Yarnbomber – Jane Balke Anderson

Photographer Martin Anderson

This week I am interviewing Redfern based fibre artist and designer, Jane Balke Andersen, AKA Queen Babs (named after her bunny)! I stumbled onto Jane’s work on the internet a few years ago. Being a textile artist, and someone who has worked in public art, I loved her colourful installations. They not only brighten the landscape, but also gather the community together.

 

Tell me a bit about yourself and your creative practice

All my life I’ve been crafty, read books, told stories and been fascinated by people and tried to be kind. I’ve been a high school teacher (humanities), taught art and craft, been a caterer, a house and pet sitter, and sold my creative works.

Since childhood my health had always been poor, however after drinking poisoned well water, over a three-month period in a remote community more than 25 years ago, I suffered a massive decline in my health.  The resulting outcome continues to resonate with me to date, though I never give up, and I continually fight to improve my health.

I am now disabled, housebound and bed ridden most of the time, but that doesn’t stop me me making the most I can from my life and it certainly doesn’t stop me being creative!  It’s who I am, not what I do.

 

What is your genre/medium?

I’m a fibre artist – I design patterns in crochet, and I yarnbomb and install large scale installations all using acrylic and cotton yarns, crocheting by hand and knitting by machine. I taught myself to crochet via YouTube in 2013, and began yarnbombing the same year.

For those who don’t know what yarnbombing is, it is a form of street art where knitting and/or crochet is attached to an object in a public place.

Previously I have worked in paper arts, collage, photography, scrapbooking, stamping, card making and entertained myself with sewing, quilting, decoupage, embroidery, appliqué, beading, jewellery making, painting decoratively and more.

Jane is being quite humble today,  and what she hasn’t told you is that she has created installations for QANTAS, OPTUS, the Garden Expo, Central Park Mall, the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence, Burning Man USA, peace conferences, and a variety of music and community festivals. The list is endless, and her work includes national and international collaborations.

 

What is your favourite installation?

Each installation has a story or purpose. It may be to raise awareness (eg Fibromyalgia/CFS/ME, Depression, marriage equality), celebrate and build a sense of community (Redfern or others) or culture (eg Indigenous culture), and to spread kindness and love.

One of my earliest public pieces, The Garden of Imagination, for the Sydney Garden Show, is a large (2.5m x 1m) crocheted representation of my childhood drawings of gardens. As my first paid commission, it was a huge leap of faith in myself, as it challenged me as an artist and a crocheter. It also reinforced my creative partnership with my husband Martin, who supports my dreams and helps them become real. He helps create, install and photograph my work. We are a great team!

I created many pieces for The Plot music festival, inviting people all around the world to contribute to the Hippy Peace Love theme. The Rainbow Bicycle includes little motifs from many people and friends, and again stretched my skills as I worked out how to take the picture in my head and turn it into reality.

It’s the fact that I was so ill, and I did most of while bedridden, that makes it more important to me. Martin cleaned, restored and painted the dilapidated bike. He placed a sheet of Masonite over the bed, and shifted the bicycle into position as I stitched, sewed and glued the pieces. Friends visited and helped me while I was stuck in bed. Not only is it a rainbow of colours promoting peace and love, it is a concrete reminder that I can still express my creativity while housebound and bedridden.

These days as my health has deteriorated from vestibular and hemiplegic migraines, I have turned to designing crochet patterns, most with a heart at the centre to keep spreading the love. So far, the Lovebomb Mandala has been my favourite design, every stitch is love and kindness expressed in yarn.

 

What is your first memory of being creative?

I come from a creative family. Everyone makes, bakes, creates, photographs, gardens or they play music, sing, dance and act. When I was young I learnt to cook at my grandmothers’ knees, pulling up a chair to reach the kitchen bench. My sister and I were always encouraged to be crafty and creative. One of my earliest memories is of our mother who would draw the most beautiful pictures of historical women’s dresses for us to colour in.

I loved stories and was a voracious reader, and I also remember being encouraged to write stories, make up games, act and sing. We didn’t watch a lot of tv growing up, we filled our days with creative play and reading.

 

Who or what inspires you?

I am inspired by people who are kind, share their skills generously, and are passionate about what they do whatever their field of interest.

