Hello there you! Here you will find stuff about living a creative life in country Australia. I am an illustrator who also creates, takes photos, faffs, teaches & hosts workshops. Watercolour, collage, colour, cheese, salads, travel, collecting, & dreaming make me ridiculously happy. And gardening. And op-shops. And art supplies. And the word serendipity. And you reading this. Oh and so you know, all the art & photos you see on here are done by me!

Thursday, 13 December 2018

MAKING A MANIFESTO for The Breadtag Project

 MAKING  A MANIFESTO
for The Breadtag Project




In the middle of 2018 I began to ponder an idea. I began to think about the humble little breadtag/breadclip/breadtie, and how it is so common, yet so overlooked. 

WHY? Why BREADTAGS?

I had been sporadically making little simple pictures using tags I had collected for a few years. When I posted them on social media, the reaction was overwhelmingly surprise mixed with delight.

On a purely creative, artistic level, I became excited about the possibilities. To make more images, my collecting of breadtags gathered a little pace, and I also began to research what colours I could find.

But then something else happened, because a whole world of information opened up to me when I began Googling about breadtags.

I began to understand how single use plastics, such as breadtags, were a major environmental concern. I began to read and investigate the impact of them throughout the world. How every single piece of plastic is with us forever, and how they are fundamentally not recognised or valued beyond a short life span of usage, but a lifetime of waste. 


When I began to see how quickly my own collection grew, I realised the IMMENSE amount of tags that are in circulation. I began to realise the anything I did with the tags HAD to include an awareness of this huge problem. And that small steps and actions can lead to big things. 

So THE BREADTAG PROJECT happened. I started a Facebook page, and began reaching out to people. And they responded. 

Breadtags began turning up in my letterbox. I was filled with amazement. 

While collecting and sorting the growing collection of breadtags, I also received  messages, emails and hand written notes.



People were sharing STORIES, ANECDOTES and moments of their lives with me. Special, funny, emotionally moving, sentimental, beautiful stories. ALL tied to breadtags. 

Stories of grief, loss and trauma, but also of happiness and sharing.  And these stories deserve to be read and shared with others. I realised I had begun to create a little community, that was invested in this project. Slightly terrifying, but truly wonderful. 

I saw that others found the process of collecting was inherent, because many did not know why they had been collecting breadtags, they just did! And they were grateful they now had somewhere to send them. 


I also discovered that like me, people found it comforting, and almost meditative to sort and classify their breadtags. A beauty in creating order and form, and reason. I researched and read more about how actually the process of collecting has been studied and has scientific basis to why it can create a sense of well being. It is fascinating. And for a collector like me, it made perfect sense. 

Having lived with anxiety and depression on and off in my adult life, and knowing so many others in the same boat, I am intrinsically motivated and interested in learning more about mental health issues and well-being. I have long learnt that art and creating are a form of therapy, and hugely beneficial. 

To this end, The Breadtag Project also gives me and others, another platform to talk about our experiences, to recognise that just creating, and being PART OF SOMETHING, is wonderfully nurturing, and promotes well-being and good mental health. 



I see it as way or normalising discussion, of sharing strategies and experiences. So important, and close to my heart. 

Not sure why I had not done it earlier, but few months ago I opened up a new account on Instagram  too, to support and share THE BREADTAG PROJECT. To reach out to more people. 

It was around this time I began to think more seriously about not only the WHAT and WHY it is I want to achieve, but the WHERE  and WHEN  too. And most importantly… the HOW. 

Because dreaming and thinking up ideas is one thing, but putting them into action is another altogether. 

This is where THE MANIFESTO came to be. Sounds fancy huh! And serious. It is!

The MANIFESTO will be the skeleton, or base that informs and directs whatever happens within and for the project. 

It will provide clear objectives and outcomes. 

Of course, it is a working document, so changes are expected as time progresses, but essentially core values remain the same. 

In order to achieve all these goals, I will need support, financially, emotionally, creatively. I know my community will assist me.

Financially, I will be investigating arts Grants, Government and Non GO corporations and businesses and networking with people I know who have great skills and knowledge.

I will reach out to media, both old school like radio, television and paper and print media, as well as online. And yes, publicity will be key, so please do not hesitate to spread the word about the project, by sharing the Instagram feed and Facebook page links. 
  

I am open to suggestions, and ideas, mentoring, contacts and potential sources of inspiration to achieve the outcomes and objectives. Any contacts in PR, media, book publishing etc also a bonus. Let me know if you think you can assist in any way!


