‘they might have guns, but we have flowers’

in the face of horror, it’s the small but touching words of compassion, the defiant displays of love and unity and acts of kindness that make me feel like, even though things feel incomprehensibly horrifying right now, they will eventually be okay. after all, good always triumphs over evil. and, as we’ve seen through the worst moments of history, the human spirit is resilient, and flowers always triumph over guns.

one week on and i am still shaken by the news in paris. i know there have been arguments that it has received ‘too much’ media attention over other attacks of terror, but there are people i love who live there, and so naturally, i’m concerned. but equally, this has presented us all with an opportunity and also a responsibility to consider widening the media outlets in which we source our news. let’s educate ourselves by reading more widely, to give ourselves a better rounded view.

that being said, the judgements cast on those grieving for paris frustrated me. no one is entitled to judge others on the ways they grieve and, just like losing a member of your family compared to a stranger, it’s only natural to grieve more for those you know, or the places which are home to people you love.

As a pacifist and buddhist i firmly believe no human life is more important than any other. we were all born on this planet with the same basic desires; to experience love and belonging and live with compassion. so can we please accept that it’s human nature to experience a more grief and shock when something familiar to you is terrorised or destroyed.

weekend articles | number 2 | you are part of this place

karin-mamma-andersson-about-girlMamma Andersson, About A Girl, 2005, oil on canvas, diptych, 19 × 25″

It’s Sunday! I’m especially happy because, up until today, my Sundays were spent working in retail, a sacrifice I made when I took a hefty pay cut to take a role at an art gallery. It was fun for a while, but for the moment, I crave the stability, routine and the freedom that both a regular pay check and a two-day weekend provides. For the moment…

As I come to terms with a new routine, I am smitten by the idea of dedicating Sunday mornings to consuming all the stories I saved on Pocket (i.e. the best app for voracious readers / internet addicts) throughout the week, over coffee and breakfast on my bed-island.  I also hope to be able to update you on some of these highlights, even if only so I can refer back to them later.

To celebrate my first taste of Sunday freedom, I made eggs and drip coffee, read Spectrum and poured over the latest news while listening to Rodriguez.  It’s cold, grey and damp outside, so i’m going to stay inside all day and not even care.


  • Ladylike: In light of Australia’s current depressing state of affairs, I was inspired to revisit Julia Gillards misogyny speech, and an outsider’s interpretation via the new yorker.
  • babe vibes is a raw and genuine look into creative women. I found solace in their interviews, which are conducted long-distance, via disposable cameras and a box of ephemera.
  • The women are emailing:  I love discovering new blogs by intelligent women writers, and this story by Stevie Mackenzie-Smith really hit a chord with me. I have long been a devotee of email correspondence, as its very nature lends itself well to my introverted tendencies and love of the written word. I love pouring over long, raw and open emails from friends that communicate things that may otherwise be hard to communicate verbally. Emails underpinned by substance and heart.
  • You are part of this place: Taking up space is a thoroughly insightful read by Jane Caro on why women feel they take up too much space, physically and metaphorically. “Far from apologising, women who speak up are doing more than having a conversation. They are reclaiming lost female territory. Physical and metaphorical space matter.” 

Society + Self:

  • In Praise of Missing Out: Psychoanalyst Adam Phillips on the Paradoxical Value of Our Unlived Lives
  • Louise Bourgeois on creative confidence: To convince others, you have to convince yourself; and a conciliatory or even an unduly understanding attitude — in that it is inevitably superficial — is not helpful to creativity.”


  • I just love love love this sweet promo vid for cali-based organic cotton undie brand, Pansy. It’s about having fun with undies made for women, every day. Disclaimer: I love lingerie as much as the next woman, but there’s something so decidedly liberating about this.


weekend articles | number 1 | strange magic

Ren Hang, No Name (detail), 2014. Courtesy of Zioxla. From ‘Strange Plants II’

a little snapshot of some things taking my fancy this week.


strange light: a mix tape by aquarium drunkard.

“Think of this as a snowy, white dawn giving way to spring. Thick with its own mystery and magic – a tranquil blend of global folk, gospel, soul and psych. A strange light, indeed.” For me, it has served as a solid companion through tired afternoons working from home, in bed, while down and out with the flu.


strange plants II: the success of this book lies in its ability to seamlessly marry two of my most favourite things in the world – contemporary art and plants. i invite you to ask yourself what could be more satisfying, more harmonious, than looking at these lush visions.

while on the topic of art + plants, an exhibition entitled Art/Vert was recently hosted in paddington’s Saint Cloche Gallery, which examined this very topic. curator, amber cresswell, invited local artists to examine the idea of ‘the plant as muse’. i didn’t make it to the show, but i can only imagine it would have inspired the same feelings of wonder and goodness i get from looking at strange plants II.


i bet lucy chadwick has life and all of its complexities all figured out. maybe she is one of those people who has a one, five and ten year plan and actually sticks to it. an art gallery director in new york city and has built a home in the country i would absolutely die for. this film leaves me riled up, in a good, get-shit-done, kind of way.

what’s taking your fancy this week?

it’s a natural thing | on living lighter

Snip20150323_13Inka and Neele Hoeper by Lina Scheynius for Zeit Magazin.

