Friday, June 7, 2019

FRANKENSTEIN'S WOMEN - a progress report

Lino blocks for Frankenstein's Women, 20 x 15 cm (each block)

The blocks for Frankenstein's Women, my forthcoming artist book, are almost ready for the next stage, namely, printing.

For those who have been following the development of this project since it began life at Melbourne Athenaeum Library during a residency for Melbourne Rare Book Week 2018, here is an overview of the work to date. (Click on images to enlarge).

As noted in my last post, the block for the title page of Frankenstein's Women (pictured third from top) was new and hadn't begun to harden. As a result, the surface was very brittle. In what turned out to be an ill-starred combination, my linocut tool, a Speedball with an interchangeable No. 1 cutter, was also new, but far from sharp, causing areas of the lino to crumble away during carving. For many   years, I've found this particular cutter indispensable for producing very fine lines. Sadly, however, the current Speedball cutters are poorly made; they are blunt, rusty and frankly, shouldn't even be on the market.

There is hope for the future, however, thanks to my friend Paul Compton, who recently presented me with a most thoughtful and generous gift - the elegant linocut tool pictured directly below. I've never seen one like it before. According to the accompanying label, it's a 'TRAD SANKKAKUTO Vee Gouge'. Some of the blocks could use some minor tweaking; this tool cuts through them like butter.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

FRANKENSTEIN'S WOMEN - frontispiece in progress

As promised, here is the recently completed block for the frontispiece to our imminent artist book, Frankenstein’s Women, followed by a series of earlier views that chart its progress.

The lino is considerably newer than the block on which the cover art was carved (see previous post). That had had time to harden a little and was far less inclined to crumble during carving. By comparison, this lino was far too soft and the areas that involved fine cutting, particularly the two lines of text at the base of the image, were inclined to chip away.

A handful of Frankenstein’s Women will be selectively hand-coloured in red - for example, the decorative comb and droplet on the necklace featured in the cover art and the earrings and upper text in this work.

The ten linocuts that make up the suite will be paired with texts by my ‘collaborator’ Mary Shelley, all of them chosen from her gothic novel, Frankenstein, first published on 1 January 1818 and every bit as relevant today.

Saturday, May 4, 2019


During the past week I've been working on the final two lino blocks for Frankenstein's Women, an artist book that has been under development since last year. The project, which focuses on the women in Mary Shelley's gothic novel, Frankenstein, had its genesis during a residency at Melbourne Athenaeum Library for Melbourne Rare Book Week 2018.

Directly below are a series of progress views of the cover art, followed by two details of the work. Cutting the lettering was a particular challenge.

Selected progress views of the block for the frontispiece to Frankenstein's Women will be published in our next post.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Moth Woman Press joins Regional Arts Australia at Clunes Booktown

In recent months, Regional Arts Australia invited regional, remote and rural authors, artists and arts organisations to submit expressions of interest for their publications to be included on the Regional Arts Australia stall at Clunes Booktown Festival, Victoria on 4-5 May.

Moth Woman Press are delighted to announce that we are among those whose publications were selected (see top).

The organisations and individuals represented at Regional Arts Australia’s stand this coming weekend are:
Art Gallery of Ballarat
Paul Burman
Suzanne Cherry
Lee Clayton
Cordite Publishing
Eyre Writers Inc
Don Edgar
Vanessa Forsyth
Darry Fraser
Mary Rose Gudzenovs
Diane Hester
Annabelle Hickson
Alana Hunt
Laura Keogh
Deborah Klein (Moth Woman Press)
Sarah Larsen
Hayley Lawrence
Doreen Lyon
Ken Mackay
Natalie Mooney
Leonie Norrington
Aileen Pluker
Ptilotus Press
Christina Raaymakers
Lindy Schneider
VK Tritschler
Joanne Van Leerdam
Helen Van Rooijen
Warmun Art Centre
Bill Wilkie
Heather Whitford Roche

Monday, April 29, 2019

SELF-MADE at Tweed Regional Gallery

The latest leg of Self-made: zines and artist books opened at Tweed Regional Gallery, NSW, on 1 March. This State Library of Victoria touring exhibition includes two Moth Woman Press zines, The Moth Woman Vigilantes and Tattooed Faces. 

