US claymaker + potter
Welcome to Episode 50. My guest this week is Mercedes Rodgers, a clay maker and potter from Fort Walton Beach in Florida, USA. Mercedes is a mum of 3 sons.
Mercedes studied a Degree in Art History and thought she would go into photography, but she was always drawn to clay, She was fascinated and influenced by a neighbour who was making tiles for her kitchen out of clay from the river bed.
When she finished her degree she moved up to New York with her husband, Mercedes worked in art centre that had an amazing pottery studio where she was able to really delve in deep. She learned the craft in the traditional way of learning from others in an apprenticeship kind of way.
In additional to her pottery, Mercedes also enjoys painting, photography, knitting, dying fibres and has taught pottery for many years, as well as owning a gallery, She feels deeply connected to the earth, turning to traditional methods to make charcoal from grape vines and ink from acorns and her kiln is powered by solar energy. She loves to try new things and be playful within her work. She loves how pottery has forced her to slow down and be patient, you can't rush the kiln or disaster ensues.
**Please be aware this episode contains discussions around stillbirth + infant loss, PTSD, anxiety attacks + grief**
Today we chat about how art and journaling helped Mercedes through the loss of her 1st son Conrad, appreciating the connection between the artist and the art they create through practical, functional objects and good old mum guilt gets a big mention.
Music used with permission from Alemjo, Australian new age and ambient music trio.
When chatting to my guests I greatly appreciate their openness and honestly in sharing their stories. If at any stage their information is found to be incorrect, the podcast bears no responsibility for guests' inaccuracies.
Podcast transcript at the bottom of the page
Thank you so much for tuning in to this episode of The Art of Being A Mum Podcast. I'm beyond honoured that you're here and would be grateful if you could take 2 minutes to leave me a 5-star review in iTunes or wherever you are listening. It really helps! This way together we can inspire, connect and bring in to the light even more stories from creative mums. Want to connect? Take a screenshot of this episode and share it on Instagram tagging me in with @art_of_being_a_mum_podcast
I can't wait to connect. And remember if you or somebody you know would like to be a guest on the podcast, get in touch! I love meeting and chatting to mammas from all creative backgrounds, from all around the world!
Alison acknowledges this Land of the Berrin (Mount Gambier) Region as the Traditional Lands of the Bungandidj People and acknowledge these First Nations people as the custodians of the Region.
Welcome to the Art of Being a mum, the podcast. It's a platform for mothers who are artists and creatives to share the joys and issues they've encountered, while continuing to make art. Regular themes we explore include the day to day juggle, how mother's work is influenced by the children, mum guilt, how mums give themselves time to create within the role of mothering, and the value that mothers and others place on their artistic selves. My name's Alison Newman. I'm a singer, songwriter, and a mom of two boys from regional South Australia. You can find links to my guests and topics we discuss in the show notes. Together with music played, how to get in touch, and a link to join our lively and supportive community on Instagram. The art of being a mum acknowledges the Bondic people as the traditional owners of the land, which his podcast is recorded on. Welcome to Episode 50. It's really exciting to be still hanging around after all this time, and thank you for sticking with me. My guest this week is Mercedes Rogers. Mercedes is a playmaker and a potter from Fort Walton Beach in Florida, United States and Mercedes is a mom to three boys. Mercedes studied a degree in art history and thought she would go into photography, but she was always drawn to clay. She was fascinated and influenced by a neighbor who was making tiles for her kitchen out of clay from the earth. When she finished her degree, she moved up to New York with her husband, she worked in an art center that had an amazing pottery studio, where she was really able to delve deep. She learned the craft in the traditional way, learning from others in an apprenticeship kind of way. In addition to her pottery, Mercedes also enjoys painting, photography, knitting, dyeing fibers and has taught pottery for many years. In addition to owning a gallery, she feels deeply connected to the earth, turning to traditional methods to make charcoal from grape vines and ink from acorns amongst other things, and Akun is powered by solar energy. She loves to try new things and be playful within her work. She loves her pottery has forced her to slow down and be patient. You can't rush the kiln or disaster in shoes. Please be aware this episode contains discussions around stillbirth and loss, PTSD, anxiety attacks and grief. Today we chat about how art and journaling helped Mercedes through the loss of her first son Conrad, appreciating the connection between the artist and the art they create through practical functional objects. And we give good old fashioned mum guilt. A bit of a mention music you'll hear today is from LM J, an Australian New Age ambient music trio featuring myself, my sister Emma, and her husband, John. I hope you enjoy welcome to the podcast Mercedes. It's such a pleasure to have you today.
Thank you. I'm so glad to be here. I'm looking forward to our conversation.
Absolutely. So tell me a little bit about where you are in America.
I live in Northwest Florida so the very northern western corner of Florida some people we jokingly call it La lower Alabama. So it's it's the south it's about as much southern as Florida can get not like like culturally is what I'm trying to say but it's really beautiful we I live like five minutes from the beach. It's just like crystal white sands you know the granite that's come down from the Appalachians and crystal clear water and beautiful river so it's really it's kind of like there's a place about an hour and a half down the coast from here that's called the Forgotten Coast. So I think when people think of Florida they have a very like Miami Tampa way over built up kind of vibe and yet here I think maybe because we're so close to Alabama, I don't know. It's just it's pretty like you know, Southern Sorry, sorry. What are you doing in here? Okay, well can you please go take it up with him? Oh my goodness. I'm so sorry. I scheduled like this is great. We just lock it it's fine. It's not a problem it's all right. This is like so much this is so much mom life right where you're like yes, our normal routine is blah blah this should fit in perfectly and today he mapped until like five o'clock in the afternoon so of course now he's just like up rampaging my husband you know, I mean, this my husband he works remotely so he just gave it him like lock the door so hopefully we should be so good yeah, Northwest Florida. It's an OK place. I love the I love the environment here. Sometimes the politics in the southern culture is a little much and I miss the arts. I mean, there's not the biggest The Art scenes here, you know,
yeah, right. Yeah. I noticed on your Instagram stories that you, you'd like to do a bit of camping and you're not very far from like woodlands and sort of really? It almost looks like you're in the middle of nowhere.
Yeah, it's pretty primitive we there's a very large air force base here that has they call it the Eglin reservation. So it's like, I don't know, 1000s and 1000s of square miles of land that they don't do anything with. And it's been great on the beaches to they have huge swaths of completely undeveloped beaches because of the Air Force. So we can just go out there. Yeah, it's like 15 minute drive from our house and from you know, the relatively small city that we live in to just be in a primitive camping area. And it is, it's wonderful. I love it and being a potter. And my work is so grounded in dirt. Like I just I'm a very much I like being outside being that connection to nature really helps to fuel the work that I do.
Oh, absolutely. Yeah. What's the weather like there at the moment?
Oh, it's so nice. It's been like in the high 60s, low 70s.
That's about 20 degrees Celsius.
So just beautiful weather. Yeah, I always like to gardening and
yeah, I always like to ask my guests about whether I have this thing about, you know, other places in the world and what it's like and what the weather's like, I don't know, it's
the environment really affects the way that we work too. That's what I thought I lived in upstate New York for a while and I didn't believe it as much then. But the transition from moving back down here, I really noticed the change in my work from the environment and just those influences. Yeah, like like in upstate New York, it gets very cold freezes intense amounts of snow. I mean, in the darkness, it's so much darker for longer and all the leaves fall off the trees and here we never even have a real winter. Right so here you know, it's never really that cold and and so the what I see every day is just it's very different because of the weather and the environment. Yeah, so I just noticed I went from carving like doing this graffito work of you know, barren trees on vessels to much more like fanciful mermaids and sea creatures and things like that. Like it was a big ship. It was no but it was
it was big. Yeah, absolutely. Now that's awesome so you mentioned there that you you're a potter, can you tell us about what you do? How you got into it? All that kind of stuff?
