pieces selected at least I can share it with the my lovely readers on this blog.

The first piece I created is an installation, so is quite hard to photograph especially in my garage. It's titled "Coming Home to Roost", and my statement about it is:

This installation is constructed from some of the plastics that I have collected from the beach at Ruby Bay over the last 18 months. Some of the sources of this rubbish can easily be identified, such as the tags off fishing vessels or parking meter tickets, which have flown out of car windows. While these may look like paper they are in fact plastics, the recycling symbol on the back of the parking meter tickets identifies these as polypropylene.

It is hard to imagine the size of this problem. In the North Pacific Ocean there is what is known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, an estimated 11 million tons (and growing) of floating plastic covering an area of nearly 5 million square miles of ocean, swirling in the Pacific Ocean between the coast of California and Hawaii.

Unlike organic debris, which biodegrades, plastics disintegrate into smaller and smaller pieces while still remaining a polymer. They never “vanish” so throughout the decay cycle different sized organisms are affected.

“Coming Home to Roost” is my response to this disaster that we cannot see. While I realise that the amount of rubbish that I pick up is so miniscule in the big picture, it may still help at the individual level. If one bird is saved by my actions that is better than walking past and leaving the rubbish to re-float in the next high tide, and go who knows where?


 In the centre of the shelter is a nest I made from fishing rope and twine. I made the top part first, and then added the mound, similar to what some sea birds build. This nest building led me onto using some of the large pile of twine and fishing line I've collected, and I made three vessels loosely based on a basket design. These are sewn together with salvaged fishing line which I had to untangle first.

The second entry is titled "Adrift".

These three vessels have been made using pieces of fishing net, twine and line that I have collected while walking along the beach at Ruby Bay. Originally the materials were used for fishing, and then discarded, cut loose or lost to become part of the garbage system that drifts with the ocean currents.

When fishing nets are left or lost by fishermen they are known as ‘ghost nets’ which drift about continuing to do what they were designed to; catching fish along with sea mammals, reptiles and birds.

By piecing together the fragments I have collected, I have made these vessels as a reminder of how fragile the marine environment is, and the need to care for it.


This morning when I went for my daily look at what's happening in the world according to Facebook, I came across Kirsty Elson's post with a link to this video. It's mindblowingly sad, and makes me feel like every little bit of plastic that I pick up off the beach is making a difference. Take the time to watch it, please.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

lighting up

This is one of those blog posts that's been in  my head over the summer. It's also the first one I've written dedicated to interior design. So hopefully I'll not bore you with my lights. When we moved into this house 16 months ago one thing that struck me was the totally boring lighting design. It consisted of the hideous inset downlights in every room. The only pendants were two ugly generic things hanging over the kitchen bench. In the kids bedrooms there was only one light switch by the door and no reading lights. Our bedroom was not much better, but at least I had a switch by the bed to turn off the ceiling lights. So something needed to be done, and finally this summer we added some retro character to our house.

The cheapest solution for our bedrooms was to hang lights with long cords that plug into the three point socket. First up was Miss L's. I had the cord and plug from a broken light, and found the red plastic woven lampshade in an antique shop. They only thing we needed to do was wire it all together and add a on/off switch along the cord and hang it from the ceiling.

The photo of the out of focus cornflower was taken by L herself a few years ago, before she learnt about focal length. The greenery is in focus. I framed it as love the colours and composition.

Next up was H's room. He's a bit harder to please (being almost a teenager) and therefore I had to spend a bit more money and brought a funky red cage light off a local website. But when it arrived the cord that wasn't long enough and it had no on/off switch. So a trip to Mitre 10 was needed to buy an extension cord and the switch. By this time H was really enjoying playing the electrician and was doing all the wiring for us.

The photo is of H when he was about 2 and in the collecting-the-biggest-stone-possible-from-the-beach phase. Other artwork is his own, from quite a few years ago, when he still enjoyed his art.

For our room I brought some gold flex on Trade Me, which works well with the brass mesh lightshades I found at the recycling centre. The lamp in the corner was another shade I found at the dump (sorry recycling centre!) which we put onto a lamp that's shade got damaged when we moved years ago. Soon after buying the light shades I also brought two  mid century oak drawers on Trade Me which also happened to have brass handles. I then read in a magazine that brass was 'in' this season, wow I've never been this current in my life!

Note the carefully staged shot to avoid seeing the piles of clothes that are lurking on my side of the bed.

Last up was the kitchen pendants. Again I scored two perspex lightshades at the dump. I had planned on selling them on Trade Me, as the colour is a smoky purple, which wasn't quite me. But we tried them above the kitchen bench, and they are perfect.

More carefully staged shots of kitchen. Although maybe I should have cleared the junk off the top of the microwave. Or better still moved the ugly thing that just sits on the bench because there's no other space. One day there'll be the new kitchen post.

Yes I have been planning this post for so long that those are our Christmas lights along the front of the house. If you look really carefully in the above photo you can see the lights of Nelson and Richmond twinkling in the distance.

Sorry I couldn't stick totally to interiors, so had to throw in some sunset photos for good measure.

I've still got time to join in with Max's Op-Shop Show-Off party.  All light shades (except one) qualify and I'm definitely showing off!

And, thanks for the words of encouragement on my last post about continuing with this blogging malarkey. It's actually a bit of a milestone for me today, as it's two whole (Chinese) years since I started blogging.  So Gong Hey Fat Choy to you all in the year of the snake.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

a long, hot summer

Yes it's been what feels like a long, hot summer. And it's not over yet, the kids go back to school on the 7th which seems so late! It's because we have two public holidays this week, so most primary schools have chosen to wait til they are over.

January flew by without me venturing near this blog! I've not been sure whether to return, but have decided to keep at it, as one of the reasons I started in the first place was as a diary for myself. So I'm going back to basics. I'm not going to change the world, I'm not going to attract 100s of followers, I'll just be me.

The hubby had 10 days in India, which wasn't the easiest on us with the school holidays. I'm not a super-mum, I don't plan fun-filled, action packed days. I seem to have to tell them to turn the tv off and get outside, a lot. I've been preoccupied with my craftiness as have markets coming up. So when hubby returned from India we headed to Golden Bay for two nights. It was just what we all needed. We hired a bach (kiwi for holiday home) at Patons Rock, which is my favourite spot.

We kayaked, collected mussels off the rocks, tried to catch fish and swam in the sea, even me. On the second night as we drove back from having dinner at the bach friends were staying at we spotted the most amazing full moon rising.

 If you follow me on instagram you'll already seen the following photos I took on our last walk along the road past the cute old bachs, then back up via the beach.

 Farewell Patons Rock, till next time.