photography

New Work: Mud Play for Happi Kids

Laly in her mud pit making a Mud Café…

Laly in her mud pit making a Mud Café…

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A diary of a worm, something we had a lot of fun working on together and included playing with real worms found in the garden.

A diary of a worm, something we had a lot of fun working on together and included playing with real worms found in the garden.

In April this year I got one of the most wonderful photographic story commissions for a magazine I’ve ever had… when I read the phrases in the email “make things with mud”, “kids getting dirty”, “do you love the subject?” I barely held back my excitement and I was quick to reply YES! It ticked all the boxes for me and I couldn’t wait to schedule it in & get thinking on what I could create for this story for the summer issue of Happi Kids.

Do you remember when Laly was around 2 years old, I made her - by hand, spending no money (yes I’m proud!) - a sandpit in our back garden? Here is the post to jog your memory. Well, she’s now a regular beach goer, no longer afraid of the vastness of the ocean and loves ‘surfing’ on her body board. She’d outgrown her mini backyard beach so, inspired by the story for this shoot and in need of the perfect location, I turned the sand pit into a mud pit! I dug out the sand, and collected some buckets of dirt from the back area where our first chickens used to roam (we now have chickens again, but that’s another post for another time! We may live in the city, but that hasn’t stopped us from creating a mini farm it seems). I cleared the area around the pit and planted a few hardy flowers and pretty palms. I needed to create a space big enough for a couple of kids to play in, as well as a painting area. It was a lot of fun to build this set, gathering vintage kitchenware for the mud cafe, and mixing mud with beetroot, spinach and turmeric to create mud paint. I spent a glorious hour or two by myself making the tiny mud house (inner child meets grown up job - the best)…

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I had three wonderful young models for this shoot. With the fabulous production assistance from my friend Celia, she found two boys from Laly’s school, Zephyr and Luka, who came over with their mums Eliza and Narelle, one afternoon and basically hung out in the mud for 3 hours while I snapped shots of them playing. I only needed 3 hero shots from the boys, but there were many more created, they had so much fun and it was pure joy to capture them in action. I don’t think they could quite believe that this was a real job, and all they had to do was play and cover themselves in mud! Shona was my styling and photography assistant for the afternoon, so it was certainly a relaxed and joyful shoot…

Zephyr painting with mud!

Zephyr painting with mud!

Luka and Zephyr following my instructions to get dirty!

Luka and Zephyr following my instructions to get dirty!

The boys making ‘dirty denim’ with some op shop denim clothes I sourced for the shoot.

The boys making ‘dirty denim’ with some op shop denim clothes I sourced for the shoot.

Luka loved making mud ice creams.

Luka loved making mud ice creams.

Zeph covered in mud and pretty happy about it!

Zeph covered in mud and pretty happy about it!

At the end of the shoot, while Zephyr’s mum Eliza was hosing him down, I saw him look up at his mum and say “I will never forget this day!”. My heart exploded.

The next day was Laly’s turn, and she took on her role with not just enthusiasm but surprising skill, as she doubled as my photographic assistant as well, helping me set up certain shots and gathering materials, and restyling the props when needed. This is the first time she’s worked with me or seen me work as I have only ever brought her with me to a shoot once - when she was 6 months old, and it was a disaster, so I never did it again! Until now, at 7 years of age. She was so great, and I think I may have myself an ongoing assistant for as long as she finds joy in it! I’ve noticed she’s a natural behind the camera actually - she took a video of her friend the other day singing, and I couldn’t believe how still she kept the camera and how she followed her friend around, patient and mindful of how she was placed within the frame - there were even natural light flares from the sun, it was like a professional film, I couldn’t believe it! I’ve never taught her so I was pretty blown away - let’s just say she gets that from me, because as we know, it’s not one of Romain’s many talents.

Mud sandwich anyone? A bit of stale bread and some pretend ‘micro herbs’, yum!

Mud sandwich anyone? A bit of stale bread and some pretend ‘micro herbs’, yum!

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Having so much fun making sand slime!

Having so much fun making sand slime!

The article is out now in the Dutch edition, summer issue. And I cannot recommend highly enough to play in mud. I may even turn it into a mud bath for myself, that will be some serious earthing!! Ha.

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Here is the mud-inspired-but-completely-edible energy balls recipe for the article, which I made up from ingredients I had…

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup  of almond meal
3/4 cup of pitted dates
2 tablespoons of raw cacao powder
1 tablespoon of almond butter (or any nut butter - I used peanut butter which was delicious)
1 tablespoon of coconut oil
Pinch of salt

METHOD

Place the almond meal in the food processor with the dates and coconut oil and pulse until they are nicely crushed. Add the nut butter and cacao and then mix again in the food processor. Add a pinch of salt if desired. Take a tablespoon of the mixture and roll into a ball. Continue doing this until the mixture is finished. Place the rolled balls into the freezer for an hour, then remove and store in an airtight container in the fridge.

