Saturday, May 30, 2009

ch ch ch ch ch changes....

over the next wee while I'm going to undertake a few (slight) changes here ...

I've already made a small change or two today (any guesses what I've done?....) and in the next bit or so I'll be doing a little revamp (a change is a good as a holiday, so I'm told).

Feel free to add a note or two about what I'm up to...

(yes I KNOW I'm supposed to be organising things for my forthcoming presentation at my uni - final year of my Masters and all that... this is stress relief.... DON'T LOOK AT ME LIKE THAT... I'm working hard on my arty bits - really I am!)

Saturday, May 9, 2009

heroes and champions

Yesterday I was pleasantly surprised by a terrific blog posting by my friend and colleague Julie-ann Williams on Calligraffia. I'm part of the trio that is Calligraffia - a blog devoted to all things calligraphic - but had no idea that Julie was about to plonk one of my pieces as a part of a story about the book of Australian heroes and champions (check out the story over at Calligraffia's blog site)

I thought I'd like to share my particular story for the creation of my 2 pages for inclusion in the the 2nd volume of Heroes and Champions... and show you a few extra pics....

Rhonda Ayliffe - Volunteer firefighters of Australia page
acrylic, gouache, collage, on TH Saunders 300gm HP

Like the other participants, I was asked by Judith Kilburn of the Gold Coast Calligraphy Society to create a page (of my choice and direction) honouring an Australian hero or champion. I immediately replied 'sure thing' and settled on the 'Volunteer Firefighters of Australia' as my 'hero'. My choice is quite personal - my father is one of our country's longest serving volunteers - he has been an active volunteer for more than 50 years, and has received the National Medal of Service, the Centenary Medal and the Australian Fire Service Medal (or AFSM - an incredibly rare honour for a volunteer).

reverse side of the page - a dedication to my father Brian Ayliffe AFSM

My choice was made and confirmed early last year (but of course I left the actual creation of the work until the very last minute of the last hour before the dealine....the end of February 2009).

Many Australian readers would be vividly aware that on Saturday 7th February 2009 our nation experienced the worst natural disaster in our European history as the 'Black Saturday' bushfires claimed 173 lives. I started research and work on my page for the volunteer firefighters a week after the fires and I must tell you I felt an enormous sense of responsibility to 'get it right'. I'll also admit - I remain ambivilous about my finished piece - I can readily picture any number of wonderful calligraphers from around the land who I think could have created something far superior to my efforts (again I say - go look at some other examples at calligraffia)

but if heart counts for anything, I gave it everything I've got!

Within my arts practice I have always created work that is layered - and I don't just mean that I pile things up in a physical sense - I have always created work that can be viewed and 'read' in multiple ways - this work carries on in that vein

Within the work are many subliminal texts - that require an extended viewing to decipher - at the top of the page the names of all the volunteer organisations of Australia are semi-hidden in the red and orange acrylic glaze background

the main lettering reads:

'they stand before the inferno
not for money or glory but for the preservation of life and property ~ they are the
volunteer firefighters of Australia'

Directly underneath this is a listing of all the major bushfires that have claimed lives since the first volunteer bushfire brigade was formed in 1896 - but like the names of the organisations - these dates are semi- hidden - and require time and attention to decipher. It was with a heavy heart that I penned the final date - 'Black Saturday, 7th February 2009' (you can see a little bit of this in the detail above)

The main body of the text is easier to read - it is a brief history of the volunteer organisation - and mentions something that I'm not sure many Australian citizens are aware of... that combined there are in excess of 200 000 volunteer firefighters from every state and territory of the country - making it arguably the largest volunteer emergency organisation in the world. I think that's worthy of attention, praise and pride don't you?

Well the whole double-sided page was quite an effort - and I did go significantly over the deadline (oops) Judith was v. patient with my tardiness...

Oh BTW - I actually created 2 pages for the heroes and champions book - my second page was to honour Jane McGrath... this one was created with time to spare before the February deadline.

here's what that page looks like....

Rhonda Ayliffe - Jane McGrath Page
acrylic and gouache on TH Saunders 190gm HP

A much simpler affair - but I felt no less passion for the cause.... during the creation of this work an old school friend (and wife of my first cousin) was diagnosed with breast cancer. I'm quietly quite pleased with my efforts in this one... it's been a looooong time since I've attempted anything like this within my practice... so it was a HUGE challenge for my diminished calligraphic skills!

I hope I get to see the finished, bound 2nd volume of 'Heroes and Champions' as it does it's tour around the countryside.... thanks for inviting me to participate Judith!

(ps: if you click on the detail pics you'll get a BIGGER view - enjoy)

Sunday, May 3, 2009

a reply

its been some months since I checked in on my 'gift' to a wombat hole.... (read the original post here)... this week I returned and found a definitive reply....

As I anticipated - wombats don't seem to appreciate what Encyclopaedia Brittanica has to say on the subject of wombats...

what a nice interactive installation we have jointly created (well that's what I'm calling the shredded encyclopaedia)