And the cat. She leans through the stair railings and drinks the water.
I’m not sure. I ask myself this question quite a bit.
I’m better at drawing, great with gouache.
It started by accident, has wavered over the years –
but I keep returning.
There’s less control than using a paintbrush or a pencil. And it’s definitely a snail-paced process.
Mosaic has forced me to be patient, stay flexible, embrace the possibility of change (flicking pieces off with a knife that have been glued down hard, when they don’t seem to be in the right spot) disregard ideals of perfection and forget all concept of time.
Slowing down is good.
It’s just one little moment that gets me moving. Once that moment hits, watch out – this is where I transform into a bull at a gate. The impulse is deep and profound. I immediately start fabricating this girl with glass and smalti from an image I’ve drawn years ago in one of my sketchbooks. Without noticing it before, I’ve ended up filling it with ladies. Life drawing was always my thing, but why always girls? Youthful ladies, faceless, with long limbs, engaged in nano snippets of life.
I imagine ‘young Emily’ in these moments and am drawn to recall how I felt at this age. I remember being these girls. I did these things. In my hometown I remember spending hours laying in the grass, with the sun warming my skin, eyes cast upwards to bluebird skies – and spending time just absorbing the shapes of the clouds – and the closest I’ll ever get to meditation.
I would naturally empty my mind once the sun hits my face, close my eyes and quietly engage all senses. From time to time, past conversations and moments would seep in. I would shoo them away again. A constant tug of war between remaining present and overthinking things.
I drew her. Me. Back then.
I moved away from the sun on my face, lying in the grass and a head full of empty thoughts and song, no more cloud absorbing and became a girl with a career. I moved to the big city where I was affectionately labelled ‘country bumpkin’, ‘sweet’ and ‘naive’- because I was. My street smarts hadn’t kicked in yet. I believed people were good and kind, and ulterior motives didn’t exist. Had no idea about networking, instead just doing my own work.
This happened. I was at a ball in a big puffy skirt like this, but black tulle. I was on the fringe of turning my back on the big city, and moving away. After years of racing in traffic, working hard, and complicated weekends – I longed for simplicity and ease. A slower life again. The undercurrent at the ball was beyond me, and here I was again. ‘Naive’, gangly and ‘sweet’ – I no longer wanted to understand the language of the city, I didn’t want street smarts anymore.
So here – still a work in progress, she is. (She was nearly named ‘Something’s changed’ a nod to Miss Sharon Jones.) ‘Sweet thing’ won out, her title inspired once again by Van the man (Van Morrison). Listening to this song – I instantly feel warm, comforted, any troubles are instantly put aside, and I remember, the days of lying in the grass.
Here I am, getting back into it all again; inspiration to create images of the gloriously mundane is no challenge for me.
My latest offering –
‘The greatest view’ 2016, Emily J Hogan.
Reclaimed marine ply, glass, beads, mirror & gouache.
I imagine I find the simplicity of these images satisfying due to my ease of moving in and out of a fairly meditative state, on a daily basis. I need white space, and if I am in a position of being in the midst of chaos, which is a realistic summary of my work days – the switch goes off. Emily is officially off the grid.
This is about the metaphorical teetering that goes on in life. Treading on eggshells, delicately inching forward, in a vulnerable and exposed stance, maybe there are strange feelings and butterflies taking over your insides.
The practice of meditative behaviour. The tightrope walker must pay close attention to both their physical and emotional state, as both situations are precarious and dangerous.
Today was a studio day, the weather was glorious, the music was Brazilian chill, the dog was by my side, rather than her hysterical human licking obsessed self, the chickens were digging in the garden. The conditions were perfect.
And, there was a tradesman arriving, we all know how that goes. An entire day is wiped waiting around for the knock on the door, announcing they are here – just 3 hours later than expected.
My story was a happy one today, after 6 weeks of tardy arrivals, today 8.30am did really mean 8.30am.
I revisited this old mosaic and got stuck into the background with some black gouache. And I was instantly happy, I may have found my aesthetic. Finally. Mixed media. I love that this marine ply had been something else, repurposed. Then once the black paint hit the bumpy, flawed wood – I felt like I had finally found it. Something I would like for myself.
Then I started on this glass panel. This door is over 100 years old and comes from a sweet country town. It was brought to me, to love. Which I do. I built it into my studio as an exterior wall flanked by full glass windows.
One of the yellow panels loosened on the trip, and smashed into pieces. Rather than repair I decided to stick a clear panel into the space and set about filling it with glass bits and pieces. A work in progress.
Waverley council in Sydney commissioned several Australian artists to celebrate Bondi beach and it’s community in public artworks, using glass mosaic tiles. Enver Camdal & Helen Bodycomb are responsible for this coloured glass greatness. What incredible artists and what an amazing body of work.
I made her in January.
A knee jerk reaction to Summer, swimming, and polka dots (of course polka dots).
I spent a weekend almost by myself, driving – which to me is my definition of heavenly. Driving my car, listening to my music, shirking all responsibilities for 48 hours. An amazing sense of freedom.
I bought some vintage dominoes, and I sat on the side of an ocean pool, dangling my feet in the water. It was the most beautiful day. I wanted to jump in with gay abandonment. I didn’t. I watched other people enjoying the freedom – I hadn’t come prepared. The water was beckoning. I have a reputation of rebellion when it comes to the costume constraints surrounding water, and have in the past just jumped in anyway. Clothes and all, This time I couldn’t. I was being careful, watching myself, and I had to get back on the road and continue my journey. The further away I got from this pool, the more I had to fight myself not to turn around and just jump in that damned water! I really wanted to, and I felt the conditions would never be the same, never that perfect.
Anyway, I carried on, and had the most jam packed amazing weekend surrounded by people I love, reconnecting with the city that was my home BC (before children). I ate, I drank, I was merry – and topped it off with an amazing haul from Rozelle markets.
Even with all that distraction, this image didn’t leave me.
I knew this was my next piece.
I had to sit on my hands until the festive season was over – there was a lot to do, as the ‘festive’ with extended family was happening at my house.
Every now and then I would sneak half an hour with this girl.
She still wasn’t finished.
After Christmas the ocean calls.
So, down the coast I headed with a gaggle of children, and m’lady tucked in amongst the beach towels.
I snuck in some time to stick the last few pieces on.
Then with an audience of at least 10 friendly caravaning kids. I grouted.
And here she is.