Sunday, December 15, 2013

From Inside The Magpie House

I've been working this week from inside a cozy little place on the Blindern Campus in Oslo. I've named it the 'Magpie House'.

Outside, in the grey weather and the white snow, two of these lovely, funny birds have been hopping around collecting bits to build a nest in the eaves of one of the windows outside my room.

Inside, where it's more colourful, I've been hopping around with a random selection of paper, thread, and a bag of mixed textile pieces I brought along.

Much like the magpies, I'm working with the materials in my immediate environment - a thread here, a piece of wool, there. They sense what they will want to use to build their nest. I sense what I will want to use to build mine.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Touching the Earth

I Am Healed Because You Are Here

After much time experimenting on the computer with Photoshop I'm back in the studio, making.

The act of touching the materials I hold so dear - cloth, thread, wood, etc. has a distinctly therapeutic effect on me. I return to my appreciation of simplicity and I take those gentle steps towards building a relationship with myself and the objects I encounter along the way.

In thinking about this process and how I might write about it on this blog post, the phrase 'touching the earth' popped into my head. As I sometimes do when these phrases come to mind I 'Google' them to see what comes up. Touching the Earth brought up the following mindfulness practice from Thich Nhat Hanh at his Plum Village website:

The practice of Touching the Earth is to return to the Earth, to our roots, to our ancestors, and to recognize that we are not alone but connected to a whole stream of spiritual and blood ancestors. We are their continuation and with them, will continue into the future generations. We touch the earth to let go of the idea that we are separate and to remind us that we are the Earth and part of Life.
When we touch the Earth we become small, with the humility and simplicity of a young child. When we touch the Earth we become great, like an ancient tree sending her roots deep into the earth, drinking from the source of all waters. When we touch the Earth, we breathe in all the strength and stability of the Earth, and breathe out our suffering- our feelings of anger, hatred, fear, inadequacy and grief.
Our hands join to form a lotus bud and we gently lower ourselves to the ground so that all four limbs and our forehead are resting comfortably on the floor. While we are Touching the Earth we turn our palms face up, showing our openness to the three jewels, the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha. After one or two times practicing Touching the Earth (Three Touchings or Five Touchings), we can already release a lot of our suffering and feeling of alienation and reconcile with our ancestors, parents, children, or friends.

I'm grateful to have found this humble reminder that we are not separate - as much as our minds seem to like to tell us we are. We simply need to continue to practice touching the earth.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

All Aboard the Good Ship Lollypop

For almost a month, I've been unable to work in my studio due to necessary re-decorating. During this time I've been mostly content creating small paper collages and working in my sketchbook. Recently, however, I've delved into the world of Photoshop. Normally I don't do much to the photographs I take. I like to try to capture the natural essence of what I see, with, perhaps, a tweak in the contrast or an adjustment to the brightness. Otherwise what you see is what you get.

Photoshop has opened up a new world of play, and has frankly become a bit of an addiction.  I've perched myself in front of my computer and poured through loads of my photographs, editing them with different effects. Difference clouds! Accented edges! Dry brush! The immediacy of the result has been intoxicating.

This has been a very different way for me to work. When in my studio, I tend to explore more deeply. An idea may be quick, but often the combinations of materials must sit and rest. They must germinate and articulate. They must slowly take root.

I'm quite fond of the images I've created in Photoshop and I'm sure I'll incorporate this process into my practice. I've had great fun seeing what wants to be tweaked, enhanced, darkened, or drawn on, but I'm now having a little bit of the feeling that I've been living on a moving ship and eating cake for every meal. A little buzzed from all the sugar, slightly disconnected from my own body, and rather far away from home.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Splendid Illusion

Splendid Illusion. Adelaide Shalhope 2013

Just see what there is to see.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Somewhere In Between

Deserted ships. Isle of Mull. August 2013.
(photo by Adelaide Shalhope)

Somewhere in between the rock and the hard place there's a soft spot.
In between knowing and confusion there is mystery.
No need to analyse or scrutinise.
It's not waiting for us, but there's no need to rush.
We don't even need to find it.

