sydney

School Holidays...

I love seeing the aftermath of painting as much as I love the process and final creation.

I love seeing the aftermath of painting as much as I love the process and final creation.

I seem to recall a few months ago I said somewhere on the socials that if there was enough interest, I’d post about what we get up to during the school holidays, and I do recall there being quite some interest but then life got busy and here we are at the end of another school holiday! So here I am, better late than never, offering a brief recap of some of the activities we enjoy during the holidays, to spark you if you’re feeling like you need some ideas…

Firstly, I thought I’d share what my intentions are during the school holidays. As you know, I am passionate about arts, music and nature education for kids, and the public school system here in Australia (and I’m guessing everywhere else in the world judging by the state of affairs and the current interests of the nations!) does not cut it. The kids spend a lot of time and focus on reading and maths and although I too feel those subjects are important, to me they come second to arts & music. In that art is the beginning of reading and writing, and music is the beginning of maths - which is guided by our intuition, so imagine if we learnt the skills of reading and maths through art & music! All the kids who struggle due to thinking expansively rather than linearly would benefit and those who are linear thinkers experience a new perspective. I feel everyone’s life skills would be much improved! I have much to say on this topic and will save it for another time.

So during the school holidays I focus this time on art, music and nature. While I do my best to not book in any work during this time so that I spend most of it with Laly, sometimes it doesn’t happen that way - this school holidays I had a week long shoot (of a two week break! with Easter in between!) but since I used my backyard as the set, and as the producer & photographer I create the shooting schedule, I made the shoot times short to fit in while Laly was occupied elsewhere. She also assisted me during the times she was around and she was fantastic, being my hand model and assistant set builder - this will be her first paid job at the ripe age of 7, and what a wonderful introduction to the working world, knowing you can make money from doing something fun that inspires thousands of people. I’ll share more about this particular shoot when the photographs are published in a couple of months.

A couple of afternoons spent like this, working on her bedroom painting, read on for more details…

A couple of afternoons spent like this, working on her bedroom painting, read on for more details…

This school holidays, I invited Laly to make her own bedroom painting. I bought a large artist’s board, and talked about where this painting would hang in her room, that is would be something she would wake up to every morning so she could think about painting something that would spark joy for her. Not surprisingly, she immediately chose to paint a rainbow! So away we went with this idea. For me it’s a lot to do with the process and not just the final piece so I use these ideas as a way to show her what’s involved in making art. First we needed to prime the board and then paint the background colour. She chose blue. But instead of just using the paints straight from the tubes, I suggested she make her own colours - to make her own blue. I helped her with this. The next day once the background was dry, it was time to paint the rainbow. I let her know that the rainbow doesn’t have to be the colours you see in other pictures, they can be whatever colours you like - in fact, it can be a rainbow of colours that you love, what colours do you love? I said colours out loud that weren’t the normal colours (ie turquoise, acqua, rose, indigo, etc) and she lit up with ones that she loved, so her intuition was well ignited. Then we set out creating the colours. It’s not as easy as it seems it would be, which is why I love this experience because it gives them an understanding of what’s really involved in art making. Once she decided she was finished I offered her some special gold paint to finish it with. And then I encouraged her to sign her name at the bottom. Her art work now resides in her bedroom and I also get to see it every morning, sparking my joy. I will add, it’s also a great experience as a parent to go through this, as you really need to let go of your control and let them make their own intuitive decisions here - this was by no means what I thought she’d paint, but I didn’t interfere. It takes practice.

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I’ve noticed we’ve created a few traditions and rituals over school holidays now, here they are…

  1. She loves being active, she has bundles of energy which when she was younger I found rather exhausting but now she is older this energy can be directed into things she loves doing…oh how I remember the hundreds of hours spent at all the local parks and how frustrated she was when she couldn’t reach the monkey bars or climb onto the roofed play equipment! Now she climbs up there and takes a book to read, as if she’s in a treehouse. So during the holidays, she has been enrolling in the wonderful Active Arts, run by beautiful Elena from Dance Domain in St. Peters. Active Arts runs for 4 days, 9-3pm, and the kids get to try everything from rock climbing, trapeze, dance, drama, martial arts, and clay making with local clay artist Agatha who I’ve done a few mother & daughter workshops with as well, and have absolutely loved it, Agatha is a wonderful teacher.

