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Desolata: 22 Days and Counting

Desolata the exhibition, my contribution at least, was originally intended as a requiem for my trees. The Drought of 2015 had taken a heavy toll on my immediate landscape, with stringybarks dying en masse. The death of the trees was the final straw for my already fragile equilibrium and my mental health declined somewhat.

I see dead trees.

I saw dead trees and it hurt my heart.

I dreaded seeing that flash of orange on the hillside because it meant another tree had started to slowly die. Once a large tree, an anchor tree started to die, all the smaller trees around the anchor quickly died as well.  A flash of orange became a slash of orange which then became a patch of nothing, as the bare limbs of the dead trees blended in with the messy visual landscape of the hillside. As the relentless summer drought wore on these newly dead trees changed to silver spikes. They spiked my heart with their emptiness and the sadness wore me down. I retreated from everyone and used my recent life saving surgery as a convenient excuse for my reclusivity. But really it was the trees, they were sad their connections to each other were being broken by the drought and in their loneliness they died. The sadness was palpable, I could taste it in the air, I breathed it in and became sad in solidarity.

It was horrible.

Some trees and certainly my mental health were saved by the drought breaking rain last winter.

But with this landscape of ours there is always a catch, we had so much rain and the ground became so soggy in parts that some healthy trees fell over.  Large, seemingly healthy trees, dying from too much water. *sigh*

Desolata, a requiem for the trees, slowly evolved into what it is today, or what it will be on Opening Night on the 31st of March, a soft lament for the treeless birds.

The making of the work generally gives me somewhere to put the sadness so that it does not seep into my every day life.

This time it was harder to start the work because I did not want to photograph the dead trees at all. I see things through the camera that I do not see when I am looking with just my eyes alone, other secrets are always revealed when I edit the images and it hurt too much to do the looking. I even went so far in my avoidance, asking a talented photographer friend to photograph the trees for me. He declined, simply stating that my photos were good and that I should photograph them myself. At the time I did not feel that anything I did was ‘good’ so Robin’s words were healing and I blew the dust off the Nikon.

I ventured down the hill into the bush with my camera in hand, finally prepared enough to look closely at the death I had been avoiding.

In order to heal you must examine that which ails you, I have learned that lesson.

I know that in order to move on from any sort of psychic injury, I need to allow myself to really feel the pain. Not a pleasant undertaking for an optimist at all, it is much easier to watch for butterfly shadows.

But, my dear internets, I was not overwhelmed by the death all around me, instead I was delighted by the signs of hope I found. Samwise Gamgee nodded at me from the back of my mind pleased that I had found my hope again. I was quite pleased as well.


Warning: Hyperbole Ahead.

Can you die from deadline induced panic, my dear internets? Can You? CAN YOU?

My brain was spinning so fast last night with all the OH MY GODS that I think I forgot how to breathe for at least TEN SECONDS, maybe even 15 seconds.

That is a lot of seconds when time is being all stretchy.

Stretchy time is a funny thing, not funny haha, but funny in a, why does time always do this to me, funny.

I KNEW that I was going to be a part of the absolute fabulousness that is the MoMa Market at Mona this year. I had an email written in that special glittery Mona fairy dust, that said in real glittery words, “Yep Kim, you are in, we want you.” BECAUSE AWESOMENESS ATTRACTS.

And it was about then that time started to do that stetchy stretchy thing it does so well. The 29th of January was W E E E E E E K S away, aeons away, so far away in artist time, that I could procrastinate over winter for just a little bit longer, because it all felt a little bit unreal and the studio was cold.

Then of course, my body decided it was going to try to kill me. Ha Body, you failed in your attempt at failing.


Nearly dying and having major surgery did a bit of a number on my head. I lost my bounce. My inner Tigger fled and I was left all flat and tired and tired and flat. It is a bit tricksy when Tigger is replaced by Eeyore, a bit tricksy indeed. Luckily time is also a bit magic, when it isnt being all stretchy of course and time heals etc, and now I am back.

And Now I am Back.


Time has done that stretchy snapping back to real time thing that it does and I am



Can you die from deadline induced panics, dear internets? Can You? CAN YOU?

Full circle.

The words have come full circle and I feel much better.

Thank you.

See you at Mona, next weekend.

On the lawns

11 am – 4pm.

