Oh Creative Lady: Meet Kirli Saunders

Oh Creative Lady: Meet Kirli Saunders

Bindi by Kirli Saunders is a junior fiction novel written in verse. Written “for those who plant trees”, it uses both Gundungurra and English to explore a young girl’s relationship with her friends, family, Country, Culture and creativity. The story is set against the backdrop of devastating bushfires whilst sharing First Nations knowledge about the healing power of fire. Kirli’s expressive language is beautifully paired with the equally expressive illustrations of Bigambul artist Dub Leffler. This is an exquisite book to share with students in upper Primary through to the early years of High School.

I came home from school at about 5pm on Friday to discover Bindi on my doorstep. (Thank you to the team at Magabala Books for sending it through for review.) As we navigated dinner, bath time and pre-bedtime shenanigans with the kids, I devoured this book. By 7pm I had finished this beauty of a novel. It’s now Tuesday and it is still lingering with me. I keep getting flashes of imagery and phrases from the book. It is a visceral read and bone-achingly moving. Without being preachy or didactic, it is a brilliant call-to-action to young people to acknowledge their role in caring for Country.

Enough of my adulation.

Meet Kirli Saunders, a proud Gunai Woman and award-winning international writer of poetry, plays and picture books.

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Meet Kirli Saunders, a proud Gunai Woman and award-winning international writer of poetry, plays and picture books. Image: Tad Souden Film & Photography (c)

I am… Kirli Saunders, a proud Gunai Author and Artist and I’m penning this on Yuin lands, my Mother’s Country among the spotted gums and ferns by the ocean. Here I acknowledge the Saltwater peoples of this Country, my Ancestors, who have always cared for the lands, seas and skies.

It’s a pleasure to be spending some time with Mum down here, reconnecting to community, after being raised on Gundungurra lands, over the mountain. I have always loved being with Mother Earth in the valleys and highlands, and appreciate learning so much on the coast too.

I studied teaching at UOW and have lived around Yuin/Dharawal land since. I left the classroom to manage my Poetry in First Languages project at Red Room Poetry, facilitating workshops with First Nations communities on Country, to support students and poets to create works about the land and identity in language.

This year, I left Red Room Poetry, to pursue full time creative work, which currently includes storytelling in many forms (poetry, art, picture books, plays) and consulting for a range of organisations on education, systems change and decolonization.

I find inspiration… My greatest inspiration is by far Mother Earth, who is also my greatest teacher. From an early age we were spoiled with bushwalking, and ocean time tapping us into a unity with the land. The storytellers in my family, have always encouraged us to attend to the relationships between living things, and to understand our interconnectedness with them. All of my work speaks to that oneness in some way.

I start each day with yoga, meditation, a walk by the ocean or a surf, with the aims to find that synchronicity with the body, mind, breath and other spirits. For me, this balancing, gratitude, awareness and grounding is so important.

When I’m attuned to the Earth, I’m a stronger change maker and storyteller.

Meet Kirli Saunders, a proud Gunai Woman and award-winning international writer of poetry, plays and picture books.Image: Sarah Tedder of Bear Hunt Photography (c)

I am excited about … I’m based on the far South Coast of NSW this week for a writer’s residency with South East Arts and Merrigong Theatre for a play titled Dead Horse Gap. It’s been magical settling into the landscape and having the time to write and connect to community.

It’s also a super special time, as I’m celebrating the launch of my verse novel, Bindi, the inaugural winner of the Daisy Utemorrah (WA Premier’s) Award 2019! Illustrated by the incredibly talented, Dubb Leffler, Bindi is largely autobiographical, with so many memories interwoven from my childhood on Gundungurra Country. It was written as the bushfires on Yuin and Gundungurra lands broke out last year, with the aims of exploring cultural knowledge of care for country and the hardships of bushfires within communities, in trauma aware and culturally respectful ways.