Yeah. I feel like it just goes all the way back to the beginning. Yeah, so I'm predominantly a functional Potter. I mean, that's the way that I have made a living at this. But I love I love like the line in ceramics that line between functional and fine art. So I feel like that's something I'm always kind of playing with like putting little sculptures on my mugs are drawing or screen printing or making little sculptures that have some functional aspect to them that like maybe it's a sculpture of a mermaid but then she's like a jewel secretly a jewelry box or something like that, you know? Yeah. And so. So, the pottery, it's interesting. I got my degree was in art history. So I wasn't sure you know what I was going to do. I wasn't 100% Sure, like what medium I really thought it was good to go in to study I studied quite a bit of photography. But I was I've always been drawn to clay. Since I was young. I was always one of those kids like in the backyard digging up clay when I was an adolescent I lived near this woman who had was digging clay out of a string bed, made herself a wood fire kiln and then was making these tiles and tiling her kitchen. It was amazing. And I just remember being like as a child just in awe that you could take this dirt and make something so permanent. So I think that really stuck with me. And so then, while I was in college, I worked in an art center that had a pottery studio. And then when I got out of when I finished my degree, my husband moved up to New York to do his PhD studies and there was a amazing art center there and he you know, he was like, oh, you should go, you know, check it out and see. And I started, they had an amazing pottery studio there. And then that's when I really like, just delve in deep. So it wasn't something that I studied in university. But it was one of the things that I, I learned it more like in the old way of Craps, like through apprenticeships, and just like self driven study.
Yeah. So again, going back to the old ways of, you know, the traditional ways of doing things, and which sort of ties into, I guess what you're saying before, like, you're drawn to the earth and making things it's like, the traditional pathways, I suppose, sort of ties in. Yeah. And, and I
think, I mean, this is also that line between fine art and craft, right? Like, because fine art has this elevation in the history of art of like, you know, it's what's in the galleries, and it's what's possible. But the craftsmanship that's like, underneath that is the key, but you have to have the craft before you can have the fine art. You know.
I'm just interested to ask you going down your art history route, I spoke to an art historian, an art historian from Adelaide on this program in season one, talk to Melanie Cooper, and she said, just what you've you've just piqued my interest, and I could be off the track here. But she said a similar thing about how fine art, you know, is the thing in the museums and whatever. And then craft got, like a really bad rap, like the women can do the craft, the arts and crafts sort of thing is that that's sort of where you're coming from.
I think that yes, when I was studying art history in school, I definitely, that was one of the big things that I picked up on. And kind of just like the, like, if you if you look through our history, it is predominantly men in all of the art forms that that are the majority of the people that are in the museums that are in the galleries, right. And then the crafts, not in all cultures, but in a lot of them. It is like the women in the those once it's a utilitarian, somehow it loses its worth. And then I just personally thought that, in worst for society, it's almost the other way around, right? Like, we need well designed objects that we use every day, like, like, I always think, like my work is like, just like simple beauty for every day. Right? Like I'm a big coffee and tea drinker. Right? So that like handmade mug full of coffee or tea in the morning, it's just like, there's, there's something like so whole about that functional experience. For me, that's also beautiful. And the work of art.
Absolutely, yes, I love that. It's like you can celebrate this experience and take this moment, to appreciate everything that's gone into, you know, the thing you're holding in your hand and the vessel that you're experiencing your drink from, it's like there's this massive connection with, you know, where it's coming from and how it got made. And what's the story behind the person that made it and you know, it's just this huge cultural connection. Yeah.
And I think maybe our culture has got so far away from that, I think that that's also one of like, my earlier memories of like, seeing between commercially produced products and handcrafted things. My, my grandmother, I love this story, my my grandfather raised horses, and one of my grandmother's friends, her husband was a potter. And so her friend like horse riding horses, and my grandmother loved pottery, so they got the women got the husbands to trade. And so my grandmother has all these beautiful pots by this potter has been very gifted, actually, when you were talking about the influences, that people who influence me, I think his work had such a profound influence on me as a child because I could remember, you know, being with my grandmother in her kitchen, cleaning the plates and the bowls and putting them in, in you know, in the dishwasher and being very careful with them because we knew the person you know, you can feel the finger marks and like somebody that we know created these objects versus like at home, you know, with like the plastic plates or the you know, slip cast mass produce things like there was just a very different feeling in the weight in the whole act of how we use them. And I think that that just really kind of just a huge impact on my life in general. You know, I love in my home as much as I can having things that are either like, old or hands, you know, handcrafted like my, a lot of our furniture was is from my husband's ancestors were from Germany and they were all Woodworkers. So we have like this civil war and all this old like handmade, you know, like a headboard that his grandfather cut down the tree. Yeah, right. It was a wedding gift, right? In the time we like in order to like, ask the person to marry you like this is how you did it. And we're just well, with Amazon, right? We're in like such a different world now. So I think that part of what I do as an artist is like, remembering that and also trying to share that with people, you know, continue sharing the craft and teaching people and
yeah, absolutely going forward. Yeah, I love that. It's so important, isn't it? Because we do we just get caught up in this fast, fast culture. Like we need things right now and everything if it doesn't, you know, if you break something, you just throw it out and get a new one because it costs more to repair something that does to buy new and like this whole consumerism is just out of control, isn't it?
Yeah. And you think like, we're a potter. I mean, it takes it's such a slow process. I mean, it takes like weeks and weeks for one mug to go from like that ball of clay to something that you can drink out of, you know, it's very, and if you try to rush it, that's the best part. If you try to rush it, it just explodes in the kiln. I mean, it's one of those things like you just you can't, you can't force it to be fast, because you
cannot do it yet. It's like it's forcing you to be slow and take your time and be patient. Have you ever struggled with that patients? Like are you naturally a patient person? Or is that really challenging for you?
Oh, no. I mean, that's, I think, part of like, maybe the universe, like made me a product that because I'm not patient. And I come like from a long line of very impatient people. Like it's ridiculous. So that's what I'm, that's what I'm always like, Okay, if I rush this, I mean, yes, it really has helped to be, you know, like, I have to be slow or it's just not gonna work.
Yeah. So cool. I love that. It's like, yeah, the universe sent you this. So you could just appreciate you know, I love that. You said before about, you could feel the finger marks in the, the plates and the cups. There's a piece of pottery that my mum brought been back from a holiday once and it's it's a fruit bowl. It's beautiful. And it's hand painted. And, and I picked it up one day and realized I'd put my thumb in the same spot as there was a thumb mark. And I just had this like shiver like, oh, like it was just this amazing moment of like, I'm touching where someone has physically made this and my hand is right where their hand was. It was just incredible. I'm getting shivers now thinking about it was just yeah,
that connection. That connection is energizing. Yeah. When Yes, I 100% agree. I love Yeah. I love that. Yeah. And I think that also that's part of in a way like what has always drawn me to the arcs when I think about it, like thinking about the people who influenced me. I don't know if you know the sculptor Ruth Duckworth. Have you heard of her? She did a lot of she was a ceramicist. And mostly in porcelain, and made these like very abstract sculptures. And but they so I only saw them in history books. And they were so perfect. Like I just why shiny, beautiful porcelain. And the first time I was in the Museum of Modern craft, I think in Manhattan. And they had a exhibit of her work. And I saw, I got to see some of the larger installation pieces. And as I walked up in the close, there were all these little cracks and imperfections in the pieces. And I might I was just like, it was that same moment of connection of like, here's this person that I've idolized, but also is just a human being who has the same problems in her kilns probably that I have in mind kills, right just like that. That connection of human the human struggle.
Yeah. Yeah. It's funny, isn't it? Like? Yeah, it's interesting that that we put, and I'm not saying this in a bad way, but we we put people up on a pedestal, it's like, we can't do that. That's unachievable. But then we realized that at the end of the day, they're still human beings. And it's like, we're all going through the same struggles.