Recently I’ve been making a few changes to the way I eat, drink and consume – an experiment into living lighter and reducing my impact on the planet, and it has sort of changed my life.

Let me explain. Before I stumbled across the Brooklyn-based Lauren Singer’s s blog, Trash is for Tossers, I thought I was doing a half-decent job of living a relatively sustainable existence. I don’t drive, I eat only a small amount of meat and I recycle… sometimes.

I’m a little ashamed to admit this, but I used to think I couldn’t do anything to help. I thought humankind has collectively placed such a burden on the planet, that the personal actions of one person would not amount to anything. So defeatist, I know.

But now, I’m doing better. I’ve come to realise I am responsible for my own actions and, so far, the benefits of living lighter have been countless. I am hyper aware of my decisions, my actions and their consequences. I place more value on food, my health and am more grateful for my comforts. I’m also saving money, which, as a student and someone on the salary of an arts-worker, is also a win.

So there you have it. For the moment, I see this a cumulative process. I’ll keep making little changes, and little by little, work on reducing my impact more and more.

So what have I been doing?


It is good to know I can eliminate some of the food scraps that are sent to landfills, where their potential to create nutrient dense soil is totally wasted. So how I compost when I live in a big city? Well, I store the scraps in bags in the freezer! Every week, I take them into the Gallery with me, where my boss, a gardener, has a compost out the back.

I get an inordinate amount of pleasure from this process!


I love coffee and, at my place, we’ve (almost completely) swapped nespresso pods for ground coffee, which we percolate on the stove. delicious!

I then take the used coffee grounds and combine it with coconut oil and lavender oil to create a very effective body exfoliate.

And while we’re on the topic of coffee, I’ve also invested in a glass KEEP CUP, which not only looks beautiful, it also helps save money because I can just bring coffee from home. It’s one less coffee cup (a day!) in a landfill and three more dollars in my pocket.


I already prefer fresh over processed, yet many fresh foods come inside ridiculous non-recyclable plastic bags. I have managed to reduce this by shopping instead at NAKED FOODS (Bondi and Newtown). There, you can use the brown paper bags they supply for all the foods (or you can just bring your own bags) and buy some pretty glass jars to store it all in. I have found that buying things in bulk once a month is also a massive $ saver.


Then there’s all the other stuff. I keep a canvas bag in my handbag, should I decide to pop to the shops on my way home from work. I recycle EVERYTHING – and am more aware of unlikely items that I only recently realised can be recycled, like deodorant containers.


I still have a long way to go. I have a deep love of my electric toothbrush, an unhealthy reliance on face wipes and don’t think I could ever eschew makeup, despite the harmful chemicals I know it’s made of. But next month I’m going to explore making my own cleaning products and dabbling further with natural beauty products.

I’d love to know your recommendations, or experience with living a more sustainable life.

how did i get so old? fuck


i know, i know. i’m twenty six but sometimes it feels like i’m a hundred.

leaving my personal neurosis aside, i want to write about something i’m excited about. last week, al + i moved in together… and it has been so good. it just feels right.

we’re living in a beautiful, spacious one bedroom apartment in one of sydney’s most densely populated suburbs. it reminds me of new york! less than twenty steps away, we’ve got cafes, bars, supermarkets, the gym, parks and the waterfront. not to mention that i get to see my man whenever i want! i hate to sound crass, but i am feeling really lucky. we’ve fitted our space with some dang fine mid-century furniture + my grandfather’s chocolate leather couch, and there are expansive, high ceilings and big windows that look onto a street filled with people we can look at without them even realising. already i have noticed weird neighbourhood quirks – every afternoon in an apartment across the road, pigeons ravage a window in search of food. it’s probably the residence of an elderly person who feeds them every day, or someone accidentally left some food on the windowsill one time and is forever paying the price.

when i walk on the roof i am reminded of one of my favourite books. it’s a huge space made of white concrete. it is minimally adorned. there’s not much up there aside from some hills hoists for your laundry and one table with two chairs. during the day, the sun reflects ferociously against the white concrete, not only heating up the roof but also making it difficult to see. when i am up there i am reminded of the opening pages of Albert Camus’ ‘The Outsider’ when the lead character, Mersault, is walking through the Algerian desert after maybe committing a murder (although that is beside the point) and as he is walking he is blinded by the sunlight.