Bindi features language taught to me by Aunty Velma Mulcahy, Trish Levett and Sharyn Halls. For me, thinking and speaking about Country is deeply interwoven with Language. I feel deeply grateful to be able to learn the language of the land that raised me and to also share this with young ones, to encourage them to connect to the Earth and protect her.

Outside of Bindi, I currently have two large artworks in First Nations and decolonial exhibitions at Shoalhaven Gallery, for Terra Within (10 Oct – 5 Dec) and Wollongong Art Gallery, Here + Now (17 Oct – 29 Nov). It’s super exciting to be pursing art-making, as it’s always been a dream of mine to share stories in wordless ways.

For the next year or so, I’ll be working on developing a sequel for Bindi, Cloudspotting, a picture book series with thanks to Magabala’s creative scholarship program, Returning a poetic arts installation and publication with support of Ausco and Going Home, supported by Playwriting Australia.

Meet Kirli Saunders, a proud Gunai Woman and award-winning international writer of poetry, plays and picture books.

When I’m in a creative slump, I… move! I studied my Yoga Teacher training at Byron Yoga a month or so ago to ground myself in a deeper practice and absolutely loved it.

I also meditate. I am exploring Transcendental Meditation (TM) and breath awareness as well as pranayama at the moment. Creating from calm spaces helps to get grounded in a central idea.

I journal and write with a stream-of-consciousness. The late Candy Royal (powerful poetess who everyone should read) taught me this method of continuous writing to release ideas without editing it. And I found it really helpful for moving past the critical mind and opening to possibility.

I jam. I love singing, and playing with other musicians, I’m trying to be braver in this space and am working up to performing!

If all else fails, I jump in the van and we dance our way to a bush walk, and I give myself permission to skip writing for the day and just reconnect to the Earth.

Image: Sarah Tedder of Bear Hunt Photography

I’m really proud of… being an Aunty, watching my nephew grow and being a teacher and guide to him is so profound. I’m also really proud of my community. There’s been so many hardships in 2020, and I’ve watched everyone around me band together during bushfires, COVID isolations, mental health hardships and charitable moments. I feel really grateful to be held in these spaces and to contribute to them.

Someone once told me… Recently one of the Northern Rivers Aunties told me ‘bub, they picked the right person to embody the gift, cause they knew you wouldn’t waste it’ and I love that notion. I think it speaks to the magic everyone holds – they chose YOU to have that gift, because they (the Ancestors, God, The Universe) knew you could enhance the world with it.

My Dad’s advice of ‘stop and smell the roses’ is an oldie but a goodie too. Slowing down this year has been mandatory with some health woes, and it’s been an absolute gift to take my time.

My advice to you is … (I don’t know if I’m qualified to give advice!) but someone who is, is my Mum and she would say ‘always be kind’.

You can find me … 

Out in the bush or ocean, or on Insta + Twitter: @kirli.saunders

 

Oh Creative Lady: Meet Georgie from Mini Monet Studio

Oh Creative Lady: Meet Georgie from Mini Monet Studio

The enthusiasm of Georgie from Mini Monet Studio is A-Grade infectious. When she says that her online art club is all about bringing JOY into the lives of mini-makers, it is due largely to the fact that this teacher-mumma is joy personified. Georgie is mum to little Eve who has the most enviable collection of knitted rainbow sweaters you’ll ever see. Hanging out with these two online is the raddest of rad.

Through blogging and Instagramming, I’ve been introduced to an amazing Virtual Sisterhood of Creative Ladies. The Oh Creative Lady series is your chance to meet these incredible, kind-hearted, inspiring <insert ALL the happy, positive adjectives HERE> women.

Meet Georgie from Mini Monet Studio.

I am… Georgie! I’m a Mum and an art teacher living on the Mornington Peninsular with my daughter, Eve and husband, Shaun.
I teach all things art and design in a P-12 school and I am the owner of Mini Monet Studio, an online art club for creative kids. When I’m not bouncing out of bed ready to draw and paint with kids you can find me going for long walks with the pram and sitting on the beach building sandcastles with Eve.