I think that that's what's great about your podcast, too, right? It's for us artists to realize, like, you know, we create these things from our heart and our soul when we put out in the world to see. But what people see is that finished product, right? They don't see the hours and hours of labor and struggle that goes into it. And I think that especially as moms that's all reminding each other of like, how many days we don't get into the studio to do the work or how many interruptions that we get, but we still somehow you know, collectively figure how to get through it, you know?
Yeah, that is so tricky. Talking about your connection to the earth, I had a look on your Instagram, you've played around with making ink from acorns and making charcoal from grape vines. Tell us about that. It's really cool.
Yeah, so I think when you know when people ask me, you know, what is your main medium or like, you know, what kind of artists are you? It's always hard for me because I do love to try to try new things. And so, oh, I've done a lot of work in, like fiber work, I worked on a sheep farm for a while. And so I learned some about natural dyeing there. And then that so then recently I was getting interested in sewing and trying to not spend a bunch of money on materials. So I was like buying white sheets from the secondhand stores. And then I was trying to dye them with these organic materials. And then that just like spiral, right, like into the rabbit hole of all these, so then I started looking around where I live, to figure out like, what pigments are naturally available. And the tannins in acorns, I mean, that are everywhere where I live, are very easy to you know, you just have to boil them down and boil them down. And then you're left with a really nice ink that, you know, if you leave it sitting in the sun over time it fades. But like in a sketchbook or a journal. I mean, it really is color fast, and it drives really nicely. So that's wonderful. And then yes, the great fine charcoal, that was just another it was like a recipe, I found a book and it was so easy. I just took a little altoids tin, cut the pieces of vine, put them in the tin and then put the pin in my fireplace. And then after like three hours pulled it out, and I had nice, nice piece of the charcoal.
Just love that. It's again, it's just that patience waiting for things to happen. And you know, not rushing. Yeah,
like just the playful nature of like, what I think that that's like what I get out of being an artist, right? It's just like that continuous curiosity. And my husband, my husband's background is a chemical engineer. So chemistry, like he's really deep into the chemistry. So it's very interesting. For us like together like, you know, when I go on these these missions to make a coordinate, you know, he's breaking it down on the molecular level and trying to figure out like, you know, the best way to get it to be the richest color. It's It's really wonderful. And exciting way to look. You know, art science and art together.
Hmm, that's it, because it Yeah, it's there's so much science. That's thing my kids forget when I talk about let's do some science when we're homeschooling. So let's do some cooking. It's like, that's not science, like Yeah, it is. Because if you get your recipe wrong, it doesn't work. So yeah, that is a really cool connection to have. Yeah, do you and can also talk about your Marionette Bender that
that describes my artistic and my bender. So I think that came out of COVID. And being in Northwest Florida were I don't know. I mean, I don't know what you see from the news about what life is like here. But I mean, people really just pretended like COVID wasn't a thing. It was really it was really emotionally, kind of difficult, because I just felt so gaslit a lot of the time. And so like for the first you know, like the first shutdown, things were pretty serious. And, you know, my community and friends like took it pretty seriously. But slowly as the COVID fatigue went on, like people just got less and less, I don't know what the word is, like had less and less self control, or were just more and more tired of, of the, the different waves, you know. And so, again, my husband being a scientist, like he's very much like, we're just going to follow the CDC guidelines, you know, this is how we're going to do it. So that last Omicron wave when pretty much everybody around me was just doing whatever and my little family is back in on nucular thing I was like well, I guess if I can't hang with my friends, I will just make myself some friends and so that's how I started making marionettes and entertaining the kids you know, but they're, they're less entertained by it than I am. I'm really having a lot of fun with it. It has really like it's really like I get I think this is why I love the play in art because that it's really like planted the seed for this very this next step in the sculptural pieces that I'm making that I think you probably saw those on Instagram too that it's like they're almost like I'm imagining them as like altar pieces that you hang on the wall so it's like the human form and that torso area you could put like a candle or a stone or you know leaf or something you know, whatever thing you want to be in there your rings. And then yeah, it will have like the marionette legs and I don't know I'm imagining like some wire pieces I haven't I need to fire a tail load full of stuff. But we it's spring break here right now. So I'm really just in KidZone. So but yeah, that's the marriage and I'm interested to see where it goes. I'm really hoping that that is going to be my next I haven't done any solo shows since the kids have been born. And so I'm hoping when my two year old is going to start in like a preschool next year and so I'm really good Well this year in August, so what I'm really hoping is that I will have a solid body of work I'm imagining those sculptural pieces I'm sure some kind of functional piece will come along and and then some paintings kind of around that that subject, but we'll see right now just a dream. You know, I have to I have lots of big dreams, and then we see what really manifests itself in the end.
Yeah, sure. Yeah. I've got to say I'm a bit. I mean, it's one of those things that really freaked me out. I have like a, I don't say it's not a phobia. I just look at them. And I go, Oh, the same with them. You know, those dolls that people have on there when they do ventriloquist dummies. Yeah, freaked me out a lot, too. So when I saw them, I was like, I feel a bit funny, but I'm gonna watch this, because, you know, this is Mercedes work. I'm gonna get into this. But at the same time, I could just feel my skin falling just a little bit.
A little bit weird, right? Because you're like making these sculptures and trying to like breathe life into these like inanimate objects. Right? So I think there isn't something like inherently kind of creepy to them.
And they have a particular look about them too. Like it's that that traditional? I don't know what the word is. I don't know what I don't know what to describe them as, but they look they have these look about them. It's just me. Don't mind me. All right.
I think you're probably not the only one. I'm sure that other people are very.
Oh, goodness. But you know how you said about the, like, their, their bellies being like, open. I sort of when I first saw it, it reminded me like of a fireplace of like a, I don't know, that's just where my head went. When I first saw them. I was like, well, that's cool. Anyway, there you go.
I can see that. Well, I definitely imagine having candles in some of them. Hmm. So I mean, that's what I love to about like that, you know, like, making functional work or making less representative work is I love like the eye of the beholder, right. I love hearing. Like, when I first when I first started my first real like selling artwork was at a farmers market I then did for like, I think four years straight, where I make my pottery, and then I would take it to the farmers market to sell it. And I always love that interaction with people like hearing what they thought something that I made was where I wouldn't like, you know, like a little tray that I'd imagine it's like a ring holder or a salt dish, you know, and they're like, Oh, my rings would look really beautiful on that, or that would be great. So you know, like they see it as something completely different than that then sparks another idea for me of like, oh, it could be a you know.
Yeah, absolutely. And also want to mention that your kiln is solar powered, which is really cool. Yeah. Yeah.
That was a big dream that I really never thought would, would happen. But there's been a pretty big push here in Florida. It's so weird. Again, like the politics. We only have Gulf power, which is our power comes from coal, which of course is not good for the environment. And there has been a big push from the solar companies because Florida, there's so much sun, it's a great place to harvest solar. But yeah, we went bankrupt. So we got it at a good time where it was like we could get a decent return for the solar that we produced that we don't use. And it is really exciting to know that I'm not burning coal when I fire my kilns but I am you know, harvesting the energy from the sun and, and using that because it killed I mean, it's amazing. I fire this count the 2300 degrees Fahrenheit, which I don't know what that is. And whoa, Celsius, but it's like it's like volcanic temperatures in there.
That's about 1260 degrees Celsius.
It's a lot of energy that it takes. Yeah, that's insane. Isn't
that the sort of thing? What would something have to be to actually just disintegrate something like, because that's really hard, and your stuffs not disintegrating? Like that's amazing.
Well, it depends on where you put in there. I mean, definitely can disintegrate things, but that's like where the chemistry comes in. Right? Because you have to have the right play body to fire you know, that fires at that temperature that ensures at that temperature because essentially what we're doing is we're creating a stone it's called stone layer, because you're putting it through a process that on the molecular level, it becomes
a stone stone. That's really fascinating.
