the solace of my bedroom, as captured by Helene Athanasiadis…
Posted in interiors, photographers, the sydney cottage January 4th, 2016 by pia

HELENE_ATHANASIADIS_PIAJANEBIJKERK_SOLACE_2015_2 welcome to my home. please come in, no need to take your shoes off…

Happy New Year mes amis.  How do you feel about the year to come? There has been so much change in the world, and I sense there will be much more to come yet. But change is transformation, and I can feel our world is in dire need of it. In my creative life,  I feel ready to come out of my healing cocoon. I learned so much in 2015, and wrote and wrote and wrote all the while.  So there is a book or two or three there, and in time all those words and photographs and experiences will take shape. If there is one thing I have in abundance it’s ideas and in the past year the well has not dried up – it’s now overflowing.  It’s always been my dream to be able to realise and share not necessarily every single idea, but at least a steady flow of them.  Ideas not only need creative thinking but also time and money, and these two requirements have never been in abundance in my life, and I’ve finally accepted that these need attention too. So finding a way to get the balance I need to pull myself into alignment with what I’m called to do in this life is now my priority… without compromising my ethics which, for those of you who have come to know me quite well, is as resolute as ever, if not more nowadays.  And although I still feel a little at sea about what the direction will look like and where it will take me from here on in after taking the last year off from all creative commitments, I am trusting the process and I’m trusting the deepest depths of my self.

As I set sail on this year’s vessel, my first port of call with french boy (as the only other member of the crew so far – this is a small boat!) is the creation of a revitalised online space: one that houses all my creative endeavours under one roof and is once again interactive and free flowing.  Since my focus has been elsewhere over the past few years my online space has been neglected. It’s become outdated, haphazard and disorganized, and it needs some attention & love. So in coming weeks I’ll take you to this new space when the walls have been built and the paint has dried.

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As promised in an earlier post, here now I share with you some beautiful photographs by Helene Athanasiadis of my very personal offline space – my bedroom. This room has been my retreat over the past few years. It’s the place I have spent the most time – mothering, resting, grieving, healing, learning, and writing…

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As part of her photographic project and book Solace, Helene has captured what this space means to me and it feels special to have this documented and shared in such a beautiful way.

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Although this house has been falling apart around us over the past year, seeing these photographs has made me appreciate the space for what it has been and what it still is for me today. As my own projects unfurl, I’ll be sharing with you more of my home and how it’s evolved over the years.

2327265_origsurrounded by talented souls: my favourite dutch bag made by leslie oschmann, and some beautiful organic cotton garments by mady doijes

Thank you again, Helene.

With love,

Pia

christmas, chez nous…
Posted in christmas ideas, interiors, nature December 23rd, 2015 by pia

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While others might revel in this time of year, I have felt a growing resistance to it over the years, especially the last decade. On reflection I can see there are many personal reasons for this, but I can also feel it connects with a collective consciousness as the world opens to change…

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As I’m not religious (in that I don’t follow any particular faith), I’ve always felt conflicted with celebrating Christmas in what it traditionally symbolizes. In past years we’ve just pulled back from it and done our own thing. And that was okay until we had a child… how to make this time of year retain the magic and joy for a child but also give it deep meaning that is in alignment with our family without following the hype and conformity?

I have been able to take some wonderful and small steps toward reinventing this time for my family. This year I have the emotional and physical space to create what we want and need as a family without family pressure, social or religious conformity, hype, excessive-consumption, drama or stress. For us that means rather than focus on “Christmas” as the destination, we choose to focus on the journey we’ve had together and as individuals this year. So it becomes about gentle reflection and slowing down toward the end of year rather than speeding up. And instead of just showing up and receiving, the emphasis is on the giving which also and most importantly for me includes giving care to self. For us, this time of year in our home is about creating tranquility and peace, along with strengthening the connection to earth by spending as much time in nature as possible, bringing it in and expressing gratitude for it daily…

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A few changes that I’ve been able to put in place this year include:

…being ‘just the three of us’ for the whole day of Christmas – it will be completely free of plans and be inspired by nature and the weather. Beach, mud puddles, playing with puzzles, who knows, but it will be about being together.
…Romain and I haven’t given gifts to each other for Christmas since we’ve been together and we don’t want to but I didn’t want the tree to have gifts just for Laly so – as suggested by wonderful Meg who runs the playgroup that Laly and I attend – Laly has made a gift with her Papa to give to me and her and I will make a gift for her Papa to give to him. I have also made a gift for her so each of us will receive a handmade gift. This for me has been one of the loveliest experiences and I’m thrilled to make it a new tradition.
…not visiting a single department store or mall in the lead up to Christmas. I’ve done without this for years as I only shop locally or online for handmade items, but this year I decided to make it an essential part of the preparation.
…this year I introduced an advent wreath on our table to acknowledge and express gratitude toward the mineral, plant, animal and human kingdoms on earth. Traditionally this is religious but I choose to focus on nature as the divine, and each week we light a candle for each kingdom while adding a found piece of nature that represents that realm…