I hope you will not hesitate to participate in this passion project of mine, and I look forward to the journey ahead with you on board,

And stay tuned for THE MANIFESTO!

Yours in collecting and breadtags,
Shani x



Tuesday, 28 August 2018

Because sometimes you just have to...

Because sometimes you just have to (because it's what you need to do)

YAHOO!Holidays!

In a few weeks, I go overseas with my family for a few months. Awesome, I know. Fantastic. Brilliant. But it has not happened without a shitload tonne of planning and prep. 

The house, which will have been cleaned and mopped, tidied, and overhauled, will have other people living in it, looking after our menagerie and tending the garden etc. The mail will be collected, and hopefully the pets will not miss us too much. 

We have told our workplaces that we will be gone, and leave has all been arranged. We have bought the backpacks, got the passports, bought the clothes and shoes and clean undies. The first aid kit is packed, and all repeat scripts and two months worth of meds done, with accompanying letters to show authorities we are not drug runners, just medicated peoples.  

Skimming rocks with Daddy

We have been working hard, all of us. I have done lots more teaching days, hustled my butt off with art, the teenagers have hardly been home because they have taken on so many shifts, the youngest has been collecting plastic bottles like mad.

With only a few weeks to go till we leave there is a sense of excitement, but also we are weirdly calm, like it is all a bit of a surreal thing - in that it is still not quite actually a real thing at all.

We have put a lot on the line, and pushed back other projects so we could do this. We have said no to other things, and shelved other plans. There have been testy discussions and deals done.

Koh Chang lunch shenanigans

We are a volatile, but loving family, and I would be lying if I said I am not absolutely a little bit terrified of how we will all cope with each other for 8 weeks in close proximity with lots of stresses. 

So why do it? Why spend so much money, why do this? Why go through the stresses and strains and worry? 

Because we have to. 

Because we want to show the kids where their dad grew up,(he immigrated with his folks when he was in mid high school) and where their grandparents came from. These kids grew up on a steady diet of BBC TV shows and kitchen table discussions of ye olde country, and feel English, even though thy have never stepped foot on English soil - yet.

Because we also want them to experience, taste, smell, see, hear other languages, foods, cultures, people, toilets, weather and sights so different from where they live in our small pocket of country NSW. 

Watermelon slushies, Thai style

Because if we can give them a tiny taste of the big wide world, make them want more, if we can pique their interest, and ignite further the desire to travel and experience the beauty and complexities of this amazing world... then I will be happy. 

Because my parents took me to Indonesia when I was very young, which began a childhood of going to wonderful places both overseas and in Australia. My love of travel was a gift given to me and nurtured by them. I am so grateful for these times and memories, for them opening up the world for me. 

Because truthfully I want to do this for my own kids too. 

Because our family has more than enough STUFF, and we want to not just buy the kids more things as presents, but give them experiences instead. 

Because as a family, we are on the verge of great changes. Our eldest goes off to Uni next year, and leaves the family nest. We need to make some more memories, and share this special time before everything changes. Travel together does this for us. 

My kids

Bangkok peacocks

Because memories from the overseas trips we have done - like riding on elephants, and swimming under waterfalls in Thailand, and landing on glaciers in New Zealand are part of the weft and weave of our family tapestry.



Because every holiday we have had together, we have created things, laughed at things, seen things that we still remember years later. It's not just the photos, it is the collective experiences that we now share.

And that is WHY we have to. Why we are doing this thing. Because you never know what is around the corner, what will happen, and we want to create memories that will live on in our hearts forever, no matter what the future holds. Surely that is worth the money, the stress, the planning, the preparation, the hassle? 

 Hooker Glacier walk, NZ

So when you do not hear from me for a few months, my blog goes silent for a bit, you know why. 
Because I just have to!

My intrepid family

Wednesday, 22 August 2018

BLUUUUAARRRRGHHHHH! (Guilty Guilty Mc Guilty Face)

BLUUUUAARRRRGHHHHH!
 (Guilty Guilty Mc Guilty Face)


BLUUAAARGH.BLUAAARGGHHH.Bluurghk.
Bluuaaarrrghhh. Pretty much, that's how each day has been for a few weeks now. You see, I went from having a cold to realising it was flu and then this developed into a chest infection. I have been coughing up my lungs, blowing my nose till there is no skin left around the whole nose region and I have spent hours regretting not having bought shares in Kleenex. 

