Thursday, 28 February 2013

More cats


Okay, I have been carried away by cats this week.  They are just so much fun!  All these cat drawings are ink on Sydney city maps. They all seem to be looking the same way, I I will make an effort to do a few more with the head on the right.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013


Ink on map by me, inspired by Goebel cat

We found a Goebel cat brooch by Rosina Wachtmeister  recently at an antique/junk shop in Newtown.  It is a playful thing and it made me think of the work of Charles and Ray Eames, so bought it.  It's well designed, beautifully made and even though it is a brooch it sits up very nicely on a shelf.  
Rosina Wachtmeister was born in Vienna and now lives near Rome.  She studied sculpture and scenic design in Brazil. 

Ink on map by me inspired by Goebel cat


 I don't have a cat now but we did have many years of enjoying the antics of Frank and Lou who adopted us when they were kittens 20 years ago.  These quick and fun cat drawings are both inspired by the Goebel brooch as well as Frank and Lou.  

Ink on map by me, inspired by Goebel cat

Sunday, 24 February 2013


Gouache painting on map by Nancy MacAlpine

Growing up in Canada meant that I wasn't acquainted with all the fruit and vegetables that the rest of the world enjoyed. There may have been dry figs but I was not introduced to those either.  When I did see a fig I decided, from their appearance, that they would be rather nasty.  Once, as a community nurse,when visiting a patient she insisted I take some ripe figs from their tree.  I didn't want to take them but she would not take no as an answer.  I tasted them, was blown away by the beautiful rich, sweet taste and have been a fan ever since.  I look forward to late summer when they are in season and are a reasonable price at the fruit shop.  In the suburb in which I live there are many people of Greek descent who have fig trees in their garden.  You see them netted to stop the parrots, possums and probably any number of creatures who would want to feast on such a delicious fruit.  Each fig "fruit" is actually an enclosed flower head containing many tiny flowers and seeds.

Collage  of Figs by Nancy MacAlpine

Figs are an ancient fruit which were recorded on Sumerian stone tablets dated back to 2500 BC.  They were mentioned in the bible and were said to grow in the garden of Eden..  They were enjoyed by Cleopatra and Ulysses.
If you live in Australia enjoy figs now when they are  in season.  In Canada, keep an eye out for fresh figs but the dry ones are really good too.

Friday, 22 February 2013

Washing Up

Pen drawing by me

I asked my sister what she thought of a recent collage I had done of myself in front of the bathroom medicine cabinet (see self portrait blog post).  She said it reminded her that she needed to lose weight and  this put her off the piece.  

 Our emotional response to an artwork is what makes us want to either put it up on our wall next to the TV or tuck it in the spare room closet. When I saw Maggie Stein’s linocut of the drying dishes at Currurong Beach  I could imagine that the scene this depicts is within a lovely holiday house which is quiet and empty of kids and visitors, a meal has just been eaten , tummy is full and there are no more expectations of you for a little while.  Doing the dishes is often the last chore of the day and completing this task signifies the beginning of time for ourselves, maybe a bit of fun after a busy day. So, all those things make me enjoy the print as much as what is what you can see.
Washing Up by Margaret Green

Maggie’s linocut also reminded me of a painting, also of washing up,  which has appealed to me after seeing it in a book years ago.  This is it on the right.

I have been looking at the washing up this week and enjoying the spheres and cylinders and tricky shapes.

Gouache painting by me

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Printing a Linocut

Maggie Stein at her studio
When I posted the article about Maggie Stein's linocuts, a number of people asked me what they were and how you made them.  A linocut starts with a piece of thick linoleum which is carved to make any image you like.  After it is carved, what is left will print the ink colour and what is carved will be the paper colour. 
Ross and I had a great time last Saturday filming Maggie printing a linocut.  We have never videoed before, nor have we edited so this is our first go at being filmmakers. 
Here is our video on YouTube -  Please have a look . It takes 8 minutes so give yourself a bit of time.
On Saturday Maggie  printed both using her press and without it. In this video she shows us how to print without a press which is useful for anyone wanting to try it at home.
In a week or two we will film Maggie making the linocut which  is the process prior to the step we are showing you here.
 Below are some shots of Maggie making a print using her bookbinding press.
The print she made in the film as well as many other beautiful works are on her website:

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Self Portraits

This is a collage of me in front of the bathroom sink, medicine cabinet half open

 Sometimes, I am at a loss of what to draw in my attempt to do my daily artwork.Since there are no willing models at home, I tend to look in the mirror and do a bit of scratching with pen, pencil or ink.  It doesn't worry me if my self- portraits don't look like me, it's just a bit of fun. It's great to use other surfaces to draw on like the maps, pages of statistics or words on a page.