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…And I made a wreath from foraged flora for the front door in the first week to express gratitude for the plants we have around us…

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There is much more I’d love to add and rather than strive to get it all together now, I’ll implement the shifts slowly over the years and see how they evolve as Laly grows… and I have no doubt she will want input on it all as she gets older.  I can’t wait to share all these ideas with you. Along with this I’ve been creating some beautiful projects & I look forward to sharing all of it with you later in the new year.

Processed with VSCOcam with f1 presetmaking little trees

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetcollecting fallen pine branches

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetLaly’s frangipani sculptural piece hangs in the hallway and smells delicious

In the new year I’ll be transforming my creative online space and evolving it into the next phase of my creative work. In the meantime, I’ve been having fun in my growing online store by adding some new book packages and a special digital download of the how-to projects from Little Treasures

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Click here to find out more.

So this year for the first time in a very long time, I am feeling joy and gratitude and contentment about the coming few days. And although it will be the first Christmas without my Mum in my life, incredibly I feel her presence stronger than ever. I know she is here with us, I feel her love everyday and it feels amazing – like the warmest blanket on the coldest night, or the sweetest ocean breeze on a hot summer’s evening.

Last but not least, with all that I’ve learned from this year’s journey of self discovery and healing, stars have become my central theme for the holiday season because we are all made from stars…

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Eternal Love,

Pia xx

beautiful book in the making: Solace by Helene Athanasiadis…
Posted in artists, australia, books, photographers December 16th, 2015 by pia

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“A poetic study of the beautiful spaces women create for themselves. Rooms of serenity & calm, to retreat from the everyday…solace.”

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About six months ago, visual artist Helene Athanasiadis wrote to me asking if I’d consider letting her come into my home to photograph me in my sanctuary as part of her upcoming book, Solace. It was two months after my mum died and I was in deep mourning, retreating daily to the very intimate place in my home that Helene was asking to photograph. After perusing her website, something about her collection of beautiful work made me feel calm and open, and I found myself saying “yes”.

It’s with such pleasure that I am able to share with you today some of the pages from her book while it’s still in the making. Take a look at this selection of wonderful spaces she has photographed from some incredible creative souls around the country…

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Helene is based in beautiful Castlemaine, a creative haven in the state of Victoria, Australia. She has degrees in fashion design, archaeology, and art history, and has been creating  fine art photography & mixed media collages for some time now. Her background and influences are evident in her work: “In both mediums I am guided by archaeological concepts; layered, stained & aged, all of which are rendered in muted & textured tones”.

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In my next post I’ll show you some of the photographs she took of my special place, but in the meantime you can check out the artist’s havens she has photographed so far.

Thank you Helene for allowing me to share your wonderful project here.

xx

 

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calling australia home (part one)…
Posted in australia, personal, pia's photos December 4th, 2015 by pia

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On November 18, Romain – aka french boy – became an Australian citizen. It was a momentous occasion for us as a family. He is very proud to be able to call himself Australian after living here permanently for the past 5 years, and I was touched that he felt at home and connected to this land. But in the days leading up to the ceremony, I became quite emotional. At the time I thought that him becoming Australian was triggering the release of emotion as tears of joy, but they were tinged with sadness and I hadn’t understood why. After much inner reflection over the past 2 weeks I discovered what it was…

PiaJaneBijkerk_australiahome_2015_5I took this photo the other day while up in the Northern Rivers, the country of the Bundjalung people.*

In part two I’ll talk further about my inner findings because I’m sure it’s something that many resonate with – especially those of you who have read My Heart Wanders and connect to the heart stories within the pages.

Today I would like to share with you the moving piece Romain wrote on facebook the day he became Australian. It is so open and captures his observations and enthusiasm for this country. Here it is…

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“Nine years ago, when I met my beautiful soulmate Pia in Paris, little did I know that I was on a journey to become an Australian citizen. Growing up in the ’80s in a small village of eastern France, my knowledge of Australia came at the time from two sources: Crocodile Dundee and Midnight Oil’s video clips. As such, I imagined Australia as a massive red desert with bits of bush in it. Although the red desert covers much of the country, I now know how much more diverse its landscape is: from lush coastal areas with temperate pasture lands, not unlike my birth place, to tropical areas where big saurians live. Did I mention amazing beaches as well?

