Saturday, 1 August 2015

Slim Chance

Last year I was very fortunate to work on a collaborative book with Jack Oudyn called Chance.  We really enjoyed working on that project and we'd both found the working method of the collaboration quite exciting.   We decided to use the same method and follow it up with another book related to 'Chance' this year.  We had been hoping to have it finished for the SLQ Book Fair in late June, but unfortunately I wasn't able to finish my pages in time due to the death of my mother.

Jack and I had been talking about the plight of refugees no longer being resettled in Australia and facing very uncertain futures.  We found this an interesting 'chance' topic and decided to use the same Kraft brown paper for the pages and the same Kraft card cover in a dos-a-dos format. Once again we exchanged alternate lines of text by email and  both responded with a drawing.  We agreed to use fresh turmeric, gesso, gouache, pencil.

Jack had used fresh turmeric in his work previously and suggested that we try using it and making a book which had an exotic spicy odour.   We found the pages did have a nice smell when they were finished, but even after keeping them in a sealed plastic bag, after a week or so the odour disappeared.  However the fresh turmeric was interesting to use as an art material and Jack used it very successfully in his work.  This is my favourite page of his, one I find powerful and beautiful.

A choice of freedom or death.  Jack Oudyn 

I experimented with turmeric but used less in the end as I wanted the blue of the sea to be predominant in my pages.   I started with the chance marks that resulted from a chopstick dipped in gesso and some of them looked a bit like jellyfish.  I had hoped they'd give some idea of movement through the water. One of my pages was inspired by a shot in the intro to the tv show The Vikings.

 A risky journey in a leaky boat.  Helen Malone

A choice of freedom or death.  Helen Malone

Jack produced some wonderful restrained drawings and I am so impressed with the way he was able to abstract the theme.  We included two lines from the second verse of our national anthem which say  For those who've come across the seas
We've boundless plains to share.

We've boundless plains to share.  Jack Oudyn

For those who've come across the seas.  Helen Malone

On each of our pages, there are a couple of words that have been translated into one of  a number of different languages.

 A land of hope on the horizon.  Jack Oudyn

For the cover, Jack made little embossings of a boat to which we added colour and he also found some reflective material to use for the cross.
Last time we made only one original of Chance which was acquired by the Manly Library in Sydney, however this time we thought ahead and made four originals, and I think two of them will remain in our own collections.


dinahmow said...

This must be my "day" for refugee stories.I've just read two posts on other blogs and now this, articulating the situation so much better than politicians.
The process is intriguing, particularly the turmeric bit and I'd love to see the book.
Well done, you two!

Elephant's Child said...

dinahmow sent me - and I am so glad she did. Your book is fascinating - and the process and materials intriguing.
Our refusal to share our boundless plains hurts and shames me.

Helen M said...

Thank you Di and EC. I'm not surprised you've read about this subject on a few blogs Di, it's everywhere and such a huge humanitarian disaster.

Fiona Dempster said...

What a wonderful outcome from a wonderful process Helen - you two work together so beautifully.

Jack Oudyn said...

Wonderfully written and photograhed Helen.Thank you