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The green, green Grampians

After our obligatory Melbourne food-coffee-shop-art fest, the three of us bundled into the car and meandered our way to the Grampians via the picturesque Great Ocean Road, Australia’s answer to Big Sur.

I recently came across the Japanese term shinrin-yoku, literally “forest bathing”. It refers to the recommended practice of visiting the forest for health benefits, both physical and mental. Nothing could be truer and articulates so perfectly the effect even a short trip out of the city does to us. The sharp fresh air, the quiet punctuated by only the gentle sounds of nature, letting your eyes settle on wide open spaces and distant horizons. It’s interesting that out there, one can experience true silence and true darkness, perhaps giving our senses the natural rest they need.

Ironically I write this whilst staring at my laptop screen in a bustling cafe, bass-heavy Lauryn Hill blasting from a speaker into my left ear, cars whizzing by on my right, and the barista is doing that thing they do where they bash equipment together really loudly for some reason or other. (Someone help me out here – what are they doing?)

But this is the reality of our everyday. So maybe tree-hugging shouldn’t be a term reserved for altruistic environmentalists alone, it might do us all some good. I’m convinced it does.

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Great Ocean Road with 2.1 humans

I gotta admit, I got onto that plane kicking and screaming on the inside, thinking that this was a very very bad idea. Why would I want to be a sleepless, frazzled new parent somewhere other than in the comfort of my own home.

Insane levels of sleep deprivation and the sudden transition from full-time professional to mother of a tiny being was wreaking havoc on my brain and sense of self. Well-meaning people, parenting websites, numerous books urged me to try all sorts of “fixes” and “routines” resulting in additional stress, making my nerves even more ragged and the tears fall faster.

This trip was in fact the antidote I needed. Every day was different by necessity, routine was out the window as we literally strapped Alexa to our bodies and got outside. We loved it and she loved it! It didn’t matter what we did, there wasn’t any secret magic except for enjoying nature, the act of exploring and simply connecting with one another. Taking the time to notice and drink in the trees rustling in the wind, waves crashing on sandy beaches, the changing colours only sunset can bring, the warmth of my beautiful baby in my arms, the gentle rise and fall of her tummy as she sleeps, placing a little kiss on her tiny lips.

Maybe together

adventure-13adventure-1-6adventure-2adventure-14adventure-1-10adventure-1-11 adventure-1-8 adventure-20adventure-1-9adventure-1-13Sometimes it’s hard for me to get out there and meet new faces. Growing up, I don’t think you could have met a more silent child than me, I was the product of being the youngest of a bevy of siblings and cousins who were more than happy to speak and think for me and a self-esteem so low that it often felt like social situations would cause tight chains to paralyse my voice and I preferred to pay more attention to words and worlds books could wind around me than the gaze of others. Things have changed, but that small girl still grips my heart once in a while because she is still me.

Last weekend we went to the Secret Garden. We enjoyed the company of many, and I always revel in the presence of those so free in expression, be it through body, music, art or speech. Judgement was something I feared from a very young age and to be in an environment completely free of it is a blessed feeling.

Surrounded by the deep greenery, black mud underfoot, the afternoon was whiled away with the best kind of people, the ones you feel free to be silly with (well, to be yourself with, which for me is truly very silly) and those where the conversation can be plenty or little, it doesn’t matter and it’s all good. The sun’s golden rays fell lower and lower until they were just peeking through the leaves and most departed to swim in the sea and we went on to enjoy a sunset film.

Happiness is freedom. You passionate, free people – you inspire me.

Go somewhere

brooklyn_-1brooklyn_-7brooklyn_-12brooklyn_-2brooklyn_-13brooklyn_-14 brooklyn_-3 brooklyn_-10 brooklyn_-16brooklyn_-8Wearing – Jungmaven dress, Birkenstock sandals, A.J. Morgan sunglasses, Gorman bag

Jumping a little ahead in time, New York was the last stop in our holiday. By this time, we’d roasted ourselves in the Californian desert and breathed in the pine-scented air of the Oregon forests, and now found ourselves on the other side of this vast country pounding concrete, dodging yellow taxis, and weaving through the busy streams of people.

We decided this time round to stay in Brooklyn in a sweet apartment in Williamsburg, a great decision as it took us away from the Manhattan bustle and into the smaller and (slightly) less trodden streets where it’s more about being effortlessly cool than the incessantly bright lights and flashy Broadway smile. Relaxed chic is the brand, and places selling vintage threads to boutique cheese ooze out of every nook and cranny.

Brooklyn is the Solange to Manhattan’s Beyonce, and no offence to the Beycrew but I know who I’d rather hang with.

Patricia Fernandes Ceramic Artist

patricia-fernandes-16patricia-fernandes-3pf-ceramics-1patricia-fernandes-4 patricia-fernandes-5patricia-fernandes-27 patricia-fernandes-7patricia-fernandes-11patricia-fernandes-12 patricia-fernandes-9patricia-fernandes-21patricia-fernandes-22patricia-fernandes-10patricia-fernandes-14 patricia-fernandes-13patricia-fernandes-18 patricia-fernandes-29patricia-fernandes-31 patricia-fernandes-32 patricia-fernandes-35She’s the mother of an incredibly beautiful and tactile handmade dinnerware range, the aptly termed “Functionality” collection. She rules with a firm but fair hand and affectionately bestows her creations with names such as the Sir Mix-a-lot bowl, the Plattertastic and the Lady Baker. It was with equal parts of excitement and awe that we joined Patricia Fernandes in her home studio for a workshop with a bang. (And when I mean a bang, I mean a bloody good meal. Oh and heaps of belly laughs.)