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I See Dead Trees.

I have an exhibition with a friend, Elphia Hanson-Viney, in the Sidespace Gallery early next year. Desolata: The title came from a link to an Italian song I followed on facebook, I think the song was a requiem of sorts, or at least that is how the song made me feel. As often happens with links on the internet, I ended up down a rabbit hole miles away from where I began. I am pleased my parents didn’t call me Alice, very pleased.

At this point in a blog post, I would insert an image so that we, you and I, had a visual reference, a marker of sorts in this journey of words.


I see dead trees.

And they hurt my soul, they cut me to my very core and I do not want to look at them.

But dying trees are pushy.

They know I can see them and so they whisper at me to tell the story, to tell their story.

Desolata 2017.

Deadlines are looming.

AND I do not want to start making the work.

I want to keep on hiding in pokemon land, hanging out on the edges watching the meme generation on facebook, observing these kids who use the word literally, like seventeen times in a sentence like, literally, and who have no idea how to cite a source. Boys who would tell me I am wrong because I am old, even if I could even be bothered talking with them. A neck beard who likes to pat the ladies on the head and tell them, well done ladies.

And not once have I ripped his fucking head off for using the term ladies.


I am hiding from the trees.

Hiding from Desolata.

Avoiding the story

But it is time.

To stare into the Abyss.

Past time.


The Desolata of Canosa

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Sometimes, I have so many words inside me, that they fill up my brain and fall out my ears. I can see them cascading away and vanishing with little silent pops. I try to catch the good ones and put them down here but, those escapee words are resistant to straight lines and they vanish.

I have stories to tell, so many stories to tell, but balanced against the telling is my reluctance to open myself up to the reactions that come from lining up words in a public space like this blog.

I am fragile you see, so fucking fragile.

I have spent most of my adult life telling my negative interior voice to, “Shut the fuck up!” In my late teens and early twenties I tried to silence that voice with drugs and alcohol, but that never works.  The negative voice inside my head is the voice of my father shouting at me, loudly insisting that I am stupid and useless, lazy and worthless, ugly and fat. That voice is the colour of blood and violence, of anger and pain, relentlessly vitriolic and mean.

It is hard work ignoring that level of internalised negativity but I manage to do it by excessive use of theatrics and hyperbole. And by being brilliant and hilarious of course. If you meet me in real life I am loud and enthusiastic and given half a chance, I will tell you ridiculous stories in order to make you laugh.

Having been the outsider for most of my adult life, I well know how horrible exclusion feels and I try my very best to be inclusive in all I do. We all deserve to be treated with loving kindness, especially by our ownselves, but it takes a conscious and sustained effort to remember that I am worthy of kindness too.

I have been unwell for the past fifteen months or so, dreadfully unwell, so fucking unwell that it has severely impacted on my professional life. Last November I stepped down from the head of the organising committee responsible for bringing the Australian Ceramics Triennale to Tasmania in 2018 . I stepped down because I was because I was tired. I was tired of the relentless negativity thrown my way by super special snowflakes who were grumpy that we were not stroking their oversized egos. But mostly I was sick, really sick, so sick that standing up was an effort. I hid my illness well because I am a consummate actress and because what is the point of moaning about it? Whining about being sick didn’t make me feel better, so I just quietly withdrew into myself and listened more and more to my father’s voice.

By February this year, the reality of the restrictions that my hernia was causing me really began to hit. A day spent at a market with Veronica took me three days to recover from. I organised my working day  in the studio around trips to the house to sit in my recliner with my feet up.

I apologised from more meetings than I attended and so in May I officially resigned as the President of the Tasmanian Ceramics Association, leaving another fabulous committee in the lurch. I know I did not have a choice in the matter as it had become just too hard to think of anything other than getting through the day with minimal pain, but again that voice was there, insisting I was useless.

Fast forward to the end of June when my insides really tried to kill me properly this time and I was rushed off to hospital in an ambulance for emergency surgery.

Which brings me to the whole point of this story.

I have been overwhelmed and stunned by the outpouring of love and support shown to me. Such loving kindness has come my way, that it has taken me this long to be able to begin to process the fact that people actually like and care about me. My negative voice is shouting at me constantly because I am being still and deliberately clayless but I am able to ignore the shouting because of you, my dearest internets. My Friends.

