Wednesday, December 9, 2009


Ok, so this is it- my favourite little indulgence moment- being alone with a stack of hand made books by me was definately better then having not done it.
They soon went to live in little children's book shelves - I know they are having a good life... some even went to schools with their children and I've had lovely responces from their teachers too.

I love books and they love me!
( at least thats what I'm telling myself and my partner so I can justify buying more books...well, at least they are usually from a second hand shop . while he- the man in my life- has to constantly make me more bookshelves)

That was a good mmoment and a little sad as my little just made children were to leave me soon...all 100 of them

Title page
lino cut
funny story
I have a friend from way back ( he's dislexic so I can write freely - he would never spend time reading a blog - ha, ha- ps- I'm not laughing at dislexics- some of my favourite family memebers are dislexic )
so this friend is wildly talented- he makes wood cuts so beautiful , so meaningful and so skillfull - I think he is finally being respected for it but he spent many years subsidising his art by kitchen-handing.
I have been thinking about him one windy day while I was at the studio, I have been day dreaming how i could coax him into doing an illustration book with me-
meanwhile I was carving the lino WHEN i looked out the window and saw him walking by ...I wanted to wave and yell out but ...really how could I when the master of wood cuts would then see my childish, high school level attempt at lino cutting. So I let him walk by and thought I will bump into him surely- I always do....have I seen him since...no!!!
He has dissappeared- not in the way where the police should be involved but just holed up somewhere carving his wood.
Never mind, I will wait- I have written a story especially for him and will pounce on him the next time I see him appear back in the real world ( well, lets not get into that banal question of what is real - Buddhism clearly reminds me- that everything is an illusion)

Hand bound....I quite like it
It was a lovely process too- making holes in each book, threading the cotton, tying the knot ...all at midnight onwards ( few days before the launch - Yes, I can admit it now)

And there it is...the final product- that weird object of six months spent.
The questions that go with it- not even the big questions of- was it worth it? Does it have any meaning? No, not those but rather ....the one which is always on my mind- is what I do legitimate? And if so in what way? The big problem for me is that creativity suddenly feels so indulgent. When my daughter cried and said - please Mama, don't go to the studio today! Should I have said ( to an emotional and tired two and a half year old- mind you ) no, mama has IMPORTANT work to do.??!!
But really it's not- I'm not saving the world and I'n not a film star who says ...I have been so blessed...that I can do what I love.

After all most people can do what they love - if they find out what that is.

My little book is an indulgence, it's just some silly story from my head which ended up on paper, and then I had loads of creative fun paying with colour, texture, paint and fabric and glue and stickers....just like a child. After all it is a story of my childhood- I always made up games ( I invented the dragon tree- yes, I was famous- on Harcerska street anyway )and kids were always asking me what they should do, how they should play- so I didnt even write any original idea I just remembered my childhood.
Well, I guess its natural when you have a child you look back of your life. When my step kids arrived in my life I was trying to recount how it was to think like an 8 or 12 old and now I'm going back in time again after having the little biological arrival. So really I not only cheated about my idea I also had far too much fun to call it work. So creativity not really a blessing but rather a challengo of how to justify it.

Thursday, November 12, 2009





That was all work in progress but now its done so its hard to go backwards...

sunset




AH, the never ending guilt....I spent many afternoons in my studio racing through my work- just to get it done and then I would look up and it was late- sunset late!!! What a dreaded moment- to leave the space of creative self indulgence, rush home, have a toddler stuck to my leg, a teenager telling me some incomprehensable story, a bewildered partner who had been out done by the aformentioned ofsprings......then feeding the masses etc etc etc etc etc etc ....at the same time - I couldn't live without them. BUt how to balance it all?


And then somehow a simple piano gets a room of its own- This is definitely my favourite illustration from my silly little book. My lovely 9 year old assistant drew the little fish which ended up a trophy and my step son slaved over cutting out of the books- while he was suspended from school. He could have been doing much worse things...but instead he was hanging out with his evil step mother in the studio. He just doesn't fit into the institution- I fully understand that as I was always the quiet yet still square peg....there's something about lining up and waiting for someone else to decide what I am allowed to do......
luckily I don't have that problem in the Temple where I line up for my lunch, or my chanting book ( in Chinese which I don't understand) ...anyway, that was a tangent. I guess it's just another form of side tracking...which by the way has been going really well.
It seems some puppets have demanded I make them in the last few weeks....the less time I have the more things keep coming out of my funny brain and transforming themselves into a real material object.

It's quite lovely to find you can do something you never thought you could, it could be as simple as drawing a piano.....but I have just learnt that you are only left in the dark if you never try it. After all no one is watching when you take a pen to paper in yourown creative space and then.....draw something.....the mystery of where the stuff comes from is not one I will try and attempt to understand. Just as in Buddhism the question of God is almost irrelevant. There might be one or not - Buddha is certainly just a man who found a pretty cool way to live - with some hard work and it's this that he represents- SELF RELIANCE.
I like it!

Sunday, November 8, 2009




Ahh, that afternoon light- it even works on windows that are not even real!

Monday, November 2, 2009





Things did seem so simple at the begining...I thought to myself - I know I'll just draw some rain and see what happens...but the rain was not wet enough, not shiny enough...as my daughter says- I'M NOT HAPPY - with the materials but I didn't dare go back to the art supply shop to spend more money on some abstract dream...luckily the next day I was waiting for a bus next to the local opportunity shop . There is was- the answer- a whole big tray of make up, with little brushes, sparkly cosmetics and what nots( I'm not really an expert in this field) and for only $5- how could I resist ! And it served me well - I used up all the different potions, nail polish etc and especially the mascara with it's lovely thin brush- I highly recommend it as a tool!!!