This was after the aches and pains, writhing in feverish spasms, cold flannels on neck, head, and face, headaches raging from left to right across my cranium, blankets on, then off, Nurofen, Pandadols, honey, tea, lemon, limes, water, more water, juice, ginger tea and repeat. It's been messy, real messy.

For days, the sofa was my home, my abode. I could not leave it. Could not focus. Could not stop moaning in agony. Energy levels were non existent. I gave man flu a run for its money. I was SO PRETTY. It was killer.


Even more killer - I had work commitments that I had to reneg on. 

Of course, as this damn illness raged on and began to linger, I drugged myself up and ended up doing things I had made commitments to do. I was desperate not to let anyone down. I got back to work. As you do. 

Of course, this meant I did not get better. Weeks on... I am now on second round of drugs and have been told to rest. Or my health will not improve. I knew it, of course.   

I still feel dreadful. But the worst thing during this whole silly saga of sickness? The thing that makes me feel even more dreadful? 

THE GUILT
THE GUILT
THE GUILT

Yep, the guilt. I have laid on that sofa  feeling SO guilty everyday for what I SHOULD be doing. WOULD be doing if I could. Could be doing, if I pushed myself a bit harder.  

Guilt at not going to work. Guilt at not cleaning, washing and house stuff. Guilt at turning away work and jobs. Guilt at not responding and sending emails. 

Guilt at NOT answering comments, likes and questions on social media. Guilt at not posting on social media. Guilt at not blogging. Guilt at not taking photos of all the Breadtag Project arrivals in my letterbox. Guilt at just being lame. Guilt for not promoting stuff, and telling everyone about my new website. Guilt at not completing an online course I am doing. 


Generally feeling like I am letting a whole heap of people down. 

Yes, I am being ridiculous, and if it was my kids I would make sure they DID rest. Yes, I know I am a dufus. But.. THE GUILT.

The eternal mother/ worker thing. You push on, cos you have to. You subsist on painkillers, and soldier on. You drag yourself through the days. Why do we do this to ourselves? It's not just me, I know it. 

Is it guilt, or just cos we feel we have to? Why is it so hard to give ourselves permission to REST and DO NOTHING?

I don't know. But I do know one thing... I am about to go make a cup of hot sleepy tea and then go to bed. Because if I don't, I will feel guilty... AGAIN (Of not doing doing as my doctor told me to do!) 


Tuesday, 7 August 2018

The Green Monster

THE GREEN MONSTER


Jealousy. Envy. Burning resentment. GAH! Bad bad bad bad emotions. Not healthy at all. 

The green eyed monster is not a pretty beastie. 

It's a struggle, people, it really is. There is a stupid, crazy, ridiculous thing that happens to me. No matter what I am achieving, or doing, it never seems good enough, it never seems ENOUGH in any way. Only a few times in my life have I ever felt good enough, completely sated with joy and pride. 

I am not sure why this is. 

I was diagnosed a few years ago with adult ADD, which was a shock. Especially as it was when I was battling with depression and anxiety already and I felt like I was free falling through my days. 

Suddenly though lots of things about myself made more sense. I felt relief. Maybe this is why I never felt like I had NEVER achieved my potential? Maybe this is why I always felt a bit weird?


A few years on from then, things have settled down quite a bit, but I still have that gnawing feeling that everyone else is doing better than me, is more talented or clever than me, knows more, works harder, is swimming in success and money, opportunities and stellar careers. That I am not really very good at all actually. I have somehow tricked people into thinking I have some talent. 

It sometimes gets almost crippling. I have to actively STOP the negative self talk. I have to consciously talk down that evil nasty green eyed monster, tell it to just FORK off RIGHT NOW. 

I have to remember that a few years ago I would never have even attempted some of the things I am  thinking of doing now. I would never have entertained the idea of doing things I do now. And yet.... and yet... I feel a bit of FAILURE TO LAUNCH. Why am I my own worst enemy? 


Is this the thing that makes me motivated? Is it actually the thing that pushes me forwards? Do most people have these thoughts?    Do I just think too much?

I guess like many things, it is my choice what to do with these emotions. I know that sometimes I have cringed and cried, and gone flat when I see others making huge strides, or doing great stuff. I am gutted by the fact they have done it better and more abley. 

It is a physical reaction, truly. So if I cannot stop them, then what? 

