Earlier this year, things in my world took a bit of a 360 degree change. Some of the hardest decisions in the world were made and new plans were plotted. I was still on the lovely Sunshine Coast in Australia and with a return flight from Melbourne, I decided that before I leave, I needed to draw some inspiration from this beautiful country and go on a creative retreat. Every year I invest time into myself to challenge my creativity and do something new, photography related or not. Last year I went on an amazing Art and the Heart workshop and this year I needed to do something less pure photography orientated, something still photography related but a progression of. I also needed time to reflect and plot new paths.
Every since school I have always loved printing processes. Not just photography led, I mean other types of printing. Lino… screen…potato… and so after googling ‘artist retreat Melbourne’, I discovered a Photogravure workshop at the Baldessin Press just outside of the city in a village called St Andrews. I was fascinated about combining two things I love into one and really wanted to learn how I could take an image I have created, and hand print it to art.
I emailed Tess Edwards and before I knew it I was booked in. 3 nights in the lovely, cosy, rustic Garret and a one on one workshop with the amazing Sylvie Glattauer, an artist who’s work I admire so much.
So I packed my bags and headed to Melbourne. I wandered the city, enjoyed the company of friends. I prepped my plates and I got ready for my retreat. Then I jumped on a train bound for Hurstbridge and there I met Sylvie. A lady who inspired me and taught me the tools to a craft I have fallen in love with. A craft I know I want to master. I spent the day with Sylvie, absorbing her knowledge and loving being in the studio. I learned about George Baldessin from Tess and I was so inspired by his drive to create his own vision of work.
On my day out of the print studio Tess took me off to a fabulous Indigenous festival and introduced me to country life in Victoria. I wandered the small town of St Andrews and knew that if I lived inland, it would be amongst the Eucalyptus trees in a town like St Andrews. Small, yet filled with creative people, ideas and interesting stories. A cute little weekend market and a pizza restaurant that makes, hands down, the best pizza’s I have ever tasted. Thank you A Boy Named Sue for helping me discover a love for pizza!
I spent 4 days in amongst the trees. Listening to the native birds and insects, looking out for the roo’s and generally just taking time out to re-discover something new in myself. I planned my future (well, the next steps anyway) and I enjoyed solitude. I learned to just stop and listen every so often. I learned to not be afraid of the dark and I re-learnt to be quiet on my own…. and how to be on my own in the dark! Seriously, it is PITCH black in the middle of no where, when you are staying in a small wooden cottage with no town lights in the nearby vicinity.
I remembered how much I love the smell of inks, pigments and Eucalyptus oil and how great it is to be in a quiet studio on your own, doing what ever feels instinctively right.
I took home with me, lovely new memories and a renewed fondness for a country I have always loved. I felt like I had a clearer head and on doing some research, I have discovered a studio in nearby St Ives which will allow me to continue on my photogravure journey. I am so looking forward to spending wintery days inside the print rooms, creating new pieces of work and I have already shot a body of work, my plates about to be created. Watch this space!