The Alchemy of Assemblage Workshops 2017

Last year I held my first ever workshop, in the beautiful antique & restoration warehouse, Elements I Love, located here in my neighbourhood in Sydney. It was a collaborative workshop with owner Brooke, who shared her fabulous expertise on woodwork finishing while I guided participants to connecting with their unique creative flow as they each made their own assemblage boards. It was great fun,  and the energy in the room was magnetic.

After some wonderful feedback and several consultations with a workshop specialist over the past months, I have designed & redefined The Alchemy of Assemblage into something delightfully unique & I cannot wait to share it with you! So without further delay, I am thrilled to announce  I have two exclusive & intimate workshops to be held at Elements I Love next month (and two to be held in Amsterdam in September, which I'll share the details of in a moment!).

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The first one coming up is a weekend workshop, spread over 2 days - from 11-4pm on August 26 & 27, 2017. Join me for a rare opportunity to spend 10 hours together learning how to connect with your intuition to unlock your own unique style and journey toward finding the beauty & magic in your everyday.  With a limit of just 6 participants so I can genuinely connect to each person, this unique workshop is a life-enriching experience that reaches heart & soul. 

On Day One, you’ll acquire the knowledge to create your own distinctive piece of personal art on wood using a collection of elements you love. Through the process of creating your own assemblage board (collage on wood), I will guide you on how to recognise and follow your intuition, allowing your creative spirit to flow freely - a technique you’ll be able to practice and strengthen over time. I will help you discover how to approach a creative project by guiding you through making your own beautiful and evocative collage: it will be like learning to bring to life one of the pages from My Heart Wanders but even more wonderful - this will be your very own. 

We'll enjoy a delicious & nourishing French-inspired lunch with champagne surrounded by incredible antiques from all over the world and have the chance to talk in more depth about creative blocks and how to work through them. 

On Day Two, you'll have the opportunity to practice what you've learnt from Day One and take it one step further by creating your own styled vignette with selected objects from the beautiful Elements I Love collection. Through the styling of your own vignette in a supportive, nurturing and captivating environment, learn how to get in touch with your intuition and work with your creativity to find beauty in the everyday.

This is where you'll learn my creative principles which I apply to styling & photographing for clients as well as magazine and publishing shoots.

After another delicious lunch together and more time to deepen your intuitive connection, you'll be ready to head home feeling empowered, nurtured and with joy in your heart.  You'll have gained confidence in your creative abilities and be inspired to nurture and grow your heart connection in a new and magical way. 

Here are the dates and details for the Sydney Weekend Workshop:

Date: Saturday and Sunday, August 26 & 27, 2017

Time: 11-4pm on Saturday August 26 & 11-4pm on Sunday August 27. 

Location: Elements I Love, 124 James St Leichhardt.

Price: $800

Learn: how to approach a creative concept and learn skills that will enable you to craft other assemblages.  Gain insight & knowledge into the thought process behind creative and artistic projects whilst learning the stylist’s trade techniques that make it happen.

Bring: (optional) one or two mementos from home that represent a moment, a place, a time, a memory or a person you love. For example: a photograph, a scrap of fabric, a piece of leather or similar, an old letter or card, a ticket etc. 

Supplied: boards and materials, beautiful organic teas & coffee, lunch (please inform us if you have any dietary requirements), champagne and afternoon tea. 

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The second Sydney workshop is a single day workshop, incorporating everything from Day One of the weekend workshop, here are the details:

Date: Saturday July 22, 2017

Time: 11-4pm 

Location: Elements I Love, 124 James St, Leichhardt, Sydney, Australia

Price: $400

Learn: how to approach a creative concept and learn skills that will enable you to craft other assemblages.  Gain insight & knowledge into the thought process behind creative and artistic projects.

Bring: (optional) one or two mementos from home that represent a moment, a place, a time, a memory or a person you love. For example: a photograph, a scrap of fabric, a piece of leather or similar, an old letter or card, a ticket etc. 

Supplied: boards and materials, beautiful organic teas & coffee, lunch (please inform us if you have any dietary requirements), champagne and afternoon tea. 

There are only 6 places available for each, you can click on the link below to learn more and book your place...

Now for the details about Amsterdam...

