I’ve recently self published a book called ‘The Artful Mum’. It is a book about creativity and parenthood designed, curated and compiled by yours truly.
It shares the indelible wisdom of six Australian artists who also happen to be mums and delves into how they juggle motherhood with their varying creative vocations.
Featuring the work of Fiona Barrett-Clark, Ellie Beck, Emily Besser, Kirsten Duncombe, Bianca Harrington and Emma Simmons, ‘The Artful Mum’ is a Q&A style creative memoir with 54 pages of inspirational words and images.
The book launch will coincide with a group exhibition of the featured artists to be held at Penny Farthing Design House, 51 Darling St, East Balmain, Sydney on May 5th 2018 from 4pm.
The exhibition and book launch will be opened by artist and author of ‘There is a Paintbrush in my Coffee’ ~ Jasmine Mansbridge.
If you'd like a copy follow this link.
If you want to dig a little deeper, part of why this book exists is due to my own experience of perinatal depression and anxiety. My daughter was born in 2014 after a very traumatic delivery, I lost 3/4 of the blood in my body, broke my coccyx and had surgery to stop the bleeding. My parents met my daughter while I was in a coma on life support. ICU nurses overdosed me on pain medicines and I had the worst hallucinations and drug induced psychosis afterwards. To make a long story short, depression and anxiety followed all this alongside a loss of self and creativity.
So when I fell pregnant again 3ish years later (crazy yes, and never again) I wanted to do things differently. Besides the whole birth thing (my son was a c-section) I wanted to understand how I could keep a creative practise and be a mum as I felt my creativity was very entwined with my mental health. And that’s when I had the idea for the book and reached out to the 6 artists who are featured!
9ish months ago, (it's another creative baby), I began creating, compiling, designing and editing 'The Artful Mum'. It has been such a healing and sustaining project to work on as I became a mum for the second time. The process of asking other mother artists, whose work I admire so much, how they juggle motherhood and their creativity has been so fulfilling and I am so pleased/relieved to say I am one very content and happy (and sometimes creative) mum. :)
So excited, honoured and happy that my work Memorarium, has been selected from 550 artworks for the finalist exhibition of the 2017 Waverley Art Prize! Seriously thrilled!
The official launch of the Waverley Art Prize is on Thursday 6 July 2017.
For more details head to http://wwas.org.au/waverley-art-prize/
I had a parenting moment of guilt, about the TV and movies my daughter watches... and then we sat down tonight to watch the 1959 Sleeping Beauty classic that I so fondly remember watching with my siblings at my Nan's house 30 years ago.
The animation is so unbelievably beautiful. Such a sense of storybook wonder.
I found myself enchanted again, engrossed in the story and music yet also looking at colour, form and composition with adult eyes and thinking, 'How could I appropriate that frond or a tree shape, or the rendering of that cliff top into my work and make it my own?'
It triggered something in me... A realisation that some of the movies I watched and stories I read as a child shaped my creativity so deeply they became absorbed, innate, ingrained inspiration.
Another two occasions spring to mind where this has happened. The Wizard of Oz is one and my favourite Children's book, Where do the Wicked Witches Live? is the other. Both I recently re-viewed and to my surprise I see so many elements of them as subconscious inspirations of my work.
Check out these images below and just see if you can't see the subconscious links!
So I don't feel guilty anymore about the TV and movies my daughter watches. Her imagination is out of this world and her drawing is utterly prolific. Here's hoping it leads her to a happy, creative future... whatever that may be.
About a year ago I spoke with Roje and Linda from The Right Space.
Normally I find listening back to myself speak totally cringe worthy but this isn't too bad! (Nice job ladies!) You can listen to my podcast here.
Also the photos up online are literally from a year ago... What a mess! The space has changed a lot and here's what it looks like now...
Here is my first work for them entitled 'Contemplation'.
For all enquiries about this piece please contact Penny Farthing Design House directly!
More work will be added soon!
A few weeks ago I was asked to 'Takeover' The Other Art Fair Australia's Instagram account. Below is the story I shared. You can find the real deal on Instagram at @theotherartfairaus :)
Hi! I’m Rachel Moodie and I am happy to be today’s TOAF takeover artist! This is a digital collage called ‘Headland Reverie’ and it is both self portrait and the re-imagined memories from old photo albums.
