Hello, I’m Kelly, maker of many things, educator, mumma of 4, and lover of nature and sustainable living.
I started Ecosophy Sustainable Arts after realizing that regular creative practice is an absolute essential in my life, an enjoyable, fulfilling and restorative distraction, the closest I could get to meaningful meditation.
I found that the more I paid attention, the clearer the benefits became, and this is what I want to share.
Sustainability forms the foundation of everything I do in my mission to share the benefits of regular creative practice. I want to make it easy for YOU to get creative using sustainable materials and processes.
I come from a family of artists and creatives. Our homes and conversations have always been filled with various creative projects, arts and craft materials and pieces of work in progress. This is our family norm, so when I started high school, my version of rebellion was to suppress my creativity to firmly focus on academic achievement. My creativity was only allowed to emerge as a side hustle to support my studies, and so I sold handmade gemstone jewellery in my senior years of high school and recycled, handmade paper products at university.
Three university degrees and two babies later, my creative urges could no longer be suppressed. I had, over the years, made a little jewellery, a little paper and had halfheartedly attempted to knit a baby blanket through my first pregnancy, but now, I found that I craved the tactile experience of making something with my hands, and as I did, that being creative was an antidote to both mummy burnout and post- work brain fatigue. I had transitioned from teaching languages to working as an academic literacy lecturer and learning coach, and found that I desperately needed something to help me wind down after a big day at work. Using my hands to create was a powerful way to calm my busy mind.
In the years that followed, I got back into paper making, started machine sewing and hand stitching with upcycled materials (mostly denim and 70s floral sheets – IYKYK), and wove wreaths and baskets from vines growing on our property. After my 4th baby was born, I was introduced to coiling with raffia, and processing and twining with banana fibre, which led to hours and hours of research and experimentation in sustainably dyeing these fibres. I quickly became obsessed, as I realized that these materials and processes were relatively mess free, easy to stop and start and transportable enough to do anywhere. I found I could weave on the couch with the kids, in the car, at the beach, at soccer, at ballet rehearsal, even in bed and it became the perfectly fulfilling and restorative creative practice to fit into a busy kid and work filled schedule.
It was when the Covid lockdowns hit that I really discovered just how powerful a few moments of coiling and stitching could be in relieving my brain fatigue, helping me to process complicated information when feeling overwhelmed and in turn, increasing my productivity. At the time, I was a single mum and work days were spent juggling 3 kids now schooling at home, with facilitating online student consultations and workshops. I regularly felt like my brain might explode and found that whenever I had a few minutes to spare, taking the time to slow and weave was incredibly powerful in enabling me to keep calm and carry on.
As I now embark on this new chapter, I am excited to combine my 25+ years of professional experience as an educator with my personal experience as a creative; to teach, inspire and encourage others to explore and benefit from their own creativity. I would like to acknowledge and thank those who have inspired me and taught me, and those from whom I will continue to learn. My very first and most important teachers are my family. My mum Lynn, art teacher, ceramicist, woodworker, sewer, painter, beading fiend and all-round could-make-anything, incredibly creative person. My dad, Hans, multi-talented but mostly remembered for his oil paintings, charcoal sketches, etchings and beautiful handwriting. My sister, Louise, my very first weaving teacher, inspirational art therapist and multidisciplinary artist whose paintings, drawings and fibre arts continue to inspire. My grandfather Ronald, whose creativity and skill in carpentry and sign writing was something I didn’t quite realise until after it was too late to ask questions. A very big thank you to all whose workshops I’ve attended, Instagram accounts I stalked and books I have read. In particular, the lovely Katherine, for teaching me all about handling fabrics, following patterns and machine stitching – I absolutely loved our Japanese/sewing lesson swaps; Ellie Beck for first introducing me to coiling with raffia; Helle Jorgensen, whose workshop taught me how to process banana fibre; the incredible Samorn Sanixay for a jam packed botanical dyeing workshop and for the many subsequent online chats and spontaneous telephone conversations to help with my daughter’s major work; Zimmi Forest, whose workshop introduced new basketry techniques and the beautiful Jugan Dandii weavers who introduced First Nations weaving techniques using Lomandra. I am excited to continue to learn and determined to share what I know in the most accessible ways possible.