Silk shawls


I’ve been learning to stitch a rolled-hem for two shawls I’ve wanted to make for some time. A few people have asked for the designs, so I’ve made them public on my Spoonflower page.

The first is the cover art for Midnight and Moonshine (print it centred across two yards):

Midnight and Moonshine cover

The other is “Round Eternal”, one of the pieces for the art show last month (print it centred on one yard for a square scarf):

Round Eternal

Illustration Friday: Totem

For this week’s Illustration Friday topic, I was playing around with the idea of people whose erstwhile totems, after a few millennia, are now remembered only in their heraldry (the word “totem” is of North-American origin, but the concept is widespread).

So here are some figures from a culture which once had a fox totem, and now only has a military which favours foxes as mascots, and a charming tradition of flying little flags shaped like paper foxes on festival days.

Illustration Friday: Totem

The original sketches are in ballpoint pen, with some stained paper and colour added later.

Brisbane Writers Festival 2013 – Artist-at-large

And I’m back from my stint as artist-at-large at the Brisbane Writers Festival! The final fate of the sketchbook is yet to be decided – in the meantime, photos of most of the pages may be viewed on the album on the BrisWritersFest Facebook page (I don’t think you need to be logged in to see them).

Here is the book in progress on a copy of the program:
BWF - book

It was a little Moleskine Japanese Album (accordion fold) sketchbook. The drawings are with Pitt Artist Pens and a 0.05 Staedtler. I had free rein to run upstairs and down, in and out of panels, perching at the edge of workshops, hanging out in the green room and the cafe, an excuse to talk to anyone and to meet – oh, so many people, watch Briony Stewart (artist-in-residence) construct a dragon, rave about topics and then find a conversation partner had written the book on it, hang out in the festival tent telling ghost stories and reading tales printed on pillows…

I sketched watching panels:
BWF - panel

And watching from above:
BWF - perch

BWF - dragon

And sights sights more familiar to habitués of the State Library:
BWF - pigeon

There are some observations on (rather than of) life:
BWF - observation

And here is the book opened up (also the new blog header), although there are a few more pages not shown here:
BWF - book extended

The last hurrah of the festival was “Glitter and Dust”, where those left standing talked (read, recited, praised) for two minutes each. Sarah Wendell graciously was my assistant, and I opened out the sketchbook listing (as it could not be seen in detail, only in length), some key images from each page. I have reconstructed it as follows, as my notes were written in the pink twilight of the tent and adapted as I went:

An accountant’s shining silver boots
Ibises stalk, possessive, on the grass,
Fingers clutch coffee like a rope to safety
And writers stare into a glowing void.
Twinned, rabbit-headed children.
A dawn of sunflowers,
Cerulean platform shoes,
A Blyton-novel’s worth of uniforms.
The self-abandoned intensity of browsers in bookstores.
Writers eating, holding forks like pens.
Wallace Stevens’ poem of pineapples,
Fishing rods with a catch of ferns,
New friends, hands raised, exclaiming over books,
Professional pigeon-harriers of the library cafe.
Steve Kilbey’s hands.
The Green Lantern impersonating Marianne Dashwood,
Small boys rolling laboriously downhill.
Fairytales peopling the long night,
Fashions glowing in the field.
Tigon, the literary hound, sits pensively.
Serious study in the high green room,
Graeme Simsion marches dully for a point.
Ibises swoop, delighted, on the lawn,
And Red Crow sets a stage for coming night.
[And folding the sketchbook in again] A tickertape of greeting and goodbye.

It is not a poem, but I like to think the tremor in my voice extended the syllables in the shorter lines to create a consistent pattern.

And of course it doesn’t include Elizabeth Wein’s Spitfire necklace and how that directly led to my current emotional fragility on finishing reading Code Name Verity, or how Kate de Goldi’s editing workshop took a detour into poetry recommendations, or discussions of first-person accounts of mastectomies without anaesthetic in 1812, or how Rob Spillman has caused me to now read Elizabeth Bishop’s “An Invitation to Miss Marianne Moore” out to anyone who will hold still long enough, or, or, or…

Brisbane Writers Festival

BWF 2013 Logo

The Brisbane Writers Festival is on, and I am the Illustrator at Large (in contrast to Briony Stewart who is the Illustrator in Residence, and is building a dragon). This pretty much means I wander the State Library grounds sketching, drinking coffee and talking to people, and I am happy with my lot. I am also on a panel on Sunday afternoon with Gary Crew, Gus Gordon and Briony Stewart, discussing visual storytelling.

Here is the beginning of the sketchbook (accordion fold this time, which opens nicely but is also easily caught by the wind and blown about like ticker tape). BWF will be putting it up on their Facebook page as they get the chance, but posting more frequently to their twitter account (briswritersfest).

BWF 2013 sketchbook


Brisbane Writers Festival 2013 I 4-8 September 2013
twitter: #bwf13 / @briswritersfest


Brisbane Writers Festival brings a page-turning experience to Brisbane from 4-8 September.

Delight in the books and writers you love, and discover new ones, as you share in conversations ranging from fiction to politics, science to sport and everything in between. Join in fervent discussion and the ardent exchange of ideas at The Great Debate. Festival highlights include Inspire, remarkable and thought-provoking presentations to make you think, feel and act; Well-Drawn, celebrating and exploring comics, graphic narrative and illustration; and Good Thinking: Public Lectures, when Australia’s leading intellectuals will ask the big questions and present new ideas for the future.

Let the kids loose to play with words at Alphabet Zoo while you indulge your inner-wordsmith at Author+ Masterclasses and, at the end of the day, relax with a drink in the Festival Club to the soulful strains of singer/songwriters and bands.

Browse the program and book your tickets now at