Friday, April 30, 2010

Plastic Fantastic

I'm taking another country Victoria trip, heading off into the rather empty wheat-belt and gold country.

For cameras, I'm taking some new (to me) 'toy cameras' and an old kodak bellows.

I have a Diana which takes 120 film.

Also a 135 filmed Holga, with a fish eye lens attached.

And of course, a 1940's bellows Kodak which takes 127 film (imported from USA).

After the films are developed, I'll be posting them onto Red Bubble.

I will be stopping off at the Logan pub, where they are holding their unique "Car Show" :)

Should be a blast!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Old favourites revisited

As an artist, I'm always finding new ways to be inspired. As a photographer, sometimes I'm caught short, not always having 'fresh' images to use for new art.

Then I realised, good photos needn't have a 'use by' date. A good image can be timeless in its own right, or be useful as the basis for a bit of artistic experimentation.

We've all seen HDR images (probably until you are sick of them), or photos that gain a new lease of life with a bit of a 'lomo' work over. But with some very basic photoshop skills, many images can be revamped in new ways.

I've been 'slicing and dicing' some of my old favourites. cutting the images up and rearranging them in semi-geometric ways.

It's not a new thing for me, having been a fan of 'mosaic' images - one main image being made up from 100's of other photographs that I have taken. These are a crowd pleaser, always catching peoples attention at exhibitions.

I've attached a couple of samples here, maybe they will inspire you to dust off your files, and flex a few photoshop skills to fulfill that creative urge that makes artists restless....

Make a comment on how you have re-done some of your previous artworks :)

Monday, April 19, 2010

Parable of the cleaner.

Printed on a can of boot-polish: "Do not use for other use."

Instructions from an iron: "Do not iron clothes while wearing them."

Here's a job waiting for someone: Work as a translator for companies in non-English speaking countries. Your main task would be to fix all the bad mistakes in the instruction books that have been translated from the native language into English. You'd get to live overseas, be self-employed, and laugh a lot!

My wife read one to me the other day, from a can of Shower cleaner: "For best results, use on a clean shower." People wondered why we were laughing in the supermarket aisles.

The shower cleaner can had a good point though, it is easier to clean something that is not dirty. Which made me think of what Peter wrote for us, found in 2 Peter chapter 1:

"For this reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love."

God has purified us through the sacrifice of his son, Jesus. When we accept his gift of salvation, we start off clean of all sin, and Peter reminds us to build on that foundation, "...add to your faith..".

Verse 8 gives us the reason for seeking to be active in developing our faith: "If you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ."

Peter gives us a sharp lesson here, we may know Jesus as our Lord, but knowledge isn't growth. Knowledge without action is ineffective and unproductive.

So adding these qualities to our Christian faith is like keeping our shower clean, and doing it regularly makes it a much easier task.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Parable of the rat

Eighty years is a fair age for a house. It's an age that means unfamiliar building habits, strange materials, worn wiring and constant upkeep.

A previous owner had done a lot of work in the house, work that was often slapdash and unprofessional. For instance, in the large room we use as a workroom for our business, they had lined the ceiling with Stramit, (panels of straw, bound with wire). This Stramit was only secured by using planks of wood to hold up the edges, and most of the wood had bowed over the years, and one panel had managed to fall out, while others were threatening to.

Now, we were pretty sure that a small animal had made its home between the Stramit and the original ceiling. We could hear it at times, scurrying around up there. It didn't sound like a possum, but was a lot noisier than a mouse.

This meant it was probably a rat.

On the day I removed the Stramit, things were quiet up there. So I got to work, methodically taking down the panels, starting in one corner and working to the other. With only three panels to go, we could hear the occasional noise of small feet. No problem, I thought, it will get out by some hole, the way it gets in.

Except the hole it uses we had already exposed, cutting off its escape route.

I got down to the last panel, and when I started to lower it, there was the rat, cornered and looking to use me as ladder to freedom.

This was a decent sized rat, I thought. I had to plan - how was I going to manage to lower the Stramit, catch and kill the rat, all while standing on a chair, and only having two hands?

This was too much for me to handle. It was time to call in an expert.

I propped up the panel with a plank of wood, to keep the rat from panicking and stay there.

Then I went outside and called for the expert - our cat.

My daughter found the cat, and brought it in, and standing on a chair, lifted the cat up to show her the rat. Cat, meet rat. Rat, meet cat. O.K., now we were organised.

