After a HUGE year of exhibitions, media, retreats and events I decided to take a bit of a sabbatical, I thought I’d drop in and leave a little hint of the direction my work will be heading in the coming months. The concepts are solid, however there was some artistic play before my break and I’m sure that will continue when I return to the studio. I’m enjoying the uncertainty of not knowing how the final piece/s will look and delight in the freedom after the rigidity of the last 10 years making Self Portrait; Artist’s Brain.

Petri Dish Fun

Petri Dish Fun

The brain-mind conundrum has long been the subject of debate and speculation amongst scientists and philosophers. In recent times, however, a new player has been unmasked, the enteric nervous system in our gut; nicknamed ‘the second brain’ an often-overlooked intricate network of some 100 million neurons and a rich microbiota. The systems of the brain/gut axis have a bidirectional relationship influencing health, mood and behaviour.

Householders share a rich array of their microbiome with each other. There are dynamic interactions between us and our housemates and even our pets. A shared internal ecosystem.

This installation draws inspiration from this complex exchange; exploring the unexpected and unintended intimacy between cohabitants.


Attending to Reality

This is an essay by Psychologist Corey Jackson written in response to my Self Portrait; Artist’s Brain exhibition at .M Contemporary. For more on Corey’s inspiring work please head to his website: https://coreyjackson.com.au

inspired by the work of Lada Dedić

Many of us can arrive at a familiar destination with little recollection of actually travelling there. We can navigate from point A to B while paying more attention to an audiobook or daydream than the far more complicated activity of operating a motor vehicle while traversing city traffic. Humans quickly develop automaticity in even complex tasks that reduces the conscious, volitional attention required to perform them.

It makes perfect sense and is a process that has been understood by science for some time. Neural connections are formed as we encounter novel stimuli and are further strengthened as these stimuli are re-encountered and we react in a similar manner as before. Donald Hebb, a pioneer in this field of research coined the phrase “neurons that fire together, wire together.”

As these stimuli are re-encountered, not only will these connections produce the same reaction, but these reactions will require less attention. Even complex tasks are performed with ever decreasing conscious awareness until they are fully automatised. At that time, they can be effectively executed while the attention is entirely elsewhere.

This potentiating of neural connections can explain a great deal of human behaviour. However, there are some important exceptions, some of which have been integral parts of history’s great contemplative traditions.

Take, for example, the single-pointed focus of an experienced meditator. If it is in our evolutionary programming to always react at the mercy of the strongest neural connections, it becomes difficult to explain their sustained attention and ability to resist automatic responses to stimuli. Likewise, a composer, jazz musician and in this case the work of artist Lada Dedić, all place and consciously sustain their attention on familiar objects while creating something new. And they do so even as their evolutionary history and a lifetime of neural connections demanding that they let their actions become automatic and their attention be captured elsewhere.

Computer measured response time and event related potentials are part of an ever-increasing list of ingenious measures revealing the mechanics of automated behaviour, attentional capture and how the brain is implicated in them. However, consciously sustained attention and volitional action is not so easily measured. The amount of conscious attention and volitional action required to create a work of art, music or engineering cannot be measured by examining the work itself.

Nonetheless, it is clear that how we engage in the world is not neurologically predetermined. We can do so deliberately, contemplatively and with personal freedom to exercise choice in how we respond.

Beauty may well be in the eye of the beholder, but whether it is found as an unconscious, automatic response or through sustained, conscious attention is something only we can decide for ourselves.

“For the moment, what we attend to is reality”

William James

Lada Dedic Self Portrait; Artist's Brain (Detail) Stranded cotton on cotton , 2018 790 x 790 mm   photo Bob Newman

Lada Dedic
Self Portrait; Artist's Brain (Detail)
Stranded cotton on cotton , 2018
790 x 790 mm

photo Bob Newman

Many WIPs & a Heavy Heart

I have a few works in progress at the moment.

Of course there's Big Red. I was going to go against my usual slow art policy and sprint this one through but I have come to my senses and am taking it slowly. Enjoying the process and the passage of time.