Have you even surprised your self so much you can not belive that what you have done is actually done by you?
I certainly have- a very odd thing happened to me when pictures began to emerge from under my pen.
As I actually can't draw, it was never on my radar.
I have always used paint or pencli to do a part of a job- decoratively or with some other creative project but never sat down and drew a cow- or if I did - she would have not been a pretty cow- or even an ugly cow ...
As a child I drew of course- the standard European girl stuff - namely princesses, castles etc...lots of hand made cards for Babcia( Polish Grandmother ) so I honestly don't know what came over me to decide to illustrate a book.
I guess like any naive and innexperienced person I just didn't think about it, just ran with the idea.
I was really a woman possessed- but by what? Stupidity, optimism ? or may be those post baby hormones......? I don't like to dwell on it that much but sometimes I look at this book and think- who did this? How did it happen?
I can only equate it to a state I fall into when meditating SAMARDHI - there are many levels of this state and in meditation I have only cracked the first few levels. At least I can't feel my leg going to sleep anymore or only when I get back to THIS world and find I can't feel it.......but it is a very similar state to when a little creative nymph takes hold of my consciousness and plays around with it.
It definately feels like I have nothing to do with whatever is going on...I like it just as much as meditation. Both take me to places I really can not imagine and I have a pretty big imagination so it's very exciting...but as my teacher Venerable Yao says- don't have expectations of an out come.
There is definately something in that - she is a wise woman and I certainly see the close link between me studying meditation and suddenly feeling free to do things I have never dared before.............a little bit of Samardhi magic

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


SIDE TRACKING-

this is something that will come up quite often- I am the master of side tracking- a curse. This was a serious hindrance in my studio in the late afternoons, I blame the warm winter sun actually- the warm yellow light would creep in and everything morphed into magic. Even the pencils seem beautiful and so I would start taking photographs.......this is my life's problem - a jack of all trade - writing, photography, theatre???????????? they all pull me in their own direction. Some times hijacking me using serious means ie ; the aformentioned sunshine to lure me.
I guess that's why my little book turned out the way it did- using all sorts of mediums .
The next day dream is puppets - I held off as long as I could - I didn't let myself make one until all the illustartions were finished and now a puppet family has been born. I will introduce you to them shortly..........

Monday, October 26, 2009




All I had at the start was just a tree- well, not even a tree...just a branch from a tree down the road that my daughter and I picked up last March. Then an idea came and some very basic sketches... although I have notebooks filled with story ideas for adults and chilrden. so it was more like matching the object with the idea. Still, the journey is quite lovely and having a fional product at the end can not be imagined at the begining. I certainly had no grand plan. But once the creative space emerged I just went with what I was holding in my hand at the time- that dry branch.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009



My studio is in the middle of the hustle and bustle of Footscray- an inner Melbourne suburb where more then 100 languages are spoken. It's an ever changing area first settled by Greeks , Italians and Macedonians who ran the local market , then in the 80's came the Vietnamese which exciting restaurants and Asian food stores and now the new arrivals are from Central and North Africa so new and delicoiusfoods, cafes and shops are opening. I don't know where else you can buy- Mangoes for a dollar a kilo and green unroasted coffee which you can take home to fry and brew. Yum. It is all about the smell of the place. My studio is in the Trocadero art space and downstairs is an Indian shop so the incense wofts up through my window, followed by delicious BBQ pork enticing me to go and have lunch ( You might as well get used to the food referrances- I am a foodie and once was even crazy enough to have myown restaurant ).......

So I've had this lovely space all to myself since april so it took six months to finish my book. But they were only really half days as I spent the mornings with my daughter . So 4 - 5 hours a day was not really enough but it's more then enough when you haven't had it for so long.

Ah, a creative space....it's an essential part of my psyche but very hard to achieve in this busy life. I have to say that once I had it I just powered through the ideas. I didn't have the luxury of writer's block as my only problem is lack of time . Having stolen this time somehow I knew I had to use it wisely...or at least efficiently......as this space has for so long lived inside my head while the ideas exploaded in my little brain.

I am the sort of person who says: ...wouldn't it be great if....."and my friend's eyes widen and they nod politely and sign to themselves...oh, poor Dagmara ...another one of her silly day dreams...

But the only reason they were day dreams is because you need time and space to execute them.

So finaly i got mine for a little while

Monday, October 5, 2009

at the begining there is an end is sight

So I start near the end of my first hand made book.........and I think to myself...why ??? Why did I pick this day dream to become the strange creature is has become. I never thought of myself as an illustrator and here I am with a near finished children's book- all written and illustrated by myself....I do really know why...the answer lies in become a mother.
RULE NO 1- when you are creative and become a parent the big war of guilt begins
RULE 2 - it never ends- your two babies forever making you feel bad that you are not spending enough time with one rather then the other.

So what to do ?

Combine the two.

I have always thought of myself as a writer and they say everyone has at least one children's book in them...so here is mine.

It's a reaction to not being creative for a couple of years- staring at my daughter Maya, thinking of her, looking at her, loving her, getting used to her.....the creative voice at the back of my head chocking on baby poo smell.....ah, a dream really...the voice being faint with lack of sleep first , then through lack of time.


But then a small window opened - my partner Stone was having a break in his studies so I took A BIG LEEEEEEEEEEEEEP- and got myself a little studio....oh. I love my little studio......it's a space I haven't had for so long....a space ....ah.....space to think......so the book was born