Patricia’s work brings together a distinctly modern aesthetic of strong simple shapes with an ingenious way of using antique Indian printing blocks. Clean smooth ceramic meets its unexpected match with patterns that once graced rich saris.

Determined not to be just pretty faces, the hardworking pieces are also ovenproof and nonstick meaning that they go from kitchen to dining table without even breaking a sweat. Now that’s my kinda dinner party.

motif-2Tell us the story behind “Functionality”.

I love to cook. So the “Functionality” range was really born out of a selfish love project! I wanted to create high quality handmade products that looked damn pretty whilst also being able to withstand the rigours of everyday use. I want every meal to be a special experience whether you’re eating by yourself or having a meal with loved ones. Often you don’t realise that a special moment is occurring until it’s passed and for that reason I want to make every meal occasion special.

How have you seen your business growing over the last few years and where do you see it going in the future? 

The label has been growing quite organically over the last couple of years. I’m heartened to see so many people recognising the beauty of and converting back to handmade tableware and using my wares to create their very own food memories. As for where I see it going in the future, well a girl can plan but it all depends on the Fates right?

How long does it take to make a piece from your Functionality range like the Punch Drunk Pitcher? Talk us through the process.

Working with clay makes you learn a lot about patience and even more about yourself. It’s hard to put an exact time on how long it takes to make a ceramic piece – it depends on the season, the ambient temperature, as well how intricate the piece is. The Punch Drunk Pitchers are really involved! First the body and handle have to be cast separately and then attached ever so carefully. They then have to be babied and showered with TLC over the next couple of days as I watch for any cracks that form before finally firing them. It’s a labour of love!

Introduce us to your new kiln, you’ve just recently had an addition to the family! And what a catch he is!

Pedro, my new hunk-a-hunk-a-burning-love, has joined the family and couldn’t have arrived a moment sooner. He’s a dreamboat really -you know, the strong silent type who always accommodates your every whim, a complete pleasure to work with. The only thing that’d make him more perfect is if he gave back massages…Anywaaaay…He complements my first little kiln so well. Though quite tiny, this old faithful kiln is not to be trifled with! She works hard and will fit in quite a few pieces if you know how to treat her right.

What other workshops do you have in store?

My goodness, I love running the workshops! I get a huge kick out of sharing my knowledge and skills with other makers and budding enthusiasts. Coming up this year I have an assortment of workshops available in two and four hour formats where you get to work with clay and create beautiful pieces of your own to take home (after you leave them with me for a few weeks while they get fired and glazed). These have been designed to cater for a variety of people, whether you’re a time-poor professional who wants to stretch your creative wings or someone who wants to have a more languorous “Treat Yourself” kind of day. I get people who have never touched clay in their lives except for that time in Year 4 to a number of repeat offenders who just keep coming back for more. Oh and did I mention I looooove to cook? I guarantee you will get fed, and fed well! For more details, do hop on over to my website!

Your workshops are so unique in that they always include a time to “break bread” and eat together. Do you always feed your students?

My workshops are so much more than an impartation of skills, I see them as a way of nourishing your soul and connecting back to oneself. Clay is so tactile and just has a way of doing that when you really get into it. Nourishing the body and sharing a meal together is a delightful added bonus, and all of my meals are made with the utmost of love and consideration. I absolutely love researching yummy recipes and cooking for others (I’ll admit it, I’m a feeder!). So yes, it’s only natural that there’s always an element of food involved in my workshops! Mealtimes are such catalysts for connecting and coming together, I’ve observed people starting the day off as strangers and ending the day having found and made a new friend. Some people even end up signing up for more workshops together!

Describe the perfect day.

I’m not sure I want to define the perfect day for me. I’m trying to live in the moment as I’m a subjunctive type of person, so I’ll describe what would be a perfect hour for me right now: Going for a walk with Rumpei, my beloved Sharpei, to a place we’ve never been before either by ourselves or in the company of a loved one. It’s the simple things that make me happy.

motif-2Being a professed workshop junkie, I can honestly and wholeheartedly say that Patricia’s workshop is one of the best workshops I have ever been to. Her love for clay and her even greater love for people is simply contagious. The atmosphere is so relaxed and there are so many moments spent conversing over food or whilst creating that by the end of the day you really feel like you’ve had a great day out with friends.

There are a range of clay workshops to choose from to suit your timeframe and you can make a variety of useful creations from cheeseboards to small hanging planters. Do check them out, sign yourself up, and get Patricia to make you the potatoes. (Refer to photos above to commence drooling)

Patricia Fernandes Ceramics / Webstore / Facebook / Workshops / pfenquiries@gmail.com

Boy girl

ryder-lace-dress-7 ryder-lace-dress-5 ryder-lace-dress-2ryder-lace-dress-1Wearing – Ryder dress, Lee Coren clutch (in black), Converse sneakers

A bit boy. A bit girl.

A lot happy.

Bells Rapids

bells-rapids-15bells-rapids-1bells-rapids-24bells-rapids-26 bells-rapids-8bells-rapids-25 bells-rapids-29bells-rapids-28 bells-rapids-30bells-rapids-18 bells-rapids-31 bells-rapids-34 bells-rapids-36bells-rapids-39bells-rapids-38 bells-rapids-40The last long weekend here in Perth called for a quick dose of red dirt and eucalyptus, and a moment of much needed self care. Time to shut that laptop and forget about the mountain of work emails, and just enjoy the zamia palms swish past my legs and watch the sunset tint the smoke-filled sky wondrous colours.

And better than that, time to spend with friends who think it’s a great idea to follow a sign that says “Goat Walk” and proceed to practically rock climb up the side of a hill, friends who agree that appropriate hiking food consists of chocolate and coffee, and friends who accept you as a complete package and help you remember that you’re kinda alright.

Thanks guys. I think you’re kinda alright too.

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