  2. MCA school holiday workshops - this is something we’ve been doing for two years and it’s the most wonderful experience. Laly and I make it a date, we set off from my studio in Balmain and walk to the ferry, and take it under the harbour bridge into Circular Quay, then walk the five minutes to the MCA (Museum of Contemporary Art). We love watching the buskers along the way and Laly brings some of her money from her donate jar to pop into musicians hats she likes (there’s some music appreciation right there!). We head up to the kids area to buy the tickets and then find out what we get to do! As an adult I find it a fabulous way to experience the art in the galleries, from the perspective of a child who is encouraged to interact with the work and find ways of connecting with it. The kids (and adults!) then get to make things in the atelier space which is always the most fun, this holiday it was about making sound with art, using all sorts of found materials and objects. Laly made three, she was very inspired by this project! After that we head up to the restaurant for lunch which is always a treat, the menu is fantastic. Laly and I have been invited to be part of the kids committee this year which means we help the creators of the workshops design them and figure out ways to connect kids to art. Which means more dates to the MCA for us two! Happy days.

At the MCA this school holidays, playing on a handmade ping pong machine. So.Much.Joy.

At the MCA this school holidays, playing on a handmade ping pong machine. So.Much.Joy.

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…from a kids workshop at the MCA in January. The idea was to think of a place that is special and create a textural collaged ‘map’. Laly chose her Mamy’s (her grandmother in France) garden and got busy picking out fabric swatches that made her think of playing with Mamy in her garden. Heart-melt.

…from a kids workshop at the MCA in January. The idea was to think of a place that is special and create a textural collaged ‘map’. Laly chose her Mamy’s (her grandmother in France) garden and got busy picking out fabric swatches that made her think of playing with Mamy in her garden. Heart-melt.

…from a past kids workshop at the MCA making posters with their own messages. This was Laly’s message to the world: LOVE YOURSELF.

…from a past kids workshop at the MCA making posters with their own messages. This was Laly’s message to the world: LOVE YOURSELF.

3. Beach days or nature walks. I try to get a few of these in if we are not planning a holiday away, then I make sure we do a few local day trips.

And plenty of playdates with friends, where there is always some magic potion making happening in the backyard…

…Laly and her friend made this wonderful array of mud treats yesterday!

…Laly and her friend made this wonderful array of mud treats yesterday!

And a number of nothing days in between! I’m not a big planner as I like days to flow naturally/intuitively especially when school is so scheduled, however, I found this particular break busier than usual which happened because I had the shoot as well as my regular mentoring connections.

Also, during this school holiday I’ve also set a great screen time intention that incorporates art & music, I think it might be of interest to some of you, let me know if you’d like more information and I’ll write it up a separate post. Today was the first day I implemented it and it worked so well.

Oh and I nearly forgot, Tiny Doors! This was one of the highlights of our last school holidays, Laly and I had an absolute ball treasure hunting these all around the Northern Beaches. I’m not sure if it’s still on but here is the link, and you can start at Manly Library to get a map and go from there (call the library first to check the maps are still available and that the doors are still around) - we’ve almost found every door, there are only a few we haven’t been on the search for yet. I highly recommend it. And I hope every council picks up this idea and runs with it!

So, school holidays: art, music, and nature. I feel these ideas can be adapted to wherever you live, as there are always art galleries, nature and music venues around. I tend not to do the expected school holiday activities as, if I’m honest, I find them boring, exhausting and some things are torturous - like kids concerts and some kids movies (the exception being Moana, I will happily see that at the cinema a dozen times!). My idea is to make it joyful for both of us, so it’s not just about her but us together, to find experiences that ignite us both, as these will create ideas and memories for her forever. Let me know what you get up to and please do share your ideas here so others can find out, or link to any posts you’ve written about too for others to find you.