I find inspiration… I have always been drawn to pattern and colour. I have a huge collection of all things bright, bold and patterned fabric that I often dive into to find inspiration for new art projects. My family also love being outdoors and find new bush tracks to explore or rock pools play in at the beach.

My daughter also inspires me every single day! Eve is nearly 18 months old and was born with lung and heart disease. She’s a one in a million baby! Eve requires oxygen 24/7 to support her breathing, this means she is attached to a 15 cord and an oxygen tank at all times. With such a tricky start to life and so many day-to-day challenges, I am constantly blown away by her joyful nature. Her giggles, her smile, her ability to find everything and anything so fun inspires me to keep on being the best Mum I can.

I am excited about … the new launch of the Mini Monet Art Club for Kids. It has been a dream of mine for quite some time to create a space where kids can create and enjoy art-making without expectations, supervision or judgement.

As an art teacher at a P-12 school I know that kids come into my class with a bit of fear about being graded, assessed. We often have rush through a project to submit, and there can often be comparison with other students in the class or worry about not being “good enough”.

The Mini Monet Art Club is all about creating art for pure JOY. I created a membership program for creative families where you can find an online library of guided video art lessons with me, and some Live art classes for members every month. It’s designed to make it easy for families to foster creativity in their home through drawing, painting and creating projects for kids.


I’m always motivated by this promise to my Mini Monet families:
​I will help your kids discover that creating art is the shortcut to happiness and that every child can learn to draw, paint and create art that they love.

When I’m in a creative slump, I… stop what I’m doing and get out of the house! Usually a walk in nature, a swim at the beach or some time doing an activity completely different re-sets my creative flow!

 I’m really proud of… my baby daughter Eve. She has overcome so many challenges since birth just to be here, and she is THRIVING! Eve was born with a one in a million genetic condition that doesn’t allow her to breathe on her own. We don’t have any answers as to what this means for her future. But we do know her will to LIVE and find JOY every day is incredibly powerful. She lights my world up and I’m incredibly proud of her.

Someone once told me…

“You don’t have to get it perfect, you just have to get it going”

I love this because I often spend way too long trying to perfect minor details before I’m ready to finish/launch/post/start. Perfectionism can be a huge barrier to gaining any momentum in all aspects of life. I often find most people don’t even like to see “perfect”, they relate most to YOU being your authentic self.

I’ve been swimming in the freezing ocean everyday this September! I called it swim-tember! Now I’m on a roll I want to bounce into Ocean-october!

My advice to you is …

Whatever your dream, goals, aspirations are; find someone who is doing it well and connect with them. Reach out and ask them questions, watch their actions closely, observe what they value and how they spend their time. Connecting with mentors who are modelling your own aspirations is a great way to learn and seek really practical advice from.

There is always, always, always someone amazing out there to learn from and help you get to where you dream to be!

You can find me at …

The Mini Monet website

Instagram

Facebook

 

OH CREATIVE LADY: MEET ELEANOR FROM MINI MAD THINGS

OH CREATIVE LADY: MEET ELEANOR FROM MINI MAD THINGS

Dress-ups in the home of Eleanor from MINI MAD THINGS must be epic! Eleanor creates and sells the most amazing fancy dress costumes and accessories. You’ll also never look at the contents of your recycling bin in the same way after perusing her Instagram feed. This interview got me excited as Eleanor shares some rad news….. it starts with B- and ends with -OOK!

Through blogging and Instagramming, I’ve been introduced to an amazing Virtual Sisterhood of Creative Ladies. The Oh Creative Lady series is your chance to meet these incredible, kind-hearted, inspiring <insert ALL the happy, positive adjectives HERE> women.

Meet Eleanor from MINI MAD THINGS.

I am… a maker.

I live with my husband and 2 little people in the Adelaide Hills, South Australia.

I love making things, it could be cooking a tasty dinner, sewing fancy dress costumes or making crazy cardboard constructions with my kids, I am happiest when I’m making.