Makes 8-12 balls (depending on how big you make them).

A big thank you to everyone who helped me on this shoot: Romain, Laly, Shona, Celia, Eliza, Narelle, Zephyr, and Luka!

With Love,

Pia xx

New Work: Begin your day the Ayurvedic way for Happinez...

Step One: an early walk in nature

Step One: an early walk in nature

This was another wonderful story of images for Happinez magazine, which I photographed in February here in Sydney. The brief was to create six photographs featuring each step of how to start the day with Ayurvedic rituals. I hadn’t realised until the magazine came out that the story was a feature for Bianca Fabrie’s new cookbook Holy Happy Belly - Bianca and I had worked together in Amsterdam a few times for various photoshoots when I lived there - along with being an Ayurvedic therapist she is also an incredible makeup artist - so it was such a great surprise to know we had collaborated on this without knowing it, from across the seas!

A couple of weeks before the shoot, I made a call out on social media for a model for two of the shots, but it was an encounter in my local cafe with my friend & fellow photographer Gaby who was dining with her dear friend & photographer Sam, that lead to Sam becoming my model for the shoot the following week. It was such a lovely morning, I took Sam down to a small beach on the bay near my home. The light was incredibly subdued, as it turned out there had been a fire of sorts in the area the night before which left a strange golden glow over the sky. Shooting with Sam was so easy as she is a photographer herself so she understood the process and needed little direction, it was such a treat to hang out together and get to know her through this experience. Thank you Sam!

The full story is in Issue Number 3 for 2019 available in The Netherlands out now. Continue on below to find out more about the creative process and a brief understanding of each ritual.

Step Two: Nasal Rinse

Step Two: Nasal Rinse

I really wanted to find a beautiful neti pot for this, and I went on quite the hunt across Sydney, searching Indian and wellness shops. I cannot remember where I found this one now! I think it was in Dr. Earth on King St, in Newtown. As soon as I saw it I knew it was the one - most of the neti pots I’d found were ceramic and ‘clunky’, this one being copper and slim was definitely the pick. Because really, nasal cleansing isn’t appealing, is it? At least this one would inspire us to try it!

Step Three: Dry brushing

Step Three: Dry brushing

These brushes were also from Dr. Earth, and I made the hand cloth from a vintage silk scarf. I have thoroughly enjoyed adding this ritual to my morning routine - I use the large brush for my body and the small one for my face before I hop in the shower each morning. It gets the skin tingling in the best of ways, I can feel my skin waking up to the day.

Step Four: Self massage

Step Four: Self massage

I wanted to create a rich, warm & nurturing set for these ideas, so I used the deep greens from the moodboard as my main backdrops, varying texture and hue as well as incorporating found foliage to give a tropical feel - a little nod to India. For this shot, I actually used one of my “Where Is My Heart?” photographs from the diptych as a surface, here is the photograph in situ in my studio to jog your memory…

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…in a moment of inspiration, I took it off the wall and laid it on the table, and instantly loved the effect of the soft focus flora. I also loved the grain of the paper, being cotton rag, it soaked in the light at the same time as creating a dreamy effect. Instead of a flat surface behind the bottles I created a foliage wall, building it up until it felt lush and layered. Those two little dark bottles of wonderment in the front are gifts from my beautiful friend Midnight Blue, and I cannot wait for her to release them into the world for everyone to enjoy, she is almost ready I am told! I will be one of the first people to share this news with you.

Step Five: Belly breathing

Step Five: Belly breathing

Sam is wearing a kimono from Fabrik Store (gifted to me some years ago by Gaby!), and the nail colour is wanderlust from Sienna Byron Bay, the ring is from my jewellery box, a slice of lapis.

Step 6: Green Smoothie

Step 6: Green Smoothie

This turned out to be my favourite photograph for the story. Again using '“Where Is My Heart?” as the surface, palm fronds for texture along with fresh berries and sprouts, it came together beautifully. I made the smoothie moments before I took the shot - setting up the glasses in position first. I love the layering of the ingredients in the glasses. The gold metal straw is from one of my favourite cafes in Sydney, Orchard St Cafe.

As I’ve been writing this post I’ve realised, with the exception of the nasal rinse, that I’ve been incorporating these rituals each morning since this shoot. The smoothie is something I’ve been making for some time, an incredibly healing recipe created by Midnight Blue, and I’ve been walking most mornings, along the water, after dropping Laly off at school. The dry brushing is a new addition since the shoot, and I strive to do 20 minutes of meditation each day. Self massage is also something I’ve done for many years. So yes, I would agree that these are a wonderful way to start your day the Ayurvedic way!