Vivent les petites artistes! xx

Sweet Nourishment: a tasting workshop for kids...

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A few months ago, I was having a chat with my daughter Laly about the amount of sugar in snack foods, and what she calls “treats”. She loves to snack, and I’m fine with that as long as the snacks are nourishing. We got talking about why there is so much sugar in these packaged snack foods, and what the difference is between a nourishing treat and one that is, well, the complete opposite.

It’s a hard concept to explain to a 6 year old! That’s when I got an idea: Children (and us too!) learn so much through experience, so I suggested we make time on a weekend to create a nourishing treat tasting platter and she was so excited, she began brainstorming about all the foods we could put together! It went from being a ‘boring’ conversation to planning a visual feast!

Soon after, I attended one of my friend Emma’s events, which was in collaboration with a beautiful new local waterside café called The Galley. Emma is a renown naturopath with a passion for food. The Galley team was celebrating their arrival into the neighbourhood and wanted to share some of the wonderful dishes they offer on the menu, their focus being on fresh, seasonal ingredients. It was a beautiful sampling experience, with Emma sharing her incredible knowledge and passion for nutritious, delicious food, introducing us through our senses to the 5 best foods for cleansing during the spring season.

That’s when the next idea struck me: in collaboration with Emma, we could share the nourishing treat tasting with other children, creating a fun, interactive workshop! She loved the idea, and within an hour discussion we had nutted (perfect pun!) out the details. So here there are!

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If you have a child between 6-10 years old and live in the Inner West of Sydney or beyond, and want to empower your child to make healthy eating choices, we would love you to join us!

It will be on Saturday November 24, from 3-4:30pm at Emma’s beautiful clinic, Studio You, in Balmain. 

In between Halloween and Christmas, this is a great time to teach them what it means to nourish their mind & body through food, and to learn the difference between healthy sweets and damaging ones. They will be sampling all sorts of delicious treats, and you will both come away with your senses filled, empowered and ready to enjoy the approaching festive season in a nourishing way!

 You’ll find all the details here, please click to find out more and place your booking.

Here’s a little more info about Emma & I:

Emma Sutherland - Founder and director of Studio You, an integrated clinic supporting kids to thrive and grow into healthy adults. With over 15 years clinical experience working with families, Emma is a wealth of knowledge and inspiration. Emma is mum to 6 year old Sophia.

Pia Jane Bijkerk - As well as being a published author and photographer, Pia has worked as a food stylist for publications around the world, focusing on taste, colour, texture and nourishment. Her passion is to connect people to their creativity and intuition through her work. She loves working with children, creating interactive workshops that ignite creativity through play. Pia is mum to 6 year old Laly. 

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I LOVE creating interactive, intuitive workshops for kids, and I can’t wait to host this one with Emma. Hope to see you there! Let us know if you have any questions.

With Love,

Pia xx

Social media hiatus: RECOMMENDED...

Three weeks ago I decided to delete my instagram and facebook apps off my phone, to see how I would feel and if it would help to create space and clarity and focus. The affect was IMMEDIATE. And I knew in that moment more than ever how addictive these platforms have become and how much energy I’ve given them. Within hours I felt the shift, and in these three weeks I’ve been able to focus on all my projects, including a new podcast as well as writing new content for my first mini book, Festive Season Reimagined, which will be ready to print next week! It will be available for signing & purchase at Turn Out - a fete for growns up in Sydney which I’ll be speaking at on Saturday October 27, 2018. If you’d like to come along and hear me talk (passionately!!) about the power & importance of intuition in our everyday lives, you can register here, it’s free and I’ll have the Festive Season Reimagined hot off the press. This book will be a limited edition - it will only be available through me - either in person at Turn Out, or to purchase online through my website after the event.

During these past weeks, I’ve gained so much clarity about how I want to move forward with connecting with you, and I’ve come full circle back to this point - writing in my journal & emailing it to you. It may take some practice to get back into writing longer posts, and perhaps it will take time for you to get used to me writing in length again as I know thanks to social media we have all developed a much shorter attention span, so you may just tend to skip through to find bits that interest you (I do it too).

