Sunday, September 12, 2010

A Poet Visits Our Creative Community

Where I live in the hinterland of the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, there is an abundance of creative talent. Some of these talented people live here permanently, some escape here for weekends, and others just visit us.  There are painters, sculptors, musicians, actors, writers, wood carvers,  quilters, embroiderers, film producers, and many more. Today I want to write about one of those who visit us.

Lyn Browne and her husband Rodney came to live in the house next door to me for six months. Having family in Brisbane they have the perfect excuse to avoid the grey English winters  and spend six months in Australia then back to Europe to enjoy its summer. Wonderful, fun and energetic neighbours they were too. With their joie de vivre, energy and wide range of interests I was not surprised to learn that Lyn is a poet of depth, charm and whimsy and it is clear that writing poetry is a passion with her. While here in Maleny she wasted no time in finding a small group of poets who share their writings and exchange ideas.  I became aware quite soon, that like all writers, Lyn was constantly finding inspiration from every day happenings and the people she met and as she says, our landscape.

Lyn has been writing poetry and short stories for about 15 years.  In poetry, although she at times uses formal metre, she prefers free verse with its own internal rhymes and chimes.  Lyn favours the unexpected, thinks a poem should surprise and also challenge – it shouldn’t necessarily give up all of its meaning at a first reading.  ‘Several meals for the price of one’ is her aim, like discovering new things in a painting. 

Possibly because of the poetry,  her short stories have become more and more condensed.  Her micro-fiction (under 300 words) has been published in several collections, and last year a nano-fiction story (under 100 words) won a major publishing competition.

Lyn finds inspiration in everyday things, though since she arrived in Queensland, both the landscape and the weather seem to have infiltrated her poetry.

Gravity check

See how the moon is kite-surfing
over Pumicestone Passage,
chasing the milky tide.
Hooked to a chicken loop,
he’ll race till morning.

Holey Moley, Flinders,
you never expected that.
When the moon starts spinning
we’re in for a bumpy ride.

and here she writes of the Victorian fires:

Black Saturday, 7 Feb 2010

The first time I smelled tv, frail bones of homes
that Saturday:  burnt out hugging, huddling, smoke.
Once, I came through Marysville when it was green
and cloaked, found sanctuary, the rubber of roos,
pondered what ‘platypus’ might mean.
All gone.  First anniversary: families broken into pews,
and sober suited, numb.  The Premier spoke.  No gums,
no green.  And some read poetry.  Water in the creek.

Black Saturday stalks them, swallowed what they were.
Weary of form filling, you see them turn
away, scan for searing northerlies, or something they’ve mislaid.
There’s a need for reassembling, disparate parts
still workable: half-remembered prayers, bent metal, melded glass.


Will it come with a screen door clatter,
or will it be smoke so thick you can lean on it,
darkening heat while the flames twist?

What will we take when we race
bunched in our fists like handfuls of hair
when we flee to stand in the dam

scanning the ridge for that shifting slide,
stony rain on the loose tin roof
flattening anything left alive?

Do prayers burn?  Who will tell us?

and here is

Night Fighting

You, and you.  And you.
Spiking its targets
             lightning pulses along the ridge
night-fighting the rain. 
            They’ll be leaving soon.  Big
as eagles on the whippiest branches
the birds are silent.
I could scream a storm.
More like rain than rain
leaves rattle,
palms bending to the wind.
Screech of machinery.
Cockatoos dark as crows
            shrieking at the wind.

I think Lyn's muse is with her.

Lyn and Rodney are great walkers and judging by the intrepid way they tackle the demanding slopes of the  Swiss alps at their favourite spot Wengen, they are daunted by very little. Lyn wrote "We were lucky enough to find a day when we could attempt our favourite walk across the glacier up behind the Eiger, at 12000 ft.  Blissful blue skies, and fun in the snow. We managed to get to the mountain hut and have some lunch, but crumbs it was a struggle to climb up to it.  It had snowed overnight and the ascent was very icy.  Great to watch climbers coming in, crampons, ice axes and ropes etc.  They often fall asleep with their heads on the table! Our other 'best' walk was on a narrow path just below the north wall of the Eiger, we walked for 4 hours, a descent of about 3,000 ft, that was quite hard too, but we made it down to another favourite mountain inn where we enjoyed lunch and a beer (see photo, Grindelwald in background). You probably know that Eiger means Ogre."  No I didn't know that!  Mind you, when they weren't embarking on such challenges, they were apparently in Interlaken buying chocolates.

Here are the intrepid couple looking in great form.

 Their lunch break with Grindelwald in the background.

I am looking forward to their return here, very soon.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


Since writing my last blog about my friend, Roy, with the greenest of fingers, he has kindly sent me the names of the stunning roses and clematis and so I have now inserted them. He also mentioned, en passant, that they were delphiniums not hollyhocks!

