A collaborative zine by Gracia Haby & Louise Jennison
Etched upon the scales of a butterfly’s wing, a series of fine lines. A repeated pattern to scramble light waves and in doing so reflect different colours. Small, intense, and marvellous. Under our very noses. In search of nectar, flitting about in the garden.
Pattern is decorative. Functional. An insects’ eye: an ordered appearance of hexagons. A warning, and a safe haven. It is how a tiger conceals their form at the grass-stalking close of day. It is a chameleon that assumes the markings of a neighbouring form, turning itself into a garden hose, fooling our eyes in the process. A recurring model, many and varied, from migratory patterns in nature to those a tailor follows. A set of instructions. A way of working. Give me dark patterns, blueprints, and Persian rugs, woven. Sleep sequences, fitful. A moon orbiting the earth. A wallpaper of stars and promise.
Patterns to follow. Or rewrite.
Patterns assembled in zine format. One, two, three, four, five.
Naturally, with the Melbourne Art Book Fair around the bend, Louise and I have been making new zines to share with you. Pattern is one such zine. A celebration of pattern, and featuring the work of four artists (and friends, relations, even — hi Mum!) we admire. For this zine, we invited Deidre Brollo, Marian Crawford, Elaine Haby, and Deborah Klein to submit new or existing images and/or text in response to the word ‘pattern.’ We look forward to sharing their interpretations of the theme with you at the fair.
Until then, this is what we created for our part of the zine. A crockery tale, and five digital collages nestled beneath the title, No day without a yesterday (2017).
Clang (you). Screech (me). Clatter (object). One collision in three onomatopoeic words. The patterned plates you break, they are always the best ones. The favourites, the treasures. The most irreplaceable, never the cheaply made or readily come by. But of course, what does that really mater? You can’t take it with you, they always say. You can’t take it with you. Better get out the ‘good’ crockery. Use it, enjoy it. Chip it, watch the design fade. For ‘Sunday best’ died long ago.
I dot the pieces along the fence line. A garden edging of broken blue and white shards. At least that way I can enjoy them still, those beautiful fragments for slugs and snails to glide over. Ornate walls for geckos to hide behind. A smooth surface, with a jagged tooth, for nature to reclaim. Part buried in the soil, reminiscent of an abandoned archaeological dig in suburbia and a nursery rhyme of cockle shells in want of bells.
The things I let you get away with. Were it not for the spots on your skin, ordered yet random, winsome and you. I look at my own. My own lack of spots, and I think: how much better things would be with a fine cloak of spots. My pelt, poor in comparison. My skin, plucked, bare, and sagging. As you bat another plate with your hind paw, making it clink, ding, jingle to the floor, I collect the remnants and return to the garden. Break and patch: our neatly blueprinted scheme. The price I have paid for inviting a Spotted hyena (Crocuta crocuta) to share my lounge.
(The Spotted hyena (Crocuta crocuta), cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus), giraffe (Giraffa Camelopardalis), Cape genet (Genetta tigrina), and Cape ram (Ovis canadensis) featured within the collages were drawn by Robert Jacob Gordon (1743–1795), from the Gordon African Collection: Quadrupeds, Rijksmuseum.)
Melbourne Art Book Fair
National Gallery of Victoria
Thursday 16th – Sunday 19th March, 2017
Image credit: Delft plate (detail) depicting a figure and lion in a landscape (Holland), anonymous, c. 1640–1660, in the collection of the Rijksmuseum