On Monday I went to see my surgeon, expecting to be given the all clear. I had questions about timelines and how best to gently regain my core strength as I am impatient to get back to work.

My surgery has failed. It looks like in the first few days after I returned home, that the internal stitches have given way and the piece of mesh keeping my bowel in place has shifted.

I left the surgeons meeting in a state of stunned disbelief and went to catch pokemon in the mall with my daughter and a friend. Oh my word, there are so many fucking pokemon in the city that I really hate you all, the mall just boggled me and I was able to level up by judicious grinding of pidgeys, spearows and bats. If you do not understand that last line, don’t worry it is all good.

Late that night the 3 am blues hit. I hate 3 am, I really do, it is fucking awful o’çlock. And as I sobbed into my pillow Monty peremptorily sniffed my wet cheek and nonchalantly went back to squashing my foot. I missed my empathetic boy Harry and his soft furry neck and so I cried for my dead dog and I cried for myself.

Yesterday morning I put a woe filled status up on my facebook and was absolutely blown away by the level of support and loving kindness shown to me again. I was a bit stunned and the shouty voice was silenced.

Today I am in a much better headspace, though I did cry a little bit here and there writing this post.

Tomorrow I have a CT scan, next week we meet with the surgeons again, I am taking Veronica in with me as she is my rememberer, plus she can spin all the pokestops for me as we drive past them.

Then I will go and have another operation and hope that this time it works as it should.

I realise that I had been listening to and paying too much attention to, the negativity flung at me from ego driven arsehats, rather than focusing on the loving kindness shown to me by you, my friends. And if I continue to listen to that negativity, I am in fact doing you a disservice as your voices are much more important.

Thank You VERY MUCH you gorgeous people, here are some positive vibes that were given to me by a friend. I am sure these will be on a t-shirt of mine very, very soon.

positive vibes




Life and Death of my Dearest Dog, Harry.

My boy Harry, my constant shadow, is going to be euthanised tomorrow at 3.15 pm, the vet is visiting us here at home. Here he is in his prime, look at how magnificent he is.


I decided a long time ago that we would euthanise Harry here at home, as it is very important that his ghost doesn’t get lost. This boy has been my constant shadow for thirteen years. His dad was a full Blue Heeler and Harry has all the Heeler’s obsessive loyalty and work ethic.

Here Harry is working and you can see that he is focused and intent with that crazy heeler look in his eye.

Harry the dog.

We had to change the rules of backyard cricket to accommodate his mad ball skills. Nothing got past him and I mean nothing. He was equally skilled at soccer as he was at cricket, I have had grown men here trying to kick a soccer ball past him into the goals, to no avail, as he never took his eye off the ball and so he was untrickable. It was hilarious watching some of the men as their egos would not allow them to be beaten by a dog.

Harry beat them, every, single, time.

Harry the Red Heeler

As with most magnificently intelligent dogs, it wasn’t all good. Harry disliked small children as he wasn’t sure what they were or how these short creatures fitted into the scheme of things, so he would eyeball them warily and snap at them if they came too close to him. Once the grandchildren were taller than him it was as if a light went on and he realised they were small humans, but he was never to be trusted to be alone with them.

Lace up shoes offended his eyes, The Spouse has a pool table in his shed and Harry liked to doze under the table. He would bite the feet of any pool players who were wearing lace up shoes. Harry knew that his men wore Blundstones and he had to be banished outside while they were playing, as he really bit them hard.

Harry the dog in the snow

Harry loathed Brushtail possums with a fiery, fiery passion and that nighttime ack ack ack from a possum up a tree was a call to arms. He spent many a night stubbornly sleeping under a tree because he would not leave that invisible-to-us possum, his frustration evident that his humans were too blind to see what was clearly there taunting us.

He was also ruthless cat hunter, as we have a population of feral cats here that The Spouse works to control, Harry knew what his job was there and did it well. Our new Kitten, Red Cat the Fearless is agile enough to leap away from Harry’s warning snaps and fearless enough to try to clean Harry’s ears for him. A couple of years ago it might have been very, very different for Red Cat The Fearless.

red cat the fearless

Harry was so well tuned into me, that he obeyed a finger snap instantly, I never walked him on a lead on our quiet dirt road, as he knew my rules and obeyed them. He was friendly with strangers, unless I whispered the secret words to him and then he was all quiet menace and attention to me. Heelers have a reputation as good dogs who aren’t afraid to have a go. Harry wasn’t afraid to have a go.