Don't you see?

Friday, August 9, 2013

Slow Growth

All things happen in their own time.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Girl Becomes Sea

Moss and fiber. Norway, 2013. (photo by Adelaide Shalhope)

I'm continuing to respond to the resonance I feel with the sea.

 Rope, lichen, rock. Norway, 2013. (photo by Adelaide Shalhope)

How wo(man) made objects find themselves in an intimate relationship with the elements, gently and continuously worn away by rain, wind, and saltwater to be transformed and then integrated into the environment.

Fiber and rock. Norway, 2013. (photo by Adelaide Shalhope)

I'm reminded that being human we are not only dependent upon nature but that over time we will return to it, as we should, lest we forget that we, too, are simply animals, of and from this very beautiful planet we call our home.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Floating to the Surface

photos: Adelaide Shalhope

I've been a woman of few words, lately. Images I've been collecting with my camera seem quite enough language for me right now, yet each time I post and then view them I sense the surfacing of a more cohesive visual [and perhaps written] story -- the inner world quietly and harmoniously connecting with the outward environment.

These thoughts synthesised for me after reading Abigail Doan's recent posting  'Archaeology and Surfacing' where she very thoughtfully writes:

say that now is the time to drift all that we need to in order to anchor ourselves to something textured and resilient that was probably right under the surface all along. Loop back if you need to, and do not worry about the slow crafting agenda. It's not the tempo that ultimately matters, but the ability to recognize which layers propel us forward and backwards in uniquely transformative waves

I like the idea of drifting with my own images and ideas.  I can't see the full story, but perhaps it will only ever be revealed to me in layers, which as Abigail writes may be just under the surface and lay undiscovered until just the right time.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Monday, May 27, 2013

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Path Markers

Items collected this week:

1. knit tassel found along the Tromsdalen cross country ski trail [still enough snow that my husband and I were able to ski].

2. small pock marked rock from a recent visit to Senja.

3. red melted candle found in the yard whilst I was raking.

4.  brochure from the exhibit KRATER at the Kurant Gallery, Tromsø

5. birch bark.

6. black linen embroidery floss (purchased).

Monday, May 20, 2013

Soul Food

A replenishing day on the island of Senja.

My lovely friend, Miranda, visiting from London.

The sea.

The sun.

A little rusty wood........

Friday, May 17, 2013


As I move forward with my creative practice I continue to deviate from my quilting and stitching roots. I still, however, have piles of textiles I worked with years ago when a full-time quilter. I consider it my challenge, and my pleasure, to continue to use them, but in more unusual ways.

So, lots of lovely silks are being cut and torn up around here these days.

I still sometimes feel uncomfortable with this new, non quilter/stitcher way of working --much less self confident that I used to, but I'm learning to find comfort in the unknown and I'm learning to get out of my way and to listen to what my eye and the fabrics want from me. 

It's an ongoing struggle and one for which I am grateful, for through it I'm able to fully experience what it feels like when I finally let go and (hopefully) I learn each time that the struggle ultimately doesn't need to be there.

As for the silks, they don't seem to care. They're quite content to be in whatever form they're in.


Monday, May 13, 2013

Listen With the Eye

My husband and I made our second trip to the Norwegian immigration office this morning in order to register our temporary residence here. Unusually, we had time to spare, and decided to spend a little time wandering around a nearby derelict building site (not unusual!).

A visually fruitful trip.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

The Outside World

Like most of us, I draw much inspiration from the work of others. It's fantastic to see how artists combine materials, create compositions, use colour, etc. --in essence, how they see the world through their work.  I also, however, get to the point, quite often, when I have to STOP looking at the work of others. I need to stop searching the internet for images that I think may trigger some idea that is already very present within ME.

I love how David Bayles and Ted Orlando capture this in their book Art & Fear: Observations On the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking:

Most of us spend most of our time in other peoples' worlds -- working at predetermined jobs, relaxing to pre-packaged entertainment -- and no matter how benign this ready-made world may be, there will always be times when something is missing or doesn't quite ring true. And so you make your place in the world by making part of it -- by contributing some new part to the set. And surely one of the more astonishing rewards of artmaking comes when people make time to visit the world you have created. Some, indeed, may even purchase a piece of your world to carry back and adopt as their own. Each new piece of your art enlarges our reality. The world is not yet done.

