Wednesday, 25 July 2018

I believe in.....

This week I attended a talk by Matthew Burrows of ABC Projects Atelier.

A complicated name for what is an intensive 2 day artist development workshop.

Introducing his concept Matthew talked about what to expect on his workshop, and amongst other things mentioned that before attending you have to make some lists.

One of the lists was 'I believe in.....'

Which really got me thinking.

So much so, that I started to make an 'I believe in' list in my notebook.

Initially I remembered it as 'I believe', which gets very different answers to 'I believe in'.

My 'I believe' list started with 'I believe there are too many cones in the world'.

too many cones

I thought about this, and wondered how that relates to my artistic practice. I have almost managed to stop photographing cones recently.

But then I checked my notebook and saw that it is 'I believe in', which is a very different thing. I certainly don't believe in cones. And when I rephrase it to 'I believe there are too many cones in the world', it really doesn't sound that relevant or interesting.

So here goes with the 'I believe in ' list, which thankfully contains no mention ofthe aforementioned items.

The list gets longer every time I look at it.

At the top of the list

  • nature

I can't manage without it. The wilder and more remote the better, but seeing goldfinches on my suburban lawn for the first time this morning made me jump for joy.

  •  my family

Always top of the list. Wherever they are.

  • picking up litter wherever I go

this obsession is probably more useful than photographing cones

single use cup and straw from the gutter outside my house

and along with that must go

  • reducing my consumption of single use plastic, along with trying to persuade supermarkets to do the same. Shopping gets much more complicated if you try to avoid food and fruit wrappped in plastic containers. But if we all did it....... THINK WHAT THAT WOULD ACHIEVE!

  • potatoes don't need plastic bags

  • walking

 Walking is the best way that I know for relaxation and thinking time. Great ideas come from walking, and almost all of my photography too.

The higher the better.

  •  singing or dancing to music
Last week I attended a writing workshop, and we talked about music that makes us happy. Creating a 'happy' playlist is a great way to bring back memories from way, way back.

'Let's go fly a kite' is my current favourite. There are many happy memories associated with this one.

  • listening to birdsong
It is hard to fathom how much pleasure comes from birdsong. I now have quite a collection of sounds. The blackbirds in my garden, the birds of New Zealand. July is a quiet time for garden birds, and we miss the morning songs.

Orokonui ecosanctuary, New Zealand a video should you have a few minutes to spare, and like birds.

  • the smaller details in nature

Stones and pebbles, grasses and water. Bare earth and branches.

pebbles from the Rocky mountains

I call myself a landscape photographer, but my landscapes are getting smaller and smaller. Looking down more than at the wider view. What I call 'random acts' of nature.

winter grasses

more winter grasses
lancewood tree

Which leads on to...

  • water
walking beside it, swimming in it, sunlight on it......

an endless fascination.

Rakiura dreaming © Caroline Fraser

Loch an Eilein © Caroline Fraser

To say that I am excited about a trip to Greenland next week to photograph icebergs in Disko Bay is an understatement.

  • kindness
Something to strive for, always.

  •  writing

I love the feel of pen on paper. I have found the perfect combination; a uniball micro pen and a seawhite travel journal go with me everywhere. Looking back through journals reminds me of ideas, unfinished projects and how much my mood changes from month to month.

  • long summer days

10pm, Findhorn
I am a summer person. Daylight agrees with me.

  • abstract art

 Postcards on my mantelpiece remind me of two of my influences - Agnes martin and Karl Blossfeldt

  • time to play

Creativity comes from play. Outside, inside. It doesn't matter where.

And just in case you are wondering ( as one person did) whether this is a hot air balloon that I am about to release into the stratosphere, let me reassure you that it is a kite. Photographed by a good friend who also likes to play.

Where do we go from here?


And then some bookmaking.......

I almost forgot!

  • making books

This should be near the top of the list.

So much more tangible than a blog. And a great way to bring together many of my beliefs into a single story.

hand made book

That's enough for now.

What will be on your list?

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

we're having a heatwave, a tropical heatwave.....

I have been in Scotland, near Aviemore and futher north. The origin of my book 'Land of my Father', and home of many happy memories.

My other half (OH) has been working in Kochi, India.

He goes to India because
  1. It is hot and sunny ( when it is not the monsoon season, which it is)
  2. He likes curries
  3. He gets freedom from the mundanities of suburban life and gets to stay in swanky hotels, where he has only to suggest he might like mango with his breakfast curry and a man will find one for him fresh from the nearest mango tree.
I go to Scotland because
  1. I love it. 
  2. It is not usually hot.
  3. I get to stay in traditional Scottish accomodation which is generally not swanky at all, but there are potato scones for breakfast, and the carpets are floral.
So imagine my surprise when I found it was as hot in Scotland as in India.

And imagine OH's surprise when it didn't rain for a whole week in the monsoon season, so he didn't get to wear his spanking brand new super-lite anorak or lie under the special anti-rain canopy beside the pool.