Yeah, I think that that's what's the hook for me. You know, this idea that you pick a material that's so malleable and soft and just very easily returned. To the earth when you start out with it, and at the end, it's something that's so solid and permanent. I mean, if you think about the things that laugh through the Millennium that we dig up from other cultures often it is shards of pottery.
Yes, that's so true, isn't it? You know that we're digging up plastic from from an era anyway, I'm digressing. You briefly mentioned your children there. Tell us a little bit more about your family?
Well, my husband, James, we have been together. Oh my gosh, it's 20 years now a lot like our whole adult life. And so we were together for 10 years. And then we started having kids. And so we have three sons and Conrad, he would be 10 years old this year, if he was still with us, and then at Red are middle one is six. And then Arthur, the one who came charging in here earlier is two is quite a little. He is the sweetest little firecracker. They're wonderful. They really just have brought so much joy to my life.
Yeah, there was a, again, on Instagram, I'm videoing, again, the Instagram store crews when I'm going to chat to people. So yeah, that was if I keep saying that, but when you're you're painting some mugs, and I'm guessing it's your two year old who's sitting next to you. And he's having a go as well. And it's in fast motion. And you can see, you know, he's painting on his little play, and then suddenly falls down and something happens. And then he paints underneath the plane. It's just such a sweet little thing to watch. It's just so busy doing his painting, it must be so nice to be able to involve them in what you're doing.
Yeah, I mean, for me, it's really the only way that I've been figured able to figure out how to continue working, because I do have some help. My mom just lives around the corner, and my husband's dad lives down the street. So that's really nice. But I am I am with them, you know, all the time. So and I struggle, like, you know, I go through these phases where like, Oh, I'm gonna get up before them and work. But then somehow they like, figure out that I'm awake and come in there. You know, it's like, I don't know. So yeah, so that's what I'm always trying to devise a way for them to, like, be part of be part of the process. And you know, also learning along, you know,
yeah, absolutely. When they see your work, I guess they're, they're well aware that you're making. You're making things that are going to be used in homes and other people buy them. And it's sort of what I'm getting at is like, it's, it's great that they can see that you're contributing to the world, I suppose, outside of their own home. Does that make sense?
Oh, yeah, they're very aware. And one of the main places that I sell my artwork is a place called artist Fano here in Fort Walton, that she sells all local art and our six year old, he's actually started making beads and making necklaces, and he has a little line of stuff that he's selling in our store, too. So yeah, I mean, we really do, you know, I really do try to, you know, show them yes, the process and where the things are going. And, you know, like, let's give them their kits. I don't know if you have this experience, but they just don't want to part with anything, my children, they just want to keep everything. So trying to talk to them about like, you know, I'm making this to sell and it's going to go out into the world, and we're not going to keep everything that we make, you know, and then seeing that process, I think is really, really good for them.
Hmm, that's true, isn't it? I hadn't thought of that. That's, that's cool.
It's just amazing to me to how much I see them learning in the studio, for example, Everett, who's six now I think it was for his fourth birthday, which seems extremely young to me. As someone who has taught pottery throughout the years, I decided to make little sippy cups for all the kids who are coming to the birthday party to like give them as gifts and he was you know, in the studio with me one making them and then I made a bunch of extra ones, you know, just because in pottery, things break or get broken. And then I just decided I was like, you know, I think I'm going to just let him glaze these because these are his gifts to his friends. I took some videos of it I was shocked at how he there's a tool like this clamp tool that I use that you hold the pot with to dip it down into the glaze bucket. And how this four year old who had been in the studio with me for the last four years watching me could just reel that tool. He glazed all the cups. He did not break a single cup. I mean, I had to like still wipe the bottoms down and stuff, but it just it really hit me how much he had been learning and taking in that I didn't even realize he was born. If that makes sense,
that's it like the first time he ever did it. He just knew how to do it because he'd watched you do it for so many years. That is awesome, awesome story you're listening to the art of being a mom was my mum, Alison Newman. Want to talk about Conrad a little bit. So you said he would have been 10 at the moment? Can you share with us a little bit about him and how he's affected your work and maybe continues to affect your work?
Yes. So well, Conrad, he was our first son and he died when I was 33 weeks pregnant. So that would be turned to stillbirth. So he, I mean, he was our everything. It was one of those things. You know, I don't know, I think a lot of people of our generation go through this where James and I had like, spent a decade like, trying to build our careers and you know how to get our life together and doing air quotes there. And then we're like, okay, like, it's time to have kids. And it was just like that really easy thing where it was like, two months later, we were pregnant. I was, you know, like this just picture of health birth, there was like no signs of any problems. We were just so excited to be bringing him in the world Captain Awesome, is actually what our like nickname for him was before we had a name. And, and then and I at that time, I owned an art gallery and teaching studio. So everybody at the gallery in the studio. I mean, everybody was just so excited about this new life, you know, new life, like everybody's so excited about it. And so I think then, I'm here he was already like a big part of my creative process I was doing these watercolor is when I really started painting and watercolor. And I did this whole kind of, like creative series about a little boy and a bunny rabbit costs known as a little boy and a bunny rabbit, and they just like went on these adventures and these watercolor paintings, and I don't know, I just I kind of maybe this sounds really weird, but I felt like he was like, you know, this little life in me like, you know, I don't know, I don't know how to put it into words. But like, kind of we were co creating these things. And then yes, after he passed away, I mean, it just shattered my whole existence. There was just, it was so incredibly unexpected. I just I don't even know. Like, I it was one of those things where I didn't even really understand stillbirth was a thing. You know what I'm saying? Like living in this western culture. I just assumed like, we were gonna get pregnant, we're gonna have this baby we had. Like I said, everybody was so excited about the baby, I had three baby showers thrown for beer, like celebrations of life type of things. You know, we had like, like, I wasn't wanting to, like, need to set up a nursery or do any of that stuff. But we definitely were in that like nesting, preparing, so excited to be with this little person. And yeah, and then just one morning, I woke up and actually, at night before I went to bed, I had like, massive fetal movement. I remember because my mother lived in California at the time, and I was like, trying to video my belly. So I could like send it to her and be like, Oh, the baby's going wild, you know. And then the next morning, when I woke up, there wasn't much movement. And James who is very, like, conscious of what's going on, he's in like, in the mornings, you know, we would often like lay there and he would have his hands on my stomach and like, feel the baby moving or whatever, and even comment, he was like, oh, maybe it's really still this morning. And I was like, Yeah, Miss I just sleeping or stuff that he was really, I think even said he was like real wild last night. And then as the day progressed, I still like wasn't feeling any movement. And so didn't know I didn't want to like freak, it just didn't seem like it just didn't seem like how could this what is happening, you know, and then then by the afternoon, I just, I was actually watching one of my friends, kids, like they were at a soccer game, and I guess it was like babysitting them or whatever. And I was sitting there. And I had like, you know, they demonstrate to do the kick counts, and you know that I was like, Okay, I'll get up and I'll go watch the kids and I'll like drink a big glass of orange juice, and he'll definitely be moving around by them. And so I'm sitting like, at the soccer field, and I still didn't have the field with it. And it was so strange. It was like, right about the time that I had decided that I was going to have to call the midwife and say like, I feel like something's wrong. I need to have this checked out. James called me and he said, I feel like something's wrong. Are you okay? And I just like broke down. I was like, I don't know. I don't know what's going on. Like feels really weird. I think I'm gonna go