I find inspiration… in my kids, they are my muse.

The inspiration for MINI MAD THINGS came from making fancy dress costumes for my little ones and seeing the joy it gave them stomping around pretending to be a dinosaur or flying like a butterfly. That spark of inspiration has grown into a full range of ethically manufactured children’s fancy dress costumes and accessories, a kids craft blog and craft workshops. For me it’s all about play, what’s the rush to grow up?

I am excited about … some very cool projects we have coming up this year… I’m publishing my first kids craft book! It’s still in the early stages but stay tuned for more news.

When I’m in a creative slump, I… doodle. Drawing has always helped me to clear my mind and focus again. I sometimes also drink wine and eat cheese, that helps too!

I’m really proud of… following my creative dream. I have been so fortunate that, with the support of my family, I have been able to pursue a creative career working as a jewellery designer for the last 10 years and now launch my own fun, creative business MINI MAD THINGS. (Thank you my lovely husband for getting a proper job so I didn’t have to!) I am also pretty proud of my children, although I doubt how much of that is due to me, they are just super cool little people!

Someone once told me…  they don’t really like cheese, I told them they were crazy.

My advice to you is … A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest of men. Actually, these are words of wisdom by Roald Dahl but I thought I would share them with you.

You can find me at … 

MINI MAD THINGS website

Instagram

Facebook

Pinterest

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh Creative Lady: Meet Davina Bell and Allison Colpoys

Oh Creative Lady: Meet Davina Bell and Allison Colpoys

In my exceptionally humble opinion, Davina Bell and Allison Colpoys are an unbeatable powerhouse on the children’s book publishing scene. ‘Under the Love Umbrella’ and ‘‘All the Ways to be Smart’ are the two books I recommend the most frequently. (You’ve been warned- if I don’t recommend one of those two books to you, it’s a dead cert that I will recommend the other to you.) ‘The Underwater Fancy Dress Parade’ is the book I chose to gift to my son for his first birthday.
To say that I am fangirling at the fact that Davina and Allison are HERE ON MY BLOG would be, well, a complete understatement.

Through blogging and Instagramming, I’ve been introduced to an amazing Virtual Sisterhood of Creative Ladies.The Oh Creative Lady series is your chance to meet these incredible, kind-hearted, inspiring <insert ALL the happy, positive adjectives HERE> women.

Meet Davina and Allison.

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Thanks for your support.

We are…. Davina Bell and Allison Colpoys, an author–illustrator duo who make picture books together. Allison is from NT and Davina is from WA but now we both live in Melbourne. Davina loves the sun and Allison loves the shade.

I find inspiration…
Allison:
So many people and things inspire me. My friends and family are definitely the greats! Music and books – of course! I love pattern – particularly in nature – and have an appreciation for all sorts of typography, be it super slick or a dodgy hand-written ‘garage sale’ sign. And in terms of design and illustration, I think I am most in love with artists who were working in the 1950’s.

We’re excited about … our new project – our fourth picture book together. We’re never happier than when we’re sitting together workshopping the illustrations, making tiny scrap-paper versions of the book, moving the text around and giving each other high-tens of happiness when we feel like we’ve nailed a tricky section. We hope we can work together for always.

When I’m in a creative slump, I…
Davina:
If I’m in a slump, it’s usually because I’m too afraid of being bad to even try and that’s made me lose respect for myself. So I combat that by doing something to earn back my own regard, and I’m not going to lie – it’s usually cleaning the vegetable section of my fridge. If that doesn’t work, I will walk in nature. And if that doesn’t work, I’ll get a Pomodoro timer going, read a Mary Oliver poem and grit my teeth. Or give up and get a coffee.

