For years I've loved folk art. I've collected all manner of textiles and wall hangings and mini-sculptures and artifacts from my travels and hoarded them in my homes, and now they're virtually all on show in my family home in Tasmania I can really see the impact.
It's funny, but until very recently I've not been able to really identify my 'style'. I know I like certain colours, I know I like cushions and blankets and throws, I know I like strange and peculiar things from places like Mongolia and Kazakhstan, like the above hand stitched 'coaster' I found at a children's school craft sale in the Gobi desert, the Tibetan rug sold to benefit an orphanage, the tent cover made by a Kazakh woman for when she was married, and the handwoven woman, also from Mongolia. And the beautiful 'Birds from Norway' fabric and sprigged calico (which has been stored in someone's grandma's attic for years...) both sourced on the internet for making kitchen blinds and curtains.
Now I can really see just how much I love folk, and what a huge influence it's been on my life, and especially in creating my home, where I want to build a beautiful, cosy nest for my children. Seems it's crept up on me over the years.... but at least I can explain my tastes a little more simply now!
Autumn is definitely coming to the Huon Valley. Every morning we wake up to more golden leaves on the poplar trees in the neighbouring field, and the flame robins are here in the garden now, flying up to our huge kitchen window to greet us while they search for worms and seeds. I love watching the colours change around us, and feeling the fresh new nip in the air while the sun's deep golden warmth intensifies throughout the day.....
This time of year always reminds me of new inspirations, and new beginnings. In England autumn marks the start of the new academic year, so for most of my life it has meant the first stage of a new journey for me - creative writing, spinning and dyeing, my English Literature degree, my Masters degree in Jungian psychology, and numerous other trainings and courses... I'd always take a trip to the big London bookshops and stock up on whatever subject I was undertaking, and I have beautiful memories of those clear, wide streets in Bloomsbury lined with plane trees and Regency buildings, red double decker buses and black taxi cabs, the failing afternoon light, and everyone wrapped up against the biting wind with layers to shed beneath the warm sun.
Here, in Tasmania, there are fewer colours to the season, but still a sense of real change, which I never felt in Melbourne. We've been stocking up the woodpile in the shed and getting the chimneys cleaned and now the log fires are roaring happily in the early morning chill. We've been hanging beautiful curtains in deep reds and gorgeous folk prints (I've been sourcing vintage fabrics online, and even bought some patchworking fabric for the kitchen blinds) and I've finally had my exquisite Kazakh wallhanging bordered with red velvet and made into a curtain. And I've treated myself to a new work of art by Madeleine Goodwolf (as pictured above), one of my favourite local printmakers. I met her recently and she has such an intuitive approach to her work. I love her dreamy depictions of women with nature....
Speaking of nature... the apples and pears are ripening in the orchard, and we are also planning a big permaculture veggie plot for the garden. We'll get on with this once our current crop is all done. We've got a big new compost going in an old apple crate, and we're getting pretty excited about becoming more self sufficient. I found this fantastic gadget in a kitchen shop - a little machine that peels, slices and cores apples so now the children all love preparing their apples for crumbles and stewed apple with cinnamon for afternoon tea... and we're stocking up with more winter activities for them by rethinking the art shelf. A new set of beeswax crayons, beautiful plain paper colouring books, and beeswax for modelling.... the next step will be some decent painting materials. I think they learn how to value good quality things, as well as their own creative process if they have beautiful paints and paper to work with.... this is what they do at their school and it really honours their artistic and emotional development. Thank you Mama Moontime for help with finger knitting too - I just taught my eldest son and he loves it. I have added her Waldorf-inspired blog to my list, and it's full of great craft ideas for littlies.
So, happy autumn to all of you here in the Southern Hemisphere - and in the north I hope spring is springing! Friends of mine have just moved to Canada where the nights are still well below zero but even they say it's now warm enough to lunch al fresco. Easter soon - and I am just getting to grips with this festival happening in the autumn, so we'll be making Easter hares and hot cross buns and decorating eggs soon..... One of our very special and much loved playgroup leaders in Melbourne felt it was really appropriate to have Easter in the autumn, with the cyclical death of the year, and now I can really appreciate how lovely it is to have it at a time of year that I associate with new creative beginnings, new journeys and experiences..... whatever they may be.
After spending 22 years in London I packed my bags and crossed the world for a new life in Australia. Pregnant with twins, I landed up in Melbourne, together with my hubby and 18 month old toddler, and spent the next three years grappling with small children, belligerent drivers, and endless, faceless suburbs. Finally we boarded the ferry and escaped into the beyond, across the Bass Strait. Journey's end; an old weatherboard cottage set in the middle of a beautiful country garden, surrounded by paddocks, forests, and mountains in Tasmania's Huon Valley.... Now it all makes sense.
Thank you for looking in, and all comments will be gladly received!