up to the office and have them check things out. And I was you know, because of that like, just Like blissful naivety I think I was like you don't have it's Friday afternoon like, you don't have to worry about coming with me. I'll just go by myself. I'm sure everything's fine. You know, he's like, No way. I'm definitely coming with you come home and pick me up. And we'll go out there. And we drove over there. And yes, she did the sonogram. And like, I don't know, if legally, she couldn't tell me or if she just didn't want to, or whatever was, but she was like, Oh, this machine isn't very good. Let's just go to the hospital. And it's just like, I knew I just knew. But like, what? I don't know. I mean, it's just like, even now like saying it's like, such as just a surreal a shocking experience. It was the day before my birthday, which even sounds like maybe selfish but weird, right? And I just remember being like, This is so weird. I have to go to my birthday party tomorrow, like how was this like that, like, out of body out of mind experience. So we got to the hospital. And they did a sonogram and you know, is just so weirdly an impersonal where they're like, Okay, that's, you know, shutting down a machine is like, there's what the baby's heartbeat supposed to be, there's no heartbeat. And I'm just like, I'm gonna do I don't know, I just like, I was like, I just was like, I gotta go to the bathroom. Like, got up in the bathroom, and just like laid on the floor and was just didn't know you know what to do. And then it was just a weird deal of like days, where they, I mean, this is why I'm so thankful for medical intervention, right? Because in the past, like, you would just have to wait. And he was a four and a half pound baby, like he was a fully full, I mean, he could have been born and lived, if we would have known whatever had like, we still don't really know for sure what happened to him. So we had to go through all of that. And induction and it took a couple days of like, I they tried to induce me and then didn't work. So I had to go home. And then I had to go back to the hospitals and find like this form. And there's just so much like, I think that like we're learning about this type of grief, because our society has gone so far away from the I mean, it's like, it feels like so unnatural, right for the children to die before the parents and things like that. But so they were they had, um, they have volunteers that will come and take photographs. So they had some A, and at the time, I'm like, I don't want any of this. I remember one nurse coming into the room and being like, she said something I can't remember verbatim, but something about, you know, what a beautifully handsome baby we had. And I just wanted to like screaming her face and be like, Yeah, except for He's not breathing. Yes. You know, he looks like baby doll. But he isn't alive, you know. And so I really thought it they are pretty adamant at least at this hospital that the parents should like see the baby and hold the baby, I guess they have figured out has something to do with you know, the way our brains process the trauma later. And I was really, I was really reluctant like I just I think I was in such deep shock right? I was still very much in the life this is a real you know, if I don't maybe if I don't see it, it will be real. But they did they got me to hold them and it was sweet. My my baby shower that the people from the Art Gallery through for me, they had made me this beautiful quilt that everybody had like drawn pieces like they had drawn on each square, and then somebody who made quilts like sewed it all together. So we had like, wrapped him up in that. And that was what he was cremated in which I think kind of helped me feel a little bit better. Like he was like, you know, like, wrapped in love. And
yeah, and then. And then after we came home. I mean, I was just incapacitated, I was absolutely essential. I still don't really know how my gallery just didn't close down. And to be real honest with you. I didn't literally I mean, in retrospect, I realized, like spent the next two years like trying to burn into the ground. Like, I don't know how anybody dealt with me. I mean, I was such a like, post traumatic stress, fight or flight. Like, I just I don't even I don't even I wonder still. I mean, I have really good friends I guess. And that's why they're so my friends. But I was just like, a ball of just like fear and anger and confusion. And I just at one point, I finally realized it was like my life has become, I just want to get through the day so I could get back into my bed. And like not deal with life like that. That was like there's about a two year period. And it deeply affected my art. But at the same time, it was art that brought me through it, it was journaling. I did so much journaling, I would go to this park, which at the time I had dubbed my sadness park and I would just sit and cry and drink coffee and journal and throw watercolor paint on things and I mean, it's nothing that's profound or that I would ever want to really like show other people but for me, that journaling process really like helped me kind of move through the process. And then I think the other thing that was so incredibly difficult for me is I have been teaching art as almost as long as I've been making art in In some facet or another, like I really deeply care about that, like the transfer and passing down of the knowledge and I had such a strong aversion to being around children, I've always like I have a very childlike behavior yummy. You see with my Marionette dolls, like I just, I love hanging out with children, I love their overall just pleasantness and wildness and, and creativity and lack of self doubt. But then all of a sudden, I just, I just didn't I mean, being around children was so incredibly painful for me, I just, I couldn't do it, it was a very, very strange, difficult feeling. And I think it's something like it will never like, he will always be present. And he will always be a part of our family. And it's something that will has changed who I am, and I will always be this different version of myself now because of it. But then we had, you know, eventually we had a happy, you know, turn of events, and Everett was born. And then not really, I mean that. I think him being born as much as like no child can ever replace another child is him being born really was a lot of healing for me. And then I didn't even realize it. But then when Arthur was born, so many years later, I think even more I was able to be present and really like, come to a greater level of peace, where it's not like I don't you know, I don't know if you've ever suffered with PTSD. But it is just, I didn't even understand I had before on my diet. I never really experienced panic attacks or anxiety or anything like that. And so it was just earth shattering for me all of a sudden, to kind of have my mind just working against me all the time.
Wow. Thank you for sharing that.
Yeah, it's a heavy story. That's, but it's like in our life and death.
Yeah. And I think like, like we spoke about before we started recording, I think it's, it is so valuable, if people can share their stories for other people to be able to hear it and relate to it. And, you know, maybe, I think I just think the more we talk about things more, we normalize things like the PTSD, like the grief, you know, any sort of mental illness, like, you know, I talked to a lot of moms with postnatal depression, I experienced that myself, anxiety, I think the more we just are able to talk about it, the more it becomes a part of life that is normal, like because it is a normal part of life. But then there's this part of society that makes us go, oh, no, no, no, no, you can't talk about that. We don't want to hear about that. Yeah,
you just had a new baby, you should be so happy you should be. You should be having all of these experiences. Why are you not happy? What is wrong with you that you're not celebrating this? You know? And it just really, yeah, it's a horse really takes away from, like, what's really happening with us? And I think I always think of it as like, if I had my leg chopped off, people would treat me in a certain way, right? Like not like, like, like, I would no longer be able bodied. And there are things going on. And I think when people are going through extreme emotional duress and trauma, because it's not a visible thing. I mean, sometimes I wish that I had a shirt that would be like, I've been traumatized. You probably want to give me some space.
Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. And yeah, this this thing about it being in your head, you know, is it real? Is it not real? Because people can't see it, you know, all that kind of questioning from from outsiders,
instead of just trusting that we like that, that, that we're having a hard time and that it's hard. And that's okay. I think that's the other thing, too, like, I find so much now in my conversations with people like around the holidays and different times, you know, when we're supposed to feel a certain way. And I'm so much of a place is like, I hope you're happy today. And if you're not, that's okay, too. You know, these are even with the kids, you know, my two year old right now is very much into like, you hurt my feelings. I'm angry at you, you know, and then it's like, my, I feel like my mom always wants to kids like not to ever be angry and not in and I'm like, we just need to bail in my opinion. let their emotions be seen and validated. Okay, I hear that you're angry with me? Do you want to talk to me about why you're angry? Or do you want some time to think you know, like, we're all going to be angry, we're going to be sad. We're going to have these negative feelings sometimes. But also, we don't have to say that's what I feel like, for myself. Like, I was in such a horrible, dark, sad, sad place. But I didn't stay thank God. I didn't stay there forever. Right? Like I came. And I think even if I hadn't had children, eventually I would have come out of that place. But grief takes time. And people need to allow others to have the time and not be like when are you going to be better? When are you No? Yeah. Well, when are you going to be how you used to be? Well, I'm never going to be how I used to be a new version new season. No experiences, just let me you know, if you think that I need to be that same person, we probably aren't going to be
that person. So now Yeah, that's so true. And there is no time limit because people experience everything so differently. You know, it's just there is no and see that 100 I feel like the, if you're not an I don't want to this is a big generalization now. But if you if you're not an artist, if you're, you know, an academic who's an accountant, or, you know, someone that thinks very rationally and straightforward about things,
your PhD in chemical engineering.