Yes! Very excited to share with you my friend Leslie's incredible studio in Amsterdam for these workshops. All the details are as above, but they will be held at Swarm: Leslie Oschmann's wonderful world of making. Being an artist hermit (like myself, we are alike in that way :), this is definitely a rare opportunity! Here are the details...

Amsterdam Weekend Workshop:

Date: Saturday and Sunday, September 9 & 10, 2017

Time: 11-4pm on Saturday September 9 & 11-4pm on Sunday September 10.

Location: Swarm, Vereniging De Loods, Zeeburgereiland, Amsterdam

Price: $885AUS (600 euros)

Learn: how to approach a creative concept and learn skills that will enable you to craft other assemblages.  Gain insight & knowledge into the thought process behind creative and artistic projects whilst learning the stylist’s trade techniques that make it happen.

Bring: (optional) one or two mementos from home that represent a moment, a place, a time, a memory or a person you love. For example: a photograph, a scrap of fabric, a piece of leather or similar, an old letter or card, a ticket etc. 

Supplied: boards and materials, beautiful organic teas & coffee, lunch (please inform us if you have any dietary requirements), champagne and afternoon tea. 

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Amsterdam Single Day Workshop:

Date: Friday, September 8, 2017

Time: 11-4pm

Location: Swarm, Vereniging De Loods, Zeeburgereiland, Amsterdam

Price: $445AUS (300 euros)

Learn: how to approach a creative concept and learn skills that will enable you to craft other assemblages.  Gain insight & knowledge into the thought process behind creative and artistic projects.

Bring: (optional) one or two mementos from home that represent a moment, a place, a time, a memory or a person you love. For example: a photograph, a scrap of fabric, a piece of leather or similar, an old letter or card, a ticket etc. 

Supplied: boards and materials, beautiful organic teas & coffee, lunch (please inform us if you have any dietary requirements), champagne and afternoon tea. 

For more info, follow the link below...

If you have any questions at all, please send me an email.

With love, 

Pia xx

STUDIO book cover

I was informed by a friend the other day that one of my photographs of Leslie Oschmann's Amsterdam studio Swarm has become the cover for Sally Coulthard's new book called Studio: creative spaces for creative people. Leslie's studio is not featured within the book, so for those who bought the book hoping to see more of the space featured on the cover, here are more of my photographs of Leslie's incredible space...

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I met Leslie when I was living in Amsterdam and was researching for my book Amsterdam: Made by Hand. It was a joy to photograph her home and studio, it remains to be one of the most inspiring places I've ever had the pleasure of spending time in...

There are plenty more photographs which I will be sharing in my stock media room soon, for publishers interested in seeing the full story of images, please feel free to email me in the meantime. 

Leslie has since moved to a new studio in Amsterdam, and I had the pleasure of visiting with my daughter last July, and yes, I took lots of photographs! I'll share these with you soon too.

Also in exciting news, I'm about to reveal my next workshop dates - one of which will be in Amsterdam, in Leslie's new studio. I can't wait to share the details with you. 

xx

Mentoring...

One of the most rewarding new features of my work these past two years has been becoming a creative mentor.

When I was growing up & forming the foundations of my own career in the arts, I didn't have a mentor.  I didn't have access to anyone around me who was an artist.  And while attending university some 20 years ago now, I started observing the journeys of my fellow students and got the sense that life as an artist could be a little less of a struggle with a mentor. Some students had a parent who was a working artist, or an aunt, or uncle, or family friend or they came from a long lineage of creative professionals. I found this intriguing. Imagine being able to call upon that person when you were blocked or needed some support, and heard wise & nurturing words from someone who just 'got it'? Imagine having someone in your life that you didn't have to explain or defend your creative leanings? Could it be possible to be an artist and feel supported rather than be in conflict with your life choices?! These were my wonderings.

...Amsterdam, 2010, writing the manuscript for My Heart Wanders ....................................................................

...Amsterdam, 2010, writing the manuscript for My Heart Wanders

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mentor ˈmɛntɔː/ noun : an experienced and trusted adviser and supporter.

