There is an Annie Leibovitz exhibition running in Sydney currently. It is well worth the visit if you get the chance.
Part of this exhibition is a biographical video of her life. Fascinating stuff! What really piqued my interest was that it seemed to again raise the issue I explored in my post on ‘The Black Swan’ a few weeks ago.

How far are we willing to go in pursuit of our creative vision?  Annie spent a lot of time at one part of her life living and touring with The Rolling Stones while she chronicled their lives through the lens of her camera.  After all how  can you act naturally around a camera unless it becomes such a fixture that it no longer impacts your conscious awareness.  For The Rolling Stones it was almost as if Annie became a part of the furniture.

Annie-Leibovitz

Annie-Leibovitz

Pix Credit: Alex Waterhouse-Hayward’s blog ( Alex has a great post on Annie Check it out)

But what was the cost to her ?  Her health, arguably one’s most precious resource.   She  was living the Rock life style, which for so many results in addictions and drug dependency.  She finally checked into a detox facility, dried out and got on with her passion.

Art becomes life – where is the separation? It seems that one of the prices so many great creatives pay is found living at the edge in a place where others cannot go.  It is a personal exploration and also a sacrifice to their art because the road is often extremely difficult and I believe great courage is required of those who walk this road.

  • The courage to be different,
  • To not live up to others expectations
  • To step into unfamiliar territory which often flies in the face of societal convention
  • To remain true to ones self without sacrificing ones values in order to “get the shot/story” etc.

If you get a chance to see this exhibition it provides a fascinating insight into the lives of people of our times.

Here is that link again for information on the Annie Leibovitz exhibition.


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I recently met an amazing woman, Ellie Walker, whose background is a science degree. Ellie and her partner Peter Buteux have been involved in making fruit wines for the last 25 years.

Elly Walker Fires Creek Winery

Elly Walker Fires Creek Winery

Ellie has done many different things over the years and is one of the most creative people I have met.  Her and her partner Peter live on a beautiful property in Holgate on the Central Coast of NSW in Australia, about an hours drive from Sydney. This post is the story of how Ellie and Peter got started in their wine making venture.

I met Ellie by chance after seeing a notice she had posted on a local library notice board, offering free gallery space to artists.  Well you can imagine my surprise when I rang her and she said she had only had a couple of responses to her notice and so far no one had turned up!  Consequently I went to see her and we have now organized to have 3 exhibitions in her exhibition space.

A week or so after meeting with Ellie, I rang her back and said, ‘would you be open to me doing an interview for my blog?’ and she was – so here we are….

Kadira: “So Ellie, would you mind introducing your self and telling me a bit about your background?”

Ellie: “….we started off making wines when we were first married, we had a little organic orchard and began making wine from the fruit produced. ”

Kadira: “So have you always used organic fruits and things?”

Ellie: “Well as much as we can.  Anything we grow is always organic.  We can’t always guarantee what we buy in, but sometimes I manage to source some organic fruits, but not all the time.”

Kadira: “So what started you making wine in the first place?”

Ellie: “We bought this 1/4 acre block with the second house that we owned and the previous  owners had removed all the grass and planted fruit trees.  So it was full of fruit trees and underneath they had chickens grazing and fertilizing it.  There were plums and apricots, and figs and oranges and lemons, every possible fruit you could imagine.

At that time we had a young family and didn’t have a lot of money.  We wanted to use all the produce that we had.  We’d come out of the university mindset of making do with what you have and at the time some other university friends gave us these magazines – Grass Roots Magazine ‘

Kadira: ‘I know that magazine, I used to read it myself!’

Ellie: ‘You know that magazine?’

Kadira: ‘ Yeah  yeah!’

Photo of unusual cork screws

An Eclectic Collection Of Cork Screws At Fires Creek Winery

Ellie: ‘Well that was a real turn around for us then, for we found a direction I guess as young adults we found a direction of what we wanted to do and how we wanted to bring our children up. So I used to read all the magazines, and in the magazines there was fruit wine making, and I had all this…. making jams and chutneys – and putting it out on boxes and giving it away, just as my parents did when we were kids.

So we struck on wine making to use up all this fruit.  There was a little wooden cabin in the back yard and we started making wine in there.  Our first little winery, which was not much more than a garden shed.  It was our own miniature winery and after that we moved out into the country to near Wollombi.

We were very much involved in the earth gardening and building and we built a mud brick house out there.’

Kadira:’Oh wow – did you?  That’s a lot of work!’

Ellie: ‘Yeah – it took us about 4 years to build the house.  I think we moved about 150 tons of mud .  We were on solar power only  and had no mains water  so the water supply was very limited. We couldn’t develop the winery as we wanted to because of this.’

Kadira: ‘So how did you end up coming to the Central Coast and starting up your winery here?’

Ellie: ‘ Well by the time our children were approaching high school age we wanted more opportunity for them and a possibility for them to attend university if they wanted to, so we moved to the Central Coast.’

To be continued …. find out how long it took Ellie and Peter to establish their winery in Holgate and what else they are doing.

