Archives for posts with tag: background


The “Embrace Diversity” couple that faces the public today is Lapdog and Cool Cat.  Everyone knows cats and dogs don’t like each other! Really? Yes really, but they can be civil to each other. Here Cool Cat give Lapdog a little kiss on the forehead, that is as far as she will go.


They usually don’t see eye to eye as they have totally different attitudes. Cool Cat has even called Lapdog a “slut” which curries favour with everyone. Lapdog doesn’t think much better of Cool Cat. She finds her up her self and arrogant. So, the cat is a loner who looks after her appearance and does yoga to keep fit. She does not allow anyone to touch her, particularly her tummy. Lapdog on the other hand likes rough and tumble play and you virtually have to force her to have a bath afterwards. She totally dislikes to be on her own, so she is friendly with everyone, like a little ray of sunshine and she loves to be patted on every part of her body.

With so many differences, to name but a few, it is not surprising that these two will never be bosom buddies. But they do respect each other deeply and therefore can co-exist peacefully. Their secret is that neither of them tries to force their way of life on the other.



Another one of our instagram followers,  from_delphine sent in a question last night. She asked: “Dear Dedes… do you like to go outside and feel the wind on your skin?” Lapdog wanted to cry when she heard that question. She would just love to go outside and romp around the garden. But all she could do is jump off the stage and look out the window. Okay, it is raining heavily today, but that is not the main reason that holds her back. “To feel the wind would be amazing” she said dolefully, “but we Dedes are very sensitive to the sun and we have to stay out of it as much as possible.” Then she admitted quietly, “sadly the only wind I feel is the one that rumbles in my tummy.”



I couldn’t sleep last night because it was Granddad Max’s turn today. I was so excited that the old guy had a chance to talk. It is a bit personal as I have the feeling that the world is indeed ageist. So, I had pinned so much hope on the old fellow. And then he called in sick! What a let down. I do have to understand, he didn’t want to come on stage and share his virus around. He issued a statement about his life lessons though and sent it to Devil to read out aloud: “The young ones will be old in due time & there are more shades of love than hate.” After he had read it, Devil looked around and asked, “Does this make sense or is the fever speaking here?” Our Instagram friend wizened_gnome  swiftly send us a translation of what Granddad said. “Hate is uncompromising, while love acknowledges imperfection.” So, true.

We wish Granddad Max a speedy recovery and he was right to stay in bed.

With the cancellation of Granddad’s appearance Mouse had a bit of time on hand and she used it to find out more about Lapdog. Mouse never really engaged with the little dog as she thought it is just a pretty little thing that hasn’t much grey matter between her two oversized ears. To learn more she looked on the character page yesterday only to find there is no description for Lapdog either. (Apologies: the puppets without descriptions were originally made for an exhibition and to sell. Once I develop their story I have trouble letting them go. But since I am not selling at this stage, I might as well tell their story).


So Mouse spoke to Lapdog at the stage door. Her main concern was what personal pronoun she should use when she refers to Lapdog. The little dog laughed and said, “When you talk to me, you use you. Like you would with any other person. If I am not around, you can say he, she or it. I don’t mind as I don’t hear it. You even could say the bitch, that would be right too, as I am Lapdog.” The dog is certainly not short of confidence. Good on it.



I am often asked how the Dede puppets came about and I think now is an appropriate time to tell the story as it was Mother’s Day last Sunday.

Here is the short version of the story:

When I was little, my mother used to tell us kids about a devil hand puppet she once made but left behind when moving house. I never saw the puppet but she talked about it with such passion that in my mind it must have been the most beautiful hand puppet ever. Some decades later I tried to get rid of a rather large pile of newspaper and I was quite surprised when I suddenly had a very strong desire to make a devil hand puppet. My mother and I didn’t have a particularly good relationship and when I started making the puppets I realised I was about the same age my mother was when she told me about her puppet. Anyway, the devil turned out beautifully – even if I do say so myself – and I continued making more. Within a week I had a cast of fifteen and they were received very favourably by my friends. At this stage my mother was still alive and could see pictures of the first puppets and hear how well they were received. Sadly she passed away shortly after. I can but view the puppets as my mother’s legacy to me. There isn’t a day when I don’t think about her and develop a better understanding of her life and her motivations.