It's incredible to now be in the position in my life to be a mentor - the very person I longed for in my early creative exploration. I work the mentoring and consulting around my projects - each week I am producing photographic stories, working on my upcoming books or developing and hosting workshops.  Today I am able to support creative beings during their processing, help explore and dissolve their blocks, and nurture them through their artistic endeavours: It's such an honour. 

One of the very first client consultations I had was back in 2014 with creative entrepreneur extraordinaire Beth Kempton. Beth disclosed her then-secret book project to me and needed some advise on book pitching and publishing. I was able to help her in those early stages, and today, she launches that very book in London through Hay House Publishing. It's called Freedom Seeker. I've written a little about it on Instagram, and there are some sneak peeks of the beautiful & thoughtful package she sent me in my insta story. I'll be posting about it here soon in my journal, along with the piece she wrote in her book about my own journey to freedom. I'm so thrilled for Beth and feel so much appreciation for being able to support and help her realise her publishing dream. 

Without disclosing too much about my current mentoring clients projects (I've always been a great secret keeper!), some of them are embarking on amazing artistic adventures like visual book publishing, becoming professional photographers, creating online art portfolios that truly represent their style and encompasses all their various talents, and working toward their first art exhibitions. 

If you'd like me to mentor you this year to help activate your creative flow you can click here to book & find out more information about what I can offer you. The package is 3 hours which can be taken as an intensive one-on-one - like a personal workshop - or it can be split into 3 one-hour sessions over a period of 1-3 months. My goal is to see your work realised, so I will be able to assess what you need and tailor the sessions to meet those needs. You can book another package or we can create a tailored mentoring package to suit your long term goals. There are also one hour creative consultations available. 

I'd love to support you in your creative life! Send me an email or comment below if you have any questions about the process. 

Vivent les artistes!!!

xx

photo story for Christmas edition of Happinez 2016...

1. "let me take you for a walk through my favourite neighbourhood": hand drawn map of Amsterdam (which I made a few years ago for my Amsterdam: Made By Hand tour, antique French book from our bookshelf, gold fabric from Major & Tom. 2. "a wander on the beach": Bottle from Major & Tom, as well as gold scalloped dish, made by beautiful Bridget Bodenham. ..............................................

1. "let me take you for a walk through my favourite neighbourhood": hand drawn map of Amsterdam (which I made a few years ago for my Amsterdam: Made By Hand tour, antique French book from our bookshelf, gold fabric from Major & Tom. 2. "a wander on the beach": Bottle from Major & Tom, as well as gold scalloped dish, made by beautiful Bridget Bodenham.

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3. "I'll be your Marie Kondo for the day": everything found around my home - fallen bark from a nearby tree, found feathers, and beautiful velvet lined box gifted to me by an Alchemy of Assemblage workshop attendee. 4. "I'll knit you something warm this winter": wool bought in British Columbia many years ago, tiny knitting needles found in a vintage shop on King St, Newtown, blue silk fabric given to me by my friend Kaspia.  ..............................................

3. "I'll be your Marie Kondo for the day": everything found around my home - fallen bark from a nearby tree, found feathers, and beautiful velvet lined box gifted to me by an Alchemy of Assemblage workshop attendee. 4. "I'll knit you something warm this winter": wool bought in British Columbia many years ago, tiny knitting needles found in a vintage shop on King St, Newtown, blue silk fabric given to me by my friend Kaspia

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In September last year, I produced, styled and photographed an 8-page feature for Dutch magazine Happinez, for their Christmas edition, 2016, issue 8. It was titled "What money can't buy", featuring non-traditional gift ideas for the festive season. The brief was to come up with some gift ideas that celebrate sharing time together and offering a skill, rather than going out and buying something. As you can imagine, I was pretty rapt with this assignment: challenge accepted!

Would you like to know a little about how I made these assemblages?

5. "I'll plant you a rose garden": back boards from Major & Tom, hand dyed silk ribbon from Tinctifolia, and tiny French pots from Elements I Love . 6. "I'll make you some healing soup": sari from Malaysia (details below), hemp string from String Harvest. ..............................................

5. "I'll plant you a rose garden": back boards from Major & Tom, hand dyed silk ribbon from Tinctifolia, and tiny French pots from Elements I Love . 6. "I'll make you some healing soup": sari from Malaysia (details below), hemp string from String Harvest.

