Firstly, apologies to all those people I told at the Royal Melbourne Show (in September) that I'd have a new Shopping Bag Tutorial up her within days.... Ummmm... Real life got in the way of all my good intentions, and it has slipped down the list of priorities since.
There is still this free Shopping Bag tutorial, and the Zip-Away Shopping bag pattern is available in my Etsy store.
Apart from real life stuff, I've been working steadily on my (working title) #chemostyle project. Things are taking shape. I even have an Instagram account now! There's also another workshop coming up on the 29th Feb (register here).
It's been a strange few months... The national grief and anxiety about the bushfires that have devastated much of our country - and the constant smoke shrouding the landscape - formed a surreal backdrop for everything that happened over the Summer break.
The awareness of so much loss - lives, homes, animals, trees, businesses - was palpable with every breath of campfire-scented (or asthma-inducing) air. Those of us lucky enough not to lose our homes or loved ones in the fires have felt survivor's guilt, sadness, empathy, distress... anger at government, despair for our planet, and a sense of foreboding. Emotions have been high in Australia, and fires are still burning. Summer is not over.
That's not cloud over there.... (Photo taken on Dec 31 2019 near the NSW border, looking towards Victoria.)
In the midst of all this, my funny, feisty, compassionate and no-nonsense sister Loretta died. I won't say that she "lost the battle" against ovarian cancer... She lived with it for 14 years - with humour, pragmatism, acceptance and complete engagement with life - and eventually all the medical treatments available couldn't keep her alive. She was brave and focused on the life she was leading and enjoying.
Loretta was an artist and a tireless volunteer within her local community in Central NSW, particularly in the areas of tourism and the arts.
On the night of her wake, we discovered that the local community had honoured her memory with this sign on the Barry noticeboard. We took our glasses of wine for a walk and raised a toast to her as the sun set. To a life well-lived. To a much-loved sister and aunt. To Loretta.
One of Loretta's projects was the annual Textures of One exhibition in Blaney, which is still running this year. I hope that it is the best year ever, in her honour.
Textures of One is an open art exhibition for artists working in a wide range of media. It also includes primary and secondary school "junior" sections. Every piece must include - somewhere - the motif of the lotus (each year, the motif changes). There are prizes in each category as well as overall prizes, and you don't have to be a local to enter (see all the details here).
If you're able to, I invite you to consider making something, or getting your kids involved. If you're in the area, I invite you to visit the exhibition when it's on.
And I'll remind you to live your best life, and treat everyone with kindness. You never know what the people you meet are going through.