Rusty rails


The funny thing about rust is sometimes you take every measure to get rid of it, and other times you can appreciate it’s qualities. I once had an old car which I thought I’d better clean before taking it for its rego check. In doing so I discovered that the water in the back foot well wasn’t actually in the car, but on the road, which I could see through the rusted out hole! Needless to say, that rust was not working in my favour. But rust in a different context takes on a whole other complexion. Like these rusty rails, that are full of character and visual appeal.

Tick tock


I relate to this picture today. Time hanging mid-air, wires every which way, like something will short circuit any moment and the dangling clock will fall. But while I would prefer my day to be more linear in nature, and less like a criss-cross of live wires, I also love the aesthetics of this scene: cables leading to who knows where, the mess of transformers and connections, the yellow border on the clock and the decorative numbers on the clock face. The 2 and 4 are particularly pleasing.

Flame and jacaranda


It’s coming to the end of the flowering season, but this year the Illawarra flame trees and the jacarandas have been spectacular. In gardens all around the inner suburbs of Sydney, there are bold splodges of red and purple everywhere, almost too brilliant to believe the colours are natural. It must have been the garden fashion at one time, planting these two specimen trees together. I have a jacaranda in my garden, and for a few weeks every year the tree is covered with vibrant flowers and then the backyard becomes a carpet of purple, buzzing with bees, and we are constantly picking up the flowers that have been traipsed through the house from the yard. Some years ago I worked in an office with a bird’s eye view and, almost overnight, splashes of jacaranda with highlights of flame red would appear, as if someone had wielded a giant paintbrush and daubed the landscape.



My ukulele group meets twice a month, and this week’s theme was Country Music. We sang along and strummed along to songs by Merle Travis, Hank Williams, Patsy Cline, Johnny Cash and others. Today I needed to use Giddyup and Giddyup Thangs for a publishing job I’m working on, and was delighted to discover that the dingbat I had always thought was a guitar was, in fact, a uke! Giddyup—inspired by the rope letters decorating cattle brands and cowboy blankets—was designed in 1993 by Laurie Szujewska while she was art director at Adobe. She was also in a band called The Chairs … I wonder if she played ukulele.



There are many types of pop-up books, but however simple or complex, what they have in common is a three-dimensional aspect when they are opened. This book, which I made for the Sydney BAG exhibition to complement my Alphabet 1 print, is the simplest type of concertina pop-up. Each page has just two horizontal cuts in the paper, allowing part of the paper to fold one way, part of the paper to fold the other way—resulting in the formation of a moveable parallelogram. This book opens to more than 2.5 metres long, and folds up to less than 50 mm deep.

Sydney BAG


I am lucky enough to be part of Sydney Book Art Group, and tonight is the opening of our first group show, at Art Est. Art School and Gallery in Leichhardt, Sydney. Individually, we have exhibited work locally and internationally, but this is the first time we have shown work together. When I delivered my books to the gallery yesterday morning I was astounded at the volume and diversity of our combined efforts. Although I had seen most of the pieces before, when we meet each month we only bring a few things along—generally projects we are working on or have just finished—so to see our work amassed was something else.

Sydney BAG is Bernard Appassamy, Barbara Bartlett, Julie Bookless, Cathie Edlington, Lisa Giles, Avril Makula, Gary Smith, Cindy Tonkin and Sandra Winkworth. The exhibition runs until 2 December.

Tools of the trade


Something to fold with, something to cut with, something to poke holes with. While this is not a comprehensive list of my bookbinding tools, these few small items receive a lot of use, regardless of the style of book I am making. It doesn’t matter if I am constructing a section-sewn hard cover in a clamshell box or an artists book of unconventional size and structure, these are the tools that are in constant use.



Another year, another Melbourne Cup win! My sophisticated method of choosing the winners—primarily, the colour of the silks—has proved, yet again, to be successful. Racing silk colours are comprised of a set of jacket, sleeve and cap markings. Colours must be registered annually with the relevant racing body, and are subject to a long list of rules including width of stripes, size of chevrons, position of spots. Whatever the rules, it makes for a colourful track. Oh, and my win? The princely sum of $11.

Prancing horse


Halloween might not have a high profile in my neck of the woods, but Melbourne Cup Day certainly does. I haven’t studied the form yet, but I’d better hurry up so I can go and place my bet! As usual, I will make my choice based on several (completely subjective) criteria: the colour and design of the silks (very important), the name of the horse, whether or not Bart Cummings is the trainer (less important these last couple of years), and the number of the starting gate. I bet the Cessnock Hotel will be jumping this afternoon. The region is home to several thoroughbred horse studs, including Coolmore, just up the road in Singleton, where Makybe Diva, first horse to win the Melbourne Cup three times and highest stakes-earner in Australian horseracing history, gave birth to her foal, Rockstardom.



Halloween doesn’t have much of a tradition in Australia. At most, you might get one or two local kids knocking at the door in the hope that the householder has: one, remembered that it is Halloween, and two, armed themselves with bite-size chocolate bars to dispense. This year has been different. I’ve never seen so many cobwebbed fences in the neighbourhood, and yesterday the early evening streets were filled with hordes of hopefuls in various levels of make-do dress-up. The kids don’t quite get the idea of trick or treat, though. My friend, having no treats at the ready and thereby declaring, to one young doorknocker, that it would have to be a trick, was met with a blank face of total incomprehension. My local greengrocer got in on the Halloween act with these charming jack-o-lanterns, complete with price stickers slapped on the side of their heads.