I use the name Darling Mills Studio as our little cottage / tree house in the Western suburbs of Sydney backs onto Darling Mills Creek. This is the view out over the creek which constantly amazes me. The momentary changes in light, the shifts in the sky, drifting clouds and the calls of the birds are pretty inspiring.
My latest body of work is called the Reverie Collection. It came about when I was given a pile of old photo albums that belonged to my Great, Great Aunts… They travelled the world by sea between 1937 and 1938 prior to the outbreak of World War II. I knew I had to do something with them; reinvent them and pay homage to their memories.
This piece is called ‘Oceanarium’. This woman was in an old photo from Italy circa 1937. There was just something about her stance that I liked. Besides the old photos from my last post I also work with grainy old gardening books. I scan the images and blow them out to get the turquoise texture you see in the foreground. At The Other Art Fair Sydney this year a handful of people said they thought this piece was very Irish and this surprised me as I lived there for a while in my early 20’s!
At the fair I was commissioned to make another work that went with ‘Oceanarium’ and to print it on a tile. This piece is called ‘The Sisters’. It reminds me of my sister and I, and it nods to the two sisters who travelled the sea and whose photo albums I inherited. All my collages are limited edition Giclee prints on archival paper or prints on matt ceramic tiles.
This is an earlier work from a roadtrip taken across Australia in 2008. A few months after the trip I attended a design conference where a speaker explained how she used Photoshop as a tool to collage and sketch ideas. I liked this concept and began collaging my trip photos as a ‘sketch’ for future paintings. They became my Australiana Collection and are the dream like compositings of my travel memories.
To get off the computer and back to a more analogue form of collage I have taken my digital collages, painted them with encaustic beeswax and recollaged them with fabric, stitch, paint, crayon and old watch parts. This one is a called ‘One Cloud’ and was inspired by a recent trip to Manning Point.
I sent a few pictures of works in progress to a great friend and mentor recently and she aptly summed up what I hadn't realised I was meticulously and repeatedly working through in my pieces.
Her: 'Are you exploring emptiness Rach?'
Me: '....Umm I suppose I am?'
My latest body of work investigates memory; mine and my relatives but not only that it is a rumination on empty space... empty of clutter, empty of noise, the built environment, the city, the routine, the fast paced... It is a meditation on 'calm' and on something beyond this existence.
This photo above was taken by my Great, Great Aunt as she travelled around the world between the 1st and 2nd World Wars. It is a scene I find utterly captivating and it appears in almost all the Reverie works.
Unlike the busy cityscape paintings I created years ago, these works are quieter, have more personal meaning and the simple fact that they are an exploration of a concept makes them richer and more evolved than previous work.
I am striving to create work that is meaningful to me and that evokes something for (some) viewers. I believe a narrative is important and art for arts sake is a bit empty.
So yes, I am contemplating emptiness and my own evolution as a creator.
My next solo exhibition, 'Reverie ~ A Place to Contemplate' will be opening on Thursday August 25 at Kensington Contemporary in Chippendale, Sydney from 6 to 8pm.
There will analogue and digital collages; one off pieces and limited edition giclee prints.
This new work is a series crafted from my Great, Great Aunts old photo albums and gardening book scans from the 70's.
As well as an exhibition this will be a product launch. Please join the mailing list to the right to hear more!
All art and products will be added to the shop soon!
UFO's = Un-Finished Objects ....
I have so many projects on the go. So many items started. So many ideas yet to be started, chomping at the bit to begin. Yet the clutter and frustration of UFO's sitting around calling me (actually screaming at me), saying, 'Finish me' is overwhelming.
I must start finishing...
P.S. Here is some irony for you ~ This blog post was originally written on March 11 and sat unfinished in my drafts folder until now, May 15. Onwards to the finish line(s).
I wrote this little media release for a new venture I am lucky enough to be a part of...
The Bespoken Collective!
The Bespoken Collective is part gallery, part furniture store, part bespoke home. Every piece is designed and hand crafted with enormous respect for the materials used and for the collective’s individual crafts.
The roll call of artisans includes:
- Victoria Keesing of Victoria Keesing Furniture Design with contemporary furniture and lighting
- Jason and Andrew of Paradox Movement with contemporary furniture design
- Vashti Taverner of Taverner Glass with kiln formed glass tableware and sculpture
- Verity Roberts with luminous encaustic and mixed media paintings
- John Webb with poetical mixed media landscapes
- Kathy Roil with vibrant mixed media paintings
- Suzanne Duncan with multi-layered mixed media and textile art
- Rachel Wells (Darling Mills Studio) with hyper-real digital photographic montages and
- Sunmin Do (Sunny Art) with photorealistic oil paintings and wooden toys.