Thursday, 14 February 2013


Artists are most often inspired by their own interests and what is around them.  In this series of etchings, which I completed while doing my masters at COFA, my interest in local history as well as the urban landscape  was combined.

These etchings are inspired by an event taking place in local colonial history.  On a Sunday morning in 1828, Dr Wardell left his wife and children in the city to check out his land holdings in Marrickville.  He rode his white stallion to the Cooks River where he came across a primitive hut and three convicts on his land.  The meeting resulted in the murder of Dr Wardell.  He was found a day or two later where Ruby St Marrickville is now, covered in brambles so wild dogs would not interfere.

One of the convicts involved in the event gave information to the police which lead to the arrest of the other two.  A court case followed and two convicts were hung in front of a huge crowd.

Monday, 11 February 2013

Maggie Stein

King from Wilson 2010 by Maggie Stein

Maggie Stein is an award winning Sydney artist who I have known since 1985 when we went to City Art Institute together.  She won the Graduating prize for Printmaking in our final year which  was the first of her many successes.

Currurong 2013
Although Maggie does draw and paint, she is most well known for her printmaking, particularly linocut.  Her work reflects her keen observation of the environment in which she lives or visits, whether it be on a macro or micro level.   She has lived in Newtown for many years and the urban landscape she portrays  in that series of work makes me look again at the environment which is so familiar.    

 A print's image evolves through the processes required to make it and  may become something quite unlike it's beginning.  For novices in printmaking the resulting surprises may be pleasant or may be disappointing. It does not appear like Maggie Stein would know about disappointing" as her work is consistently lovely.   The prints show her expertise in the art of print making as well as the sophisticated mark making of a mid career artist.    

Banksia Coccinea 2012
You can meet Maggie at Eveleigh Artisan’s Market, Carriageworks, Chippendale once a month where her work is showcased.  You can buy a print, card or be inspired to take a workshop or class with Maggie in linocut.  I think It would be great for a group of friends to have a weekend of printmaking  to explore their own creativity and go home with some lovely original art. She also has classes for children which are very popular.

To see more of Maggie's work  please have a look at her website at  .   There is also a link to her blog at the website

Friday, 8 February 2013

Valentine's Day

Well, it will soon be that day for romantics to celebrate love.  The cynics may suggest that Valentine’s Day is just a way for us to spend more money on cards, flowers and presents.  I feel there is nothing wrong with those things but it is more important to reflect and let your special person know that they are just that..... special and valued.   Enough of the mushy stuff, here is my Valentine’s bouquet for you, not of roses...........but of...............beets.   

Gouache on topography map

  When you make a romantic dinner for your BFF this Valentine's Day why not try this recipe:

Baby Beet and Citrus Salad with Watercress

2 bunches baby beets

1 clove garlic, crushed with ½ tsp of salt

60 ml extra virgin olive oil

Juice of one lemon

¼ orange

½ lemon

1 lime

½ cup watercress leaves

Salt and pepper

Wash the beets and cut off the tops, leaving about 3 cm attached.  Trim the roots.  Steam for 10-15 min or until tender.  While the beets are cooking, whisk the garlic paste with the lemon juice and olive oil to make the dressing.  When the beets are cool enough to handle, peel them and cut the larger ones in half.  Season generously with salt and pepper and while they are still warm pour on the dressing and toss gently.

Peel the skin and white membrane from the citrus fruit.  Using a sharp knife carefully cut the membrane between each segment and flip the fruit out of it’s skin casing.  Cut the segments into small pieces.  Add the fruit to the beets and the watercress leaves and gently combine.  Serves 4

This recipe comes from Greg and Lucy Malouf’s cookbook entitled Saha, a chef’s journey through Lebanon and Syria

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Tempe House

This is a collage of Tempe House and I have made it from a book of Canadian topography maps.  The book of maps was from the Almaguin Highlands Secondary School library and was dated in the 1970s. This was my high school and I wonder if any of my friends used this book for geography projects. In case you are wondering I did buy this from the church bookshop in Powassan last summer.

