25 creative things I did while not being an artist

25 creative things I did while not being an artist

I’m on the cusp of change this year, seeing new opportunities emerge as I begin to shift my energy to more creative work. Having taken up ceramics in a big way this year, I've been thinking about women who embark on creative projects or careers later in life. I’m not starting with a blank slate. [...]

Releasing objects

Releasing objects

This is a collage I made some years ago. It's called 17 years in 98 pieces. From childhood until my early 20s, I collected mementos that I found meaningful and beautiful. Cards from my mum, sisters and friends; tickets to Japanese castles and temples; a postcard from a German boy I met at a party; [...]

Clay Stories – contemporary indigenous ceramics

Clay Stories – contemporary indigenous ceramics

I've been looking forward to this exhibition for months! Clay Stories is a touring exhibition of contemporary indigenous ceramics from five remote Australian communities: Hermannsburg Potters in the Central Desert (Northern Territory), Ermabella Arts in South Australia, Erub Arts in the Torres Strait Islands, Girringun Aboriginal Arts Centre in far north Queensland and Tiwi Designs [...]

Tiny pottery studio

Tiny pottery studio

In the backyard of a house in suburban Melbourne sits a tiny house. Tucked into the corner between the carport and fence, under the shade of a lilac-flowered paulownia tree, it was built as a cubby for two children who have since outgrown it. After a trip to Scotland, I took to annoying my kids [...]

Botanical ceramics

Botanical ceramics

When I started making ceramics, I had no preconceptions about what I wanted to make. It was all just play: getting my hands into the clay and disconnecting from the left side of my brain. Over the years, I'd pinned quite a few ceramics pictures in Pinterest. There was no clear intention - I just [...]

Creative rebirth

Creative rebirth

More than anything, I am driven by curiosity and a deep desire to learn. This desire led me, three years ago, to take on a job and postgraduate studies that exposed me to new spheres of knowledge and tested my capacity to deal with unfamiliar challenges every day. I believed in what I was doing, [...]

Textures of Sam’s island

Textures of Sam’s island

Just off the coast of Dampier, Western Australia, a castle of red stone, coral and seashells perches on a tiny island. This was the home of Sam Ostojic, who settled here in the 1960s and lived alone with his cat Tiger for company. After Sam's death in 2005, the building started to crumble until a [...]

Suburban dreaming: a haiku sketchbook

Suburban dreaming: a haiku sketchbook

Last year I visited the Brooklyn Art Library, home of a brilliant public art project, The Sketchbook Library. Over 41,000 5"x7" sketchbooks from 130 countries can be viewed in person, on tour and online. I was inspired to bring home my own sketchbook, which I've now almost completed. My sketchbook combines pen and watercolour drawings [...]

Church of Peace in Świdnica

Church of Peace in Świdnica

The Church of Peace in Świdnica, Poland, is the largest wooden church in Europe. It was built in 1657 following the end of the 30 Years' War between Catholic and Protestants across Europe. As part of the peace treaty, the Catholic Habsburgs were required to allow Lutherans in Silesia (the south-west of modern Poland) to [...]

Gnomes of Wrocław

Gnomes of Wrocław

I'm in Wrocław, Poland. Gnomes are everywhere. Foot-high bronze gnomes leaning against walls, standing on doorsteps and sitting on window sills. There are hundreds of them. The first was Papa Gnome, commissioned in 2001 as a tribute to the Orange Alternative movement, an anti-communist protest movement that arose during the political upheaval of the 1980s. [...]

What we value: first days in Wrocław

What we value: first days in Wrocław

It's August, which means it's time for my annual pilgrimage to the World Library and Information Congress run by the International Federation of Library Associations. These trips are a blessing because they get me out of my little pond and into the great big world of different experiences and perspectives. This year we're in Wrocław [...]

Museum of Modern Art, NY

Museum of Modern Art, NY

In New York trying to cram in as much as I can in 5 days. This is a quick record of yesterday's visit to MOMA. Temporary exhibits on the lower floors, all of which I enjoyed: A maze of cardboard walls made visitors slow down to contemplate the small photographs and installations.     Videos of [...]

School of the road

School of the road

My daughter Ling turned 13 this month. She's a sponge for new information at the moment, discovering gaps in her knowledge which it's a pleasure to help her fill. We have a lot of conversations along the lines of: "Who's Marilyn Monroe?" "Oh my god, you need to watch Some Like it Hot immediately". To [...]

The beach at dawn

The beach at dawn

An early morning walk at the off-leash beach with my new dog. Unlike a weekend afternoon, when the beach is bustling, at dawn it's just us, the sand and the sky. A few other souls wander through: early birds and dogs with energy to burn. Sprinting greyhound, chasing terrier, herding kelpie. Seaweed to sniff and [...]

!kun drawings from the Lloyd Collection

!kun drawings from the Lloyd Collection

I wanted to share a find which made a profound impression on me. At the National Library of South Africa, tucked away on the balcony above the domed reading room, was an extraordinary exhibition, not fully installed yet, drawn from the Bleek and Lloyd Collection. In the mid-nineteen century the San people (Bushmen) were being [...]

Kirstenbosch Botanic Gardens

Kirstenbosch Botanic Gardens

The last stop on my day trip down the Cape Peninsula took me to Kirstenbosch Botanic Gardens, the world's first indigenous botanic garden. We arrived at 5pm, an hour before closing time, after the sun had dropped behind the mountain. The gardens were lush and peaceful.          In the cycad garden, life-sized fibreglass [...]

Good Hope

Good Hope

On my final day in South Africa I travelled down the peninsula to the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Point, the south-western edge of the African continent where the Indian and Atlantic oceans meet. First up: a quick stop at Camps Bay, a beachside suburb.   The mountain peaks behind are called The Twelves [...]

Khayelitsha township

Khayelitsha township

Yesterday I left the city centre to visit public libraries in outer Cape Town. We drove into the Khayelitsha township on the south-eastern outskirts of the city, one of the newest and largest townships in Cape Town. The area has both formal housing (concrete-block 2-bedroom homes) and informal settlements (shanty towns). Townships were created during [...]

Cape Town fragments

Cape Town fragments

I'm in Cape Town, the Mother City of South Africa, for the International Federation of Library Associations conference. I experience fragments of this layered city... Jetlagged at dawn, the call to prayer in Bo-Kaap, former home to freed Indonesian slaves. The charming, tough-as-nails guesthouse owner who tells me "Don't go round smiling at everyone like [...]

Return to Japan

Return to Japan

My first overseas trip, at the age of 19, was to Tokyo, accompanying my Japanese boyfriend while he sought treatment for cancer. I spent mornings at intensive language classes, afternoons sitting on the end of his bed at the National Cancer Centre, and evenings teaching English or getting drunk in Roppongi bars. I lived with [...]