I hope some of my work may inspire you to follow that idea that is following (and wanting to catch!) you so that you may continue to make your place in the world and contribute to, and enlarge, ours.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Off The Wall

The small textile items on my 'working wall' of several weeks ago are finally being put to good use. They began as larger projects that didn't work, were cut up, put in a box, and travelled with me to Norway. I've now begun to attach them to archival art paper and will eventually mount and frame them.

It's lovely to see them as small textile 'sketches' in their own right, and interesting that they work quite well this way when they really didn't work when they were larger.

I'm happy that they've found their way and I'm thinking that they've sparked the impetus for me to begin to sell on-line.

Sometimes good things come in smaller packages.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Street Talk

A few days in Oslo. 

Truth be told, time in a city leaves me yearning for nature. 

Finding visual inspiration in the cracks on the buildings. 

Luckily, the birds sing here, too.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Spring in the Studio

Before Easter I experienced a bit of cabin fever, most likely having something to do with the 83 cms of snow we had over a two week period, producing an even more interior mode than usual. Whatever the reason, I had the need to create a shift of energy in my workspace. 

No more plodding along like one needs to do when over knee deep in snow. Move with abandon!  I spontaneously tacked small bits of old work samples to the walls. I didn't care where they went or what they looked like. I simply needed to see everything up and to experience a certain sense of release.

Now, even though there are still metres of snow all around, there is definitely a distinct feel of Spring in the air. I can hear the incessant 'drip, drip' of ice as it melts off the house, and more birdsong than usual. Faint bits of green are appearing at the tops of trees as buds begin to make a slow hint at opening.

I'm feeling more of a sense of calm in my work as I continue to experiment. The explosion of small bits was removed and in its place a more organised visual emerges - an almost japanese aesthetic, which seems to suit my process right now.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Small Notes of Spring

A new project in the works.

They evoke, to me, the feeling of dancing bees, or musical notes, or keys on a piano - something musical, at least. I'm envisioning many many more of them to create a large installation.

Fingers crossed, I'll be able to find more of the pussy willows I'm using.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

More News From the Nest

Now that my studio is beginning to fill with many of my small mixed media pieces, I've been having a real desire to create a larger textile work.

Truth be told, lately I'm a little intimidated when I begin to think about working on a larger scale. It's been years since I've done a big textile piece. Large scale projects, many years ago, were mapped out. Sketches were drawn up and colours and fabrics were chosen. There was certainly the unknown in the process and I adjusted as I went along, but projects were much more organised and pre-designed, then. I just can't work that way anymore. Don't ask me why, it just happened. My work now relies upon moment by moment intuition, which is probably why it feels easier to create small, spontaneous 'experiments'.

So, I'm plucking up my courage. I'm taking my process slowly, step, by intuitive step. I'm starting small but plentiful. Lots of little woolen cocoons, as they appear to be, and from these, something with large and hopefully beautiful wings will grow.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

What They're Finding Near the Nest

A friend of mine commented the other day that the work I'm doing right now has a very 'interior' quality to it. I think that's very much due to the 'nesting' I'm doing in Northern Norway in the middle (near the end!) of winter. Snowy and cold outside. Warm and cozy inside. Nesting, indeed.

It could also do with the fact that I'm in a studio space which isn't normally mine. I've taken over a sparsely furnished room in the house my husband and I are renting and in order to make it a more inspiring space in which to work I've felt the daily need to create small experimental and playful pieces that can grace the walls and the shelves, and be arranged on various surfaces. My eye can now wander as it loves to and I'm able to see the subtle connections and relationships each piece creates with the next. 

Larger ideas are beginning to synthesise and an environment is growing which seems to look a little like it's being created by a bird building a very interesting nest.

A perfect place to be inspired while the winter continues to linger.