Not One Leaf is Perfect

Polka-dot gum leaves?

I’ve never before noticed them. I haven’t been paying attention. 

leaves photo dots

Perfect Imperfection 1

I walk up the hill to the enchanted forest on my friend’s property. The knotted rope of my bodymind begins to untangle after a hectic time.

leaf art breathing

Perfect Imperfection 2

A personalised mantra for the day emerges: My main job is to relax.

I am momentarily freed from responsibilities of elder-care, both in my personal world and in my art therapy professional world.

leaf nature's art

Perfect Imperfection 3

I relearn how to breathe.

That is, I remind myself, it is safe to slow down and sigh. The world will not collapse because I’ve given myself permission to fully inhale and exhale. Geez. I must have been stressed.

I walk up the hill. One bright yellow leaf stands out from the dark soil. It’s spotted. Kind of splotched, like a painting. Polka-dot gum leaves? I’ve never before noticed them. Could the dots be caused by disease? Are they a natural part of the ageing process? I am so ignorant about biology – about most ologies, really.

heart leaf art

Perfect Imperfection 4
this one is even heart-shaped. divine.

The spots are unevenly, imperfectly placed. I find this beautiful. Don’t wise people talk about the perfection of imperfection? Well, here it is.

More polka-dot leaves appear.

I gather them.

I have a creative impulse. I will arrange these leaves somehow. Squiggly patterned and bi-coloured leaves join the flock.

art leaf shape

Perfect Imperfection 5

Not one of the leaves is perfect.

They are scarred, torn, lop-sided. They are breaking down, beginning their ground-based decomposition after living the high life.

I place them. I experiment. Leaf by leaf, dot by dot, they come together in new formations.

art rock leaf pattern

Perfect Imperfection 6

I celebrate each leaf,

severally and collectively.

Even old leaves can form new patterns. Even dying leaves, separated from their prime source of vitality and community, can express life.

art leaf Swain photo

Perfect Imperfection 7

This is the nature of nature, of living-and-dying cycles, of art therapy in residential aged care.

leaf art rock nature Swain

Perfect Imperfection 8

Is it any wonder the book I am working on is called ‘Leaf by Leaf’?

Tell me your stories

about the perfection of imperfection.

with love, art and soul from Sally

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The-Not-Strictly-Artist-Date

Says Julia Cameron, superb Artist’s Way originator:

‘The Artist Date is a once-weekly, festive, solo expedition to explore something that interests you. The Artist Date need not be overtly “artistic” —

think mischief more than mastery. Artist Dates fire up the imagination.

They spark whimsy.

They encourage play.

Since art is about the play of ideas, they feed our creative work by replenishing our inner well of images and inspiration.’

So…off I go to the annual celebration of art and nature that is Sculpture by the Sea Bondi. This is not strictly an artist date, as I am not solo, and it’s certainly not weekly, but it sure is replenishing.

Grand heroic monumental type sculptures? They were there aplenty. You won’t see them in this blog. In this year’s Sculpture by the Sea, I enjoyed small pieces (with a touch of the domestic)

Sculpture by the Sea

But it’s not my Rubbish?
Monique Bedwell
Sculpture by the Sea

tucked away in crevices

Sculpture by the Sea

But it’s not my Rubbish?
Monique Bedwell
Sculpture by the Sea

I loved whole ecosystems

Sculpture Sea

The Reef (Earth Mothers to the Rescue)
Ian Swift
Sculpture by the Sea

Sculpture by the Sea

The Reef (Earth Mothers to the Rescue)
Ian Swift
Sculpture by the Sea

made up of small components.

Sculpture by the Sea

Karda-Megalania
Elaine Clocherty & Sharyn Egan
Sculpture by the Sea

Here – a mixture of

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Between a Rock and a Soft Place

The Opposite of Anxiety

I’m breaking my own rules. Best kind to break.

Who wants to make a spinifex mandala in the desert sand within view of Uluru, Kata Tjuta, a sunrise and a moonset?

Instead of waiting an entire whole year to share another ‘Late Middle-Aged to Early-Old Crazy Art Lady’ adventure, here’s a tale for you a mere two weeks since the last episode.