Well now you have another treat in store. Roy is a greatly admired master of the classical French/Italian art form of Découpage and apart from having been President of The Guild of British of Découpeurs, (www.dé he has taught  Découpage in the Victoria and Albert Museum and was also invited to pass on his expertise to an enthusiastic group of decoupeurs in Italy where he is held in great esteem. He is always very generous with his knowledge and praise.  Roy's work is not only original, but he is a perfectionist, creating elegant objects with the finest cutting and design and of course a surface like porcelain. Those are the techniques that make a treasured and revered piece of Découpage.

Découpage, to put it simply, is the art of decorating surfaces with cut out paper.   It came to the fore around the 17th to 18th century, first in Italy and then in France. Venetian cabinet makers began applying artists' drawings and paintings to furniture and covering them with lacquer in order to ape the ornate decorated furniture being imported from the Far East, and which became so popular that the supply could not keep up with the demand. It became the rage with ladies in Europe who would sit snipping away at pictures to decorate various objects from fans to fire screens and boxes. It has had many famous practitioners such as Marie Antoinette, Madame de Pompadour, Lord Byron, Matisse and Picasso.  In1972 The National Guild of Découpeurs was formed in the USA to promote this fascinating and beautiful art  in its purest form.  Go to and look at their Gallery of Art to see wonderful and inspirational examples of the best in Découpage.

I am too vain not to mention that I too was a member of the National Guild of Découpeurs, having had the unique and unforgettable good fortune of going to the USA to study under many of its greatest exponents. After that I created and taught and wrote about this richly absorbing art form. I only gave it up because I broke my shoulder badly and could not continue. However, as so often happens, good came out of evil as the door opened for me to create my Images de Plumes.

However, to get a taste of what you can see on the above website, first look at the following examples of the very special and varied work done by Roy Larking.
NB: Of the floral tea set, only the tray is découpaged. The initials are hand coloured. Note the faux marquetry on the writing slope and on the images to the right of that.

Before I finish, one more photo,  a magnificent Boulle box by Roy, he writes  -
"The box is meant to mimic the work of Frenchman Andre Charles Boulle (1642 - 1732) which I so admire. "Boulle work"consisted of metal and turtleshell marquetry.  It is essentially engraved brass, into which is set turtle shell. Boulle's work was the feature of the furniture which graced apartments in the Palace of Versailles and elsewhere".

Monday, August 2, 2010

Roses, Roses, Riotously.......

I was looking for a quote about Roses for my headline and found again the following by Ernest Dowson which is a favourite of mine and I had forgotten it. So romantic, wistful, nay a little sad, and I can read it again and again.
I have forgot much, Cynara! Gone with the wind, Flung roses, roses, riotously with the throng, Dancing, to put thy pale, lost lilies out of mind; But I was desolate and sick of an old passion, Yea, all the time, because the dance was long: I have been faithful to thee, Cynara! in my fashion.

At this stage I believe that two different quotations have been combined in the quote above, but that is how it came from the Internet as a result of my search. Perhaps someone can put me right?
                                               ROSE: ORANGEADE                                         
                                             ROSE:    FERDINAND PICHARD

So, I want to share with you some photos of glorious roses grown by a good friend of mine, Roy Larking, in England, who has inspirationally green fingers.  I think I would describe his garden as a picture post card cottage garden. Here he creates his magic with a riot of colour in Spring and Summer - a wide variety of blooms of every kind, all looking so enviably healthy!  In particular, I am entranced by his roses and secondly his clematis. Would that I could grow them here in Queensland, but neither are happy in a damp, hot sub tropical climate. The trouble is, I do not have their names, with one exception, so I will ask Roy and add them later.
                 ROSE: HANDEL                                                      ROSE: PEACE

Now the exquisite new rose RAPHSODY IN BLUE

                                However, I cannot overlook this glorious clematis, DR ROUPEL

and no English garden is complete without the delphiniums (so wrongly previously described by me as hollyhocks!).
Finally, here is where they are all to be found, in ravishing array.
In my next blog I am going to introduce you to Roy's other unique talents and I am sure you will learn something new and be entranced.  So watch this space!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

New Images de Plumes Greeting Cards

I have been getting a lot of stick from friends for having let my blog lapse and I am feeling suitably ashamed!  However I am back, and back is really where I intend to stay. I am not making excuses but I have been filling my days, nay weeks, usefully and as a result I am very pleased to be able to introduce you now to my new set of greeting cards which I hope you will like.  They are made from photos of my Images de Plumes (feather pictures) and I sell them singly or in a packet of four. The packets come in two groups - Ladies in Red and The Silhouette Collection. The cards sell at Aud$6.00 each with free postage, but a minimum order of six cards. The quality of the printing is excellent on good substantial paper and the images look amazingly three dimensional.   The cards are blank inside so can be used for any purpose and are a generous size - 17cms x 12cms.  
For further details about ordering these cards, please email me, Audrey Raymond on

Ladies in Red:- Jolly Good Chums, A Gentle Zephyr, Don't Pull Rudi, Eliza
The Silhouette Collection:- Naughty Pussy, Fred and Ginger, Her Two Admirers, Three Old Warriors