Self-made runs until 19 May.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Homo-insecta fly to Spain

In a year that’s currently dominated by moving house, if only from Melbourne to Ballarat, five Moth Woman Press zines are travelling somewhat farther afield. A full set of Homo-insecta mini-zines (Volumes 1 - 5) is heading for Vitoria-Gasteiz, the seat of government and capital city of the Basque Country in northern Spain. 

Our thanks to Trudy Mclaughlin at Playing in the Attic, Ballarat, for sending them on their way. The Homo-insecta series and other MWP publications are also available at the splendid

Playing in the Attic
119a Sturt Street
Victoria 3350
Hours: Wednesday - Saturday 10 am - 4pm
Phone: 0428580309

Melbourne Athenaeum Library reopens

Melbourne Athenaeum Library has been closed for a couple of months after a section of its ceiling collapsed, requiring substantial repair and conservation work. Against all odds, the damage to books was relatively minimal.

My worktable was set up in the same area for the majority of my term as artist-in-residence in 2018:

Last week, to the delight of its devoted members, Melbourne Athenaeum Library celebrated its reopening with an informal gathering, held directly after the AGM.

It was good to see my artist book, Leaves of Absence, on display. Launched at the library in late 2017, it was acquired for the permanent collection in 2018.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Frankenstein's Women: title page and cover art

My dreams were all my own; I accounted for them to nobody; they were my refuge when annoyed — my dearest pleasure when free.
(Mary Shelley’s introduction to Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus, 1831).

Pictured above are progress views of the blocks for the title page and cover image of Frankenstein’s Women, a forthcoming artist book focusing on the peripheral female characters in Shelley’s enduringly influential gothic novel. 

The project began last July when I undertook a residency at Melbourne Athenaeum Library as part of Melbourne Rare Book Week 2018.

With the end of the project firmly in sight, I’ve been feeling a little like Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Looking Glass Land as I add text to the lino in mirror writing. (Click on images to enlarge).

Friday, March 1, 2019

ALICE (Part 2)

Featured in this post are page views of our latest Moth Woman Press publication, Alice, a mini-zine jointly inspired by a children's poem by Victorian poet Christina Rossetti and our cat, Alice. (See previous post).

It feels like Rossetti has reached across the centuries to pen this verse for our little Alice, so aptly does it describe her.

Despite the poem's references to hilltops and flowering valleys, all the photos in the Alice zine were taken in our back garden at Ballarat. It's one of Alice's favourite haunts - and she really does regard our 'cottage' as a palace.

(Click on images for a clearer view).

Copies of Alice are now available at Playing in the Attic in Ballarat. The zine retails for $4.00 and is limited to an edition of 60.

Pictured above in Playing in the Attic: Bev Murray, our houseguest from London and one of my oldest friends, peruses Moth Woman Press publications.

Playing in the Attic
119a Sturt Street
Ballarat Victoria 3350

Hours: Wednesday - Saturday 10 am - 4pm
Phone: 0428580309

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

ALICE - a new zine

Recently I was rummaging around in a second-hand market in Smythesdale, a small town several kilometres from our Ballarat home, and came across a vintage poetry book intended for very young readers. It was somewhat the worse for wear, but the simple illustrations scattered through it were enchanting and, as if by magic, the little book initially opened onto a poem by Christina Rossetti (1830-1894) titled Alice.

As visitors to Moth Woman Press may be aware, this just happens to be the name of our much-loved cat, already the subject of an earlier MWP zine, Alice's Wonderland ( 2018). Although Rossetti's poem was written two centuries ago, it captures our 'Merry little Alice' with uncanny accuracy.

After tending the princessly sum of 50 cents to the proprietor, the book was mine. 