We’re really proud that… the books we make together say to kids, in different ways, that they are enough just as they are – that they are treasured for their uniqueness and loved unconditionally. Our new book that we’re currently working on, is about making mistakes, and we’re proud that we are talking about shame and imperfection and forgiveness and self-acceptance, which can be hard to tackle. It’s a privilege to have this platform, and one that we are so conscious of using to spread maximum compassion. We’re also proud of our long-term commitment to eating carob Banjo Bears. If you’re a rep from Banjo, please look us up for a sponsorship arrangement. We’re happy to endorse.

Someone once told me…
Davina:
‘Write the book that only you can write.’
That’s what the author Martine Murray said once in a writing class, and I can still feel the ease and freedom that I felt in my body in that moment – as if I had put down a great burden. You don’t need to go out searching for a grand and revolutionary plot or premise. Your story is already within you. It’s in the constellation of your past and present, identity and interests, knowledge and hobbies, values and passions. You will find your story or your style by following your curiosity through a maze of your own uniqueness.

My advice to you is…
Allison:
If you’re a writer, please see Davina’s excellent note above!

I’m not very good at advice, but here are some things that I know I need to do, and that I feel sure you’re already across!: Make more time to be amongst the things that inspire you. Make more time to draw for fun.

You can find me at …
@davina.bell on Instagram
https://www.jackywinter.com/artists/allison-colpoys

‘Under the Love Umbrella’ is now available in board book format. It is the PERFECT present for a baby shower or first birthday. (I totes gave a copy to my niece for her first birthday.)

Check out our READ + CREATE activity to accompany Davina Bell and Allison Colpoy’s “Under the Love Umbrella.”

 

Oh Creative Lady: Meet Cara Florance

Oh Creative Lady: Meet Cara Florance

A graphic with text that reads "Oh Creative Lady."

The Interwebs is a busy and noisy place, right? But you know that magical feeling when occasionally you stumble across a new-to-you person who BLOWS YOUR SOCKS OFF?! That’s Cara Florance.
Every time I visit Cara’s feed, she blows my mind. Just this week I liked a post where she flippantly mentioned that she thought she’d set up a laser table for her girls to play with. Who *just* sets up laser tables during naptime? Cara Florance, that’s who!
Cara is a scientist and author who is passionate about raising scientifically-literate little humans. She shares play ideas that are firmly rooted in science and eloquently explains the science behind them in a way that is so easy to understand.

Through blogging and Instagramming, I’ve been introduced to an amazing Virtual Sisterhood of Creative Ladies.
The Oh Creative Lady series is your chance to meet these incredible, kind-hearted, inspiring <insert ALL the happy, positive adjectives HERE> women.

Meet Cara Florance.

 

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I am… a mother of two girls, a wife, a scientist, and an author. We live in Boston, Massachusetts, USA while my husband is finishing school after a career change. Currently, I’m a stay-at-home-mom during the day. At night, I write and illustrate children’s books about science. I am eternally antsy. I love moving (both my body and my home), I love new projects, and I love not having a routine. When my children are school-aged, I plan to go back to work as a research scientist, but until then, I am embracing the cray cray of being at home with kids.

I find inspiration… in my kids. I like to share projects we do on Instagram and a lot of them are inspired by my children’s play. I think they are super creative and I love being able to see their minds work and manipulate toys and art in ways I would have never thought of. My books are also inspired by them. I want them (and everyone) to be scientifically literate. I don’t care if they become scientists or doctors or whatever, I just want everyone to be empowered and knowledgeable in our increasingly science and tech-based world.

 

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I’m excited about… everything! I have some new books coming out in the next several months, one just came out on November 5th. We are moving, and I’m excited to see where we will be assigned to (for my husband’s job). We are currently deciding if we will have another baby so I’m excited about possibly having another one or possibly closing up shop (how do you decide?!?!).


(These are affiliate links.)

When I’m in a creative slump I…work on another project. I have several side-hustles, most of which are not pressing, so when I have a mental block I just pick one that I’m interested in at the moment, then go back to the things that I have deadlines for.

I’m really proud of… my babies. I know I should be proud of work accomplishments or something, but my babies are kind and creative and wonderful and it makes me the happiest I’ve ever been.