I slowly let down the Stramit, giving the rat only one option, jump for its life.

The cat was primed and ready, and when the rat leapt, so did the cat.

It was over in a matter of seconds.

I was later thinking that we are like that house. The designer didn't include a rat n the plans, but there it was, an unwelcome addition.

God didn't create mankind to have sin, but we are all born with sin in our nature. And God has given us a way of dealing with it.

Like trying to get rid of the rat, we can't deal with it ourselves, we need to call in the expert.

If we want to get rid of sin, we can't tackle it by our self, we need help from an expert. God.

We may need to do some clearing out in our lives, but the root cause of our bad nature can only be gotten rid of by God. And He prepared for this when He came to earth as Jesus, to not just live for us, but to die for us, offering his life as a sacrifice to God so we could have our sin forgiven, and have His Spirit in us to transfer our nature from the old to the new.

Have you called in the expert?

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Restoration at work

Restoring an old car takes quite a lot of time, dedication, ingenuity and quite often a lot of money. Imagine what restoring an old train would be like!

I was invited out to take a ride on the newly restored RM22 rail-motor diesel at Healesville railway station. Now I'm not a train buff, but I could see even through my ignorance of trains the level of dedication and expertise that would be needed to get such a restoration job right.

Unlike restoring a car, when you restore a train to working condition, there's also the infrastructure that needs to restored and maintained. Tracks, sleepers, points, painting, even weeding needs to be kept on top of so the train can be used.

The President of the rail society involved in all this work said they run their projects on the 'right first time' principle. They make sure the materials are the best, and they take whatever time it needs to to the job well so as it doesn't have to be redone.

That reminds me so much of how God worked in restoring us. The Bible says we were born broken (for all have sinned - Romans 3:23) and needed to be brought back to a good and healthy relationship with God.

That restoration was going to need to be done properly, using the best available, taking the time required, and it was going to cost.

God didn't do a quick fix to bring us back to him, he took his time (For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly - Romans 5:6)

And God used the best available to restore us. The most well known verse in the Bible says "For God loved the world so much that he gave his only son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16)

God was willing to pay the ultimate price to restore us fully to himself. No half measures, no holding back. It cost him his son, who came to bear our sin and the separation that it made between us and God himself. That is what easter is about - the sacrifice Jesus made to put himself between God and our sin. And in the end Jesus said "It is finished", the work was done, the way was made open for us to come back to God and be made holy!

Imagine that, we can be seen by God to be sinless, as we accept what Jesus has done for us by his death on that cross.

Because that is what is presented to us. A gift. The free gift of salvation. God has paid for it, Jesus has died for it, and now we can receive it. The gift of a fully restored relationship with God, and all that comes with it.

God is handing that gift to you. Your job is to take it.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Parable of the bird

If you've ever been up in a light plane, glider, or even a hot-air balloon, you'll remember the unique aspect of being able to travel in that extra 'dimension', not being restricted to the ground. You may have thought about the freedom of movement enjoyed by birds, where they can simply fly over obstacles that we have to try to find a way around.

The Bible even talks of that type of freedom being available to our spirits when God is our focus. Our youth is renewed like the eagle, etc. In Christ, we are told we have freedom from the things that bind us and anchor us down.

My family have been watching a small blue wren that lives in bushes on our property.

This wren came to our notice by repeatedly landing on our window sills, and tapping on the glass. It also stands on the doorstep and taps on the glass sliding door.

At first we thought that was pretty cute, here was this lovely looking bird wanting to come and live in our house. We got to the stage of looking carefully around whenever we wanted to go outside, making sure we didn't let it slip in.

Soon though, we were thinking, "Is this bird a bit demented?". Why would it want to come into an environment that restricted it so much? Why would it want to give up its freedom?

Outside, it had no restrictions on it, travel was unimpeded, food was there for the taking.

In our house though, it would find walls, a ceiling, and boundaries all around. It would lose all it had if it came inside. It would also quickly lose its life, as our cat was just itching to have it for breakfast!

This all made me think of the stupidity of christians who actively seek to give into temptation. God gives his followers immense freedoms. Through the sacrifice of Christ, we gain:

freedom to call God our father.

freedom to talk to God.

freedom to do his will.

freedom to excercise the gifts he gives us.

freedom to see the world as it really is.

freedom from fear of judgement.

freedom from God's anger.

freedom from guilt.

freedom to call on him for help.