PiaJaneBijkerk_australiahome_2015_3Beautiful scenery by the water at West Head, Kuringai National Park, the country of the Carigal people.*

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“I am not becoming less French in the process, I feel “augmented” by a second culture. France and Australia fortunately share the same values, except for cricket of course. The new Australian prime minister is even a republican!
“The Australian landscape is diverse, so are the people. A few weeks after I arrived, someone at work asked me: “What’s your background?”. Being in a work setting, I started rambling about my career and how I started up as a System Administrator, etc. I quickly realised that it wasn’t the answer that was expected. “What’s your background?” here, means: “where are you from originally? where is your family from?”. The makeup of Sydney-siders is so varied that it is a perfectly acceptable question and most people value everyone’s background and the positive influence of external cultures on Australia. At my child’s daycare, all cultures are regularly celebrated, to the point that the kids even made Chinese flags around Chinese new year’s eve. Yes, red flags and all. Multiculturalism in Australia is not all rosy of course and maybe it’s specific to capital cities but I do feel people from diverse cultural backgrounds mix well overall.

PiaJaneBijkerk_australiahome_2015_2Laly learning about Aboriginal culture at home through role play

“As a white Australian, I feel I must mention indigenous people. I wish indigenous people and culture were a bigger part of day to day life. It seems to me that a very rich heritage is being largely ignored. I find it funny when white australians say “we don’t have much of a culture here”. Well, yes, you have one that is over 40000 years old. Indigenous people have been wronged in so many ways over two centuries that it will take time for things to improve on that front but I am optimistic they are improving.

“Anyway, time to put another shrimp on the barbie while listening to “Thunderstruck!”

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Thank you for letting me share your musings here, french boy.  I’ll be posting my inner reflections in part two in the coming weeks…

With Love,

 

Pia xx

* I pay respect to the tribal elders of each area, I celebrate their continuing culture, and I acknowledge the memory of their ancestors.

Welcome to Stef Bassett’s Hessian Shack…
Posted in australia, handmade, interiors November 18th, 2015 by pia

Processed with VSCOcam with f3 presetStef’s studio space in her hessian shack.

I wish to begin by acknowledging that in this post we are visiting the country of the Bundjalung people.  I pay respect to their tribal elders, I celebrate their continuing culture, and I acknowledge the memory of their ancestors.*

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Last week Laly and I flew up to the incredibly beautiful Rainbow Region of Northern New South Wales – the Bundjalung people’s nation area. Also known as the the Northern Rivers and Byron Bay Hinterland. Invited by my very dear friend Nat, we stayed for a week and together toured around part of the region, visiting The Channon markets, Byron and beyond. On Friday we drove out to our friend Stef Bassett’s shack set back from the road on a field in the bush among cows and horses. You may recall Stef used to own a beautiful store in Newtown, Sydney called Newspaper Taxi, where she hosted one of the most special book launch events for me for My Heart Wanders in 2011. Now Stef lives here, off the grid in an original 1940’s farm shack which she has transformed into a creative wonderland, take a look…

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Laly and I sat in wonder, looking around at all that Stef and her partner Ben have made, collected and displayed – everything being found or crafted from tossed away materials. It felt like we were sitting inside a hidden away hessian-lined treasure chest…

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While we chatted at the kitchen table, Laly happily (and quietly!) drew pictures in one of Stef’s notebooks, soaking in the unique atmosphere. Besotted with Stef’s cat Rupert Bunny, who was a wild kitten rescued from a wood mill and has the most incredible emerald eyes, Laly would wander in and out of Stef’s bedroom to pat Rupe who had nestled himself into the window frame. Laly then asked Stef if she could draw a picture of Rupe for her, so Stef drew the body and left the eyes and other details for Laly…

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All the while Ben sat across the table from Laly, strumming his guitar and playing Devendra Banhart’s Little Yellow Spider…

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The Hessian Shack has no electricity (except a little bit of solar), no hot running water, no TV, no big appliances – their ‘fridge’ is a steel chest with ice. Stef’s mobile phone, when in reception,  is their only connection to the online world. Thankfully for us she updates her life and creations on instagram regularly. As an artist Stef works in many mediums, and at the moment she is working on a range of ceramics which she will be selling soon.

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For more info about Stef and her work, you can email her here, and there is more information about her on her instagram profile. Stef was also featured in Kara Rosenlund’s beautiful new book Shelter.

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It was such a wonderful experience, thank you Stef and Ben for welcoming us and sharing a slice of your world with us here.

With Love,

Pia

*{From today, my dear readers, each time I write about an Australian place – be it about visiting a creative dwelling or a beautiful landscape – at the beginning of each of these particular posts I will write an acknowledgement and pay respects to the ancestors of the land. It’s my way of learning and connecting to my country of birth, and sharing that connection with you. Thank you. }