The following image is of my desk while I'm developing a new stitching technique. 
My partner on seeing it for the first time:

"Is it meant to be that ugly?"
"It's meant to be uneven if that's what you mean. I call it combined gros-point" I replied
"Lada Dedic famous for inventing the ugliest of all stitches... the gross point" was his response

I've decided to name it 'Grouse Point' (Grouse is Aussie for great/terrific). I'll give the technique its own dedicated blog post when I've refined it a little.


This piece is currently at the framers and also deserves a post of its own. Some of the stitching was done in the Malaysian jungle while I was watched by monkeys... but there's so much more.  Oh, and its gilt in 23 karat gold. Whaaaaa?


This is the subtle palette I've been playing with over the recent long weekend.


I’ve also been busy writing didactic panels for an exhibition of prisoner artwork and poetry which I’m coordinating for Liberation Prison Project. I'd call it curating but that's not really what I'm doing because I'll let any of our artists participate and show their work. The work will be exhibited at the University of Western Sydney in February. See here for more info.

It’s heart wrenching to edit our students stories and I’ve been reliving the time surrounding the execution of two of our U.S students/artists. The feeling of helplessness came flooding back... a time when no one wins.

Sometimes I think that maybe I'm not cut out for this work but there is a reward in helping people who are making an effort to change their habitual patterns, work on their minds and take responsibility for their actions... it’s rewarding work, I won't deny that it is also difficult.

At times my heart is so heavy it hurts so I’ve allowed myself time to procrastinate with moments as a maker and moments of music.

I sit and fumble at the piano my fingers tangled and my cello bow is broken (I’m sure my neighbours are grateful).

I will finish the final edit today then back to the studio to work on Big Red. 

Let’s look out for each other.
Big love,

I think it fitting to finish with this work in progress by Luke, one of our prisoner students. His story is particularly moving and will be featured in one of the exhibition panels.

I think it fitting to finish with this work in progress by Luke, one of our prisoner students. His story is particularly moving and will be featured in one of the exhibition panels.


Pea Brain 4 Eva

By Lada Dedic

170 hours of stitching and 22,569 stitches later (45,138 if you take into account that each stitch is a cross) Self Portrait; Artist's Brain #4 (unofficially known as 'Pea Brain 4 Eva') is complete!

The piece just can't be documented properly before it's stretched so here are some preliminary images.

I decided to back-stitch the sulci freehand which was a bit of a risk, but I'm pleased with the result. I chose a deep shade of purple of which there are already 14 stitches scattered through the body of the work as well as part of the brain stem.

Here's a little video of me stitching. If you could see the world through my eyes, this is what you'd see. Hours and hours of this. 

After the completion of the stitching came the process of finding a Picture Framer. I am super worried about stretching the piece so I asked around for recommendations from other artists. It's largish for a cross stitch (1m x1m unframed) with heaps of exposed Aida (think lots of holes with strong vertical and horizontal lines), it also has a bright red vertical and horizontal line and a hangy brain stem which pulls on the fabric so it really needs to be stretched by someone who knows what they're doing. I ended up getting three quotes from the trusted recommendations I received which all came to within $200 of each other. I went with my instincts and am having the piece framed by Rod Denson and Sarah Edmondson at their framing studio in Alexandria. I'd briefly met them a few weeks earlier at Tom Polo's farewell party before his Big European Art Journey. Sidenote: I'm so very pleased to see Tom kicking goals, he's a prolific painter, brilliant artist and a joy to be around. I am proud to call him my friend.

After speaking with Rod, I just know I made the right decision. He was happy to spend time with me, talk to me and offer expert advice about my options and even answer my non-related framing questions. Rod and Sarah both come from a graphic design and art background so I feel confident leaving my brain in their skilled hands. I'll have the framed piece back in my hot little hands in a few weeks, I cant wait to see it in all its framed glory.

World Brain Day

By Lada Dedic 

Happy World Brain Day!

I wish I'd planned ahead and finished my current piece today. Oh well, watch this space, it's not far away.

Here's a work in progress shot of my fine brain. 150 hours of stitching so far.