It’s because I can’t resist shouting from the rooftops about Uluru and Kata Tjuta. I simply must extol the beauty, the majesty, the mystery.

Uluru shape form

The Rock close up has infinite shapes, folds, rifts, caves, dips, portals, layers….each of which tells a story.

I shall attempt to do my rooftop shouting quietly, however, with the minimal word-count induced by awe. 

{By the way, if you wish to peruse a previous Crazy Art Lady story, click here: ‘Late Middle-Aged to Early-Old Crazy Art Lady Goes to the Beach’}

desert colours Uluru

Once you’ve seen the desert colours, you can’t un-see them. They are in your fibres.

Let me just say, my first experience of spending time with Uluru (formerly known as Ayers Rock) and Kata Tjuta (formerly known as the Olgas) was transformative. I felt that my Field of Vision was expanded.

And that

once you’ve seen this place,

you can’t un-see it.

Generally, I love lushness. Luminous green trees, ferns and waterfalls are my idea of gorgeousness. So I resisted the Red Centre, but now I am a convert.

Kata Tjuta (many heads) brims with bulbous body-like sacred formations. Powerful. Oh dammit. My words do not do it justice.

The rock has rocked me.

Both rocks have rocked me.

Uluru beauty

Exquisite Uluru ahhh

And hey. I happened to be there on the morning of the blood-moon-plus-long-lunar-eclipse, with a dash of rare planetary alignment on the side. How special is that?

Uluru sunrise glow beauty nature

It truly does glow. No human hand has performed colour mishmashing here.

The sun rose

wonder awe rock

Uluru Sunrise Slice

while the just-post-eclipse moon set over Kata Tjuta.

nature beauty awe wonder

Just. Post. Eclipse. Blood. Full. Moon. Becoming. Crescent. Setting. Over. Kata. Tjuta.

Spurred by beauty beyond words, I suddenly spontaneously gathered loose strands of amazing, hardy spinifex (Tjanpi) and made a mandala in the red orange glowing desert sand.

In those moments, I was not anxious, fearful or stuck in my head trying to solve nitty-gritty problems. Believe me, I know the Art of Worrying inside out. As a friend said, in these moments, my softness of being, my presence and expansiveness was the Opposite of Anxiety.

creative ageing Swain

Late Middle-Aged to Early-Old Crazy Art Lady Goes to the Desert

The funny sun-dial type sand and spinifex mandala?

Twas an offering of gratitude to the elements and to all who allowed me to be there. 

I wish to close by expressing gratitude and deep respect to the Anangu traditional owners of this country – to Elders past, present and future.

with love, art and soul from Sally

Do you love driftwood?

Do you love Fiona Hall’s work?

fiona hall art

Manuhiri (Travellers)
detail
Fiona Hall

If you answered yes and yes, you might like to drop by Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art.

If you answered half of one yes, and you’ve not heard of Fiona, you might still want to check out the starkly beautiful Manuhiri (Travellers).

fiona hall art sculpture

Manuhiri (Travellers)
detail
Fiona Hall

I find this installation

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New eyes, anyone?

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.

Marcel Proust

(I’ve always loved this quote)

I head into town for a publishing seminar called Forest for the Trees. It’s a collaboration between NSW Writers’ Centre and Sydney Writers’ Festival.

art journal Forest for Trees

Forest for the Trees
Sally Swain
art journal page-in-progress

This is kind of

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Take heart. Make art.

How to respond?

purple heart art Swain

Purple Heart
Sally Swain
© original art
transforming grief through creativity

How to respond to trauma, sorrow and fear
with creativity, authenticity and respect?
How to heal our hearts enough to move into action?
How to collectively create a compassionate world in testing times?

Ohh. Big questions.
Very big.
Too big, perhaps.
Here’s how one

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Dig it!

Archaeology of the Art Heart

I forgot.

I forgot what came before.

That’s the trouble with layers.

That’s the trouble with life.

You pile on the paint and collage. One layer. Another layer.

bird moon art Sally Swain

Night Flying Work
Sally Swain © original art
excerpt

You live one moment. You live the next twenty billion moments. You don’t remember every little detail of every little stage.

You forget

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