If I were a bird I could fly to Tempe House in a minute or two, just over the hill and across the valley.   You can see it after crossing the Cooks River on the Princes Hwy just before the Wolli Creek development.   It sits overlooking the river and has been doing so since 1835. Tempe House was designed by  the colonial architect John Verge for  Alexander Brodie  Spark . It was Spark’s  rural retreat and he had a rococo bathing house close to the river as enjoyed swimming all year round.  He  had prize winning gardens , the plants were a mix of exotics and natives  as well as more than 154 fruit trees.  Spark had 250 acres  which of 10 acres were worked by  13 convict labourers.

 When entertaining he would have his visitors brought across the river by punt by his convict boatman Willie.  They would have enjoyed the lavish interiors of Tempe House with it’s marble fireplaces and parquet floors.

Unfortunately, Spark became bankrupt in 1843 but he continued to rent the villa until his death in 1856.  

The Sisters of the Good Samaritan bought 8 acres of the land including the villa and they conducted a laundry from 1880s until 1983.  It was staffed by woman from the country and those who needed care and rehabilitation.  They built a church many years ago and this, as well as the villa, have been restored.

I have known about Tempe House for many years but it wasn’t easily accessible until more recently.  A number of times I drove to the opposite side of the river, trying to get a glimpse of the house through the bush with no success.  Now you can walk around it and there are probably times it is open to the public.  When I was there last weekend I saw a couple getting married in the church and it was quite a romantic sight.  There are many modern apartment building  behind these structures but at least Tempe House and the church were restored and valued as an important part of local history.
If you live in Sydney, I recommend a look around this interesting landmark.

This is a painting of Tempe House by Samuel Elyard in 1836

Monday, 4 February 2013

Wentworth Park Antique and Collectable Fair

Here are some of the things purchased at the Wentworth Park Antique and Collectable fair

This is a pattern of Figgio tableware called Lotte, made in Norway. 

Thelma and Peter's retro collection
If you live in Sydney and are interested in antiques, collectables jewellery, vintage and designer stuff a great place to find them is the Antique and Collectable fair.  This is held on the first Sunday of the month at Wentworth Park.  Wentworth Park is on Wattle St in Pyrmont/Ultimo, a few minutes walk from the Fish Market. 

The fair is held indoors so no worries about the weather.  It’s big too, so much to see and a huge variety of things.  The prices are generally good and there are bargains to be had.  My interest in mid century Scandinavian is certainly satisfied.

I went to the fair on Sunday and found some Lotte (tableware made in Norway in the 70s), some very quirky Dutch ceramics which I will give to some quirky Dutch people I know.  Also got some great presents for people who read this blog so that is hush hush.  It’s  a great day out and I highly recommend a wander around this fair and then lunch at Sydney Fish Market

Here is some of Ann- Margrete's Scandinavian jewellery

Saturday, 2 February 2013


Gouache on paper by me
When I was growing up the family ate together at the kitchen table.  In Canada we called the main meal, served anywhere between 5 PM and 630, “supper”.  Now in Australia we call it” dinner” or some call it “tea”, we may or may not eat at the table and we probably wouldn’t eat as early as five.

Dessert was always served with meals at home.  My mother was always concerned with providing healthy food so the desserts were nearly always fruit based.  On the weekends or on special occasions there were pies, usually apple and often lemon, peach or even raisin.  Through the week it might be applesauce or a cobbler (love the cobbler).

Mom might have liked to have this recipe in her box of recipe cards in those days especially when there were alot of stone fruit around like there is here at the moment.  She may like to try it now, or maybe next July when we are visiting...

This is a Jamie Oliver recipe called Stewed Fruit.  I don’t think that is a fitting name, it maybe should be called Nectarine and Peach Deliciousa.  Serve with ice cream  and feel good about being so healthy.

18 ripe plums or a mix of any stone fruit
Gouache on map by me
1 tsp vanilla

2 heaped tbsp sugar

1 orange

1 cinnamon stick

Optional a good splash of brandy. I used Grand Marnier which was good

Ice cream or yogurt


Halve and stone the fruit and put in a large roasting tray with vanilla, sugar, cinnamon and brandy.  Peel half  the orange and throw that peel in, as well as the juice of the whole orange.  Place in the oven at 220 C/425 F for about 15 min. Check the fruit, if soft and juicy take it out, otherwise pop it back in until  it is so. I easily peeled the skin off my peaches when they were cooked.  You probably don't have to do that with plums. Serve the fruit in small glasses layered up with vanilla ice cream.