Imagine wanting to give up those freedoms for restrictions. To place yourself back into a position where you:

were estranged from God.

cut yourself off from his counsel.

had to rely on your own guidance for your life.

weren't capable of doing work that was of lasting value.

were blinded and unable to see the truth.

knew God would have to deal with your rebellion.

knew God was not pleased with you.

were no longer happy and carefree.

were left feeling on your own.

You'd have to be stupid! And sometimes christians are. We get to thinking that a little bit of sin is o.k. We forget about the price-tag that sin has on it. We delude ourselves into thinking we can practice 'safe sin'.

Sorry, but there ain't no such thing.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Parable of the bomb

I've had a lot of cars, most of them el-cheapo specials, cheap to buy, cheap to fix, cheap to replace. And most of them have presented me with interesting mechanical experiences!

Each was different, one went through front-ends, one needed a new exhaust every year, one was an electrical nightmare, another literally fell to pieces on me, like the Blues Brothers car. Usually, though, they did their job, getting me where I needed to go, and back again.

I recently had an old Kombi, it got serviced regularly enough, and even got washed occasionally! So I was puzzled when driving home along Canterbury Road one day, I stopped for the lights, and when they turned green, the kombi wouldn't move.

The engine was going, and sounded like it always did, and I could feel the gears being selected, and the clutch felt normal, but although the engine revved up, the car stayed right where it was!

I got out, looked under the engine cover, kicked a wheel or two, then looked under the car.

There was the problem, an axle had dropped off! All the power was there, but wasn't getting through to the wheels, I'd lost a connection.

After getting underneath with a spanner or two, the axle was connected back up, and off I went.

This gave me a picture of how some churches work, (or don't, as the case may be). We can have the power available, being servants of the one true God. We can have the experience in getting things moving. We can be all fuelled up, ready for the long haul. We can get programs in gear.

But if we're missing a connection, all we've got is a lot of noise, and no forward movement.

And one of those connections is prayer. We can't do God's work on our own, we need to seek His face everyday, and always attempt to walk with Him.

It's time to get our hands dirty, and make sure we're connected.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Feeling Flat...

One study has said that one Australian in eight suffers from depression. That's 2.5 million Australians. By any description, that is a major problem today.

This post is for the seven out of eight who don't go through depression, but who will know someone who does. I just want to give a small insight into how they might feel at times.

In the Bible, a verse in 1 Kings says "he himself went a days journey into the wilderness, and sat under a tree, and prayed that he would die...". When you have depression, you may get to the stage of feeling your life was of no value at all, and you would rather be dead, that it be all over. I've been there myself, and luckily have made it back.

Depression can rob you of all happiness, all liveliness and all hope. You can feel completely drained and flat, seeing nothing of worth to stay alive for anymore.

When you feel that way, you have no energy left. No energy for being active (physical excercise can combat depression), no energy for positive thinking, and even no energy to move and sustain life (to get up, to eat, to be with others).

Each person who has severe depression needs to learn how to cope with these times. And their friends need to know that you can't 'just snap out of it'.

If by any chance you are reading this and are going through depression and feel you need help, then contact me - - and I will be able to send out a booklet written by Ray Ewart, a very respected and wise friend of mine, which may be able to help you.

Monday, April 5, 2010

The older the better

Maybe because it's my age, or just plain stubbornness, but I love showing that old things still work. And that not only do they still work, but they are imbued with a rare cool/funkiness factor that demands attention.

Part of the combined exhibition that I'm in with Kayleen are some photographs taken with 'old tech'. Cameras from the 30's, 40's and 50's, old films and pinhole lenses.

I still have (and use) my first ever camera, a box brownie that was also my father's first camera. Nowadays I need to re-spool some 120 film into it, as 620 is long gone.

I also have a Kodak bellows that needs 120 film, and a wonderful bakelite Kodak Baby Brownie from my father-in-law. That takes 127 film. Which can't be got in Australia, but can be imported from the USA.

The other day I was given another family camera, a Vest Pocket Kodak model B. This also takes 127 film. So I loaded it up and everything seems to be working as it should.
It will take a while to use the film, as I feel that such old equipment should be used to take photographs of older things.

I will keep you up to date on how it all pans out. Meanwhile here's some images taken with the other antique cameras.


