The South-West

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Last long weekend we contemplated two choices. Spend the time doing some much needed home DIY and tidying? Or go coastal exploring? You can see which option won out – the irresponsible but equally necessary choice! We took the opportunity to have a much needed break from the daily grind and wound our way around Dunsborough and the rocky coastline that surrounds the South-West.

The sunny weather and crisp ocean air cleared the stress and drear from our minds as we scrambled intrepidly across coastal paths and up rocky ways. The cool nights were spent hunkering down with mugs of warm tea, too many Snickers bars and a good read. The highlights? Climbing Castle Rock and watching the sun set over Sugarloaf from atop a rocky perch.

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The Stirling Ranges

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Good golly, where has all that time gone…? In all honesty it’s been consumed by all-work but that doesn’t necessarily have to mean no-play, and the time certainly hasn’t been dull. Jinn has been knuckling down to smash the crap out of a few exams, and I’ve been settling into a new job after a very hectic and often stressful year. All the more reason to come back to this space and create and express.

So whaddaya know? Western Australia has mountains – real, bona fide, actual mountains. Well, mini ones by global standards.

Over the deliciously long four-day Christmas weekend, we made the split decision to go camping. Lured by the views promised from the top of Bluff Knoll and other peaks around the Stirling Ranges, we had been feeling an increasingly insistent desire to detach and go hiking – so off we went. It was the perfect idea, the campsites were peaceful and secluded whilst everyone did the family Christmas thing and the weather unseasonably and mercifully cool for summer.

That said, the trip was not without hitches. Keen to get up those peaks, in embarrassing noob fashion we found ourselves with desperately low levels of fuel right smack bang in the middle of the sprawling national park with the closest petrol stations closed and enjoying their Christmas barbies. And let’s not forget to mention a certain person falling down a waterfall on our way back home through Pemberton. (Not me.) Despite the dramas, a couple of spats, and a few heart-stopping near-death experiences, we had an incredible time and will definitely be getting ourselves down here again soon.

Recommendations? Of course you’ve got to do Bluff Knoll because it’s the climb, and the highest peak, and do believe people when they tell you it’s windy up top – pack an extra layer, preferably of the windproof, windbreaking kind. However, we’d recommend Mount Trio as it’s nestled amongst a bunch of other small mountains and provides magnificent views too. Be brave and don’t mind a bit of rock-scrambling. Sunset views are just breathtaking so remember to pack head-torches for your descent.

Artist Open House Fremantle

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Boy oh boy, are we all in for a treat this weekend! Hot on the tails of the Open House Perth, Artist Open House Fremantle is on this Friday through to Sunday.

Seven Fremantle residences (all within walking distance of each other) have been filled with local art and beautifully styled into living, breathing galleries. This unique concept showcases art in the home, so we not only admire it but can better see how it could fit and enrich our own living spaces.

Exciting and new to AOHF is the Styled House, a collaboration with superstar stylist Jo Carmichael. Everything in this house from the art to the textiles to the furniture are for sale. We were lucky enough to be given the chance to have a sneaky preview look of this amazing location. As you can see from our photos, the place is just a dream, an absolutely feast for the eyes and unfastener of purse strings.

Well now you know what your plans this weekend are, start your day off at Ootong & Lincoln, not only serving up its usual tasty fare and coffee but also acting as the AOHF Headquarters this weekend! Be sure to head over to the Artist Open House Fremantle website to find out more details and download a map!

Artist Open House Fremantle / IG @artistopenhousefremantle / Facebook / Friday November 13th to Sunday November 15th

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

Bells Rapids

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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.

Rana Clothing

rana2-2rana2-5rana2-3rana2-1rana2-6So, remember last week when I got on my wee soapbox and went on a we-should-all-support-fair-trade rant? Well, let me introduce to you Rana Clothing.

Hatched from the mind of Rebecca Dracup and designed by the hands of Angela Parker, Rana offers a range of ethically made office wear (although I reckon that skirt pictured would be pretty amazing on any day really!).

When Rebecca graduated from uni and started working as a sustainability engineer, she did what we all do and went out in search of a new office-worthy wardrobe. What she found was a hole in the market, a lack of shops and designers selling workwear which was openly ethically and/or sustainably produced. Not to be deterred, she began contacting companies to see if she could at least find out if they could provide her with information regarding the source of their clothing but was met with unclear answers or, in some cases, unreassuring silence. And when most of us would probably throw our hands up in the air and give up, Rebecca decided that this was just not good enough – and she dreamed up her own company.

Enter fashion graduate, Angie, the designer with the know-how and eye to create the fashionable yet socially-conscious clothing range. They met up for the first time less than a year ago and made Rana Clothing come to life.

Rana takes its name from the Rana Plaza, a building in Bangladesh that housed thousands of garment workers that make clothing for what is termed the “fast fashion” industry, that is, where most of our clothing comes from at present. This poorly maintained complex collapsed in 2013, killing more than a thousand workers and injuring thousands more. Spurred on by this image and as a reminder of the unjustly poor conditions many individuals work under, Angie travelled to Sri Lanka in search of fabrics and suitable makers.

After many weeks of exploring, questioning and site-visiting, Angie found a number of local craftspeople who welcomed Rana Clothing’s support and fit the mould in terms of transparency and providing gainful employment to workers in a safe and comfortable environment. Excitingly, Rana’s first collection will showcase garments made from locally made handloom materials (a traditional artisan technique!) by a small garment company just out of Colombo, Maya Dress Designers.

Think this is an admirable achievement? Angie and Rebecca have also connected with a number of local Sri Lankan designers whose clothing they will sell alongside Rana’s collections, one of whom creatively uses the excess fabric from larger companies’ projects that would normally go completely to waste. Also, next in the pipeline is sourcing organically farmed cotton which may see Angie travelling to India to get to the heart of its production. If this is the way things are going, I’m so excited to see what is in store and will wholeheartedly get behind these guys.

Rana Clothing have just launched their crowdfunding campaign here. Environmentally and socially conscious shopping? Designers that care and know who make their garments? This is where we’re heading people, let’s make it the requisite and the everyday, not the exception.

Photos courtesy of Rana Clothing by Daniel Hunt

Special shout out to Juanita’s Wine & Tapas Bar for providing such a lovely backdrop for the models

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