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.

Adventure awaits...

Yesterday I dropped my little girl off for her first day of school. Her very first day. As we walked together toward our destination, hand in hand, I asked her, "So what can you think about when you're at school and I'm at home working?" She answered confidently, "our invisible string"*. "Yes!" I said,  "And don't forget about the rainbow that goes from my heart to yours".*  We contemplated out loud what she might do on her first day, our conversation was filled with lots of unanswered questions, lots of unknowns. We know that lots of unknowns simply means that an adventure awaits. I told her how excited I was for her, and that I would be so excited to see her at the end of the day and to hear all about it. When I left her she was drawing in her new classroom. We kissed, both of us quiet & courageous. I saw her pick up a pale pink pencil and draw a small circle in the top left corner of the paper, and then with the same pencil, begin to colour it in.

As I walked home, feeling emotion course through my body, I saw her as a baby in my memory: Swaddled, snug and safe in her cotton wrap like a caterpillar in its cocoon falling asleep in my arms. I only now fully grasp the meaning of the words spoken to me by the many wonderful wise souls who crossed our path in those early days. They would smile at me and my baby and say, "precious and fleeting times, enjoy this moment". And I did, I did enjoy those many moments.  And naturally yearned for the frustrating, helpless and hopeless moments to hurry up and pass as sleep deprivation took hold week in and week out. 

Although five years on as parents we both feel we are still catching up on sleep, and there are still frustrating and hopeless moments...it feels so different now. And being only at the beginning of this part of the journey, I'm just catching glimpses of how it will be different. I understand it's still precious and fleeting - oh to see those little ones in their uniforms, the little fish in the big sea! - as is every moment in life we connect with others: precious and fleeting.

In the afternoon as I walked to meet her, I thought about how proud and filled with wonder I was to see her brush her teeth all by herself with such gusto that morning. I realised she is so ready for this, and I am happy for her.

When I picked her up, she was tired but beaming. She showed me the picture she drew that morning at school, her very first drawing at school. Starting with that small pink circle in the top left corner, she had filled every part of the paper. It was our rainbow. 

xx

*These are in reference to two books we love and have been so helpful in dealing with separation anxiety. I'll be talking about them in my next newsletter, which will be sent out early next week...

a postcard from my younger self...

...piazza delle oche, where I once lived, in Rovereto, Italy.

...piazza delle oche, where I once lived, in Rovereto, Italy.

The other day I took Laly on a little overnight 'girls trip' to stay at my parent's home for a night while my Dad was away so that Romain could have the chance to wake up in his own time (this is our current luxury!), and rock out with his guitar for the morning. It was special to be there with her, just the two of us. We hung out by the pool, looked at old photos, played by the waterside, and explored the neighbourhood. At times I felt Mum was watching us from her bedroom window, or enjoying being in the water with us. There is always a connection, an 'invisible string', and I feel really lucky to be able to feel it so vividly. 

While making our dinner, I noticed a postcard I had sent my parents ten years ago from Italy that was still on the fridge - it remains one of the only items on their fridge.  Although it's been there for ten years, for some reason during this visit, I decided to turn it over and read it...

It reads:

November 20, 2006

CASA DOLCE CASA (home sweet home)

"Dear Mum & Dad, could not resist sending you this one. It is the strangest feeling for me being here, a place I know so well yet is so faraway from my life in Australia. I feel like a child in an adults body! Drinking mazzemino at Pizzeria Leno was so peculiar. We have walked the streets like I have longed to do. And when I walked under my old bedroom window [pictured here in the postcard] I felt like yelling up there, "I'm here!" All very surreal. A lovely, peaceful end to an exhausting but incredible 3 week journey. Miss you while here, makes it all the more peculiar not to be here with you Mum. See you in a week! Lots of love, xxx"

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For those who have followed my journey over the past decade, you may know that this postcard was written during that fateful trip to Paris, Amsterdam, and Italy, which I wrote about in My Heart Wanders. Brief as it is, this postcard says so much, that only my Mum would have felt and known about at the time. This trip was the catalyst that sparked my fire, it gave strength to my heart voice, and helped me rise up from my quietened life and follow my wandering heart. 

Ten years on again, as I look back at my younger self who wrote this postcard to my even younger self, I remember asking myself at the time, when everything seemed so chaotic in my life... Would I be bold enough to pursue my own dreams? To live away from my family? To live differently to my family? Will I be ok when my mother dies? Will I become a mother? 

Trust. Because, yes. I need to remember this every time I ask myself heart questions in times of messiness and chaos. "Trust. Because, yes."