Yeah, yeah, this expectation that when you do this, this and this, you will get this outcome, and everything has a method that's been done before, and you know, what's going to happen? And it's like, no, all this stuff has its own way of happening in its own time. And there's no right or wrong. And I think that can be really hard for some people to, to get their heads around. Because it's so different to the way that they used to experiencing life. Yeah, they
want it to be a formula. Grief isn't, you know, now?
Oh, yeah, absolutely. I
definitely don't wish that experience on anyone. And I still, I mean, every day, I wish that he was here. And I wonder always, you know, what, what would the other boys like? Like, what would Everett's life be like, as a middle child with an older sibling, I have a nephew who is three months older than Conrad would be. And so when and we live close to them, and so whenever I see them all together, I just, it's you know, I'm always in my peripheral kind of imagining him in those moments, you know, and how much it would change the dynamic of our of our lives.
With your six year old and your two year old, being a mother has changed the way you approach your work and all your outcomes how you expect these things?
Yeah. Is that is that all moms and all career things I can remember I have a really good friend too. She's a painter. And we got we we actually became friends she had to, she had two baby girls that died in utero. And so that kind of like, is like how, like, we became friends with the arts. But then when we realized we had this shared experience it like, you know, was someone to go through that hard time with that was having similar social reactions, if that makes sense. Like, like, when once we did both get pregnant again, neither of us wanted any baby things. Like I did not want any baby things in my home until there was a baby in the home, right? And I remember my mother in law was like, so distraught about this and, and but then I had Anna and she was like, no, she was having the same feelings. I'm like, this isn't irrational, right? But I can remember we got pregnant with our boys who were born three days apart. And we would go to we lived like down the road from each other. So we would go on these morning blocks a lot. And we would spend all this time talking about how when we had our children are living babies, it was not going to change the way that our careers were going. And we were definitely going to make sure that we set aside time and we had all these, you know, I always joke that, like, pregnant moms are the best moms because we're so delusional about what the reality of being a parent is really going to be like, right? We're just so dreamy about what it is. And then going through the experience. She has three boys now living and yeah, I mean, both of us. We talk she lives in Japan right now. And we we tried to Skype, you know, for awhile, it was like every week, but we you know, we tried to talk pretty regularly and we kind of already each other's like, supports system of like, you'll get back in the studio again, soon, you know, where we have a journal that we like, send back and forth to each other to just kind of like, keep it going. Because yes, having kids, it takes so much time and energy, you know, so with the other two boys and especially like over COVID When I was like the old, you know, the main person, I never imagined as a parent, that I would be with my children 24/7 I always imagined that I would have more external babysitters, and family members and people that could be there with the kids too, because I just think it's important for their development. You'll see how other people navigate the world, not just me and my husband. So yeah, it really I mean having the children well, to be honest with you. I closed the Galerie down after Edward was born, he was like, four months old. I can just remember James, I would have, you know, I would go into work and relieve him. James has always worked from home. So like at home with the baby, and then he'd be calling me at work. And I can hear ever like crying in the background, he's like, I can't get him to take this bottle. I don't know what to tell you, I don't bottle feed them, I nursed him, I don't know how to give him a Bob, you know. And I can just remember one point sitting in the gallery and just being like the two people that I love the most in the world or at home suffering. Because I want to do this thing. And maybe I'm a creative person, maybe I can just think of another way to do this, that works better for my family. And so that's when I made the decision that I would get a different house and that I would move the studio into the house and be more focused on the parenting thing for right now. I mean, my first, you know, 12 or 13 years of being an artist were very driven, eating, sleeping, dreaming about our all the time. But I think after Conrad dining, and not getting to experience his life, more than those nine months that I was pregnant with him, I just wanted to I do want to be with my kids as much as I possibly can. And especially in these little years. I mean, it gets exhausting, I'm not trying to glorify it, you know, when you're trying to go to the bathroom, and their fingers are under the door, and you're just like, you're so worn down and exhausted, I definitely have a lot of those moments too. But I just, they're not going to need me this, I already see it right, like the six year old, like he does not need me nearly as much. And there's going to be a time when they don't want to come climb in the bed with me and they don't want to snuggle me and there's gonna change. And so I think that like, I have been willing to put a lot of my studio time on hold, so that I can be with them. And that it's been a pretty conscious decision. I mean, my husband, I kind of go back and forth about it. Like if I'm going to take on a big commission like I do.
Some production work for like historic Pensacola like art gallery, gift shops. And a lot of times those will be like a lot, a lot of pieces that all consistently have to be the same, like relatively same size and shape. And that is not something I'm really good at, like that type of precision. And also working on any deadline with kids is really hard. So that's when we kind of like go like now at before ever I take any larger Commission, we kind of look at both of our schedules and say like, is this something that I can realistically do? And we we definitely try to value a time over money. Like we're in a comfortable position where like, you know, our our we have a decent house, we couldn't get enough food. And so we would prefer to spend less, you know, more time family time and have less money. That'd be like rushing around and fighting the clock and, you know, making it more difficult for the kids because at the end like it just stresses us all out if we don't if we try to cram too many things in not enough time.
Absolutely. And yeah, it impacts everyone then doesn't it just stay home and how everyone's feeling about life?
I think that's like as a as a parent. And as an artist like that is one of the hardest things, right? Because especially I feel like a big part of my happiness is tied into my creative time. Right? So that's the mental conversation they have internally, it's not always 100% About the money either. It's about like I gain, like this is where being an artist and like the financial aspect, like all that stuff gets so intermingled and weird, right? Because there is some like, personal fulfillment that comes out of creating those things, too. And like, how do you put a value on that?
Oh, yeah, that's a big one. I've found the last few people that I've spoken to, for the podcast, this, this value has come up a lot this this concept of how society values places value on something, and it's just so money driven. It's all about the money. It's like, if you can't sell that and have $1 figure attached to it, then it's less value than you know, I really frustrates me.
Yeah, conversation and I think that maybe because I own the gallery, and oh my gosh, when I first opened the gallery, it was quite ridiculous. I might not have had the best business plan ever. And we had like a 200 square foot revolving gallery that changed about every other month and then like a retail space that sold all like kind of local handmade goods and then a very large art studio and like teaching studio. And I hadn't really done the math on how much money I needed the revolving gallery to make I don't know why I originally just thought about it kind of as this fun experimental art space like coming out of New York and coming back down here like I really wanted that right. But very quickly, I realized that like we have to have something that we can sell like, it's really cool for someone to like come in here and hang a bike from the ceiling and paint a mural on the wall and do like whatever the thing is that they're feeling at the time. But if we don't have something to sell, then then how am I going to keep the space open and like riding that line right between like commodification, and just expressing ourselves and being. So that's where James and I have come to a place now, where when I'm coming up with some because I've done some wild projects, like after the BP oil spill, I've made this thing called the SOS security blanket, which was like a community art project around pollution. And there's no way that's making any money, like it totally was just like a heart project that I needed to do to process what had happened to our, our land to our you know, our environment. And so that's what so that's something else that him and I look at together is like, how much time like do you think this is going to take? And like, is this something that you're doing because of your love? Or your need of expression? Or is it something that's going to make money, and it's nice to kind of have that partition, right, and it's a freedom to be able to say like, well, I'm going to do this project, even if nobody pays any attention to it. And I'm just doing it for me, I'm doing it, but I'm going to do these other things, you know, to sell in this gallery, or to sell in this gift shop or to you know, for this coffee shop, or whatever I'm doing afford, and that's where the money is going to come from.
Hmm. So it's a it's a good balance. Yeah,
yeah. Did you find in your previous conversations like that people are saying, like, they want to do things. And but they feel like they can't because? Because if you can't make money off of it, then it's not worth the time.