My idea of photography in Scotland is some overcast, moody weather.

What I got was mostly relentless blue skies, and dry vegetation.

Or sea mist, with dull grey skies.


 Even the forest was looking in need of some refreshment.

So I decided not to worry about my photography and just enjoy walking, exploring new places, and collecting pebbles along the way.

I found fields of orchids beside the dunes.

Wild flowers and grasses

A lighthouse at Portmohomack surrounded by gorse.

A swing in the middle of nowhere.

The surprisingly ornate gardens at Dunrobin Castle.

The scenic coastal path from Brora to Golspie

we are walkers

towards Dunrobin on the coastal path

and some litter, but so much less than down south

inevitable collections of human material

On the beach I collected pebbles and litter.

The pebbles mostly stayed in Scotland

Easyjet luggage allowance is not generous, and I already own a lot of stones and pebbles from around the world.




a perfect pebble

In Findhorn the sun set late at 22.15. And there was not a midge in sight. Avoiding the west coast in July was a good plan.

sunset, Findhorn

And in Nairn, where I spent my childhood summers, children were paddling in the same pool that I paddled in 55 years ago with my blue wind up boat.

Not much has changed up there.

Except that the library has moved. When I asked the librarian when it had relocated, she looked at me as if I was a little dim, and replied '1982'.

Which doesn't say much for my powers of observation.

Nairn paddling pool

I came home with just one 'keeper' photograph, from the beautiful Loch an Eilan near Aviemore.

Loch an Eilan © Caroline Fraser

Hopefully later this year it will find its way into the lovely Laundry Gallery in Aviemore, where it will be seen by people who understand the beauty of the Cairngorm National Park, and who, like me, probably prefer it a little cooler.

Friday, 22 June 2018

'If I only had more time' - in which I make an edition of 42 books in 8 days in collaboration with Nina Rodin

Lac Leman, Vevey, Switzerland

Last week was one of the most intense weeks of my life.....

Back in September 2017 I was artist in residence in Trelex, near Geneva, .

Whilst there I made a little book about being artist in residence, and how there is never enough time to complete a project. It was a small hand sewn, not very well crafted book using materials lying around in the studio.

To my delight, Nina Rodin, founder of the residency invited me back to make a first edition of the book with the aim to raise money for further residencies and for charity. This was an opportunity not to be missed, and I jumped at the chance to collaborate with Nina who is a very exciting artist, a perfectionist, and who has a lot of experience of making books.

The chance to revisit such a peaceful place was also something I could not resist.

fields of grain, Trelex

We worked hard.

Very hard.

From dawn until bedtime in the studio with occasional visits to Vevey to collect materials.

First I made a tiny mock up to work out how the pages would run.

 And then we sent for some enormous rolls of paper and got started.

The shops in Trelex are rarely open, so there was no excuse not to keep working.

I never managed to get inside either of these establishments, and the bakery was closed too, due to 'hand surgery'. No delicious fresh bread for me. Just wonderful juicy cherries, fresh from the tree in the garden.

The book was printed on a very large printer.

The huge sheets were then trimmed into strips for a concertina book.

I trimmed 280 metres with a small pair of scissors. It took 2 days, and was not that exciting. I was very glad when it was done.

Nina made 960 folds for the pages with her creasing device. She, too, was glad when that particular task was complete.

creasing device

When making a 31 page concertina, keeping everything square is critical.

Otherwise you get a 'bad' book, in which the images are not square to the page.

More exciting was a trip to Vevey to the book bindery, to choose materials for the covers.

I was allowed about 3 minutes to choose.

The original book was shocking pink, which would have worked well for rasing money for breast cancer, but there was not enough card in stock, and no cloth.

So no pink.

I wanted it to be cheerful.

The orange buckram cloth just jumped out at me.

It had to be.

I thought about blue, but I keep thinking back to my book art course and how I wasn't allowed to display an orange sleeve with my work when we had an exhibition in the library.

Defiance is a powerful emotion.

I am now free to rebel.

We found a red-orange card for the soft covers that almost matched.


And then thinking back again to my book art course, and how I would have to write why I chose orange/red and how it works for this specific book I took a stroll in the village to think of all the possible connections to that colour.

This is the art world at its worst; pretending that there was a good reason for the choice, when actually it was because I felt rebellious.

So here are some orangy-red things in the village, which if anyone asks I can pretend were the stimulants behind my choice.

the only way is orange

at the station

world cup fever

geranium orange

village cones

hair and watering can

But looking deep into my subconscious, maybe it is because the fountains were full of orange/red petals last September, which is how my project on water and the local fountains got started.

petals floating in the fountains of Trelex, September 2017

The petals are not there in June.

The flowers have only just started blooming in the baskets above the fountains, and the water is free of debris.

It would have been a very different book if I had visited at this time of year.

Anyway. The job is done, and I think you will agree that the covers match the petals perfectly.

completed books

And for my other half, who prefers foody things to most things, it almost matches the sausages too.