These committed artists and designers plan to bring their latest collections to Sydney biannually with the inaugural launch on Sunday March 6, 2016.
One of the founding members is Victoria Keesing. With a corporate background, savvy business acumen and over 15 years designing and making furniture she is the primary driving force behind The Bespoken Collective.
‘I had a sense that there was a gap in the market. Art galleries showed art. Furniture stores tended to show products in product types. I felt, as a buyer of great artwork, (of every sort) that when I think about my home and making it mine - it is the bringing together of very different things; sculpture, glass and artworks, that creates the sense of home. I was very keen to bring this model together.’
Keesing along with co-founders Andrew Kenny and Jason Vuong of Paradox Movement were being mentored by acclaimed Sydney furniture designer and retailer James Salmond. When both expressed a desire to create a pop-up store to launch their brands, James had them meet.
There was an instant connection. “Victoria was really practical, she’d hit the ground running and was really talented too, which made it very clear to us that we could make it happen”, says 23 year old Andrew.
For artisans whose work could be branded as both art and design entry into either the art or design market can be daunting. Initially they approached galleries and furniture retailers for space. ‘It was a tricky exercise (seeking a space) as stores and galleries were wary of accepting the work of unknown furniture designers and our work does not easily fit into one category,’ says Victoria. ‘Art galleries did not necessarily see our work as art and furniture outlets did not necessarily see all of our work as furniture…’
With the philosophy of, ‘if you want something done right; do it yourself’ and the hurdles as fuel, Victoria and the boys from Paradox set about finding a warehouse space in the art and design precinct of Alexandria. With a location secured on O’Riordan Street for six weeks they invited artist friends and colleagues, whose work complimented their furniture, to join the venture.
The commonality between these creatives is their desire to collaborate with like minded individuals and to exhibit their work in context, surrounded by other beautiful objects.
‘I love working with the other artists and appreciate the support they offer… It’s a great way to bring our works together and showcase them as a collection.’ ~ Kathy Roil.
What exists is quite literally a bespoke collection. An array of unique and varied art forms, techniques and materials all working in unison.
The Bespoken Collective opens to the public on Friday the 4th of April with an official opening on Sunday the 6th of March from 2pm to 5pm at Shop 14, ‘The Alex’ 40-42 O'Riordan St, Alexandria. Exhibition runs to April 12th 2016. To enquire go here!
I am pondering where I will be in 10 years if I create in the small moments and let go of hesitation.
A little creativity every day, (or even every other day) will add up to a lot down the track. First start small and see what comes. See what the small triggers.
Watching my daughter create, without hesitation, in small moments is quite inspiring. A 20 second scribble with a biro or texta, a 2 minute page assault with crayon or pencil, 10 minutes at a whiteboard with coloured pens are the small moments she grabs as tightly as she clings to me when I drop her at daycare. In one year (she started drawing at 1 year old) she has books and books of scribbles and my phone is full of photos of her work and they are so, so beautiful.
I read somewhere recently that you don't learn creativity you are born with it and the majority of people unlearn it as they get older. I feel this to be true and I can see that it takes considerable effort to get that child like spontaneity back, especially after a period of creative block.
So I am currently practicing these things to crack my right brain wide open and back into a flow:
- Scribbling on paper like a two year old after drinking coffee and or wine.
- Drawing one thing every day even if it's shit.
- Writing as often as possible; stream of conscious writing, lists, memos, insta notes, blog posts.
- Throwing things out of my creative space to make room for the new.
- Setting up a new mood wall with lots of awesome inspiring things as creativity prompts.
- Making use of small moments to make small progress on my bigger ideas.
- When all else fails having a 'tanty'. From the ground there is a different perspective on things. x
Today is one of my blessed and beautiful kid free days. I am meant to be 'working'.
So what did I do first thing?
I watched a meditation dvd starring Deepak Chopra and Olivia Newton-John on the 7 Spiritual Laws of Success. It was cheesy greatness. Kinda like Xanadu meets Oprah. Awesome.
What I took from it was that art making and creation should come in an effortless flow.