For more information, check out Happinez, Nummer 3 2019 along with Holy Happy Belly by Bianca Fabrie.

With love,

Pia xx

Photography & Styling: Pia Jane Bijkerk
Magazine: Happinez, Nummer 3 2019

The Sweetest Gift...

“Quietly while you were asleep, the moon and I were talking…” beginning lyrics to  The Sweetest Gift composed & sung by Sade .

“Quietly while you were asleep, the moon and I were talking…” beginning lyrics to The Sweetest Gift composed & sung by Sade.

As an Everyday Alchemist, it would come as no surprise to you that over the past year I've been experimenting on myself. Well not just myself - to be more specific, I've been experimenting with the moon too, observing and playing with my connection to it. And what I've discovered has the power to change everything. It already has for me. I am in the midst of putting together something so incredibly grand, I can barely contain my excitement, but these things take time -  because rather than just come up with a theory, I need to know it actually works. I also know that the moon is currently on trend (which makes me laugh just writing it! That something which has existed for all of time as we know it could be suddenly popular) - there are a number of books popping up about it, especially around abundance because that’s another trend ... and you know how I feel about doing anything 'on trend'! But I also won't dismiss something just for the sake of rebelling, instead I will seek out the resistance. What is important for me to continue this everyday alchemy is that in the process, I make sure that what I've come up with works for the whole - for each of us, for humanity, for Earth.

The first step of this is what led you to reading this right now - my new email. We have become so disconnected from the moon, which is our original time maker along with the sun, that we don't even know what phase it's in. Especially for those of us who live in the city, or are always busy doing (pointing a loving finger towards myself here too, with a busy 7 year old at my heels!). So with this email, I'll be sending it at the beginning of each new moon phase, just so we know at a glance what phase it's in. There will not be any information about the meaning or symbolism behind the phase, or anything along these lines. This is just simply to connect us to the moon, to get to know it a little more intimately, and in time I’ll let you know why.

Along with the moon phase illustration, I'll be adding a quote that resonates with me at that time. And this will not be a throwaway quote with no context - it will be from something I have read, from someone who I value, and there will be a deeper intuitive connection as to why I have chosen that particular remark at that particular time, so there will always be a link for you to discover more if it resonates with you and you find yourself yearning to hear, read or learn more. I will not comment on it, I will simply leave it up to you. I hope you’ve enjoyed this first one as much as I have had listening to the entire interview (I have listened a number of times, there is not one remark that does not resonate with my entire being, it’s a powerful interview that I hope you get as much out of as I have).

With each email, sometimes this will be all there is  - my moon phase illustration and a quote. Other times, there will be images and links below to work I have just produced (like you would have seen below the quote and is what led you here). As with all that I do, I like to create things that ignite one of our five senses at a time - sight, taste, touch, smell and sound. At the moment I am all about the sound: my wonderful collaborative podcast with Shona Smith as well as my monthly downloadable piano compositions on Patreon, & sight: my photography feature stories published in magazines, in my new books, and around the world via my personal clients. Some of these also involve taste and touch and smell too, if you choose to cook or craft something from what I've shared through my visual storytelling. And the reason I am so inspired to ignite our senses is because I know these senses are the ways to our hearts, to connecting us to our intuition and learning to trust and use it everyday. This will always come through my work, and is accessed directly each week with my mentoring clients as well as each month on Patreon.

Please share this post with your friends and family and encourage them to subscribe to the email - there will always be much to connect to, and it will be an opening for many beautiful conversations between those you love.

Thank you to every single one of you who are here right now, reading these words - you've made such a powerful impact on encouraging me to share my everyday alchemy, I value your presence so much and it’s my hope that this gratitude flows back to you through my work.  

With love, 

Pia

New Work: The Confetti Effect for Happinez...

The confetti is actually over 50 years old - it was in a box in my grandmother’s home many years ago and I’ve kept them all this while. They are made from tiny shapes of paper and I just love them. For the diary shot above, I combined them with petals and pods found outside my studio entrance. The beautiful ribbon is from  Tinctifolia . Little glimpses of joy are never far away.

The confetti is actually over 50 years old - it was in a box in my grandmother’s home many years ago and I’ve kept them all this while. They are made from tiny shapes of paper and I just love them. For the diary shot above, I combined them with petals and pods found outside my studio entrance. The beautiful ribbon is from Tinctifolia. Little glimpses of joy are never far away.