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Together with the Creative Editor, I came up with some ideas and then had to figure out how to visually capture them. For example, one idea was to gift a walk on a favourite beach together. When I thought about that idea, I began to visualise a beach in a bottle, so I created just that, using a small bottle, some sand, tiny shells and a little sparkle (shown in the top right image). The layering of the objects around the bottle created depth and warmth, and I used gold threaded fabric and ceramics for texture and a touch of festivity. That was the first photograph I made from the story, as in my mind it was the strongest, but it also took the longest to create (3 hours). 

Another gift idea was to make some delicious festive soup, but instead of creating an image of a bowl or pot of soup, I decided to bundle the ingredients together, giving a textural feast for the eyes (image 6). I deconstructed a variety of fresh mushrooms from the supermarket, choosing the most interesting ones and creating a bundle with fresh herbs and watercress, wrapped with string and bells. The sari used as the backdrop for the ingredients I had bought in Malaysia many years ago when I was a bridesmaid for a modern Malay wedding. 

7. "Private concert": Gold textile from Major & Tom, Indian festive circles from India in Balmain, music sheet from my personal collection. 8. A beautiful mess. ..............................................

7. "Private concert": Gold textile from Major & Tom, Indian festive circles from India in Balmain, music sheet from my personal collection. 8. A beautiful mess.

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Below each image is more information about each photograph, with links to wonderful prop suppliers and makers here in Sydney. And if you'd like to see a behind the scenes mini film of me in the process of making one of the photographs, you can see it right here

9. "I'll come to clean up your decorations": box of decorations from my personal collection, with collected seed pods dipped in glitter, vintage baubles, and an assortment of ceramic stars by Paper Boat Press. 10. vintage sari as above.

9. "I'll come to clean up your decorations": box of decorations from my personal collection, with collected seed pods dipped in glitter, vintage baubles, and an assortment of ceramic stars by Paper Boat Press. 10. vintage sari as above.

Would you like to learn how I create assemblages like these? This year I am scheduling a few exclusive and very intimate weekend workshops to share my techniques with you, connecting to our intuition. In the next couple of weeks I'll be announcing the dates, first through my newsletter to allow subscribers to get first choice with early bird specials, then publicly. There will only be 6 places available per workshop, so if you'd like to be first in line to book your preferred date, please ensure you have subscribed

And if you have any questions, please comment below! xx

Music that rocked my world (part 1)...

I was 14 years old, late at night in a hotel room in London on my own while my parents were out for a business dinner. I turned on the tv and found this: Pearl Jam, unplugged, in New York. That night, their music rocked my world. My whole body felt alight with joy, hope, wonder, curiosity. And fire. They sparked the fire in me that had been dormant for too long. I'm still grateful. ❤

Aboriginal Shibori Workshop...

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One Sunday last October I attended a wonderful workshop at the artist run exhibition space, Barometer in Paddington. The Memories of Country Aboriginal Shibori workshop was hosted by Eva Nargoodah and her daughter Ivy who are from Fitzroy Crossing in Western Australia, as well as Kirsten Smith from Memories of Country and Alison Muir from Muir and Muir

I've never done a dye workshop before, and I wanted to do one that involved using Australian Native plants and foliage. Sitting with Eva and Ivy, learning about how they have incorporated this knowledge (which, beautifully, was passed to them from Kirsten) of dyeing into their everyday creative process and expanded it to create their own unique dye pots using bush medicine, was very special.

Here's one of my little bundles, ready to go into the dye pot.

Here's one of my little bundles, ready to go into the dye pot.

A few of the workshop attendees beautiful bundles gathered on the pavement outside the gallery, awaiting the dye pot.

A few of the workshop attendees beautiful bundles gathered on the pavement outside the gallery, awaiting the dye pot.

I made two silk scarves at the workshop, one using freshwater Mangrove Bark and the other using Eucalyptus, along with wrapping them around pieces of rusty iron, steel wool and fresh leaves to create patterns. After letting the cloth bundles sit in the dye pot for a while, we all took them home in small plastic bags and left them to sit in a dark area for another week, before rinsing them out and drying them on the line. They are the most beautiful pieces of silky cloth, I love them and hang them in our room when I'm not wearing them as head scarves...

