Thursday, March 26, 2015

RIP Jean Newton 10/12/1920 - 15/3/2015

My mum passed away last week and I would like to share a few pictures and some of the words from her funeral. Here she is on her 90th birthday looking very regal and on the right as she was when she first met my dad in the mid 1940s and a small one of dad not long before he died in 1989. 

I would also like to thank all of those who sent cards and flowers, came to the funeral and/ or sent their best wishes, it is very much appreciated by all of us.

My Sister Janice's words: 

More a Martha than a Mary, Mum demonstrated love by practical action: knitting, cooking, visiting, cleaning up, joining in film productions, fancy dress. She taught us to be honest, accepting and cooperative by example.

When I experienced a child leaving home myself, I appreciated how hard it must have been for Mum to accept that we were all basically out of the family home before we were 18 and Mark and Gail went overseas for considerable lengths of time. So I want to thank her for letting us go, but for making it clear that we were definitely not forgotten and always welcome back.  My Mum was my number one fan and supporter and I will miss her terribly.'
My words:
 What can I say! Mum had a very full and happy life, she loved having the family around and was a great entertainer. She was also very forgiving. I can remember when television first came in; Jan and I snuck out of the house and walked up the street to watch television in one of the shop windows. Mark knew we had gone but we promised him a liquorice strap if he didn't tell, so he waited until we were back and he was sucking on his liquorice, then he told mum. I don't recall any punishment but no doubt we were told not to do it again. Both mum and dad were very keen that we get a good education and one of their principles was that we not have a television. They waited until Mark had finished high school before purchasing one.

I remember one time in the 1970s when I was heavily into Women's liberation. I upset mum by saying that we shouldn't celebrate Mother's Day because it was a patriarchal plot for keeping women in their place or some such bunkum. I only ever didn't see her or send a card that once and am quite happy to celebrate Mother's Day these days.
We have already talked a bit about tennis, but it was a great part of our lives, especially when we had the Edenhurst team, which always had at least four Newtons in it. Because of that, mum was responsible for at between four and six afternoon teas, so Saturday mornings were always busy with cakes baking and benches loaded with slices of bread and fillings and a bit of a chain gang combining them.
What mum wrote on my 50th birthday

I was so pleased that we were able to have mum living with Mike and I after she found it too difficult to manage in the retirement village. For that I must thank Mike. He has been extremely supportive, and in fact I believe it was his idea that she move in with us. We started talking about the move about two years earlier, but mum was fiercely independent and wanted to stay in her unit as long as she could. We made some changes to our place, turning Katy and Jenni's rooms into a small apartment for mum and she moved in about 18 months ago.
Although she was becoming frail and finding getting around quite difficult, she still washed her own dishes and made her bed each day. Last Wednesday we went to see the second Hotel Marigold movie. She quite enjoyed it but thought it was a bit too loud and couldn’t understand why I’d cried. I still find it hard to believe that she is gone, but I am so glad that she went quickly and hardly suffered.
We will all miss you mum.
Our wedding 1977

 The grandchildren all took it in turns to speak:
Katy: Jean doted on her grandchildren and we were all very lucky growing up to have such a close and loving family. Grandma was the cornerstone of this strong family bond and her role in maintaining closeness and disseminating family news will be sorely missed. We would like to honour our beloved grandmother by sharing some of the reasons that we are all so thankful to her.

With her first great grandchild, Francesca
Mary Jean: Grandma was a strong, kind and hardworking woman. She took life's challenges in her stride, carrying on without fuss and accepting all the changes that she lived through. We will miss her grace, generosity and no-nonsense attitude.

Walking down Elizabeth Street, Hobart about 1942, the back reads 'How do you like me?'
The first photo we have of mum
Jenni: Grandma was smart, multi-talented and a great teacher. Many of us had our first cooking lessons, knitting lessons and board game indoctrination from Grandma. Even at 94 years of age, she kept her mind sharp with regular games and retelling old memories. I think she would be proud of the strong role she played in making us the formidable scrabble and Rummikub opponents we are today.