Lada Dedic Self Portrait Artist's Brain (work in progress) 

Lada Dedic
Self Portrait Artist's Brain (work in progress) 

I belong to the it doesn't have to be neat as long as it's flat school of embroidery. In this next image you're lookin' at the back of my brain, things get pretty messy in there anyhow. A bit of honest Xstitch.

Back of Self Portrait Artist's Brain, pea brain 4

Back of Self Portrait Artist's Brain, pea brain 4


By Lada Dedic

I have just finished writing a proposal for a site specific installation for a multi site festival. I managed to submit my entry with 40 minutes to spare. Phew.

Up until last night I had decided against applying, however I awoke with renewed enthusiasm and I'm pleased that I made the effort.

The artwork signifies the transformation of laneways from cold and utilitarian spaces into a vibrant cafe culture disctrict (not unlike my beloved Melbourne).  

I should find out if I'm shortlisted by Friday.

Meanwhile here's a picture of my 'working dinner' this evening :P

Good Food Month... hmmm.

Good Food Month... hmmm.

Everyone's a Critic

Looking at Brain Art on Pintrest, I came across my own work with this inspiring critique. Love it! 

Critique of Self Portrait Artist's Brain - Lada Dedic

Critique of Self Portrait Artist's Brain - Lada Dedic

I love it, truly. The work has had some sort of impact on this person, enough for them to save it and write something. It's honest and it made me laugh.

The same piece was pinned by a few other people but they didn't caption. This person made an effort.

WeAve Parramatta

By Lada Dedic

I have been invited to present a meditative cross stitch workshop as part of the WeAve project at Parramatta Artists Studios. See the events page for details. The workshop is free and everyone is welcome so come get your stitch on.

WeAve Parramatta
11am-2pm, Friday 17th June
Parramatta Artists Studios
Level 1 & 2, 68 Macquarie St, Parramatta NSW 2150

WeAve connects culturally diverse people through textile art, with a focus on contemporary practice accessing traditional methods. I plan to start the day with an artist’s talk focusing on my slow art practice, then leading the group in a short meditation before we get down to stitchin' (and bitchn' yo yo yo).

I had originally planned to use a woven piece made by WeAve as the inspiration for the pattern but in the end I went with a stylised map of the Parramatta CBD which will link nicely with the meditative aspect of the process (A loving kindness meditation focusing on location).

The map will be divided into small sections, each an abstract art-piece in its own right. Once the completed patches are viewed together the map itself becomes clearer to the viewer.

The pattern making was a two-day process and I’m totally in love with the result. A stylised map of Parramatta using the Parramatta Artists Studios signature pink for the roadways.

Lada Dedic A simulation of the final project which will be completed in small sections by each participant.

Lada Dedic
A simulation of the final project which will be completed in small sections by each participant.

Back to the Aida Cloth

By Lada Dedic

After a break from stitching while I made new work for exhibition, it is nice to be back working on this piece.  Having a small break makes it all seem manageable again. So far I've stitched for over 106 hours.

I have also been sketching toward some paintings I'd like to work on, unfortunately my current studio space isn't suitable for painting. I'll keep planning and hopefully something will come of it.  It's been a long while since I picked up a brush.

Self Portrait Artist's Brain, Lada Dedic (Work in Progress) 

Self Portrait Artist's Brain, Lada Dedic (Work in Progress) 

Am I Too Dumb to Refine?

By Lada Dedic
post title from New Slang by The Shins

The professional always makes the right moves, knows the right thing to say, the right name to check. Controlled and measured, the professional never fucks the wrong person or drinks too much at the party. They never weep at the opening, never lay in bed for days too depressed, sick, broken to move. They say about the professional, “so easy to work with” or “so exacting but brilliant.” The professional takes advantage from every encounter, employs every new acquaintance as a contact, always hits the deadline. When asked about their work, they know what to say, a few lines of explanation sprinkled with enough filigreed intrigue to allude to abysses of research, the mysteries of making. They answer emails in minutes. Their PowerPoints are super crisp. Look at their website, so clean, so modern, so very pro.
— http://momus.ca/how-to-be-an-unprofessional-artist/

I have so much to say on this matter and I don't really know where to start so I'm going to ramble.

