Womenfolk Series: Shani Nottingham – Rare Pear Studio Creative, Artist & Photographer

Today The Morning Drum would like you to meet our first Womenfolk feature for 2017.

You might notice that the format has changed a little. It’s a bit lighter than the previous format, but doesn’t deviate from telling you all the great things about inspiring, smart and creative women.

Dear readers, let me introduce you to Shani Nottingham.

Shani and I met within the lovely online Blog With Pip group, where lots of cool and kind blogging peeps hang out, get advice, compare notes and generally support each other.  Shani is an artist, and the creative talent behind Rare Pear Studio.

She is also behind the current trending project, #ProjectTlove, which she started just for herself but it’s going a little bit cray cray! People have been invited to hashtag anything they create, be it a collage, painting, drawing, sketch, photos, or anything related to TEA. Shani planned to do it for 100 days, it looks like it may go for even longer!!! She would love others to join in. Take a look here.

Shani also hosts creative workshops, does commissions and collaborations big and small, as well as illustration work.  She is also the head admin and founder of The Collage Club on Facebook, and A Virtual Cuppa – a place for women, especially creative types, to connect and share over virtual cuppas.

But I won’t go on, Shani is here to chat to you all.

Hello there! My name is Shani (rhymes with rainy). Pleased to meet you. So what can I tell you about me? I am an open book, probably too much sometimes. I am a middle aged mother of three, happily married to a lad I met at Uni. I have a white picket fence house and two 4WD vehicles. On the surface, that sounds pretty normal huh?

Do not be deceived. My world is crazy nuts. After growing up in Newcastle, I finished a bachelor of Arts Visual Arts degree, had a few years bumming around, then went travelling for a few more. All with the guy who is now my hubby. Then we came back to Australia, and moved to Central West NSW because of a teaching job for hubby. We planned to be here for a few years, and 20 years later, we are still here. WTF?!

I never thought this would be where I would live, but it is beautiful, and a great place for the kids to grow up. Huge skies, lovely surrounds, and we live in a great old house.100 years plus, but with a big modern extension designed by our architect best friend and added a few years back. I love my house, it is full of my collections  (I am a bit addicted to opp-shopping, have been since I was a kid) and things special to me. I love my garden, a total work in progress, and spend hours out there dreaming and pottering. I could become a hermit, just pottering about painting, quite easily.

What else? I am also a teacher, getting my second Uni degree while I was breeding. I am a vegetarian, and have been since I was about four years old. I have a pet green tree frog, a dog, two cats, and a new kitten (this week!). I love cheese, dreaming, sleeping, creating, iced coffee and Instagram. 

I have had depression on and off since my teenage years, and a bit of anxiety too. I live with it, manage it, and it is part of who I am. I guess it is my sensitive nature that also makes me attuned to fine things, observant, and it fuels my creativity. It has given me a roller coaster ride, but I know no different.

My world is full of colour and drama, never beige or boring. Sometimes I wish it was, but never for long.

When I wake up… 

I moan, and try to go back to sleep. I am NOT a morning person. I am a total night owl!

My childhood was spent… 

In Newcastle NSW, at the beach, camping, travelling, and being exposed to lots of wonderful experiences and places.

Motherhood has taught me… 

That parenting is hard work. That love for your kids is not describable to someone who does not have kids. That I really appreciate the great job my own parents did.

Raising three children is…

a  bloody tough gig. I wish we had more family support out here, but the distance away from family has prevented it. Incredibly rewarding too…but exhausting.

My role model is… 

hmmm. Tough one. There are two creatives I really love and hold up as examples. I am inspired by Olive Cotton, an Australian female photographer, and how she maintained her passion for her craft, throughout her life. I am inspired by so many people…

My definition of success is… 

being happy. And content.

If I wasn’t doing what I’m doing today…

I would be travelling the world, filling sketchbooks and diaries, soaking up new experiences.

My mother taught me… 

to collect! To love my home, and clean before guests come over!

A dream that came true for me… 

At the risk of sounding soppy, marrying my husband, and having kids. Hubby  and I were ridiculously immature nutty Uni students when we met, and we went through A LOT to get to the point of being responsible adults ready to make a life commitment… And I had endometriosis for years, and was told there was a very good chance I would never have children naturally…

My favourite season is (and why)… 

Autumn…crunchy pretty leaves, cooler weather, I do love Spring too, the promise of new. I really do not like Summer!

My biggest career highlight was… 

winning the Kidspot #voicesof2015 in Sydney. Being asked to contribute to some colouring in books. Being asked to run creative workshops by people I hugely admire. Having a famous Interior writer ask to buy my art…

My time management secrets are…

 I wish I had some! It is NOT my strength! I make to do lists, for my day, my week, my month. That is my starting point…

Today I’m wearing… 

as minimal as possible. It is REALLY HOT!

The last meal I ate was…. 

Homemade vegetarian ratatouille and salad.

I get stressed when… 

I realise I am shitty at time management!!!

Asking for money when I create art, knowing how much to charge for my skills and time…

My most annoying habit is… 

Being bad at time management! lol! To be truthful, my life seems to take up all of my time…

Favourite thing to do for yourself…

Quiet alone time, faffing with my paints and drawing… or reading… or walking in my garden… Quiet alone time really.

My happy place is… 

My hubby says he can see me going to my happy place when I gaze at my coloured glass collection!  But as a place? South Island New Zealand. I adore it. I dream of it. I miss it. When I go there my heart fills.

I am inspired by…

Nature. Colour. Other creatives. The need to create.

If I could live in any other era, it would be… and why

Wow. Tough. The swinging 60’s I think, or late fifties. Because I love the fashions, homeware trends, the grooviness, the music, the positivity that seems to be signature to that time. Walking on the moon, and so many breakthroughs! Exciting times. Free love!

You can find out more about Shani and all the cool things that she is involved with here on her Blog, or follow her on Facebook  or Instagram: @rarepearstudio, she’s also on Pinterest and she has a website and a shop too.

Womenfolk Series: Jo Langhorne, Life Coach and Mentor

jo_headshots-39785Jo Langhorne is the Founder and Director of Jo Langhorne Coaching for the Soul – a life coaching practice that is underpinned by an ethos that if your soul is nourished and you look within, you will move closer to finding what you seek.

Jo has always gravitated towards people and is naturally inclined to make connections. She’s had a successful career in travel but always struggled working in a world driven by ‘the bottom line’. She left this behind to try and have a baby. During this time she contracted back to the travel company that had employed her, but worked in a different capacity, by providing training and mentoring. She discovered her greatest satisfaction came from seeing the staff she was working with grow, both personally and professionally.

[Read more…]

Womenfolk Series: Meaghan Shelton

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Meaghan Shelton (photo by Charmaine Lyons Photography)

Next in The Morning Drum’s Womenfolk Series is a profile on talented and inspiring artist, Meaghan Shelton. Based on the Sunshine Coast hinterland in Queensland, she is first a painter, but also works in sculpture, drawing and photography, among other things.

Without labelling her work as surreal, for me, it has an ethereal and dreamlike quality to it. We chatted last week about her life, her work and her influences.

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[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…]