A Heeler who isn’t allowed to work, can go quietly insane and they often show obsessive qualities. Harry rode that fine line between obsession and insanity well, he was a complicated, intelligent, amazingly good dog, who was true to his type.

Harry the red heeler, collie cross.

Yesterday for the first time in thirteen years Harry did not follow me to the toilet. He watched me leave the room and he sighed. I knew then that I had to ring the vet, because for him to not shadow me, told me that it was time.

Dogs try so hard to be good, they try and try and they trick us into believing that maybe it isn’t their time. My head knew it was time to make the call, but oh my, Internet, I did not want to. I do not want to let this boyo of mine go, I will be bereft without him. Bereft.

Harry asleep in the sun

When my Mother was dying in hospital, there was a standard hospital print on the wall, a garden scene, with irises in the foreground. Mum told me that she could see fairies dancing in that garden, I had a long look but they were beyond my perception and we agreed that they were hiding from me, just behind the irises. Mum also saw a little brown dog, sleeping on a chair in her room, not doing anything, just sleeping in a chair, waiting. Yesterday I saw the ghost of my old black Tom cat Smooch, I haven’t seen his ghost for a long time, I am pleased he is here for Harry as they were comfortable companions in life.

Monty the Goofball Nutter will distract me, Red Cat the Fearless will also distract and soothe me but I suspect that my grief for my dog will manifest as brusque impatience. Couple that with my menopausal moods and I expect to be a bit snappier and a bit more honest than normal. I will try to be zen, but at fifty years old I am tired of diplomacy, I think my quota of tolerance to fools, asshattery and entitlement is diminishing exponentially as my core temperature rises. We shall see.

Harry and Monty

And here he is now, my darlingest, bestest Harry boy. He looks so very tired in this photo I took on our walk yesterday.


It is time to say goodbye.

I am bereft.

Bereft and shadowless.


Allowing the Sadness to Surface

Allowing the sadness to surface, recognising the pain as acknowledgement of my love for my late mother, helps me to heal.

April was always Mum’s month, her birthday and Easter so intertwined that Easter is a tad difficult these days. Luckily for us we have Ruarigh now who is an April baby and my youngest grand son gives me much reason to celebrate.

In the year after Mum died, when things were so bleak and so hard, I photographed roadkill.


I made work in response to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.


Oiled bird bowl. Image credit. Robin Roberts.

Oiled bird bowl.Kim Foale. Image credit. Robin Roberts.

I met Chris Jordan in Hobart and fangirled at him and showed him the work I made in response to plastic pollution and his images of the dead albatross on Midway Atoll


Dead Albatross Chick Image By Chris Jordan


Through that meeting I became friends with Dr Jennifer Lavers who gives me plastic pollution that she has removed from the bellies of dead seabirds.


I put my camera away in the eighteen months after mum died as the images gave me no joy. When it was time to pick up the camera again my photography had changed.

I photographed my husband.



I photographed my son




I tried to photograph my daughter but she hid from my camera or poked her tongue out at me. Except on her wedding day when she was distracted by the man she loves the most.

getting married

I chased eagles


and seagulls


I went hunting dinosaurs

Urban Dinosaur copy

I photographed rubbish on the riverbank and took the rocks I found there home and melted them in my kiln.

a public hanging

I travelled to Kalgoorlie and let the colours of the desert seep into my soul. Reminding me that there was colour still.

train dreams 1

The Super pit confirmed what I knew in my heart.

kalgoorlie Super Pit.


And I made more work

super pit

textured platter

Mud and Ink image by Veronica Foale (8)

Mud and Ink image by Veronica Foale (15)


My trees are dying and it is messing with my head. I need to photograph the dying trees and stare into the abyss, but I am avoiding it as their stories are so loud.

Until then I will revisit old images.

Of frogs

dead frog 1

and flowers

tulip series i

once were roses

Of stories told

bitter rose is bitter copy

rock bowl

and of stories untold.
fungi 5

water tank copy

bushfire sky

And through it all I miss my Mother

Mum and Amy


I don’t remember handles being this much fun?