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"Country holds layers of memory – we memorialise our chosen countries using their indigenous dyes and patterns on cloth to reconnect and raise awareness of the history beneath. In remembering we also uncover earlier selves and collective memories from our ancestoral histories." Memories of Country. 

Here are some more photographs from the incredible scarves that Eva, Ivy, Kirsten and Alison made, which were available to purchase during the exhibition...

For more information, you can read this article from dyehaus about the dyes, and you can follow Kirsten's creative bush adventures on instagram or facebook. I also met Abi Rae at the workshop, and have loved observing her make & sell her incredible creations via instagram, you can follow her here @leafandcloth. Also check out Global Sisters for beautifully made pieces, enabling women all over the world to become financially independent.  

xx

International Women's Day...

self-portrait, capturing joy... "dance like no one is watching" March 2016 .................................................................

self-portrait, capturing joy... "dance like no one is watching" March 2016

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In the imbalance of our still-standing patriarchal society, there has been the need to mark one day of the year as International Women's Day. Is it just me who finds this absurd? Because obviously, every day is #internationalwomensday. I've seen posts on social media to celebrate "the strong women", and calls for women to "be bold". Because we live in a society with a skewed perspective, being bold & strong is what is seen to be 'best'. But here is what I've learnt: As a young girl, I was taught by example that the only way I could be heard was to be loud - a characteristic I did not possess - to talk over the top of the dominant men in my life (& there were many!). But when the fire in me sparked, triggered by a topic I was passionate about & needed to be heard, I was told to shhhh, shut up, be quiet, and "who do you think you are!". This I know is not unfamiliar to many, and has been acceptable behaviour in the past. But now, we are in transition. The female energy is bursting forth and it's pretty incredible to be alive right now, to be witness & part of it. And here's the crux of it: Women don't need to be 'bold' to exist. We don't need to be loud. We can be soft, we can be quiet, we can be gentle, or whatever the fuck we feel like being in the moment. We are enough, just as we are right now. 
Right now. And always. 


I've not told this story before, but when I was birthing Laly, I had the most wonderful knowing - all the bullshit I'd been fed over the years about being 'lesser' because I was female was stripped bare as I felt the eternal flow of birthing, of being female - there is nothing stronger or bolder in life than to be female: We ARE it. 


And to restore balance the call is to recognise & celebrate the feminine energy in you - no matter if you're male or female. To recognise & celebrate the feminine energy in nature and life. This is a special time of change in the world, and all of us are a part of it. We are opening. 

 

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Posted on instagram on Saturday, March 11, 2017. Here are some comments from the post:

 

jesse.made.itYes, yes & beyond yes! My perspective of these particular times has been exactly this...an opening...a time for healing...an emerging of what needs to come forth. It's been hard to explain to others, so it makes me feel at ease to read your thoughts. I feel confident as an American we will learn our most important lessons during these most challenging times. Where we are is exactly where we need to be. And, the female energy will rise because of it! ✨✨✨

 

anthesisbotanicalsYes, yes and yes!! As a female, and the mother of a male, I want {with ALL MY HEART!} to celebrate the feminine and masculine that shines through me, those I love, those I find hard to love and those I share the planet with. If I can achieve this I know I am evolving, expanding and growing. This energy that waxes and wanes is most certainly not of one gender only. Our genitals and genes are just exterior markers on maps that illustrate worlds we have yet to explore. Our energy is first and foremost HUMAN! Thank you @piajanebijkerk - Thank you!! Here's to the feminine AND masculine within us all. Here's to faith, love and tolerance. They have ALWAYS been the victors - no matter what the war. 💛💛💛

 

nylaadamsPreach, sister. Your words helped me connect with why my gut/heart finds this day absurd too. For me, it trivializes the all-pervasive feminine power that flows through ALL. I get that this day may foster discussion for some... but when women unapologetically own the power of the feminine every day, there is no need for a 24 hour reminder. Without intending to, the day is actually trivializing and demeaning. And who are we reminding of the "value" of women with this day?? Certainly not other women. There's no international men's day for a reason. When we no longer identify as a group who needs this "type" of recognition, we will finally realize that, as you say, we ARE it.