Obviously a certain type of effort is required in order to produce something beautiful. However creativity should be unattached to ego and fear and be produced with a child like freedom.
Nature is the example. It intrinsically creates in this effortless way.
The paths of least resistance, where the heart is content, peaceful and unattached to ego is where true creative inspiration and direction lies.
It is easy to over complicate things. At least for me it is, both in life and in my creative practice.
So today I am approaching my work with this in mind and, as my Mum always said when I had elaborate making plans, remember the kiss principle ~ keep it simple sweety.
And now, open your eyes and see / what we have made is real / We are in Xanadu /
There is much to be said about a daily creative practice. With a kid in tow, endless washing and chores and paid work to be done it seems to be the HARDEST thing to manage.
My daughter is teaching me a lot with her daily creative practice.
It involves tipping out a box of textas, drawing all over her body, paper and the floor while I attempt to prevent her from drawing on the furniture and oblige her when she asks me to draw 'fish-ys'
This happens day after day after...
This kid loves fish.
I find myself watching and learning from her creative exploration and enjoying our collaboration.
Her freedom and lack of inhibitions shows in the spontaneity of her mark making and the colours she selects. She doesn't worry about if a piece is finished or the overall composition yet the randomness just 'works'. She is simply creating for the sake of self expression and this is conveyed in the many scrapbooks she has already filled with colour and fish and bees and so on.
So now the challenge for me is to take what I am learning from her and develop my own daily (or perhaps more accurately an 'almost daily') creative and joyful practice.
What I keep coming back to as my 'almost daily' creative practice are the 'morning pages' described by Julia Cameron in her book the 'The Artist's Way'. These morning pages are three A4 pages of stream of consiousness writing every morning. They are a written meditation meant to clear the mind and free up creativity. And they work.
Right now I have so many ideas for projects I almost don't know where to start. Weavings, paintings, montages, homewares, a wedding invite and more. It is these creative pursuits I would somehow like to work into my 'almost daily' creative practice.
I will let you know how I go! x
A week or so on from my first foray back into the rosy land of art exhibitions and I am still buzzing from my experience at The Other Art Fair.
80 Artists were selected from over 300 applicants to exhibit at Central Park in Chippendale and I felt so privileged to be involved. The opening night was packed and people were lined up (in very long lines) to get in!
The conversations I had with art appreciators, artists and gallerists and the feedback I received has been overwhelmingly positive. I now have a clear direction for future work and an abundance of ideas.
Kirsten Duncombe, Tanya Stubbles, Taylor Conacher, Peter Thorn, Kym Leutwyler and Yosi Messiah were my companions for the weekend in the stands next to and opposite me. There was a wonderful sense of camaraderie between all the artists and organisers and the positive vibe has left me inspired with a renewed vigour for creating.
I was heartened by how many Mums I met at the fair, following their passions and making time for art 'making'. I was also beyond impressed with the organisers. One of the two gorgeous fair directors has two young children and her involvement was massive. No easy feat with two young kids.
Last week I turned my renewed energy to planting a garden at home with Elva and the neighbours kids and hopefully in weeks to come I will draw upon this inspired feeling and make the time for 'making' some new work. x
Images from above ~
Top left to right: Kirsten Duncombe's ephemeral paintings, Archibald finalist Kim Leutwyler, Me in my stand on opening night.
Bottom left to right: Le stand, Taylor Conacher drawing studiously while mini me takes a nap on the cool concrete, The colourful work of Yosi Messiah.
It has been 5 long years since my last exhibition and today I am going in to hang my stand at The Other Art Fair!
There have been a few reasons for the hiatus. The main one is - I simply stopped creating. I lost my flow by 'stopping' and I channelled my energies into work and a family of three (Me, Clint and Elva!) instead.
I was commiserating with a friend about how I wasn't creating anything anymore and she said, 'you are creating a nice human'.... A humbling thought.
Now that my daughter is older and more independent I am able to make again. The process is very different. It's a juggle and it all happens much slower than before but, it is happening.
So wish me luck and I hope to see you at the fair!
What a view! It is hard not to feel inspired waking up to this wintery landscape. The sky always looks so different from our house and seems a constant reminder that every day is a new one.
I will, as Motherhood and life permits (or not), fill up this space with creative musings and ideas. Blogs are such a wonderful soap box!
Thanks for visiting my site! Come back again soon. x