as much as i relish this new change, i can’t help but feel a bit like i’ve dumped my grungy lover (newtown) for one that’s shiny and new (new hood). but then i know i’ll always be a bit of an inner west hippie at heart. though i know my priorities are changing but friends remain so important to me and i realise this even more so when they’re not around or feeling sparse on the ground or when they all move overseas at the same time – that’s when i become anxious. what matters more to me over quantity though, is quality of friends – i want to nurture the friendships i have, the ones that really mean something, not the ones i have to struggle consistently to maintain.

i don’t really want to ‘grow up’. it feels strange and unnatural. i’m not sure i’m very good at acting like an adult. it feels false, perhaps everyone can see through it. is it an act? probably. i just want to sit on the floor and draw pictures with my friends while drinking wine. or lie in the park with friends, eat pizza in bed, listen to music in my underwear. or smoke in the bath. or stay up late reading about things that don’t matter to others but that resonate so deeply with me. and yet, this feels like an adult apartment. an adult neighbourhood. but thankfully there’s still a bit of grunge, a bit of naughtiness to keep it real. i want to find a way to integrate this part of me into my ‘professional self’. because i am professional, but i don’t want to lose my personality within this person.

my beautiful grandfather recently told me that we never really ‘grow up’. that he still has the same internal monologue he had as a boy, chasing balls and playing with his enormous alsation puppy. you’d think our mind would make us better equipped to deal with the complexities of life as we age – that our mind would age with us to help accommodate new ways of thinking. instead, i’m coming to realise it’s not the case. that it’s all too easy to get lost in past moments, past friendships, past memories of sheer freedom. but things change and although they become more complex, they also become more rewarding. i think. or maybe we just become so physically tired that we just need to settle down and go to bed early.





a post i wrote in fifteen minutes

perfectionism can be a crippling disease and the biggest roadblock to creativity. it’s the reason i don’t post much. it’s also the reason i often don’t pursue a lot of the projects i’d like to do.

“when i have more time, i will be able to completely surrender myself to this project, and it’s going to be amazing.”

this is the thought that plagues me, because deep down i know i’ll never have ‘more time’. it also doesn’t have to be ‘amazing’. it can be just ‘okay’ as well. an ‘okay’ project can eventually be developed into something amazing. giving myself the permission to produce ‘okay’ projects means i can produce more. and producing more will help me to identify the projects where potential exists, and also the ones i’d rather let go.

doing a project in, say, fifteen minutes, and giving myself the freedom for the product to be just ‘okay’ is a notion so liberating that i hope it will enable me to produce more.

to reference one of my favourite quotes by Ira Glass:

“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”

I’ve just gotta make stuff that’s ‘just not that good’. stuff that is trying to be good. that has potential, but it’s not good. my work, it doesn’t always have to have this special thing that I want it to have.

Because one day, after fishing for years with not a single bite, there will be a magnificent fish on the end of the line. and it will taste delicious!

respect your elders

if you know me at all, you are probably familiar with my deep curiosity in the elderly. and so, in light of what feels like a reinvigorated, or even completely fresh interest in our fabulous dignitaries, i’ve really enjoyed following projects like advanced style, simone rocha’s AW13 Collection dedicated to her grannies and karen walker’s SS13 campaign.


but equally, i’m surprised it’s taken so long for creative types to take inspiration from these sassy sistas (and brothers!).

these guys grew up in a day devoid of distractions like tablets and smartphones and revoked of the interwebs.

Instead they would amuse themselves with any of the following activities*:

– dictating the classics aloud to each other in a park in a act of bourgeois frivolity

– hosting daily afternoon tea sessions – and by tea, i mean gin + tonic with cucumber sandwiches

– dallying with the gardener

– mastering the art of small talk

– curating an impeccable wardrobe

– learning to ballroom dance

– becoming adept at a musical instrument

– cooking feasts and hosting opulent, extravagant dinner parties.

To put it into sobering perspective, we spend 70 hours** a week staring at a screen of some kind and sitting on our big, flat arses. We are less-well read, less polite, less impeccably dressed, probably fatter and our only ‘talk’ we feel comfortable doing is via text or, maybe, MAYBE Skype. But only with close friends.***

What the hell are we doing?

it’s no wonder we want to be like them! our nans and pops are naturally better at life than us in almost every way and i’m intrigued to know more.

i first became interested in old folks when i returned to australia at 18, rediscovered my grandparents and became paralysed by fear at the thought of their mortality. so, as part of a university class in ethnography, i interviewed my grandfather, capturing his life story on 5 hours of tape and 40 pages of transcribed notes. a cathartic exercise, it also gave me a new appreciation for the hard work and sacrifices he made in his life in the interest of his family – all the while maintaining his dry glaswegian wit and an immaculate getup.

another project that takes a leaf out of this book is starletreleased last year, but of course, i only managed to stumble across it  today, the film stars dree hemingway and besedka johnson and tells the story of a pornstar who makes the acquaintance of an elderly lady. it looks melancholy and bittersweet and i think i’m going to watch it this weekend.