Colour, shape and texture have fascinated me all my life. I used to joke that a perfect job would be designing Christmas ornaments for all the shape, colour and glitter! Nature, particularly flowers, inspire my colour choices in my work.

There are many yarnbombers, fibre artists and designers who also inspire me, and I enjoy their journey and work via Instagram.

 

Is there anything special you do to get into the right mindset and get the creative juices flowing?

I don’t have to do anything special to get into the right mindset to get the creative juices flowing because, unless I am really ill, my mind never stops coming up with new ideas. It’s always been this way and I call it my “monkey mind”. I’ve learnt to write the ideas down because I get so many I cannot keep up with them. Alas, there’s is only one of me! I wish I was a clone or two, I might get more done.

Currently, I have at least two dozen design ideas for crochet patterns waiting for me to flesh them out. I’m just waiting on some time with good health.

 

How do you deal with creativity blocks?

I don’t get creativity blocks, I get blocked by my health and disability. Often, I am too sick to crochet, design my patterns or Yarnbomb.

So I do what I can, when I can. I tend to have intense periods of creativity when pieces fly off the hook and words fall over each other, describing my stitches and method.

These days, I have learnt to ask for help installing Yarnbombs, and friends and my wonderful husband install pieces for me.

 

 What is one tip you would give other creatives?

Your creativity is not an option, it’s not a hobby, it is a living, breathing part of you. Give yourself time to play, permission to make many, many mistakes so you learn new things and discover your joys. Be brave and plan time for yourself to be creative just for the sheer joy of it. You will become happier.

What is your favourite, colour, book, song, food and place?

My favourite colour, red and pink, I cannot just pick one! Book, what an awful thing to ask! Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman is a fave fun one. The 80s music of my teenage years, plus big band swing, The Beatles and Aretha Franklin. I love good cups of tea, cake and Chinese food. My favourite place, places of natural beauty and peace, or my big old brass bed with a good book and a cup of tea.

 

Like many of the creatives I talk to, Jane inspires me. It’s not only her creations and passion for colour, but also her ability to see the glass half full, not half empty. I really appreciate her giving us an insight into her creativity and her life. Also a big thanks to Martin Anderson for the photographs.

If you want to see more of her work, or connect with Queen Babs, the links are below.

https://www.facebook.com/queenbabscards

https://instagram.com/queen_babs/

http://yarnbombersunited.weebly.com/

http://www.ravelry.com/people/QueenBabsSydney

https://twitter.com/queen_babs

 

Creative Women – Danielle Mate Sullivan

Photo of Danielle Mate Sullivan

Through my own creative journey one of the great things has been the people that I have connected with along the way. There have been some amazing individuals who have inspired me, and I thought I would like to introduce you to some of them. Each week I am going to be asking each of these remarkable women a series of questions and then will be posting my “5 minutes with a Creative Woman”. I am hoping to not only give you a glimpse into their creative practice, but also provide you with some inspiration.

This week it is Danielle Mate Sullivan, a modern Aboriginal Artist from Edmondson Park in South Western Sydney. I met Danielle a few years ago through an artist network we both attended.

Tell me a bit about yourself and your creative practice.

I am a proud Aboriginal woman, who is a descendant of the Murrawari through my Mother’s maternal side, and Euahlayi through my Mother’s paternal grandmother. On my dad’s side, I have German heritage.

As Danielle Mate Sullivan, I create my own original works, but I also have a commercial brand DJMate.  Through my commercial brand I sell limited edition giclee prints, greeting cards and of course The NEW DJMATE BAG.

I run workshops with students and community groups and have also completed some public art projects, the biggest yet being 28mts tall for Sydney Water and Urban Growth.

My mission statement is: BUILDING PRIDE AND CONNECTION TO CULTURE THROUGH ART.

I hear you also have a claim to fame?

I have been fortunate to work with The US Embassy in Canberra for quite a few years and due to this partnership, I was able to gift an artwork of mine to Barak Obama whilst he was President. Also, a piece to Ellen DeGeneres when she visited Australia.

What is your genre/medium?

I am a painter and have quite a diverse style and work in acrylic paint. There are my animal works that are very refined, layered and time-consuming, and then there are my landscape and more expressive works, which are loose and worked wet.

