Exploring: Making An Ordinary Life Less Ordinary


On the road to Adelaide

In the past month I have been lucky enough to visit two capital cities in Australia – Sydney and Adelaide, and a few places in between. I love to travel but having three small children makes it harder. Having said that, it is getting easier – hence the Sydney and Adelaide trips.

Going to new places sparks something in the imagination. It refreshes and energises.  Hanging out somewhere that you don’t normally go makes you see things differently; look at things in a new way.

Here are a few things that I saw, and some of the thoughts that this tripping around triggered.

Let’s Abandon The Beige

In Sydney I was fortunate enough to attend the Frida Kahlo & Diego Rivera exhibition  (which has been extended to October 23rd, by popular demand, so if you get a chance to go, it really is worthwhile). Looking at Frida Kahlo’s work got me thinking about her; her beauty, her exuberance, her talent. It made me wonder why women today (including me) are so set on making ourselves disappear. We are the greys, blacks and beige – we choose those colours, and variations of them to represent and express ourselves. Frida reminded me to bring back the colour – abandon the grey scale, abandon the beige.


There is only one you, there is only one me – we have only one life. We must show ourselves. Colour is a way to do it.

Art Is Everywhere If You Care To Look

I was also lucky enough to view the Archibald Prize exhibition, and the Telling Tales – Excursions in Narrative Form exhibition  at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia. Being a writer, of course, I am deeply interested in story telling and alternative and unique ways to do it.

Often personal stories are complex and not at all linear. We are are used to straight forward story telling but modern art challenges this: it can be the perfect channel for these meandering, non-linear, but deeply moving tales.  Here is one of the installations from the Telling Tales exhibition that appealed to me both aesthetically and narratively.


Emily Floyd, It’s because I talk too much that I do nothing 2002

But you don’t need to seek it out, it’s in the streets, public places, and in nature.


Sign to the ‘Cave Gardens’ in Mt Gambier

We followed the sign to the Cave Gardens and this is what we found!



It Is Worth Creating A Monument To Someone You Love


On the way to Adelaide we stopped in a cute country town, called Smythesdale, to stretch our legs and grab a coffee. I encountered this beautiful bench seat when the others had gone to use the loo. I saw it in the distance and was so intrigued by this beautiful seat, standing alone on a grassy verge, painted in maroon-red, that I went to investigate. Beautifully ornate, it also had a plaque that said ‘Joyce’s Seat’. I thought this was so lovely.


I don’t know who Joyce was. I’ve tried to find out since I’ve been home. But have turned up nothing. I should have asked the lady who made the coffee; but I also quite like not knowing. I like the idea that Joyce is who ever I want her to be. But also, she must have had an impact on someone, for them to buy her a gorgeous seat and put her name on it. Joyce must have been some kind of lady. Whoever organised that seat for Joyce must have loved her and by creating that place to sit, Joyce remains. She touches strangers, like me, if only for a moment, when we take a rest on her very inviting seat, or wonder for a while, who she might have been.

I love the idea that without these little trips of exploration I wouldn’t have experienced these enriching moments, thought processes or things of beauty. Exploring the world enriches my life in monumental ways, that are really the small ways. Going to see some art, moseying down the street, stopping to stretch your legs – ordinary things making life extraordinary, in small ordinary ways.


What about you? Have you seen something ordinary, that was extraordinary?


  1. says

    Totally agree … Putting a bit (or a lot) more colour into life is so beneficial and travelling (even short trips away from the daily norm) helps to open our eyes and minds to new experiences – or at least seeing things anew.

    • collette says

      I think it is quite empowering because even if you have lots of restrictions on your daily life, be they financial, small kids, health issues; even a little exploring can make a difference to the way you perceive the world.

  2. says

    Oh, I love this. By the way, you are full of colour, in the best possible way. You have inspired me to see if I can do something quite outrageous, book a flight and take my littlest with me for a weekend in Sydney, i really want to see Frida, and am longing to catch a bus to Bondi, where I used to live. Thank you for the writing x

    • collette says

      Dani, do it if you can swing it – study is over, you could slip off for a couple of days. The Frida exhibition is SO great – beautiful and awe inspiring.

  3. says

    Thanks for this piece. A reminder of the stimulation possible in travel and adventure. I would also like to see the Frida exhibition. Years ago I went to her house in Mexico and was very inspired at that time too!

    • collette says

      Wow! How amazing to visit her house. It’s worth the trip Jo, we crammed three exhibitions in to about 30 hours in Sydney so you can get your money’s worth! Thanks for reading. : )

  4. says

    So true – and you’ve picked out some lovely sights. I wonder who Joyce was, too? One of my closest friend’s family has a park bench in one of the local parks, dedicated to her grandmother, who used to love to sit there. And it’s a lovely legacy to leave. I’m going to try and get to that park this weekend, in memory too xx

    • collette says

      What I loved about the plaque was that there was no date of birth and death, so in some ways it meant she was not gone. I’m just assuming by the age of the seat that she is, but who knows. Either way, her spirit endures because of it. xx

  5. says

    Ahhhh so good Collette! I would have LOVED to attend the Frida exhibit and more and more I find myself turning to colour and my ‘true’ self. For so long I tried to fit in (blend in?) and imagined myself with a wardrobe of classic pieces…yet it hasn’t happened because I’m not that person. Frida is my top pick for that dinner guest question. (I wonder how she would get along with Sylvia?!)

    I love Joyce’s seat too and would have been drawn to its unusual colour (for a bench) like you. I quite like not knowing who she was because it lends her an air of mystery.

    How lovely to have found these special messages on your travels, waiting there just for you. I love that about travel and also exhibitions – they open up another little world in your mind xx

    • collette says

      I have to say that now the kids aren’t as intense as when they were very tiny, it has got easier to get back on the road and explore. I love that you don’t even have to go very far to get so much out of travelling.

      I am with you on the colour, I have some of those ‘classic’ pieces, but don’t really wear them as I am too drawn to the more colourful clothes. And when I look at my house, we have a bright red couch, accents of yellow, and a red, black and silver kitchen. So I should really have a clear out and get rid of those conservative pieces!


What are you thoughts?