Water: how it inspires me
It’s July already, and we have just celebrated our third birthday at Highgate. Can you believe that we established this new business three years ago? I’d like to express my heartfelt thanks to the clients who have chosen to find us at our new address. It is through the support of established customers and the trust of many new clients that we are able to continue to craft beautiful jewellery pieces.
Since opening at Highgate, I have enjoyed sharing my thoughts with you all, and I hope you enjoyed last month’s topics on nature and the use of floral motifs in my jewellery designs.
This month, I wanted to share with you more of the memorable moments I’ve experienced, what they have meant to me and how they have influenced my design path. My enthusiasm and drive is most often kick started by nature, and it took a conversation with another artist for me to realise that my best moments coincided with my fascination with water – oceans, lakes, rivers, fountains, wherever there is movement of water.
I think it all began when I was a child when we all stayed with my cousins at Sellicks Beach every Christmas holidays. We lived at Oakbank in the Adelaide Hills and the yearly journey to the beach was greatly anticipated. My sister and I were always very close to two cousins – a boy my age and a girl my sister’s age. The beach shack my cousin’s family rented was very simple with open living spaces and bedrooms large enough to accommodate all of us. My aunt and uncle were lifelong family mates of my parents, and as children the four of us spent many weekends and holidays together, but Christmas at the beach was my favourite.
The whole atmosphere was uplifting and relaxing, and I used to pick up so much on the beach to bring home that when it came time to leave to go back to Oakbank, there was always much discussion about what I could take home. Fragments of old fishing nets, shells, smooth pebbles, driftwood, bits of glass polished smooth by the tides, seaweed, sponges, sea urchins and cuttlefish, and the list went on – I loved it all. I used to create still-life drawings and water colours from them in the evenings whilst the others read or played board games. I still have them.
There were some mornings as the sun rose that my dad would wake us up, and the four of us would walk with him to the old cliff ramp which led to the beach. We would leave early so we could go for a swim before the crowds of people began to arrive, and because there was no one was around, often we swam without bathers. Years later, Maslins Beach developed an area for nude bathing, so I guess we had the right idea! In the early morning, the sea was so calm and the waters so clear that you could see underwater for huge distances. It was liking being in another world, as if all the worries you might have were dissolved away leaving you in a blissful state – gliding, floating and free.
We continued beach holidays well into my teens, and the fascination never dwindled. My parents would often ring my grandmother Olga on the weekend and suggest we pack a picnic lunch and drive to Goolwa, Chiton Rocks, Victor Harbor or the Coorong to name a few spots. These have been the inspiration for many of my watercolour paintings in my life:
At thirteen, I travelled with my family to Eildon Weir in Victoria, and it was there that I learned to water ski. My parent’s friends who owned the speed boat were impressed that I stood up on my first attempt and later on the Murray I progressed to one ski – so exhilarating! Years later, on a Channel 9 Christmas party outing, I skied on the Murray with Jan Beasley who used to host the morning programme ‘Adelaide Today’.
When Helen and I married in 1972, we honeymooned on Kangaroo Island and we loved the abundance of water views. I used to say to Helen that there was something about the atmosphere that made me want to pick up a paint brush. I have completed many watercolour landscapes since that time, and I love to include water. It’s the reflections of the surroundings in the water that is fascinating. It is difficult to paint sometimes, but when I’ve captured the sensations I want to portray, it is very rewarding.
I find water very therapeutic, and the sparkle of sun on water is very calming and mesmerising. One of my favourite experiences is eating by the water especially, as I love seafood. Whenever we’ve travelled, we seem to end up by the water. Overseas, whether it was dining on Lake Como and immersing ourselves totally in the food and spectacular scenery, sharing lunch perched above the ocean in Positano, or sipping a vodka and tonic on the edge of the Grand Canal in Venice, the presence of water makes it all magical.
Fountains at the Palace of Versailles, the Trevi Fountain in Rome, the magnificent water features within the gardens of Villa d’Este at Tivoli – all were breathtaking and a true celebration of beauty and use of water.
And closer to home, sitting at a harbour-side restaurant on the waters of Sydney Harbour is unrivalled and there can be nothing better in my opinion than having a glass of wine and some beautifully cooked fish or crustaceans whilst enjoying the activity on the harbour.
Locally, Helen and I were fortunate enough to rent a family house at Lady Bay near Normanville. The two-story home in the sand hills has a timber board walk straight onto the beach.
It was so delightful, just reading and relaxing, sleeping in and enjoying the simple things of life. I began some of my most successful large floral water colours there, and I think it was due to the overwhelming desire to paint in such an inspiring location that made them so good.
I have also felt this pull when we have travelled to Kangaroo Island. Something about the closeness to nature and the surrounding water. Island Beach is my favourite spot because for most of the year, you can walk along the beach with no-one around, eat when you are hungry, sleep when you are tired and totally unwind. More recently we followed the Great Ocean Road to Melbourne and discovered so many beautiful water views at Robe, Princetown, Port Fairy, the Erskine Falls and Lorne.
We’ve also been fortunate enough to spend holidays at Noosa in Queensland where the area is surrounded by water. Everywhere you look there are views of the water, whether along the coast or near the Noosa River the atmosphere is invigorating and beautiful.
It is interesting that throughout history people recuperate and holiday by water especially by the sea, so there have to be hidden powers generated by the atmosphere. I believe that there is proof that a higher rate of ultra-violet light often prevalent around water seems to lift the spirits and relax the mind. There is also more oxygen present, which I’m sure helps the creativity flow. I know that I am very happy when I’m around water, and this happiness seems to encourage a creative mood. I especially love the beach in winter when the weather is wild. It is so cleansing and invigorating – and so nice to come inside to an open fire and yummy food and still be able to see the sea pounding.
Cheers ‘til next month,
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