I started my 100 mugs in 100 days challenge yesterday and I surprised myself with how much I enjoyed pulling and attaching handles to three mugs. The trick of course will be persevering with this challenge when I stop enjoying it quite so much. So to that end, I have decided that once the shine wears off, I will make a mug as a warm up exercise at the beginning of my studio day and attach the handle at the end of the day.

I haven’t taken any photos of the mugs yet, as by the time I finished last night I was a tad chilly. The wifi juice just bounces off the roller door of the studio, so in order to livestream my handles I had to sit in a roaring draft. The things I do in the pursuit of glory, internet, the things I do.

Please feel free to join in the challenge with me and if you use instagram you can hashtag your images with #100mugsin100days and we can all SHOUT A JOYOUS HURRAH at each other through the magic of the interwebz.

Bettina who scopes as Dame_Sir _Beet has joined in and posted her first handle on instagram yesterday and I got a bit emotional looking at it, because it is such a simple thing to post a photo of a handle on a mug but also it is incredibly hard to put yourself out there as an artist.

Laura Howard, an emerging artist potter from The UK has also joined in and Laura has decided to really push herself with this challenge as she learns to blog, to make mugs and to photograph her work. Laura’s blog is Long Buckby Pottery

I livestreamed three scopes yesterday, which will be available on periscope for another couple of hours BUT for your viewing convenience I have also embedded them here.

The madness will continue on today and I will be scoping again as I want to attach some dolls feet to some mugs to see what happens.

100 mugs in 100 days. Day one. #pottersofperiscope


The app crashed mid scope and so I had to restart.
100 mugs etc. take 2

And I finished up by showing off my handles.

100 mugs in 100 hundred days. HANDLES 1. 2.3. #pottersofperiscope


One Hundred Mugs in One Hundred Days

I have decided to set myself a challenge and the title of this post is probably a bit of a clue.

I want to make one hundred mugs in one hundred days.

I think that I will start off handbuilding these mugs but I will allow myself to cast or throw some as well if the mood takes me.

My handles will be pulled, or coiled or carved, I have no idea what will really happen until I start, because as those of you who know me, know I think by doing.

My 100 days will be work days, not 100 days in a row because of my weekend market commitments. Plus it makes sense to set myself a challenge that I can actually achieve without worrying that I missed Sunday’s pots because I was too busy or too tired.

On each Friday, I will line up my five mugs for the week and I will photograph them and post the image here, as well as onto instagram with a suitable hashtag, probably #100mugsin100days. At the end of the 100 days I will fire them all and who knows what will happen then. Who knows internet, who knows.

I am quite taken with this form at the moment and it will be an interesting challenge to build on this form as well as to find a handle that works, that compliments without dominating.

blue pot

This challenge of mine is loosely inspired by Neil Celani and at the end of it I will celebrate by buying myself one of his t-shirts, A mug life.

As I was plotting the finer details of my plan with Veronica yesterday, I realised that I was looking forward to documenting the progress of my 100 mugs and seeing where the process takes me.

As a student in 2006 I learned to pull handles at the wheel and spent quite some time with them, before deciding that my time at TAFE was too short to mess about with handles, when there was so much more knowledge to be absorbed. I pulled what felt like zillions of them, I attached them, and I ultimately dismissed them, because my students skills were not up to my personal aesthetic.

I am confident in my skill set these days, I have settled into my potters skin and most importantly I am much kinder to myself.

Anyone that wants to join in with me is more than welcome.

It should be fun.


Livestreaming ALL the things.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I have discovered periscope, a live streaming app, owned by and connected to twitter.

And by discovered, I mean I have jumped into periscope with both feet and I am having all the fun.

Periscopes are only available for 24 hours from broadcast and the transience of the medium appeals to me. BUT because I am also a hoarder, I decided to use a third party web based application, Katch.me to save my scopes.

I will be embedding some of my scopes here on the blog so that people can easily find them, rather than having to follow the links from twitter.

This scope titled, thinking by doing. testing ideas. everything is political. was broadcast last week from my kitchen table as I did not have a strong enough wifi signal in the studio. I didn’t know where I would end up with this broadcast because as per usual I was thinking by doing.

Once I had sorted out my wifi issues, I started to livestream from my studio.

