Saturday, December 31, 2011

Just keep going

Let's just keep going, is a phrase often thrown between us.

We cannot believe all that has happened this year. And if we thought about the accumulated daily (nightly) hours I think we would both collapse on the spot.
In this current new year crossover we have been exchanging words and artwork in a responsive and rapid fire creative process without pause or perfection.  Lilly sent me a painting the other day with a note asking Is it finished?

Our work, words and ideas are overlapping. Even the paint is starting to run between us.

To step into a shared space with someone you have not seen for 13 years and be vulnerable in agreeing to enter into the unknown, is risky, surprising and thankfully for us, incredibly supportive. The co-authorship of this BIG magazine provokes, prescribes, demands, dares, expects and cajoles a days work from each of us and also makes room for tiny glimpses of the hilarity, niggling, messing, playing and firing of our everyday lives. It is the creative collaboration between our paint, words and ladders to everywhere that holds us both in its slipstream and propels the magazine making. Side by side.
The Grumpi girl leads the way...

Little Treasure.  
Keeping up with the brothers seven, she climbs til the rungs become stars underfoot and she is walking on the words of the world. Weightless and full with the centuries of girls who have climbed before her. Scrambling feet going and going and going. And quietly, in the unexpected out breath, resting on the efforts of  all of them to stand so far that she can reach into the pockets of her story and rain the sky with extra time. Ladders to everywhere. 
(Jo & Lilly 31-12-2011)

Happy New Year treasured readers xx 

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Side by Side: The Lost Kingdom of Birds and The Most Guarded Treasure

The Lost Kingdom of Birds
Monika Jayamaha, Western Australia
The Most Guarded Treasure, mixed media, Abi, age 9, Qld

The most guarded treasure

 A treasure was hidden in the highest tower - Guarded by the most fearsome dragon and the cutest alien with a bazooka.
A headless man was walking on the entrance pebbles.  
An imposter missing a hand was trying to reach the treasure from a gnarled tree.
 Everything is green and blue - Green for slime and blue for cold fearful people. 
 Everything is still life. Not a speck of movement from the west or the east.  
The only thing moving was the cold wind or maybe a swoop from a vulture.
By Abi Grzegrzolka, age 9

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Treasured days

Wishing everyone treasured times and celebratory maps to new worlds in the moments of family, play, rest and reflection. Happy days! xx Jo and Lilly

The treasure box of two sisters, ages 5 and 2, sent in by their mum Luci Hordern

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Treasure Maps - Side by Side

Side by Side is an ongoing curated exhibition of creative work by children and artists. The format is simple and visual with the impact coming from the two works being viewed simultaneously.  In profiling the work of kids and artists side by side we are disrupting traditional hierarchies of viewing art to provoke new and relevant ways of seeing for both kids and adults.  Ideally the work is experienced without explanation or critique from us so that open-ended stories might be revealed and each viewer, young and old, can explore their own responses and perspectives.  You and your child might like to create your own work in response to the images and then hang a Side by Side exhibition on your home walls. We would love to see working photos or images of your lounge room and fridge door galleries so feel free to send them in or post pics to our facebook page

Melbourne artist Jessica Dib-Newberry and Satchel, age 5, from the USA are the first to be featured in our Treasure Maps edition of the BIG 'Side by Side' gallery. 

Jessica Dib-Newbery
'Treasure Map'
Satchel, age 5

If you or your children are interested in participating in this project and would like your art work to be considered for the real printed pages of BIG Kids Magazine fill out the submission form and send high resolution print ready treasure to by January 30th or sooner!

A map in the making - mother and son

Treasure Words

"It stopped raining, it's a great day for worms! Lets dig!", he shouts
then begins to sing, "out there in a world outside of Yonkers....". He
pauses then asks, "What's Yonkers?"

"It's a city in New York", I reply.

" they have puppet shows in Yonkers?"

"I don't know, I suppose they do", I say.

(He digs a few holes, but finds no worms)

"HEY! I know, lets bury some treasure!", he shouts.

We run home to get a container and the camera. He puts a bouncy ball
in the container and closes the lid. He digs a hole in the far corner
of the playground, places the container in the hole, buries it then
marks the spot with 3 small rocks.