I fixed my website which looked like it was straight out of 1998 and I hate it already, sooooo 2015.  I don't think I'll ever work out small talk and 'networking'.  I find art events challenging, particularly the fractured conversations, I feel as though I'm either interrupting or being interrupted.

A big-shot art dealer once felt me up while we had our photo taken, or more to the point, I was assaulted in an extremely intimate assertion of power and control while I stood there and smiled for the camera.  Needless to say I didn't sign with that gallery and ever since then I have difficulty talking to art dealers/curators and pretty much anyone who can help with my "career".  It’s not that I think other art dealers are going to ‘cop a feel’, just that ever since then, I think that I unconsciously believe that my work is shite because that one dealer had ulterior motives.  I was young and impressionable and straight out of art school and the feeling stuck.

The following sentence makes me angry: "Theory and discussion will explore perspectives on materialisation embedded in the logic and phenomenology of digital and analogue substance" (COFA).  I hate 'artspeak'.  My work is still "arrrty crrrafty".  I always cry after openings (I have an opening tonight).  So far this year I have earned $500 which I then spent on materials.  If it wasn't for my partner, I'd be destitute.  (I deleted all the swear-words).

I love what I do.  Truly.  In the past, I tried to stop making work, I've never been able to give up.  My plan now is to just keep plodding along and if one day I'm a 'successful' artist that'll be a welcome surprise and if not, that's OK too.

Also, I should add that I admire the artists I know who are able to shape-shift to fit into the expected 'professional artist' box.  I know that many find it challenging.

Showcasing my 'Professional Artist' persona at the Parramatta Artists Studios 2008. Snuggling with artwork by (the brilliant) Linda Brescia, draped with lights and a glass of cask. 

Showcasing my 'Professional Artist' persona at the Parramatta Artists Studios 2008. Snuggling with artwork by (the brilliant) Linda Brescia, draped with lights and a glass of cask. 

Wait, Weep & Be Worthy - a photo essay

By Lada Dedic

Researching the new work for the upcoming exhibition at the Hawkesbury Regional Gallery (see here) my first port of call was The Anzac Memorial in Hyde Park, even though they don't have an archival collection that was suitable for my research, Brad Manera the Senior Historian and Curator pointed me in the right direction and suggested resources which proved invaluable. He emailed me this anecdote:

"When I was working in the north in my youth my grandmother used to make cakes and post them to me the way she had done with her husband, my grandfather, during the war. She would fit them into a tin and stitch the tin shut with calico writing my name and address in indelible (purple) pencil on the outside.

This came up in conversation last week when I met with a 98-year-old widow of a decorated Australian naval veteran. It was something she hadn't thought about for 75 years and was delighted at the recollection. It inspired several hours of very pleasant reminiscences."

 The team at the State Library of NSW were also fantastic with numerous Librarians phoning and investigating which of their collections would be of most use. I also received assistance from the research centre of the Australian War Memorial who sent links to their digitised collection saving me a trip to Canberra.

First rough sketch for the installation.

First rough sketch for the installation.

The piece will explore the role of women sending letters and care packages to loved ones serving overseas.

A little light reading. 

A little light reading. 

Preliminary research for the new work.  Looking forward to is getting my grubby (but gloved) fingers on three crates of papers, pictorial materials and relics from the 'Special & Restricted Collections' of the State Library of NSW.

State Library of NSW

State Library of NSW

Having spent many hours in grand and hidden reading rooms of the State Library of Victoria, this was my first foray in the Mitchell Library Reading Room, Special Collections area of the State Library of NSW.

Australian Stamps 1916

Australian Stamps 1916

I felt as though I were discovering long lost treasure, see below for a list of some of items I came across in my research.