I can take these feelings and mix them round, swirl them in my head, and try to bury them. Or I can reach in deep and like a conjuror spin them into threads of power and motivation, a ball of energy to push me forwards. Or I can let them wash over me, swamp me, pull me into a bog of self pity and hopelessness. 

There is no point denying they happen. Because they do, springing up like sharp needles. Nasty spikes of YOU ARE REALLY SHIT. 


Yep, it's what do with them that matters. 

What is that saying, it's not the problems that make us, its how we face them? Something like that... Whatever the saying is, I am sure there are a million memes that can give me consolation and inspiration, motivation and affirmation. If only I could face turning on Pinterest and seeing them all! 

If I do turn on Pinterest, I will not just see memes though. No way! I am likely to start seeing art and illustrations, and ideas, and GREAT STUFF. Stuff that can be brilliant. Or stuff that will make the green eyed monster want to play. So rather than look for external validation, I need to find the belief in me, in myself. 

Which brings me to what I probably need to do. I need to turn off the social media. I need to stop comparing. I need to play, just play. I need to make crappy art, shitty stuff, and just play. With no expectation...


Because that's when I find the joy again. In the process. In the mess and the fear of what happens next. Find spontaneous play. And I may even use lots and lots and lots of green. Oodles of it, in all different hues and shades. And NOT use it to paint a monster, but use it to paint lushness, growth and blooming. Much  healthier, and much better, wouldn't you agree?








Thursday, 2 August 2018

FEET ON A JOURNEY

FEET ON A JOURNEY

At a styling workshop with Kara Rosenlund, Sydney

swollen feet from hiking, bathroom at Koh Chang, Thailand

 Iandra Castle, Greenethorpe NSW

 Ferry Pier, Parramatta, Sydney

  Beachfront, Thailand

  Back streets of inner Sydney

  School playground, Cowra NSW

  Picnic spot, Forbes NSW

  Mt Canobolas, Orange NSW

  Wanaka Lake Foreshore, New Zealand

 Melbourne

   Bang Bao jetty, Thailand

  Sunny Corner, NSW

   Wanaka Lake Foreshore, New Zealand

  with Daisy dog, POW camp lookout, Cowra NSW

waiting at doctors, Orange NSW

  Koh Chang beach resort, Thailand

 at my brother's wedding, South Coast, NSW

South West Rocks, NSW

  Koh Chang, Thailand

 outback NSW

 Sistine Chapel, The Vatican

  Mt Buffalo, Victoria

  motel in Sydney

  national park, Victoria

 Pompeii, Italy

family portrait, Sumner Rocks Beach, New Zealand

park in Queenstown, New Zealand

train Station Dunedin, New Zealand

on my honeymoon with hubby, Mt. Kosciuszko 

  Dunedin train station, New Zealand

on way to Milford Sound, New Zealand

 Mimosa Rocks National Park, with hubby South Coast NSW

 unknown/forgotten

Hooker Glacier walk, New Zealand

  Melbourne 

  Motel in Jindabyne, NSW

Antibes beach, near Nice, France

Paterson's Curse, Grenfell NSW

 shopping centre, Sydney

 our bathroom, pregnant with child number 2, Cowra, NSW

this week,  driveway, Parramatta NSW


Have you made it this far? All the way down to this text? Well done you!

Well, this is not the usual blog post, you will have noticed. Instead it is really just photos. But it tells a story. A little bit of one. Because these are just SOME of the many many many photos I have taken over the years, of my feet, usually in shoes. 

It started in my early twenties, when I wanted photos of where I had been, but selfies were too hard (and unknown as yet) with big bulky SLR cameras. So I began taking photos of my feet. And yes, people laughed at me, took the mickey, ribbed me. Then guess what? My whole family started doing it. Then my friends. Guess I am just a trendsetter.

So now, many years later, I have a pretty good collection of pics to show me where these feet have taken me. There are of course, huge gaps in the photos, periods where I have taken nothing. I regret it and wish I had taken more than I have. I intend to keep taking them now, and I am always looking for interesting surfaces to take pics of, and interesting places. One day I am sure I will do a comprehensive project about it, but for now, this will suffice. 

I love these photos, because I can see how my feet have aged, spread, changed. I can see the shoes I have had and loved. I remember the places, the smells, the feelings I had at the time. 

Some of them were places I could not believe where I stood, amazed and overwhelmed with emotions. Some of these pics were just mundane  everyday moments. What I love about them all, as a collection, is the way I can see the directions life has taken me... and continue to do so. My feet, on a journey. Wonder where I will go next?