 Sandy: For the older grandchildren, memories of Grandma are particularly entwined with time spent at Edenhurst in Mount Evelyn. Grandma created such a warm and comfortable environment, allaying our fears of creepy-crawlies in the outside loo, taking us to the Lilydale mobile library and keeping us entertained with the dress up box in the back room. The house and its grounds were the scene of many imaginary adventures and early filmmaking endeavours.

Katy: Grandma always made a big fuss at Christmas, ensuring the day was special for the whole family. There was a true magic in the Christmases celebrated at Edenhurst and beyond. In fact visits to Grandma always had a type of everyday magic as we knew we would be well looked after and there was always something new to see, do, or talk about.

 Mary Jean: Grandma was so generous to her grandchildren and always ensured that she treated each of us equally. She planted a tree for each of us in Mount Evelyn and later a rose bush each at her unit in Croydon. She was also a great mother to four children, instilling in them good values and the same hospitable, down to earth nature that Grandma had. We are eternally grateful for her amazing work raising her children to become our great parents.

Jenni: Travelling with Grandma was a highlight for us all. We each had a turn travelling with her to new places throughout Australia, seeing local attractions, visiting friends and family and developing life-long memories.

Sandy: We always ate well with Grandma, who was a great cook and always let us lick the bowl and wooden spoon after many a sponge cake. Her pavlovas, rhubarb pies, roast dinners and gravy were highlights of our visits. As were the seemingly endless supply of Splice, Drumstick and Magnum icecreams she stored away as treats for us and other visitors.
Katy: Our shared enjoyment of classic movies and cups of tea became a weekly tradition. I loved visiting her every week and watching another episode of Downton Abbey or selecting another Bogart movie from the collection. Grandma was one of my closest friends and I will miss her terribly.
Mary Jean: At the age of 94 you have left this world and whilst over the years your body aged, it is inspiring to see how your mind and spirit had stayed strong. Thank you for blessing us with your presence and may we meet again!

Jenni: Grandma had strong opinions and one hell of a sense of humour. I am proud to think that I have inherited even a small portion of her strength, cheekiness and wit along with my genetically-superior scrabble skills. While the sense of loss will fade with time – I will always miss you and remember you with a smile.
Sandy: Grandma, we love you and will deeply miss you. Thank you for all the wonderful memories we have of you and the values that you instilled in us.  I know you’re with Grandpa and Nanna now and you are at peace. I now look forward to sharing these memories of you with my own children as bedtime stories.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Workshops and Exhibition

I am teaching a cyanotype workshop for Papermakers of Victoria on the 29th March and thought it was about time I added to my blog, I see it has been over two months since my last post. At the workshop we will be making digital negatives and coating some handmade as well as watercolour paper and fabric and will be hoping for a sunny day. The pictured cyanotypes are some of my older works, two from 2007 and one from 2010 and the black and white is a negative that I will use as an example in the workshop. 
Leek flowers, negative
Cyanotype, Clouds over Bundoora 2007

Cyanotype on handmade kozo Nest 2010

Cyanotype and collage on handmade recycled paper Greetings from India 2007
I am also teaching for Fibre Arts Australia in July this year and I have recently made myself a new mould and deckle (making one will be part of the workshop) and used it to make a book for the up coming exhibition being held at Stonehouse Gallery in Warrandyte by a group from Papermakers of Victoria. Thereby killing two birds with one stone as it were!

The River 2015

The River 2015

The River 2015

The River 2015
The colophon for my book, the case/cover is a cut down posting tube.
The River
Gail Stiffe 2015
Extracts from Siddhartha by Herman Hesse 1877 - 1962
Paper a mix of cotton, hanji and wood pulp along with NZ flax and mulberry bast.
Original digital images inkjet printed onto NZ flax paper with archival inks.
Edition 1/2
The invitation for the exhibition at Stonehouse Gallery.