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Here is my latest work for Happinez Magazine, featured in their Intuition edition, out now in The Netherlands. The assignment was to create 6-8 photographs inspired by the book and talks by Ingrid Fetell Lee. Ingrid’s concept with The Aesthetics of Joy is devoted to a simple, powerful idea: that our greatest source of joy is the world around us. The art director wanted me to come up with simple ways to showcase this, through little things in our everyday lives - be it a new page in your diary, light & shadow play, or nature. My assignment was to translate this feeling to a colour range that fitted with their moodboard for the issue. I also needed to give the concept a bit more depth, meaning and spirituality. To say I enjoyed creating this series is an understatement - it was pure joy…

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I foraged most of these flowers from the beautiful nature reserve down by the water near my studio.

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Moon cookies! I made these using all natural ingredients with only a little coconut sugar. If you’d like the recipe let me know and I’ll write it up in a seperate post.

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Citrus and pomegranate seeds are bursting with joy! This shot came together beautifully,

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The sparklers were quite smoky and I was worried the studio fire alarm would go off!! It was a tricky shot but I love the effect. And the shadow and light play I created on the studio porch, using the sun as my muse.

xx

Swarm Studio, Amsterdam...

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Those who’ve known me for a long time will know that artist + founder of Swarm, Leslie Oschmann, is a dear friend of mine. We got to know each other ten years ago when I was living in my houseboat in Amsterdam and scouting hidden ateliers for my second book, Amsterdam: Made by Hand. We soon became friends, and went on many adventures together around the city and beyond. I’m drawn to people who see the world around them in a unique way, and can transform something overlooked into something extraordinary, which is what I call Everyday Alchemy. Leslie is one of those unique people.

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My daughter Laly, taking in the atmosphere of Swarm & ready to paint, 2016

My daughter Laly, taking in the atmosphere of Swarm & ready to paint, 2016

Each time I’ve been back to Amsterdam since moving to Sydney, I spend time with Leslie and her sidekick, McDuff. I love being immersed in her creative world - her home & studio, which is always filled with her latest projects. There are chairs hanging from the ceiling, piles of found oil paintings ready to be transformed into something new, paintbrushes, textiles, leather straps, ropes and the most incredible found objects from her travels - many of which she sells in her online store.

When I visited her new studio in 2016 with Laly, Leslie had just embarked on the epic journey of writing and making a book. She’d been approached by Rizzoli to write a book about her creative life in Amsterdam, centered around her muse, wire hair fox terrier McDuff. The book was inspired by Leslie’s fun photographs on instagram of the sometimes obscure places her and McDuff would visit, and the playfulness of exploring these interesting landscapes together. Because wherever Leslie goes, so does McDuff - when she heads back to New York, he’s on the plane with her, and travelling to her new studio-in-the-making in France known as Q, he’s sitting beside her in her van. I remember when Leslie and I went to Beaune in Bourgogne for New Year’s Eve some 8 years ago, and McDuff wandered the frosted cobblestone streets with us.

With this book project, Leslie wanted to find a way to create the unique visual layout she had in her mind, and we’d discussed the idea of creating them by hand - each page spread as an assemblage which could then be photographed. When I got there, she had the page layouts pinned up on one of the studio cabinets. It was an honour to be able to see the book in progress at this early stage - to see how Leslie’s visual directing translated into book form, and I couldn’t wait to see the final result….

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Earlier this year, her book was published. It’s called Me & McDuff, and it’s filled with her creative energy & love for her sidekick. Every page is an artwork in itself, with each assemblage created by Leslie & photographed by Sarah van den Bosch. The book tells the story of Leslie & McDuff’s creative companionship in her way - minimal words, maximum visual effect…

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With some of her favourite captures from the book, Leslie has made some into pouches which I love, you can find them in her store.

While on my trip to Amsterdam this year in August, I took my camera with me to photograph her studio for one of my book projects. I won’t be able show you many of the incredible captures (her space is seriously amazing), but here are a few of the photographs from my shoot…

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…in her zone. 2018

…in her zone. 2018

Laly & I playing, Swarm Studio, 2016.

Laly & I playing, Swarm Studio, 2016.

Okay here is one more…

The Alchemist’s kitchen, in all it’s utilitarian glory.

The Alchemist’s kitchen, in all it’s utilitarian glory.

You can click on the links to have a look at Leslie’s new objet d’art, her new book Me & McDuff, and her latest bag collection is stunning. They are one of a kind and they sell fast, so if you see one that pulls at your heart strings, you’ll regret it if you don’t get it (believe me, this has happened a number of times to me and my friends and we still lament over the ones we missed out on).

Thank you Leslie for continuing to be such an inspiration in my life & for sharing your world with us in all that you create!

With Love,

Pia xx