In the picture above Cash Cow, who has my eyes, holds a picture of my mother. Can you see the similarity?

Below is my very first Dede puppet, Devil. He will always have a special place in my heart, even though I am sure he has nothing in common with my mother’s devil.



Pig and Professor love the arts and I had to promise them long time ago that I will take them to the gallery as soon as possible so they can have a look at all the wonderful works. In the next two weeks all the participating artists are taking turns in manning the gallery and it was my turn last Monday. I will be there tomorrow and next Wednesday again, but Pig and Professor didn’t want to wait any longer. So here I can show you their first impressions. There is more good work on display in the gallery, so if you are in Auckland and in the neighbourhood of Mt Eden swing by and judge for yourself.  You enter through a narrow door and go down a flight of stairs.  The gallery is on two floors below street level.

When the two Dedes came down the stairs, Pig stopped in his tracks and turned in awe to Professor “This space is amazing” he whispered “We should have volunterred to take part in the installation.”  The images you see in the background here are by Sonja Gardien. It is a photographic series reminding us of the impact of climate change.


Opposite Sonja’s image are Stacey Simpkin’s photographs of some of the old baches (holiday homes) on Rangitoto Island, a very well-known volcano located just outside the Auckland harbour entrance with a wonderful checkered history.


Here Pig and Professor move towards Dorina Jotti’s amazing Photograph “Cross-Referenced”. This snapshot doesn’t do the image justice at all, as the blues look too light and washed out. In reality it is of a rich and dark colour, which is very difficult to reproduce with simple devices. The photograph was craftily printed on a ten-colour printer.

At the top right you see a display by contemporary jeweler Sarah Walker-Holt. Once again, the snapshot doesn’t do the work justice. Art is best viewed in original.  :)


Another fantastic work by Dorina Jotti. This is a zen meditation exercise, an enso, which is a circle drawn in one uninhibited brushstroke to express the moment when the mind is ready to let the body express.


The wonderful series “Brotherhood” was created by Kirsten Weir and depicts members of the Hell’s Angels in their headquarters. Pig didn’t want to get any closer, as he knows that Kirsten has to seek approval each time she wants to exhibit the images and Pig doesn’t want to get her into trouble. But you can believe us, these images are striking.


The deer is another one of Carly van Winkel’s photographs. Her series is about animals that are raised purely to be released in front of hunters to be shot. Sad!

Carly is an excellent photographer and you might remember that she took the images at the launch of “The Artist’s Survival Cookbook”. If you want to learn more about how to take breathtaking photographs… Carly and I are running an “Intro to Photography” workshop at Studio 541 in Auckland on 4th June. She also does tell some hilareous story’s about the capture of her hunting photos.


On the bottom floor you will find a series by Alice Ng showing dilapidated buildings in the Auckland area. There is a special aesthetic in such images, isn’t there?


And then of course there are the Dedes with their mobile phones. Professor and Pig were so excited when they finally discovered their mates in the last room (they requested to be placed as far away from the entrance as possible) so they can do some work. Even now, they hardly looked up. That was a bit of a disappointment for the visitors.


This was just a quick walk around the gallery. There is more work by Vicky te Puni, Julia Glover, Toni Mosley, Yvonne Shaw, Trish Campbell, Melanie Tollemache and Jessie Rolston  It’s worth the trip.