What is your first memory of being creative?

The first memory would be lunchtimes in the art rooms at High School, playing with different mediums, on my own. I loved it!

Who or what inspires you?

Photo of exhibition of works by Danielle Mate Sullivan

The landscape, natural smells, natural patterns, textures and shapes, and of course the wildlife too.  I always take photos of the landscape and details of things that are interesting.

I am also inspired by the late Emily Name Kngwarreye. Her works move me, I love their energy, movement and transparency.

Is there anything special you do to get into the right mindset and get the creative juices flowing?

Music and usually a big clean white canvas helps me to visualise, then once I have started the work just speaks to me.

How do you deal with creativity blocks?

Given I’m a commercial artist – with deadlines, I usually have to keep pushing through till I get there. That might mean lots of changes and wasted time, but I always get there.

What is one tip you would give other creatives?

It’s important to surround yourself with supportive people who truly believe in you. I would not be where I am today, without the support and encouragement of my husband Shane Sullivan. He has done everything in his power to help me realise my dreams, and make them happen – trust me, that’s been a WHOLE LOT OF WORK and still is. I often say he is more passionate about what I do than I am.

What is your favourite; colour, book, song, food and place?

Favourite colour is green, I don’t read so no favourite book, I love some old school 80s/90s, Mexican food and my favourite place Cancun.

 A big thank you to Danielle for sharing what it means to be a Creative Woman. Danielle’s beautiful work can be seen at her website, and that is where you will also find the DJMate shop for online purchases

http://www.daniellematesullivan.com.au

Or follow her on Facebook or Instagram

https://www.facebook.com/daniellematesullivan/

https://www.facebook.com/djmate.online/

https://www.instagram.com/djmate/

Encounter with Creativity

 

One of the things I believe about creativity is that it has to be woven into your life.

You can use it in your work, home and play, however it’s much easier to tap into if you cultivate it as part of your everyday. Though doing that can be easier said than done, especially with a busy schedule. For some people their creative bent was drummed out of them as they grew up.

I want to change that and invite you to join me for an Encounter with Creativity.

The goal is to reignite your creativity, fanning the flame until you have a blazing fire. Why 66 days? Research has shown that this is the average time taken to create a new habit. For some people it is less, for others more. For 66 days, I want to encourage you to make creativity part of your everyday life, until it becomes the norm.

So now the nitty gritty, and what you will be committing to!

Do something creative every day

You have to schedule a creative date with yourself every day – a minimum of half an hour, if possible an hour is better. During this time, you need to be present. Park all the things that are running around in your head, the things you need to do or haven’t completed. This time is a gift to yourself. Commit to being creative everyday.

Feed your creative soul

Now that you have time, with no interruptions, I want you to choose to do something that feeds your creative soul. Already feeling stumped and need some help? The first thing I want to say is it is NOT about ART. Arts and crafts always come to mind, however, creativity is about so much more. It could be writing, acting, trying out a new recipe, inventing your own recipe. Maybe it’s playing with playdough, or lego, model building, creating a garden, or decorating your home. You could visit an exhibition, go to the theatre, or on a bushwalk. While you are walking observe the sounds, the way the bark forms on the trees and the patterns on the rocks. The list is endless, and you don’t have to commit to one thing, you can mix it up.

What is important though, is that whatever you choose to do doesn’t have a must do component to it or a deadline. For example, if you are already working on something creative, either paid or leisure that you need to complete by a date.  The aim is to do something just because you can. If you want to get more fun and play back into your life, you need to do things just because you can.

Share in a post

Each day I will post in our group and I want you to share in the comments what you have done. It could be a photo; however it could also be a sentence or word. I will share a theme each week, though there is no commitment to work to the theme. For some it will give them a starting point, for others it will stretch their already creative practice. I will also be sharing lots of hints and tips along the way.

There is however one very important rule as a group member – this is a non-judgemental space.

It is not about what people are doing, instead, it is about encouragement to pursue a creative life. Do you ever remember being at school and there was always that kid in class who was praised? Or it could have been your sibling?  Maybe it was the online group you belonged to where somebody’s work received 50 positive comments and barely anyone noticed yours. When people begin commenting on the object that has been created, we create a judgemental space. We are all at different points in our journey, some of us will draw, stitch or write better than others. That is probably due to the environment in which we grew up and now live. Remember we are all doing the best with what we have and where we are. Encourage people, for being courageous and committed, for stepping up, we all need more of that!