*according to me

**an approximate estimated by me

*** a slight exaggeration

let a flower bloom within your heart

this week i am reading lee tran lam’s freakin’ gorgeous tribute to japan.

in her beautiful zine, she captures the landscape, cultural quirks + unique aesthetic charms through the lens of the expats who live + work there. i bought the zine at this year’s MCA zine fair way back in march, and up until recently, it’s been sitting unopened on top of an ever-expanding pile of books + magazines i am slowly but surely conquering.

photo 1photo 3 photo 2photo-1

washi tape brings me all the joys.

having spent my final school years an expat in yokohama, i recognise the unexplainable pull that draws these folks (+ me) back so frequently. i think for me it’s because i’ve never encountered so many contradictions that can exist side-by-side so harmoniously. for example, my six foot frame can make me feel slightly uncomfortable when trying to navigate tiny izakayas, but equally i am reduced to a speck amongst a sea of people whenever i walk down the street in shibuya. it is a humbling experience. as a culture that values nature and tradition, they have found a way for it to work harmoniously with the neon-laden, concrete metropolises of tokyo + osaka. a culture of excess yet a tradition that values simplicity and the rules of nature (wabi-sabi).

it may seem strange, but one of my favourite things to do when i am visiting is to head to the cafe chain and indulge in a western breakfast, japanese style! this is white toast with butter, a boiled egg + a black coffee. tastes so great.

And in the spirit of nostalgia, here are some of my favourite snaps from my most recent visit to tokyo in june 2012:

IMG_1448 IMG_1454 IMG_0682 IMG_0710 IMG_0822 IMG_0835 IMG_0862 IMG_0905 IMG_0949 IMG_0998 IMG_1189  IMG_1269

mushroom theory

of all the things i consume, i will never tire of the whimsical tales neatly packed into quarterly publication apartmento.

in particular i enjoy the short essays in the beginning of each issue, for their alternative musings of otherwise familiar daily spaces inject a refreshing new light i can use to shine on my own spaces. i have had mushroom theory tacked onto my bedroom wall for a while now. for me it serves to reduce the anguish i feel at the onset of a creative project – an anguish which i think is caused by a need to achieve perfection, which consequently leaves me paralysed + unable to progress for fear of letting the world see how imperfect i am.  the idea that imperfection is found everywhere in nature brings me relief, since nature truly is the ultimate perfection.

(some snippets from) mushroom theory by jenna sutela


comparing food and architecture, [cedric] price is not the only important designer with culinary references. wasn’t it buckminster fuller who explained the chemical structure of the universe through pineapples? and another creative hero of mine, john cage, went mushrooming with music in mind. 

‘much can be learned about music by devoting oneself to the mushroom.’ the amateur mycologist stated in a 1981 interview for the new york times.

coming from finland – a country where it’s possible to go on chanterelle outings in the central park of helsinki… it is easy to acknowledge the influence of the mushroom on local life, and even design. with so much wild nature around, it is for instance important to teach children to know a poisonous mushroom from edible ones starting with their first piece of furniture. And even the in-built ability to spot mushrooms everywhere in the surrounding environment, hunting and gathering all the time, must have an effect on how we experience life.

while all this might simply have to do with practicalities of life, or living where circumstances are somewhere in between urban and rural, i agree with cage that there is more to the mushroom when it comes to creative work. 

representing a disordered freedom void of determination and meaning, escaping erudition, mushrooms inspired his compositions based on chance operations. similarly, almost any creation can learn from the life of fungi – their spontaneity as well as symbiotic relationship with the surrounding environment. 

after al, what mushrooms actually are is reproductive structures interacting with other organisms through their mycelium, decaying logs or partnering living trees, and thus leading a long life. like good ideas, they appear haphasardly and sometimes overnight, able to live almost anywhere. mushrooms were not only the source of inspiration for tapio wirkkala’s classic kantarelli vase but also the motif on a daniel palillo fashion piece. they also frequently show up on my dinner table in various different colours, shapes and sizes. 

mushrooms are a great reference point not only in size but also because of their mysterious propoerties. some mushrooms will kill you, while others, like the kombucha mushroom in tea, are considered an elixir of life comparable to the alchemical substances consumed by isaac newton and other 17th century inventors seeking longevity and ultimate wisdom. 

like the future, mushrooms are hard to predict and their preparation takes a prior intelligence to master. maybe that is why so many interesting things are happening around them. preparing for the future – just as identifying mushrooms, picking and cooking them – the more love, energy and practice goes into the process the better the result. ‘it is the element of anticipation that connects cooking and working’ as cedric price put it.