Mitchell Library Reading Room, Special Collections Area, State Library of NSW

Mitchell Library Reading Room, Special Collections Area, State Library of NSW

Cordoned off with a glass wall, the special collections area was not the dark, lamp lit, back-rooms I remembered from Victoria. It is however much more practical, well lit with power points for laptops and large wide desks for spreading out my treasures. The Librarians were so very helpful, dragging out the crates I had ordered from offsite. "Oooh, that's a heavy one, be careful lifting that" 

Letters from Frederick Stobo Phillips, 31 January 1915-26 October 1916, Collection: Series 01 Part 01: Irene Victoria Read WWI papers, 1914-1918

Letters from Frederick Stobo Phillips, 31 January 1915-26 October 1916, Collection: Series 01 Part 01: Irene Victoria Read WWI papers, 1914-1918

At first I found each authors handwriting arduous, being a child of the digital age, cursive script is not something I come across often (even in my work with the 'pen pals' at the Liberation Prison Project). There was no email trail in 1915.

As I settled in to a pile of letters, I'd slowly get to know the script and the author. You can learn a lot about somebody by their personal letters, particularly considering that they wouldn't have imagined them being read 100 years later by an artist in a Library reading room. Each writer has a style and a language, a sense of humour and in wartime oh so much heartache. Much of the story is told between the lines.

I'd often find myself reading years of letters in the space of a few hours. Sometimes these letters would STOP abruptly.  I'd then find myself scrambling through records only to find the dreaded 'Missing in Action' telegram or list of casualties. Heart. Broken.

Some of the treasures I discovered:

  • A passport from 1916 with space for a photograph of the 'Passport Holder' and another for the 'Passport Holder's Wife'.
  • Green Envelopes, known colloquially as 'greenies'. A privilege given to soldiers once a month allowing them a letter home which was not subject to censorship. The following is printed on the envelope:  
         Correspondence in this envelope need not be censored Regimentally. The contents are liable to examination at the Base.
         The following Certificate must be signed by the writer:
         I certify on my honour that the contents of this envelope refer to nothing but private and family matters.
         Signature (Name only)
  • Xmas, I don't know why I thought it was a modern abbreviation, I only saw the formal term 'Christmas' a handful of times during my research. On further investigation the term Xmas has been in use since the 16th century.
  • Carbon copies. As letters would regularly get lost in the post during wartime, some service personnel would send multiple copies of the same letter home. Envelopes were often scarce so it would have been quite an investment to do so.
  • Lists from the Australian Comforts Fund, which was formed at a grass roots level by women to provide 'comforts' and little luxuries to Australians serving abroad. Lists of items included: tobacco, cakes, puddings, condensed milk, sugar, biscuits, newspapers, socks, pyjamas (for the injured), games, pianos (for hospitals) and other 'luxury' items to supplement the Australian soldier's army rations.
  • Although numerous collections are available from nurses serving abroad there is a distinct lack of the female voice from the home front, therefore only half of the story is often told. Understandably, letters from home would have been challenging for the soldiers to keep (although some do mention that they kept all letters).

A Slow Art Blog

By Lada Dedic

I am a slow art practitioner. Each of my pieces requires extensive time to complete and therefore collections can be years in the making. I was thinking that It may be helpful to my practice to have a place to document the process and progress of each piece, as well as any side projects I may have going. So this blog is born.

I don't plan to spend hours nutting out explanations of what I am doing and why, I am not a writer. I hope this can be a place for a few scrawlings and images of my works in progress. Time will tell.

After years of silent work, why a blog, why now? With the opening of The Blake Prize slowly fading into memory, the resounding feeling I have is that I am humbled that my work was chosen to hang alongside those of such talented and varied artists. It seems a fitting time to come out of my shell. Just a little.

I have dealt with some significant illness over the last few years, so having my piece in an exhibition of spiritual work feels like a turning point. I have come to realise that I just want to make work, so that is what I'm going to do.


Finalist Lada Dedic with Ven. Thubten Chokyi at the opening of The 64th Blake Prize, Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre, 2016

Finalist Lada Dedic with Ven. Thubten Chokyi at the opening of The 64th Blake Prize, Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre, 2016

The opening of The 64th Blake Prize, Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre, 2016

The opening of The 64th Blake Prize, Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre, 2016