Yeah, not so much they can it the judgment that other people place on them for choosing to do that. Or, you know, an example that I give, I can't remember now, and it's really bad. But one of the mums I spoke to back in season one, she had her mother in law, right was babysitting her sister in law's child, and would do that quite happily, because the mum was going to work and act like a day job, right? In an office doing whatever. But she wouldn't babysit her children, because mom was just fluffing about doing her art. Right? So that judgment that comes, you know, that's not a serious job. That's, you know, that's not a real job, you're just fluffing about it's like, is that how society really sees creatives? Like, how bad is the first you know?
And I think it kind of even goes back to the early part of this conversation with like, form or function, right? Like how people view the worth of what we do. But in the end of the day, like, if it worked for us creatives, what would we have? Who would design the cars who designed the computers? Who would make the television programs and like every night clean? Everything is the world that we live in? I don't know, how has it come to this valued
the thing? I have said this many times in these podcasts. So apologies if you've heard this story before, but in Australia during COVID with the lock downs, right? We had, the movement between the states was quite limited. You weren't allowed across the borders, it was really quite full on it was, you know, probably a bit much to be honest. But football teams were Australian rules football, right? They were allowed to cross borders, they were allowed to go and play football wherever they wanted. But it was ridiculous, you know, and it was all the arts was shutting down. People couldn't go on tours with their, you know, bands, music, whatever, that was all shut down. But these these footballers, could just go do whatever they liked. And it just really showed the stark division in our culture. And I've talked to other people around the world and similar things, you know, sport is way up here. And that's again here, but it's like, who's making all the shows that you're watching while you're in lockdown? Who's creating content? Who's, like you said, physically designing cars and building houses and, like everything you can touch and see and feel has been made by somebody creative. You know, I think society just just makes me like get on this bandwagon. It makes me so good.
It's legitimate, right? And I mean, football is like fun or whatever, you know, like people enjoy it. It's good to be healthy. But what what is that really contributing towards society? I don't know if that sounds like a shallow unappreciative thing, but I personally am not really into sports. Like that's not something that I enjoy. But I also don't see like what service are they,
you know, what, you know, what they were doing? They were making money. It was money, you know, all the, the advert the advertising, people that pay to have their, you know, on the shows, you know, all that sort of that commodity driven, that's what it was, and they had to keep that going at the expense of everything else. And,
I mean, that's very much like the same COVID politics here. It's really for me, makes me think that we need to have some kind of universal income or that guaranteed income, right like if We had something that was like, you just had like a basic living wage, right where like everybody has enough to like, be close, because that's what I've noticed. Like, there was a time when James and I, like we had no money, we were living so far below the poverty line. And it was such a struggle. And we're both very creative people who are driven and want to contribute to society. And beyond all of these, all of these great ideas. I'm trying to think of, do you know the program? FreshBooks?
Oh, it's like, it's like a, it's like a program to help you with your bookkeeping and stuff like that. So my husband before that was a program when I was like, starting my gallery, you know, he had the idea to make a program like that, but he had to, like, you know, be so driven to make money to spend so much of his like, mental bandwidth on how to make money to like, get gas in our cars, and he thinks that there was no space to do these things that could be really beneficial to society. And so that's what I keep thinking, like people like, oh, people are gonna be lazy and just hang out and do drugs and blah, blah, they have guaranteed income. And like, look, there's already people that are lazy, and do drugs and are just hanging out. So why don't you give the rest of us and the majority of people I think, want to do something to entertain themselves. I mean, I don't think people would just sit around and be so lazy, right. And the people that are creatively driven, would then be able to really manifest so much more of what they're capable of, instead of just like running in that wheel of making money.
Yeah. In Ireland, I think I saw something not long ago that they, they going to have a living wage for artists. So they're going to get a certain amount of money. I don't know if it's per month, or per week. And I was like, That is amazing. Because just the creativity is just going to explode. Like, you know, people with no limitations. What are they gonna make? It's gonna be amazing, you know?
Yeah, yeah. Well, hopefully, we'll move there. That was one of the things I was hoping out of COVID that people would see is like, it's interesting how we can all not go to work. And that means the economy isn't what does the economy even me? Like, it's really just like a made up? Like, it's a system that human beings have made up? Who maybe we should try to make a better system that works for everybody instead of like a minority of people.
Hmm, absolutely. That's getting off topic now. But my husband, my husband's a financial planner, so we are incredibly different mindsets, right, like, so different. Tonight. Yeah. And so during COVID, they all of them had to work remotely. They're all at home, whatever, if they had a conference, they do it all online, on Zoom, whatever. And then this week, they've announced that they, they want them to go like interstate to go to this big conference. And I said, why? Like, just because you can now why go back to normal like, you not only like, what does the environment, you know, the cost of plane, the plane travel? You know, like, why? We've shown that we can do it without it. What? Why are we learning from this?
Yeah, I think it's some people are, you know, it's just maybe a slow transition. I don't know. I think I'm forever an optimist to like, I want to believe that we're getting we've gotten something out of out of this difficult time.
Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. I agree with that. You touched on earlier about your feeling when you're in the gallery and you had your husband on the phone trying to give the bottle and things weren't working. And you had that moment where you went, you know, the two most important people in my life are there and I'm here that sort of I don't want to put words in your mouth but like that, that guilt sort of creeping in trouble. Yeah, it was. Mum Mum gives us a topic that I asked all my guests about. Can you share sort of your thoughts about put it in air quotes? Monkey? Oh, cuz it's like a construct to think about?
Yeah, exactly. I mean, I think it doesn't matter what your career is. Right? Like as a woman, it's a strange thing like the post feminist woman like we're no we're we're still expected to be these amazing moms. Keep a good house. Not look like a big mess. Right and like show up for everybody all the time. And I think it does create a huge amount of guilt. We're like, we are never enough. There are never enough hours in the day for us to do all of the things for all the people and then I think the more than anything we don't like do There's no value on recharging for ourselves, right? Like, it's almost like a like this weird luxury like, Oh, you're gonna go have quiet time for yourself for an hour. And that's a priority for your life. What about your dishes? You know, and it doesn't create this, like, very uncomfortable level of guilt. And it's like, Well, why don't you ask my husband about the dishes? Because he's a partnership. You know, like, I mean, he is great. Like, I'm not dissing on him at all. Like, he is an amazing 100%. Like, we are partners, we both do all the things, but like, from people looking in, right, whatever that social guilt is that social structure guilt, societal guilt of like, it doesn't matter how much we do, it is never ever enough. Yeah, I think that it caused me something, there's definitely days that I like, I'm in my pottery studio, and I'm like, Okay, I'm gonna set a timer. And the kids have like, their 45 minutes of screen time that they can have. And I'm going to do X amount of projects, and then that timer goes off, and I ignore it, the kids are happily in there with their screen time. And I'm just like, in the zone, and so happy. But then I come out of the zone. And I'm so guilt ridden. I'm like, Oh, they watched an extra hour of TV, you know, and just really write myself, but then I'm like, Oh, my gosh, what's an extra hour TV to me being refreshed, and able to be more present with them? And I think that that's like how I'm trying to navigate the mom guilt. But it is. It is real, and it is hard. And it it just it makes doing everything difficult, right? Like I want to say being a creative difficult, but it's not just being a creative, right? It's just that like, constant need to make sure that your kids are in the right schools, your kids are playing the right sports or doing the right extracurricular activity, or I don't even know and I don't know what, like you were saying before about like, some people just want a formula, you know, or like a way like to know what to do. And sometimes I feel like that is a mom and like, I wish you could just I guess they do right? They say like the pediatric recommended recommendation for hours of free time, right? I don't. I don't know what the answer is. But yes, definitely. struggle with it so much. And sometimes I have a studio assistant that comes and helps me sometimes. And she also has a small child. And she came in the other day. And Arthur was like, in a diaper in my studio, sitting in a chair with the iPad, like prop of the stool in front of it. And she was like, Oh my gosh, it's so refreshing to see that this is how you get things done. And I'm like, Yeah, I guess maybe I should put more of that, like on social media. I think that that's always the hard thing, too. That creates a lot of guilt within us, right as we have these very meticulously cure. I mean, I don't, I would not, say a meticulously curate my, via social media, but like, it's not like I want it to be a snapshot of the reality of my life. But I definitely am not taking pictures of my kid in my underwear with like, boogers all over it. Watching his iPad, like eating pirate booty, you know? I mean, maybe we should do that. Maybe we should do that more. I don't know. I mean, it's not beautiful. It doesn't fit into that. It's the gram.