Someone once told me…do what you love and you will never work a day in your life because no one is hiring. It always makes me laugh and reminds me not only that no job is perfect, but that it is up to us to make the most of our free time to feel fulfilled.

 

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My advice to you is…don’t be afraid to learn something right along side your child. Have you ever wanted to learn to code? Or learn to sew? Or learn to knit? I bet your kid would love to do it with you. Showing them that learning is a lifelong quest- one that is fun, exciting, and rewarding- is one of the most powerful things you can teach someone. And, you get to learn something too! It is so important to show that not knowing something is fine and natural, not something to be ashamed of. Show them that it is ok to ask questions, to not understand a concept the first time it’s explained, to want to learn more. If we instill this comfort and confidence in our children now, it will pay them dividends in the years to come.

Want more of Cara Florance?
You can find her at..

Oh Creative Lady: Meet Rachel from The Maker Mum

Oh Creative Lady: Meet Rachel from The Maker Mum

Rachel from The Maker Mum is a ray of sunshine for your Instagram feed. She is an Aussie mama raising two little sunshine babes and her posts ooze outdoorsy, creative goodness. I love Rachel’s commitment to looking at old things in new ways and the way she reuses and revamps household materials. Hanging on her Insta will make you want to head straight out into the Great Outdoors.

Through blogging and Instagramming, I’ve been introduced to an amazing Virtual Sisterhood of Creative Ladies.
The Oh Creative Lady series is your chance to meet these incredible, kind-hearted, inspiring <insert ALL the happy, positive adjectives HERE> women.

Over to Rachel from The Maker Mum.

 

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I am… Rachel! I’m 27 years old and live in Brisbane, Australia. I married my husband Sharn when I was 20 and we now have two very blonde babies. Harvey is 3.5years, Meg is 2 and I’m ageing rapidly in this season of young children. I’m a full time stay at home mother with no intention of returning to paid work any time soon. Before children, I nannied a family of three young children then went on to working with primary school aged children in before and after school care. Without planning or really knowing it, I became totally into crafting with children! Now my children are reaping the benefits and to be honest, I’m enjoying it so much. I’m an introverted extrovert meaning I love connecting with people and can often be the life of the party but at the same time it drains me. To re-energize myself, I love watching Netflix, reading a book or going to a cafe for something delicious.

I find inspiration… Everywhere! I have a creative brain so I can be walking down the street and something will catch my eye and my mind wanders off into a creative day dream. I love surrounding myself in nature because I love being inspired by all the details that you could miss if you weren’t paying attention.

Also other creative people inspire me. Even if its a completely different style of creative, people always inspire me!

 

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I am excited about … I am excited about creating interesting spaces to play in without buying more stuff. I’m excited about creating things with everyday resources. Pretty much, I’m excited to keep on encouraging people to use what they already have to create.

I think one day I will do something special, but I’m really not sure what it is yet. I’m going to keep doing what I am doing and just see what opportunities come up and say “yes!” even when it’s out of my comfort zone.

When I’m in a creative slump, I… Take a break.  Forced things never turn out so great. Forced activities are never that popular with the children so it’s just worth taking a break. For a naturally creative person, I know that it will come back to me. Also spending time outside clears the mind!

 

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I’m really proud of… The fact that I’m currently living the life that I have always wanted. Ever since I was young, I just knew I wanted to be a mother and stay at home with my children – just like my own mum. I’m proud that I can be creative and inspiring in a role that can sometimes be so ‘groundhog day’ and just plain old hard.

Someone once told me… That my hair was really boring in my early high school years. You better believe that I had the best, most unique hairstyles for the remainder of my schooling years.

My advice to you is … Stop waiting for big exciting things in your life to bring meaning. Learn to find joy in the smallest moments. Aim for a deep contentment in where you are at this particular stage of life. Where you are right now is significant and you have purpose in the now.

You  can find me at … www.instagram.com/themakermum