                                              Naughty Pussy

                                                       Fred and Ginger                     

Three Old Warriors

                                                                   Her Two Admirers

                                                                   Don't Pull Rudi
                                                                       Gentle Zephyr

Jolly Good Chums

All the pictures are created with natural feathers, none are dyed and all are from Australian birds except the red ones and those used in Jolly Good Chums which are from exotic Macaws. I find huge pleasure in using these glorious feathers and am awe struck by their beauty and subtlety of colour.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Wonder of Colour - Slugs, Gems, Buttons, Beads and Feathers

A friend emailed me photos by a brilliant underwater photographer, David Boubilet and I just have to share with you this fascinating photo of what I imagine are sea slugs. Aren't the colours just mind boggling? I adore them and they are such an appealing pair!

While writing about colour I have to introduce a wonderfully talented friend who lives with her husband in a lovely house, built by him -  a glorious unspoilt rainforest hideaway behind the Sunshine Coast.  She is Renee Blackwell of Renee Blackwell Design ( and in the peaceful surroundings of her bush studio, she creates exciting and unique jewellery using gemstones, ethnic beads and buttons which she seeks out from all around the world. Her designs are so striking and many of the colours combined are beautifully subtle, so that they can grace any attire. Be sure to look at her website and her blog.

Rings created from vintage German and French Metal Buttons (Brass and Pewter) set in sterling silver.


Swarovski Crystal
Vintage French Button 1940's
Vintage Bronze German Button
Set in Sterling Silver

Top:Dark Smokey Topaz
Middle:Picture Jasper
Bottom:Fossilised Dinosaur bone (found in the Australian outback!)  cut and polished and set in sterling silver.

Of course I must mention the breathtaking colours I find in feathers which I employ for my Images de Plumes. They never cease to make me wonder at nature. Here is a collection of just a few in a picture I sold in Tasmania recently.

Elegance - dressed with the feathers of an Emu, a Peacock, a Rainbow Lorikeet, a Sulphur Crested Cockatoo, a Cattle Egret and a Pheasant Coucal together with the hair of a Turkish Swimming cat.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Feathers, Fur, Snakeskin and Butterfly Wings

The rainforest holds so many secrets, yet many we never see unless we are lucky. Nevertheless we can hear them -the rustle in the undergrowth, the plop of a berry falling from a tree, a thump as some little mammal leaps past, a cry or call of some hidden bird in the canopy, the trickle of water, the quiet slither of a reptile and in between all that, the silence as a butterfly shimmers past.. Here I have tried to capture some of these secrets using the adornments nature has given them, feathers, fur, snakeskin and butterfly wings.

This is only a small picture and the birds are barely two and a half centimetres in size - they were quite a challenge, while the butterflies were even greater challenges! Well I put it down to experience, but this sort of picture is not really "me" so I doubt I will repeat it, but we must take on challenges as they come, and some you win and some you lose. The picture is being exhibited in an exhibition opening here in Maleny next Saturday 12th December at the Maleny Artworks Gallery ( The Director, Ken Munsie had the great idea of getting artists to take a grid from a map and create something applicable to that grid. As you can see I took a local rainforest area. It will be fascinating to see what all the artists have come up with.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


A garden path lined with bluebells, forget-me-nots, azaleas and silver  birches.

Tasmania in the Spring surpassed all my wildest expectations! I felt I was back in my homeland of England  with the abundance of bluebells, daffodils, jonquils, tulips, azaleas, trees laden with blossom and much more, all amongst green rolling hills and vales or in verdant gardens. Add to all that the elegant Georgian houses and buildings - it was sublime.  Not so sublime were my dashed hopes. "You will find the art world Tassie-ccentric" a friend told me just before I set out for my selling holiday in that fair isle. Indeed it is, for although I found many wonderful shops and galleries filled with the excellent work of Tasmanian artists and crafts people, no one wanted my Images de Plumes  because I was not a local, I was from the "mainland". I was treated with great civility and interest and indeed admiration, if I may say so, but I was graciously turned away as "we cannot make a precedent, we only sell the work of Tasmanians". I still can't make up my mind if it is admirable to be so supportive of one's own, or very insular and limited? Anyway, everyone should visit Tasmania in the Spring, where the b & b's are so welcoming and comfortable and the fish is a diner's delight.

Fields of tulips in northern Tasmania
In Sheffield  there are a number of buildings covered in wonderfully executed murals.  A competition is held when artists display their murals in a park to be judged and the winning one is added to the town's collection.  To wander through the town discovering these treasures is a delightful and intriguing experience.

A Sheffield mural
There seems to be so much artistic talent to be found in Tasmania. One town is making its name with developing topiary in its gardens as can be seen here with this elephant and baby.

Never one to miss a feather for my collection, I did very well with Peacocks who seemed to be moulting profusely whenever I came across them, which was quite often. This splendid chap obliged and you can see from my Priscilla in Peacock that they are turned to good effect.

Images de Plumes created with Peacock and Wompoo Pigeon feathers