I'm constantly photographing Alice, and among the images I've accumulated lately, found several that matched Rossetti's verse surprisingly well (aside from the reference to lambkins). Despite resolving to place all zine-making on temporary hold in order to concentrate on a major painting project, I couldn’t resist the temptation to combine Rossetti’s prophetic, endearingly daggy words with my photos in the cut and folded mini-zine previewed here.

The zine is a limited edition of 60. It is available for purchase at the delightful Playing in the Attic in Ballarat for $4.00. Further details, including individual page views, will feature in our next post.

Monday, February 18, 2019

The Monster's Bride

Progress view 1: The Bride linoleum block in late 2018

Featured in this post are selected progress views of The Bride, the eighth of eight 'non-portrait' linocuts created for Frankenstein's Women, an artist book based on the peripheral female characters in Mary Shelley's novel, Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus. I developed the series during 2018, the 200th anniversary of its publication, predominantly during a residency at Melbourne Athenaeum Library. (See previous post).

In recent weeks, the project was put to one side as I turned my focus to a new body of paintings. The temporary pause gave me time to rethink part of the drawing and introduce a crucial element, namely, a ribbon choker. In the finished work, this will be red, a colour associated with the French Revolution. Red was also the colour of chokers worn by women who had narrowly escaped the guillotine, as well as a mark of sympathy for its victims. Mary Shelley and her husband Percy closely studied every aspect of the revolution and there are several references to it in Frankenstein. 

In Shelley's novel, at the behest of his 'monster,' Frankenstein creates a bride, but, at the very point of bestowing life, destroys her. Like the downtrodden French revolutionaries, Shelley's monster demonstrates the dehumanising effects of ill-treatment and neglect.

For further reading, visit my Art Blog HERE.

Progress view 2

Progress view 3, with cutting completed and repositioned choker

Work on the title page has begun and the design for the colophon is also in development.

Frankenstein's Women will be exhibited in a solo show at HipCat Printery Gallery, opening on 12 October, 2019.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Looking back on 2018

As a former St. Kilda girl who grew up in the shadow of Luna Park, I've come to liken the passing years to roller coaster rides, in other words, a series of highs and lows. I'm happy to report that in 2018, the highs by far outweighed the lows.   

High on the list of personal highlights was my residency in June/July at Melbourne Athenaeum Library for Melbourne Rare Book Week (pictured top). The linocuts I made during the residency will be the basis for Frankenstein's Women, a forthcoming artist book.

During the residency I also made a unique artist book, Progeny, which later in the year was Highly Commended in the Biblio Art Prize at Blarney Books and Art in Port Fairy.  Biblio subsequently traveled to Tacit Galleries in Melbourne.

LEAVES OF ABSENCE, the artist book that was launched at the Melbourne Athenaeum Library in late 2017, was acquired by the library in 2018. The book was part of the group show PATTERNS OF COLLECTING/From the Bower at the Johnston Collection (see below) and was a finalist in the 2018 Libris Awards.

Early last year LEAVES OF ABSENCE was acquired for the permanent collection of the State Library of Victoria and towards the end of 2018, it was acquired by the National Gallery of Australia. The year couldn't have been more perfectly book-ended.

2018 was exceedingly busy, even for me. Every year I vow that this will never happen again, and every year it does - and then some. The constant travelling between Melbourne and Ballarat doesn't exactly help. With the aim to make more time for my own projects and myself in general, from now on, I'm saying "no" more often - and sticking to it. For example, for the first time in several years, Moth Woman Press has reluctantly decided not to participate in the annual Sticky Institute Festival of the Photocopier Zine Fair, an event we very much enjoy. We're feeling sad about this - Moth Woman Press usually does particularly well there - but believe it's ultimately for the Greater Good. I do hope we can return next year. Meanwhile, a selection of MWP publications are currently available at the delightful Playing in the Attic.

The halfway mark for January has already passed. Currently, my primary aim is to further develop Back Stories, a series of paintings that is already well under way. These are thematically linked to the linocuts in Frankenstein's Women, for which I have to design a title page and finalise the text before printing begins in the second half of 2019.

A second artist book is also planned. I'll post updates on this and other projects as they unfold.

Wishing you all a fabulous 2019.