"These are the clues", he says in a stern voice, "Go to the back of
the playground. Go left. In the corner by 3 rocks", then adds, 
"I'll draw a MAP"!

Buried Treasure

Treasure Map
Satchel, age 5

Pirate Ship
Satchel, age 5

Friday, December 16, 2011

Topanga children create a village of Grumpi ladies

We were so excited to receive such beautifully responsive work from far across the oceans. Sandy Savas runs art classes out of her home in a small town called Topanga in the mountains of California, a stones throw from the sea. 

Hallelujah, age 7
'My home is my studio.  I teach out of my back yard, living room, kitchen and dining room.  I keep my classes small - no more then 8 students and they are with me for 3 hours in the day.  Everyday, they go home with an incredible art project.  We do all types of arts and crafts.  I like to say "everything from feathers to cement".   We paint a lot.  So when I found your web-site and saw Grumpi, I knew they had to do her.  She is beautiful.' Sandy

Lilly Blue, age 41

'Grumpilotta gives up the sorrows from her skirts for
the stars to burn as fuel to flame
the sky' Jo Pollitt, age 38

Grumpilotta is a grumpy girl who is really kind. She tells stories to small children and tells them it's ok to be grumpy sometimes, that doesn't mean that you are a mean person. The children have fun listening to Grumpilotta's stories and always look forward to more. Kylie, age 7

I call her Grumpolina.  Her real name is Grumpilotta. I was in my art class with five other girls and my teacher Sandy.  We sat down and she told us a story about Grumpilotta. Grumpillotta is a grumpy lady who is actually very nice.  She tells children wonderful stories.  If I met Grumpilotta she would say, “Hello little one.  Would you like me to tell you a story? I would curtsy and say, “Yes, please.  Thank you for asking.”She might look down at me and say “Are you always so kind?” “Well, I try.” She would smile at me and say, “Trying is good enough.”  SummerAnne, age 8                                                                      

Gaelyn, age 4
Mackenzie, age 4

My Grumpilotta is grumpy because a bird is sitting on her heard.  It won't get off even when she says "shoo!"  It's ok to be grumpy with a bird on your head. Zara, age 4

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Mother Artist Network - Theatre Director Sally Richardson

"You have to really want it – it’s not just a job; it’s who you are" says director and writer Sally Richardson  in her interview with Rachel Power for her book The Divided Heart. For Sally, her relationship with art and motherhood has become more integrated now that her children are slightly older and able to share the journey by her side.  Here she tells the MAN her experience now, nearly four years on: 

Photo: Standing Bird Dancer: Paea Leach
A dance/theatre/film solo about woman's journey from shipwreck to bird, Standing Bird premieres at Fringeworld PICA 7 - 12 February, 2012 and features performer Jacqui Claus
My response from The Divided Heart interview to now....

I am now more at ease as a Mother and artist, as I can share so much more of what I do with them. They come to performances (of all kinds), sit in on showings and rehearsals. They will come in and chat when I am working on the laptop, I show them images and videos and gauge their interest and opinions...they make a great first audience..I really love watching their responses to what they see, and also hearing their thoughts, and ideas. They now understand and are interested in what I am doing, and we also share their creative journeying as they express themselves through dance, music, and art. 

It is more of an ongoing conversation, and for my family a way of life. They are proud of what I do and share the trills and spills, as we get grants, or not, great reviews (or not!), and so on. We might get to travel or do something special if we get a grant or a royalty for example, and I have actively sought to involve them in this way so we collectively experience the highs and the lows!! They are older, more capable, and understanding when I travel and are required to be away making a show (up to six weeks) I have for the most part avoided missing the really important events they have (sometimes by the skin of my teeth making it from airport to school assembly). 

Now I am enjoying their own creative journey's - My eldest son Thomas a stylist and make up artist based in London (he recently did Florence and the Machine's new album cover and videos) and my 14 year old son Yvan (a contemporary dance student at John Curtin College of the Arts) went on tour for the first time this year with Steps Youth Dance Company on the regional tour of Phoenix.