Fires Creek Winery Today

Fires Creek Winery Today

If you would like to visit Fires Creek Winery and see Ellie and Peter’s wonderful place for yourselves,

in the beautiful Matcham/Holgate Valley.

192 Wattle Tree Rd, Holgate. NSW

Cellardoor Wine Tastings :

Wednesday to Sunday.

10am- 5pm DST

10am- 4pm EST

Checkout Ellie’s website Fires Creek Winery – which she built herself, no less – I tell you she really is a woman of many talents!

Creative Cooking

When it comes to cooking – some of us have it and some of us don’t.  And I think that one of the more talented races in this area are the Italians.  They just have a wonderful attitude to food.  Unlike many of us in countries like the US of A and Australia where I currently reside, they do not make food their enemy.

On Saturday I was invited out for dinner at a friend’s house .  She had organized a wonderful evening of Wine Women and Food.  Well what fun we had. Mim, our Italian chefess if there is such a word, runs ‘a Cooking For Beginners’ course – which takes place in your own home.   Her recipes were simple and so tasty.  Mim has spent her life time cooking and I plan to do a post on her soon so do come back to find out more about her.

I am a vegetarian, and she even managed to come up with some wonderful tasty treats for me too!

For an entree she treated us to Zucchini Cakes on a bed of rocket with shaved Parmesan and so easy to make!

Unfortunately by the time I’d thought to do a blog post about it – well I’d eaten them!

However the brain must have still been partly engaged because here is a photo of the main course….

Eggplant Bake

Eggplant Delicious

How beautifully presented is that? The colour, the textures – not to mention the tastes – Wonderful!

I have taken the liberty of changing the name of her dish from Eggplant Bake to Eggplant Delicious – because it truly was.and the rice you see there – what a wonderful combination of flavours;curry,lemon rind, macadamia nuts to name a few.

If you live on the Central Coast and want to have a wonderful evening with your girlfriends – give MIM a call – Ph. 43852837

I am so often amazed at how creative Kiwi’s( slang for New Zealander’s) are, in so many different ways.  I’d like to share some of the wonderful Kiwi creativity I came across while I was a way.

The first is to be found at a little place called Colville.  This is the last place your can buy petrol, groceries a or a cup of coffee, at the top of the Coromandel peninsula. This part of the Coromandel Peninsula is a 4 hour drive from Auckland.

You really couldn’t call it a town.  All that’s there is a general store, a café, which incidentally makes the best coffee on the Peninsula, a post office, half a dozen houses, a fire station AND…..

A really creative public loo…………….

Public toilet at Colville, covered in mosaics

A loo in the sticks - not even a sheep in sight!

Wahine is maori for Women

Wahine is Maori for Women


Public toilet in the country side - very decorative

Colville Loo Take Two - a detail of the mosaic

And a little closer now…………..

Mosaic detail

Mosaic detail

Authenticity

Authenticity – What is it? How do we know when we are being authentic?

It’s a thorny question really and is there a right answer?  To illustrate my point I’d like to share a short story. The scene – Paris September 2005.

We have an iconic landmark. Very pretty it is too – looks great from a distance.

Eiffel Tower

Eiffel Tower

Probably the further away the better I was thinking at this point in time.   Not so my friend however, who’s pushing me to go first.   This is the me who gets dizzy looking over a first floor balcony.  Enter from stage left – a great dilemma – what’s more authentic for me to do at this point?  Should I step out side my box and onto the elevator ?  Its looking P-R-E-T-T-Y scary from down here.  Every fibre of my being is screaming at me to stay on the ground…… Perhaps I should just give into this and regret  and excuse my missed chance for ever after.

Or do I close my eyes, grit my teeth and pray to all gods great and small that all will be well if I do this thing?

Now you might argue that I was being inauthentic because I was succumbing to peer pressure, which I certainly did.  Or you might say I was being truly authentic in my endeavour to become a better human being by overcoming my fear.  If we don’t push our boundaries we limit the extent of our human experience, and might never know just what we are capable of.

The same arguments can be extended to the arena of art and creativity.  We are constantly being challenged to extend beyond the boundaries of what we know.  Are you brave enough to get into the lift of your personal Eiffel Tower – what ever it might be?

Picture Credit: Joe Bonita

So where does your inspiraton come from for your creativity?  Does it fall out of the sky? Rush out and trip you up as you walk along or sneak its way into your dreams?  It is different for all of us.  Something that really charges up my creative batteries is travel.  There are always so many new things to look at and experience.  However, not just any old where will do.  I find that returning to my native country is balm for my soul and I always find something new to pique my interest.

I’m off to NZ on New Year’s Eve  – a wonderfully creative way for me to begin the coming year….. I’m very excited. Of course it’s more than just the trees and hills, there is an intrinsic connection to the spirit of the place that draws me.   I find I have similar connections to Italy and England as well.

Flotsam at Waitete Bay

Flotsam at Waitete Bay

I love the textures and subtle colours in this photo.

Thatched Cottage at Avesbury

Thatched Cottage at Avesbury

Here is a piece of quintessential England.

Venetian  Canal

Venetian Canal

Lastly – a tranquil backwater in one of my favourite places.

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