But that's the thing, too. I think so many times. I know personally, I've taken a photo of a similar sort of situation, like I'm trying to record something. So I've got the kids doing something, whatever it is. And I'll hesitate posting because I think the amount of people that are going to judge me for that, that don't know, my, that aren't in my home. And I think for a second I think Oh, bugger. Um, and then I think, no, because how I don't know, I just can't wear it. You know what I mean? I I'm not ready for I suppose.
judging me judgment is real. And it doesn't feel like I think that's it like the mom guilt is feeling like we're not adequate. Like, we're suddenly to the people that we love the most in the world. We're somehow damaging them or like not doing good enough for them. Right. And so the idea that some stranger is going to kill him, and he's going to say that to you. It's like, yeah. Oh my gosh, that just heightens that inner voice that somehow I'm not doing this, right. Absolutely. Or I'm not doing it well enough. Yeah. Yeah. I don't know. Maybe we need to have some kind of like, social media space. It's like, like, what was that? Oh, I think it was like a Pinterest fails or something like one of those. Like, some grandparenting disaster thing where like, we all just like put the reality. You know, here's my kid, like covered and whatever, do something crazy.
We could just be honest, without fear.
Yeah, without the fear of judgment. Judge freezone
Yeah, yeah. Yeah. First, yeah, another thing that frustrates me and then I frustrate myself because I think why am I letting other people that I don't know. You know, I do know a lot of people that I follow but a little follow me a lot of people I don't know, why am I letting that worry me? Why don't I just like, the way I approach my music is like, I'll make my music for me, right? I don't make it for anyone in Most people are going to love it, there's people that aren't going to love it. But that doesn't affect the way that I make my music. I just do it because I want to. So why don't I have the rest of my life like that? You know, it's like, maybe because it's so? I don't know, because it affects you, like you said, it's you're talking about the people that you love the most, and you try to do the best for them. So if someone then brings to your attention that perhaps, maybe you shouldn't be doing this, you're like, oh, no, I'm ruining my children, you know, because it affects somebody else. It's harder to do.
Yeah. And I feel like the way you're describing creating is also my same process, right? Like, it's this weird, like, I'll get like, the spark of an idea. And then it's like, I'm like, I want to, like, I want to see it manifested or maybe for you, like you want to hear it like in this three dimensional world. And so it's like, spending this time to, like, bring it forward from a very, from like, a complete non existence into the world, right. And I don't know what the kids is like, they're already here. And they're already like, throwing tantrums sometimes and why, like, they definitely do things that I mean, my children regularly do things that make me question like, am I somehow doing this wrong? So then I think when someone you know, when someone has the audacity to tell me that I'm doing it wrong, because they saw some picture that I thought I was funny that I put on Instagram, it really? Yeah, it makes me question more. And I think, I don't know, I'm definitely no parenting expert. But I think no matter what happens, everybody experiences some kind of trauma in their life. So it doesn't matter. Like how good of a parent we tried to be or how, you know, wonderful. We tried to make everything for our kids like they're, they're going to run into bullies or difficult times, you know, so I don't know. Yeah, somehow we have got to let go of I'm gonna think about that. More like that idea of like being the perfect parent and why? Or maybe the perfect isn't even my work. But what is it that causes that guilt?
Mm hmm. Yeah. Yeah. That's something for us to think about.
Yeah, to get to the root of it, because maybe if we can understand it, we can stop feeling it so much. Yeah, you know,
absolutely. That's good. We've had a bit of syrup. Yeah.
Yeah, yeah. Oh my gosh, there was a joke. At one point in my pottery studio, they were like, oh, pottery, Mercedes, it's cheaper than therapy. And I was like, you guys, I'm gonna have to raise my prices. Because I don't know if I could be handled via your therapist, and your pottery teacher.
That's a lot of pressure.
A lot of pressure.
Moving back to your, your art and your work. Have you got anything coming up in the future that you want to share about or anything that you've got work you're working on now that you want to give a bit of a plug? Tell us what you're up to.
Well, I don't I mean, I have a lot of ideas in the works but I don't have anything like for sure dates. Like I was saying earlier, I'm hoping that the fall of this year to have a show together a full body of work around the marionettes but I'm not 100% Sure but that like that is what's in what I'd like crafting in my mind for my next like big group work. And then I'm currently working on a series that will just go into retail shops that is something that I tend to touch on almost every spring which is kind of like botanical themed pieces. So I've been creating these I'm calling them plates but it's not like it's like a printer's plate not like a plate that you would eat off of. So I'm pushing the flowers into the clay and then I'm gonna use those to like make the plates off of I've got a few of them I think I might have posted them on my interest Instagram, but I'm going to do a whole spring collection around like that there's so it'll all be like you know, things that are in bloom right now on bowls and plates and probably some planters so usually I tried to do a spring collection in the fall collection so that and that main relief will be like online, through artists on a boutique, but I don't have a date or anything like that, that yet. And then during COVID I started folding the 1000 paper cranes. Again, it's a second time that I've done it and I'm about I think about a little over 400 in so I'm hoping I'm still not sure how what that is going to manifest into other than like I did it you know, I don't know if you know the story of the 1000s
papercraft as I can ask you.
Yeah, so it's a it's a Japanese tradition that I think I don't know where it really originated, but a lot of the stories that you hear revolve around the Hiroshima Like the bombing of Hiroshima, and the the people trying to heal after that. So the idea is the person that folds 1000 origami cranes, like it's like a meditation and a wish for something. And so people didn't really people that are ill, or people that are getting married, things like that the 1000 frames for them. So during COVID, I decided, I think it was like during the second wave or something like that, that I was going to fold it for, like, you know, the end of like, for a healing for our world for COVID. And also like for my COVID anxiety because I think that cry crafting a just moving my hands really helps me just deal with that like anxious energy. So anytime I would feel really overwhelmed about something to do with COVID, I would just like pull the crane pull the crane. So I'm not sure. I may do some kind of installation with that after the fact that haven't 100% decided where those credits are going to end up. But so far. So that's another project that I'm currently in the works on. But nothing was solidified. Because that's one of my things as like with the being a parent and an artist. I tried not to give myself very many deadlines. Because that that if you're stressed out, and not a very good parent, or artists.
Yeah, that's it. It's hard to do anything with that sort of pressure over your head, and then you everything suffers because you like you can't stop being a parent. And you can't stop being an artist. But sometimes they can't work at the same time.
That's exactly right. That's exactly right. Yep, I love that. This has been a nice talk.
Oh, it's been awesome. I really enjoyed. I've really, really enjoyed talking to everybody, because I enjoy talking to everybody. But I've really, really enjoyed talking to you. It's been really lovely. Yeah, well, what a great
job to get to talk to artists about art, you know, and that's what we love. It's so good. Oh, yeah. Well, thank you for doing this. I mean, I think it's so good for the global mom, community for all of us. You know, it really, it's, it's lovely to like be in the studio and just listening to other artists like talk about how they do it and get ideas, you know,
yeah, that's it. A lot of people have said that, actually, it's really good to hear how the people are doing it. And it's just reassuring to hear that we're all in the same boat. Like it's just, we're all gone through
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