I’ll make a little diagram to show you how I’ll be communicating from now on. In short, the Patreon collective will hear from me first, receiving a 10% discount off everything I release, including this new book. Through my Everyday Alchemy Journal which I’ll be sending as emails here to you, I have so many incredible things ready to share - places, books, collaborations and projects I’m working on - I’ve been limiting myself to instagram, trying to fit it all in to those tiny squares that most of us scroll by most of the time (I was doing that too).

This is just a brief post to let you know where I’ve been and what I’ve been up to, but I’ll send more info about the events and projects coming up as they come to light - for now please put October 27, 4:30-6pm at Australian Technology Park Locomotive Workshop 
Henderson Road, Eveleigh in your diary to meet up for a heart to heart (don’t forget you need to register to be able to come along), and buy your copy of the book (pre-order here so you know you’ll be able to pick up your copy at the event).

Laly took this photo for me today, not sure if she meant to cut of my head?!

Laly took this photo for me today, not sure if she meant to cut of my head?!

Oh, and my bullshit free zone t-shirt arrived and I love it! Did you get yours? Let me know, I hope you like it as much as I do. Apparently it’s still for sale if you want to order one but only for the next 16 hours - I’m confused as I thought the campaign only lasted 12 days - perhaps someone can explain this to me? I wore mine food shopping today, I felt like a rebel, it was totally empowering. Laly thinks it’s the coolest thing ever (I had to explain what it meant, she totally understood and now wants to make her own version “Bull Dust Free Zone” so we can be matching!)

Not sure if you can sense my energy resurgence through this email, but if so I put it down to all of the above, triggered by deleting the apps. I am not keen to re-install them, but I will need to as I want to keep them as places people can find me and know that I’ve posted in my journal and on Patreon, but will I be able to not look at them throughout the day?! I’ll only know if I give it a try. And if I can’t, then I’ll have to consider a permanent removal.

Sending love through the ether,

Pia xx

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

The Alchemy of Assemblage Workshop 2016

On the afternoon of Sunday, August 27, I hosted my first workshop at the beautiful warehouse of Elements I Love, here in Sydney. After enjoying a few sips of champagne and a chat in the boutique, we lead fifteen wonderful women down the hall, past the antique rocking horse, French cabinets and dress mannequin to draw back the velvet curtain of owner Brooke and Tim's restoration workshop filled with wooden work benches and shelves overflowing with hammers, nails, sandpaper & beeswax. It was so special to be invited to host the event in the workshop itself, it felt like we'd been transported to an alchemist's secret lair. It was a creatively spirited afternoon of learning the alchemy of assemblage while drinking champagne and nibbling on Simmone Logue baked goods and French bread & cheeses. Everyone was eager to get started on their assemblage, it was wonderful to see...

With feathers, strips of vintage textiles, dried ferns leaves, painted sticks, old newspapers, and antique French lace along with the most gorgeous strings from String Harvest and hand dyed silk ribbons from Tinctifolia, everyone gathered the pieces that resonated with them and were soon assembling...

The two hours flew by, and before I knew it, everyone had created something so unique while learning about creative direction and assemblage from me and some woodworking tips from Brooke. It was a lot of fun...

At the end, while I was helping to wrap an assemblage in cloth for transportation, a rainbow of light from a tiny window high up fell on the table beside me, it was a beautiful sign of the magic that was made...

Brooke has written a great wrap up post on her journal, with lots more photos, check it out here

Many thanks to Brooke, Tim, Sarah and the whole team at Elements I Love, my dear friends Kaspia, Louise & Jo, and Zoë from Tinctifolia for supplying the gorgeous ribbon samples, and Cassie from String Harvest for supplying the incredible strings and yarn, Simmone Logue for the food and of course to all the beautiful souls who joined us. 

 

I will be hosting more Alchemy of Assemblage workshops in 2017, announcing the dates and locations in January. In the meantime if you'd like to express your interest in attending, please email me. 

With Love, 

Pia xx