Bravery is... the amount of courage one can show
Imagination is ...thinking about surreal ideas
Generosity is...the amount of love given to anybody than yourself
Yvan, age 14
Sally and 2 of her boys, Yvan and Niklas.
Bravery is...people who over come their fears
Imagination inside your head giving (a lot)
Nik, age 12

Excerpts from The Divided Heart interview: 

"It’s a very fickle business with no sense of entitlement  or clear career trajectory. One minute you’re up, the next minute you’re down. I know it sounds like a bit of a dramatic cliché in itself, but it is like that. It’s a pretty tricky life in which to sustain a family unit. 

In the arts there can be a lot of pretension, so you develop a bit more toughness (as a mother). Also it helps with taking the knocks that inevitably come when you don’t that grant for the third time. You don’t give up. I think, energetically, for me that’s come from that experience of being a mother. There’s a degree to which I can accept the criticism and judgement of others.

For some the theatre is the be all and end all. My family has disallowed that obsession – all they care about is that you give them a big hug and then get down on the floor and muck in. That’s really important. It’s also meant I’ve been prepared to take risks, and you realize that it doesn’t really matter if it doesn’t work out.

I think it has been a necessity to maintain my practice while being a mother – it just means I’ve learnt to be diverse." 
Standing Bird development featuring performer Paea Leach.

Bravery is... making a beginning
Imagination is... letting go
Generosity is...really listening 
Sally, age 45

Thank you so much to Sally for her generosity of response and to Rachel Power for allowing us to publish parts of the original interview and supporting this BIG MAN. You can watch a beautiful showcase of Sally's work here.
 MAN is a fortnightly blog series that looks at the potential and challenge of art and motherhood through featuring the work, conversation and responses of Australian and international mother artists. 
If you would like to contribute to MAN please email us at

Friday, December 9, 2011

BIG call out to CONTRIBUTE - Treasure Maps

Artists, children, parents, adventurers, visionaries and friends around the world - you are officially invited to contribute to the Treasure Maps edition of BIG Kids Magazine:

Finished work
Twyla age 3
Lilly age 41

1. CREATE an image inspired by the idea of Treasure Maps (drawn, photographed, painted, built, folded, soldered or danced). Real or wildly imagined. It could be a map of your mind or the places you love to hide. Think outside the treasure chest ;)


2. WRITE no more than 100 words describing an adventure or the uncovering of hidden treasure.  Real or invented. Pirate tales or poetry.


3.  SEND treasure and maps via print quality jpeg images, 600 dpi scans, or Word documents. Download, fill in, save and send the submission form to with your work attached. 

All contributions received by Jan 30th 2012 will feature on the blog (but we would love your work before Christmas!) All contributions that are print quality will be considered for the actual pages of BIG Kids Magazine. 

Mapping our way - collaboration in process, Twyla and Lilly
The BIG small print:
Contributors give the publishers full rights to use/edit any images or words in any way for the magazine and blog.
Contributors will not receive any remuneration for their artwork.
Contributors will be fully acknowledged for any work that is published.
BIG retains the right not to publish inappropriate or unsuitable material.
Selected contributions may be published in the first print issue of BIG Kids Magazine

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Birthday week for our BIG girls

Two girls, two birthday's, two cities, two stories: Swan diving, turtle dreaming, spin riding, music box opening and a doll's cradle re-made for the daughter of your daughter (thanks Grannie), paper bag rainbows,  guest star singers, blueberry treasure, flying friends landing, family dancing, tall trees and tents, little icing hands holding big, stories whispered after bed...

It has been a BIG birthday week. My baby girl turned from one to two, and Lilly's from two to three. The little ones have never met but we think each would love the other. See the post a year ago when they turned one and two. How far this ship has sailed so far - distance measured by the days of our children growing. Happy days girls.  xx

2 year old birthday girl
Nadia in half dress morning unwrapped wonder 
Twyla waiting for Nadia Sunde, guest of honour at 3rd birthday

Thursday, December 1, 2011

BIG Kids interview in Small Magazine

The incredible editors of Small Magazine, Olivia and Christine work long distance like we do and we were thrilled when they asked us some BIG questions.  We know not all of you are on Facebook, where we have linked to the latest stunning edition, so we have included our BIG interview that features in the magazine here. Start with our Small Hands interview and then take a moment to sit with the rest of the beautiful imagery and ideas on each of the other pages. Quite a journey.

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