I consider myself to be extraordinarily fortunate to be able to earn a living from my art, doing the kind of work that fills me with energy rather than robs it.
An opportunity arose recently to collaborate with a bunch of fellow creative souls, a group that was drawn together by a love of nature and the promise of an adventure in the wilderness.
With black coffee and Lexapro I met the dawn, grateful to leave behind dozens of unanswered emails and my harried life. An escapee, running from routine and a slow death by suburbia.
Off we went, in search of our true selves, to spend a day in the beautiful Blue Mountains, west of Sydney. As soon as we arrived, I found myself confronted by the grandeur of my surrounds, and how small and insignificant I seemed in comparison. It was an instant reminder of how detached from nature my life had become. Our spirits soared.
There we stood, under the moody sky, breathing in the ancient landscape, with nothing to distract us from the present moment. As we spoke, our words were carried away like sparrows in the icy wind.
Trainer Alex from Feathered Friends, introduced us to his magnificent owls. I was mesmerised as we learnt their language. Ks ks ks ks, – the owls are trained to fly towards this sound, rewarded with a freshly prepared piece of mouse.
The inertia I had been feeling all week lifted as we climbed the hills, the exposed tree roots serving as stairs. I knew for sure that this day would end with me drinking a bottle of red in the bath.
But this was vodka weather. Our model, Russian ballerina Sascha, was wrapped in blankets to stave off the cold in between shoots with photographer Jen, from Silversalt Photography.
Sascha transformed into a free-spirited bride, with a wise owl as her guardian and the sacred mountains her betrothed. Together they wandered, dancing with the landscape. Two untamed hearts, powerful and dangerous. I realised that the only body issue I have is that I can’t fly.
Sascha’s bouquet – a ruggedly beautiful assemblage of mostly native Australian plants by Edith from Floral Ink – echoed the subdued tones of the surrounding foliage.
Hair and makeup artist Tania Bowers took the concept one step further, using dramatic lines to accentuate the landscape’s – and Sascha’s – raw beauty.
This pristine landscape is far removed from the textile industry. The second-largest polluter on the planet, it is second only to the oil industry. The fashion industry is driven by consumption, where profits are maximised regardless of environmental costs.
Sustainability lies at the heart of my business. It is what drives me to create dresses from salvaged and recycled fabrics – fashion with a low carbon footprint.
But I am more eco-worrier then eco-warrior. Most days I feel like I am yelling into the abyss, my lone voice carried away by the wind. These are the days I lose my balance, when the wings of a dream are not enough to lift the weight of reality.
At the end of the long day spent in the wilderness I have rediscovered my inner compass. I am healed. I inhale the strength of the mountains and exhale the courage to face the everyday assault of a noisy, busy life in the world of fashion.