The last few weeks were pretty hectic with preparations for the exhbition opening. The whole affair was organised in a timeframe of only 3 weeks, as it had to fit in with the opening of the law firm that is in the same building. It was amazing how well organised the 14 exhibiting artists were. All of them are highly professional and it was a pleasure to be involved in putting the biographies, statements and the descriptions of the work together. We also managed to get flyers for the first three workshops ready in time.

It is not that easy for the Dedes to leave their friends behind, so I promised the ones that went and sat in the Gallery a new mobile phone. In the end I took four Dedes, but as Alien has his own antennaes he didn’t need to be bribed with a new device. Before we even left the house the others got into their new toys straight away and they haven’t looked up since. Because of this, Alien quickly got annoyed with his mates and in the end he wandered off to make friends with the goat my friend Carly has put in the exhibition. The goat looked at Alien but wasn’t the least bit interested in his advances. He was very well aware that he is king of the show and admired by all the visitors.


If you are in Auckland, the show is in the brand new space of Studio 541, at 541 Mount Eden Road. The gallery is open from 11am to 4pm, Tuesday to Saturday.  Check out the space, it is truely amazing. We have three teaser workshops organised. If you are interested in how to non-destructively work in Photoshop with layers and masks, join me on the 14th of May from 9am to 3pm. I will be running the workshop, assisted by Carly van Winkel and it is a real steal at $80 for the day.

On the 4th of June we will have an intro to Photography course in which Carly will explain all the awkward technical terms so that you can use your camera on manual and create the most amazing shots. This time I will be assisting. For more info go to the website of Studio541

L;Artiste working

The Dedes are in a strange state at the moment. We are currently preparing to move to the countryside and there is heaps to do on the house before this happens. The strange is, the Dedes came to life when we extended the house and created a big studio space. Now they seem to die, because we are about to leave. I am truly looking forward to new beginnings, though at the same time I still have trouble letting go of this perfect space we have created here. It has been my safe haven in recent years, when my outside world seemed to be collapsing around me. I don’t know when, if ever, I will be able to create something I am equally comfortable with. But before we move we have to get rid of a lot of junk. (This is exactly the reason why I created the Dedes in 2012 – I had to clear out the spare room and get rid of all the old newspapers). This time I have to get rid of a lot of building material :)

A friend of mine, who was one of my students years back, has created an amazing studio space in Mt Eden in Auckland and she has invited me to take part in a big opening exhibition at the end of the month. So L’Artiste is in a flurry to finish off half completed work. Sometimes he is totally lost in his studio. Can you find him in the picture below?

studio mess

mum-comp copy

This is the very last composite I did in Photoshop and it is a very personal and painful one. I think I did this one in late 2014 or early 2015. (I haven’t even dated it, as I am not sure whether it is finished). It is a reflection of my mother who was an enigma to me all her life. I think you have to be German and of a certain age to understand.

That is enough about my art and from tomorrow I will write about the puppets again :)


I am still not sure what an artist actually is. I tell others that everyone is an artist, even though I have problems calling myself one. Do you need an audience who appreciates your work and puts a value on it? Is someone who produces stuff without selling or exhibiting merely a creative? I create to understand the world around me. That is it!

I took this photograph in 2010. I even had a large 10-colour print mounted on dibond, which I gave to a friend when our ways parted. The concept of the image is such a cheesy stereotype and I can see heaps of things I could have done better, but at the time it felt right.



This is more stuff I made over the weekend. I came across an interesting tutorial on the internet about burning glue to create a textured surface. In the video the result looked amazing, so I had to have a go. I used some air dry clay I found in my art cupboard as the foundation to apply the glue to. I wasn’t too sure about burning PVA glue but it didn’t smell bad. Actually, it didn’t smell at all though this doesn’t mean it isn’t toxic. (Okay, I found a site on the internet that said it wasn’t). While I like the look of the beads, I don’t like touching them. It irritates me that they feel warm, not cold like stone. It’s a fail in my book :) It made me realise, I don’t think much about the temperature of objects, but I certainly have a subconscious expectation.