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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Night Trees, Sea Breeze

‘We hold you’, say the trees.

art trees cicada wing grief

Night Trees, Sea Breeze
Sally Swain © art

I return to a beachside place of the heart. It’s been a while. The cabins that I used to stay in, to the north of the village, are demolished, erased. The whole camping ground is gone. It’s as if it never existed. I weep salty tears by the salty sea.

I walk and weep; walk and weep.

Other, more current griefs surface and spill. The long, slow, gritty grief of caring for elderly folk, in both my personal and professional life, unexpectedly surges forth. The bittersaltysweet release of tears is required regularly, it seems.

rockpool texture art photo

sea creatures create squiggles

I am able

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Late-Middle-Aged to Early-Old Crazy Art Lady

Goes to the Beach

Here’s my annual piece of recklessness.

I am poised to turn sixty.

turning 59

59th birthday. That was last year.

Poised? That makes it sound elegant and uncomplicated, which would be untrue.

Don’t get me wrong. I am exceedingly grateful to be a privileged, healthful artist, creativity coach and art therapist, with wonderful people and opportunities in my life. Yeah.

On the other hand, if you are a young sprite of ooo 37, or 51, even, there are quirks, aches and creaky crevices of the sixty year old’s mind, body and circumstance that you haven’t even dreamed of. Nor do you need to. That’s my oblique grumble for now.

At nearly sixty, I am ready to share with you my fabulous afternoon of a year ago. 

sacred sand sculpture

The Nest of the Sacred Egret – what can this mean?

I enthusiastically upheld my own recent tradition of random, spontaneous, organic and focussed outdoor art-making. The tradition involves an I-don’t-care-what-anyone-else-thinks-of-me attitude, which is refreshing for one who was an acutely shy teenager.

sculpture embodied beach

Bodily echoing the shape of the sculpture. Yes. Definitely Crazy Art Lady stuff.

I loved making this sculpture.

driftwood sculpture Swain

Driftwood and seaweed and

art beach spontaneous

Crazy Art Lady at Play

It truly was a case of

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Middle-Aged Crazy Art Lady Strikes Again

This time, she’s more like Late Middle-Aged or Early-Old Crazy Art Lady.

She’s just turned fifty-nine. Fifty-nine.

How can that be?

Her Inner (and often Outer) Child

is seven.

art play beach

Beach character
What could his or her name be?
Sally Swain crazy-art-play with driftwood, feathers and seaweed

Two years ago

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One breath, one brushstroke, one paper towel at a time

Awash Sally Swain © original art

Awash
Sally Swain © original art

Aged care. Hand-washing paraphernalia and paper towel dispensers are everywhere. 

Use the paper towel in art, I say.

I attend the inaugural Creative Ageing Conference. Afterwards, I am awash with ideas and tears.

There’s the macro:

Windows fling open to the wide open sky of amazing creative ageing projects around the globe.

And there’s

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Two Witches Speeding Slowly Across the Harbour in a Claw-Footed Bath

Why the weird title?

and

What comes to you when you hear the words ‘creative’ and ‘ageing’ together?

Last week 

we took a peek
at middle age artiness.

This week

we open a conversation about creativity in old age.

How do we get creative around the ageing process?

The good ship Arts and Health Australia
recently launched its Celebrate Creative Ageing conference in Sydney.

I had the good

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