Whilst in Melbourne, I had a productive time in my studio at the Jewish Museum, hand printing 'white on white' lino block prints on Japanese rice paper scrolls as well as private commissions for a Blessing for the Home, a pomegranate ketubah and an anniversary gift of love 'Ahava' that was inspired by my digital art prints...I also managed to do a series of work at the Baldessin Press in St Andrews to send back home to Denmark for an exhibition at the Butter Factory Studios, Lightscape...
My exhibition Letter Land Lore was opened at the Jewish Museum of Australia on the 3rd of August 2014. I was invited to be the first Artist-in-Residence at the Museum throughout the duration of the exhibition, occupying half of the upstairs gallery as a studio and workshop area...the following photos are a visual narrative of my inspirational journey in Melbourne throughout August, September and October this year. Much gratitude to the Museum staff, friends and family who came along to support me during my visit...Enjoy!
The framed black and white lino block prints are hand printed in a limited edition of 18. I have been exploring the convergence of the mysticism of the Hebrew letters and the healing qualities of the Australian Indigenous plants. The second image is an artist book, where the pages have been hand dyed with colours extracted from plants of the south west of Western Australia. The landscape images in the third photo are a series of words, created in photoshop combining the lino block letters and photographs of Australian landscapes.
Printmaking workshops held at the Jewish Museum with women across the generations - from B'nei Mitzvah onwards...the young women were engaged in creating words and letters using native plant material like seeds, leaves and flowers found in St Kilda Botanical Gardens.
Basil and Nikki’s Adventures
On the completion of my one week at the Print Workshop, I shipped back yet another package to Australia, including a folio of prints for exhibition at the Butter Factory Studios for the Great Southern Art Trail. Basil joined me in NYC where we began ‘Chapter 2’ of our respective journeys. After four exhausting days running around NYC – exploring the innovative and creative HIGHLINE, the Chelsea Markets, Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, Prospect Park, Central Park…and more, we took off upstate, picked up a rental car and stayed with friends, Suzi and Chaim in Albany (the capital of New York State). We spent a wonderful couple of nights there, sharing art and poetry and enjoying a relaxing Shabbat prior to the deeply reflective experience of Rosh Hashonah back at the Isabella Freedman Centre in Connecticut.
On route to the Centre, we went to visit an old friend of my father’s from Australia, Leon Smith and his wife Elaine, both accomplished artists, living on acres of lush rolling hills punctuated by Leon’s wonderful creations…for more on Leon, you can check his video on youtube.
Our Rosh Hashonah was ‘a first’ for both of us. We were blessed to be amongst the awesome natural surroundings and changing colours of the Fall at Isabella Freedman center, where we had the choice of two services to follow – one was a Jewish Renewal service with Rabbi Tiferet – an African American in her final year of rabbinical studies…or a more orthodox, traditional service led by Rabbi Greg Wall (also a professional jazz musician). Needless to say it was wonderful to have the diverse offerings and to share a dining room with people of all levels of jewish identity.
From the Isabella Freedman Center, we had a first WWOOFING experience at Cynthia and Stuart Rabinovitz, also in Connecticut – yes…from Jewish Renewal to Jewish Renewal! They were wonderful hosts and it was great to get our fingernails filled with soil and partake in a bit of physical activity. We had a great connection with Cynthia and Stuart – sharing our common ground with the arts environment and Jewish heritage. Once again we had another evening of creative exchange with poetry readings and sharing of artworks over a seriously delectable selection of woodfired pizzas in their hand built wood-fired oven.
Israel was full of interesting contradictions - between secular and spiritual, between right and left, between Tel-Aviv and Jerusalem, between energy conservation and keeping cool, city and rural, friends and family - thought provoking to say the least!
Home Base at Kibbutz Kefar Rupin
With Jackie Attiya-Waik and her three children, I felt like one of the family. Setting up my workspace, enabling me to be creative and play with ideas, inspiration and on-the-road commissions, cooking meals and coming and going according to the whim of the day.
The Kibbutz is located about 10 minutes from the Jordanian border and is probably the hottest place in the country throughout the summer – I happened to be there in the biggest heat wave ever experienced - where all the heat sits and hovers in the valley, without escaping – creating a sense of living in an oven. If visiting in any other season, I could have enjoyed bird watching (a reknowned path of migratory birds), exploring the numerous fish-ponds surrounding the kibbutz… However, in the peak of summer, indoor air-conditioned creativity and rest was really the only option whilst staying on the kibbutz, when I wasn’t observing Jackie at work…
Jackie has a glass studio, separate from the house where I got to watch her fusing glass creating some wild and wacky mezuzot (a kind of talisman that Jewish people traditionally attach to the doorpost of their houses (some attach to every room of the house). The mezuzah contains a miniature scroll of sacred text, protecting the life within...
These ancient natural springs, close by the Kibbutz Kefar Ruppin, near Beit She’an were a welcome respite – swimming here was one of those wondrous moments, where I needed to pinch myself and touch the surrounding stone walls to believe that I was not floating in some dream-world.