Sunday, April 4, 2010

"Trust Me!!"

Art is usually handled with white cotton gloves, kept in humidity controlled conditions, and treated with a great deal of respect. It's not something you shove around, or leave up to chance.

Unless you're a little bit strange....

This latest art exhibition has been an excercise in trust. I was asked to show my photographs in a venue that had never held an exhibition before. The people there had not seen my work, or even met me. Faith.

Although the venue had blank wall space, there was no hanging system, and no lighting. "We'll get that done" I was ensured. Faith.

My work was looked at and discussed, and approved. But then things started to develop, and what I was planning to hang changed. A lot. More faith.

Then another artist surfaced - via Facebook. A local painter who wanted a venue to show her paintings. So I contacted her, via Facebook, and we made those tentative steps of two strangers feeling out whether this was a good thing or a big mistake. Faith.

The venue people were told, another artist is coming, trust me, her work is good. Faith again.
I was busy framing new photographs, the painter, Kayleen, was starting whole new paintings, five days before the opening. Big faith!

We organised the hanging system the day before the opening, and hung the works mere hours before the speeches. More faith.

It helped a lot that there was an unseen connection between us all that we were able to hold on to. We all had experience with the same faith. We were all christians.

That didn't make us perfect, or even reliable. But we all knew what trust and faith meant. We all had learned of it from the best source.

We had all lived some of our lives walking in the dark, holding onto a hand that we couldn't see, following a voice that we couldn't hear, moving towards a goal that would only appear in the future.

We had all experienced putting our trust in this man called Jesus.

When the dust had settled, we all agreed the opening was an amazing experience. Words were said that came from the heart, and went to others hearts. People came, saw and stayed for hours. New bonds were formed, and relationships were forged. God was at work.

It's nearly over now, just a couple of days to go before it gets packed up again. The art will come down, but the effect on people's lives will go on.

At this exhibition, the art was just a side show to the main event, the learning and acting in faith.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

The last TimTam

Each time you get cut off in traffic, or a neighbour plays music way too loud in the early morning, or you decide to eat the last Tim Tam without asking if your partner would like it, that's selfishness at work.
Each time someone decides they are more important than everyone else, selfishness is saying
"eat my dust, suckers".

Selfishness is a direct result of the 'Me generation" lifestyle. The philosophy that says
'look after yourself first', and 'you are the most important person in the world'. The sad thing is, you find this philosophy plainly written in many 'self-help' books.

By any reasonable way of thinking about it, selfishness is a problem causer. It creates conflict. It escalates one above the many. It puts others down. It causes pain.

In the Bible it's called a

It's a part of the human condition, which the Bible calls our fallen nature.
Thankfully, the Bible doesn't just identify the problem, it teaches a lifestyle that endevours to defeat the problem.

In a letter called Philippians, it says
"let each of you regard one another as more important than himself."

What a life changing revelation! To treat
other people as being more important than yourself, to give others then best, to give way, to think of others first.

It's a huge turn-around to the way the world pushes us to live. So how about just starting small. Work your way up slowly. Start to practice giving way on the road. Make way for people. Think about what you do, that you don't create a problem or more work for others.

Start to live with other people in mind.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Painting as Pastor speaks

We watched the seeming chicken scratches on the large screen mounted behind the Pastor slowly, oh so slowly change from random lines and blobs into the face of Jesus as he endured crucifixion. Local artist Kayleen West painted unseen behind the screen as the Careforce Pastor gave his message on the sacrifice of Christ to end the pain of sin for the sinner.
It was powerful to be reminded that good (a holy God) overcame evil (hatred for people like you) in the ultimate plot twist - just when Satan was crowing over a crucified Jesus, he lost the game by that very death.
I feel humbled to know that in a small way, 'I was there' as my sin kept Christ on that cross, and Jesus was motivated to go through all that
because he loved me.

I only met Kayleen a month ago, via facebook, and in that time we've put on a combined art exhibition at Monbulk, entitled "I Have a Dream". The team at the Monbulk Dream Centre, 17 Moores Rd Monbulk, went out of there way to set up their facility to show our art. Picture rails and lights were installed just for the exhibition.
I have a range of photography works on show, and Kayleen has both oil and watercolour paintings on display. All are for sale.
It's open Tue April 6th and Wed April 7th between 1 pm and 4 pm. Drop in and say hello!