Exploring: Making An Ordinary Life Less Ordinary

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Sign to the ‘Cave Gardens’ in Mt Gambier

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

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It Is Worth Creating A Monument To Someone You Love

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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.

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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?

Here’s Why Being An Explorer Is A Good Idea

rainbow-1201862_1920In my Womenfolk series, the women I’ve spoken to have all sought to explore different dimensions of themselves. One thing they all have in common is their personal evolution. They have gone in search of things that have helped them grow, and evolve. They are explorers.

Our society dictates that we call ourselves something. We are all a bit prone to labels; we want a box to sit in, a pigeon hole to rest in, a safe place to say we fit. I think this is a completely natural thing to seek. Wanting to define yourself and your purpose is important as it helps us navigate the world.  [Read more…]

Womenfolk Series: Jenny Jessop on Painting, Motherhood and the Creative Life

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Jenny Jessop – adding final touches to one of her pieces in the ‘Grounded’ exhibition.

Through exploring imagination, place, distance, and transience Jenny Jessop has created a body of work that will be exhibited in Melbourne’s bayside suburb of Parkdale. I spoke to Jenny about her artistic career, her creative process and her current exhibition ‘Grounded’.  

Jenny is a painter from Ireland, living in Melbourne with her Australian husband and three children. In anticipation of her first Australian solo exhibition she takes us through where she has come from creatively, her creative process, and what underpins this.  [Read more…]

You Don’t HAVE to be Amazing…

Why Be Normal When you can be Amaaazing

 

I read a great article by Mark Manson the other day. It was called ‘Screw finding your passion’. It resonated with me so much. People out there are torturing themselves over finding this elusive thing called ‘their passion’. He offers some great advice – have a read of the article here.

But what it sparked in me, and it’s something that I’ve wanted to write about for a while, is that it is OK not to be Amaaaazing. It’s ok to just be, well, normal…and average. Like most of us are. We are harangued by an avalanche of images in the media of fit, gorgeous bodies (and this is not just women, it is men as well). Gorgeous people doing fabulous things. But life just isn’t like that; the sad thing about the curated world that surrounds us, is that it might inspire some but mostly it just makes people feel a bit shitty, and a bit not good enough. [Read more…]

The Womenfolk Series: Meet Nicole McDonald – On Living a Creative Life

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Nicole with one of her most popular designs

Welcome to my new series for Womenfolk: Inspirational Women. This series is about profiling women who are doing great things in their lives – be it with their careers, their family or their creativity. My hope is that through this series of profiles, you will find someone that resonates with you and gives you that little spark or push you need to do that something that you’ve always wanted to do.

First in the series is my gorgeous sister-in-law Nicole McDonald; the creative force behind Eco Collective Aus: Handmade In Australia with Love & Sustainability. Nicole makes a range of leather handbags, clutches, backpacks, iPhone and iPad covers, wallets and belts. Her creations are all made by hand, in her home on the Gold Coast.


The leather she uses is vegetable-tanned as opposed to chrome-tanned. Chrome tanning uses harsh chemicals to prime and dye the leather. Vegetable tanning uses barks, leaves and rind to tan and colour the leather, so it is much kinder to the earth and ultimately much better for the customer, as they are not carrying a bag that emits harsh chemicals, next to their skin.

Nicole first completed Certificate IV in Shoe Production and Design at RMIT in Melbourne, when her first child was a baby. Her intention was to design and make sustainable footwear, with a European aesthetic. Nicole is originally from Switzerland so is heavily influenced by European fashion and did not want to create clunky, heavy ‘hippy-style’ footwear. Her vision was very clear so she set about researching the most sustainable products, ranging from leather, glue and thread for sewing. [Read more…]