For those who already live a creative life, your expression of creativity may inspire someone else, so please join us.

And lastly, this is about you.

It is not school where I am going to chase people for not posting, this is about making a commitment to yourself, to be a different version of you and live a more creative life.

So, if all this resonates with you, please sign up for an Encounter with Creativity, it’s FREE and we start on the 1st of August.

If you need to know more drop me a line, look forward to seeing you there!

Do you have a Dream?

 

Do you have a dream?

 

A desire that burns deep inside of you, something you want to do, create or be?

Do you remember what it was like when you were a child and you had dreams for when you grew up?

Dreams are important, and as we get older, and caught up with the busyness of life, it is all too easy to lose sight of what we desire.

We listen to the voices of others telling us to grow up and be realistic, to take the path that is safe, and that the time is not right.

We doubt ourselves, we put our dreams on hold.

We limit ourselves.

We stop dreaming, we lose hope.

 

What would your life be like if you started dreaming again?

 

What if you decided now was the time, put your big girl pants on and began to chase your dream?

It’s never too late!

You are never too old!

What if you took off the bindings off fear, put on a mantle of courage and gave it a go!

 

I wonder what amazing things you will you accomplish?

 

Think your not creative – Together we can change that!

We are all born creative, you only have to watch children at play. As they paint and draw you see the potential artist in them. When they are playing with their dolls, acting out scenarious and having in depth conversations while all alone, you can hear the budding actor in them. They are not frightened to just play and create, regardless of the outcome. They neither like nor dislike what they make, they just create.

 

Somewhere along the way,

we lose this innate ability to connect through play with our creativity,

it becomes stifled as we grow older.

 

What did you like to create when you were a child. Can you remember the feel of the paint between your fingers as you finger painted. Or the smell of the play dough as you moulded it into your own creations. Sitting on a rainy day cutting out pictures from magazines and greeting cards before gluing them into collages. Maybe it was squishing mud with your hands as you baked your own mud pies.

 

Whatever it was, that memory is there,

even if it is buried deep,

and maybe it’s time to reclaim your creative self.

 

Do you:

  • Believe that you aren’t creative;
  • Want to be creative but are busy, tired or overwhelmed with your family and your work;
  • Want to bring creativity into more of what you do;
  • Have an idea, and vision but struggle to implement it;
  • Spend lots of time nurturing the growth and creativity of those around you, however aren’t making time to create yourself
  • Love creating, but aren’t getting to it as often as you like;
  • Have been working on a creative project and have been unable to finish it.

 

If you answered YES to any of these,

and you want to call creativity into your life,

it’s not too late!

 

Through creative coaching we can:

  • Overcome procrastination;
  • Define where you are and where you want to be;
  • Shift your mindset;
  • Set realistic and achievable goals;
  • Create clarity;
  • Cultivate a creative life.

 

If you want to change your life and pursue your dream, why not book a free chemistry session, and we can have a chat about where you are, and where you would like to be.

 

do what you love, love what you do - happy life and work concept presented on blackboard with colorful sticky notes, white chalk smudges

Creativity – It’s so much more than you think!

When you think of creativity what immediately comes to mind?

 

You wouldn’t be alone if you thought of artistic pursuits, things like painting, sculpture, singing or acting.

While these are creative activities, creativity actually permeates all corners of our lives.

And what’s even better is that it has the potential to give us more enjoyable and fulfilled lives.

 

So what is creativity?

 

The actual definition varies depending on who you talk to. The Cambridge Dictionary defines it as, the ability to produce original and unusual ideas or to make something new or imaginative.

When you look at creativity through this lens you can see how it can relate to any part of our lives. We can express our creativity in the garden, the kitchen, on the sporting field and in our workplace. In fact the list of places is endless, as is the number of ways we can create, knitting, gardening, painting cooking, just to name a few.

When we tap into our creativity, and nurture it the rewards are immense. The benefits include reduced stress, increased joy, improved health, authenticity and balance and a sense of fulfillment.

 

With all those benefits – what are you waiting for?