Again I am flying by the seat of my pants here. The title of this *scope* is, experimental protest. slipcast doll’s head full of colour. waiting for the collapse.

The final scope in this series was going to be three mini scopes but because I am “livestreaming” I was encouraged by my audience to keep on streaming. This scope is titled, dripping slipcast doll’s heads. part one.

So, my dearest internets, this is where I am at the moment. I am lost in persicope land and I am having a fabulous time.

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Potters on Periscope.

Early this week, the fabulous Adriana Christianson popped up in my facebook timeline talking about Periscope, reminding me that I had a dormant account linked to my twitter. Periscope is a livestreaming App, Periscope.tv and you can download the app via google play or the apple store. While you are live streaming people can comment as they watch and give you little hearts that float into the ether. (I love the hearts) The streams are available for 24 hours and a new word has entered our pottery lexicon and that word is SCOPE.

I think that I have found my happy place. I really do.

Those of you that know me, know that I am a great advocate of social media as a tool for both your business and your personal development. Sadly here in Tasmania a lot of people do not see the benefit of social media at all and I often feel that I am shouting into the wilderness about how fabulous an online life can be. At a meeting in the city earlier this week, I was told about a failing small business that had decided to cut its online presence totally, as it couldn’t see the benefit of the internet. I just wanted to bang my head against a wall in frustration because this attitude is so prevalent.

Using Social media has negated my isolation, it has enabled me to tell my story my way, and the connections and friendships I have made are just fabulous. My social media presence has opened doors for me professionally and personally and NOW THERE IS PERISCOPE.

Oh My, Oh My, Oh My.

Internet, I do not think I am ever going to sleep again.

Potters have discovered Periscope en masse and these last few days have been a glorious whirlwind of livestreams, hilarity, new friendships and a constantly whistling phone. What I am liking the most in this first week is the raw feel of the scopes (livestreams) as we knock over our phones, are interrupted by dogs or children, as we work out how to zoom in or out, and how the poo hearts (brown hearts) are now so highly prized.

Periscope feels real to me, it feels like blogging used to feel before the advent of facebook and the easy like. When we used to leave long comments on each others blogs because our phones were not smart. Conversation was all done via our computers and the comments were the only connections some of us had. Thank you so much internet for some of those comments, you saved me after mum died, you really did.

A lot of social media these days has morphed into a very slick promotional tool. Some instagram feeds are so highly stylised and impersonal, that the artfully arranged pots with their casually dropped flowers/leaves/petals/ shot from above, all begin to look the same. A lot of instagram and facebook has become boringly predictable and while I understand why it is so, I do not like it and have culled out the boring, cliquey feeds. I still like some of the people, I just do not like their public images and that is okay, as my opinion is of little importance.

I like my internet a bit more real, I like a bit of heart and I like a whole lot of honesty.

And this is where periscope hits the spot for me.

I have learned so much in the last three days.

Stefan Andersson from Sweden  is putting together a show this week and his thoughtful presentation is lovely to watch. Stefan also has inspired me to wedge some coffee grounds into my clay and fire a pot or two in a saggar in my electric kiln.

Cori Sandler from Vancouver Island has shared barking Sea lions that made Monty bark in response and we giggled together LIVE about this. Cori throws lovely pots and is a natural communicator and teacher. Cori shared a scope of a friend scoping Humpback whales swimming in Hawaii this morning, that was just lovely.

Didem Mert, a grad student is just hilarious and I want to reach through the screen and give her a hug. Her work is interesting and Didem is another natural teacher and communicator. It is easy to see why she was included on  C File’s list of 15 Potters to Watch in 2016 and I am going to make one of her POTATOES today.

Adriana Christianson is the only other Australian potter I have met, that is an enthusiastic about new media as I am, as Adriana is also a natural teacher and communicator. Her tutorial yesterday on using cobalt had me in my studio a few hours later playing around with some cobalt with really promising results.

Adriana has set up a public group on facebook called #pottersofperiscope, for all things periscope related.

I was going to list more potters who are all equally fabulous and inspiring but Monty keeps on nudging my hand off the mouse because we are late for a walk.

Go investigate Periscope.

Find me there as @KimFoaleCeramics.


It is fabulous fun.

But I warn you, you will never sleep again *yawns*

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