Category Archives: Interview

Musings on mindfulness and tea. They’re related!

“Suppose you are drinking a cup of tea. When you hold your cup, you may like to breathe in, to bring your mind back to your body, and you become fully present. And when you are truly there, something else is also there—life, represented by the cup of tea. In that moment you are real, and the cup of tea is real. You are not lost in the past, in the future, in your projects, in your worries. You are free from all of these afflictions. And in that state of being free, you enjoy your tea. That is the moment of happiness, and of peace.”


This wonderful and resonant (to tea drinkers!) quote was provided to SOHI by Paulina from The Berry Tea Shop. We know that Paulina walks the walk as well as talking the talk. She retired from Sydney cafe life in favour of the slower paced existence of a fine tea purveyor and has never looked back. Thanks for sharing your philosophy with us, Paulina!

One Hundred Moons of Solitude – by guest blogger Steve Harrison

SOHI reader and ceramicist Steve composed this small piece for his recent exhibition of ceramics at Watters Gallery in Sydney in January. He writes about mindfulness of locality, materials, and his inner creative dialogue – the mindful voice of the inner artist.

“It’s been just over eight years since I discovered the Joadja bai tunze native porcelain stone deposit near Mittagong and started making my special bai tunze and washed gravel bowls. I work alone, I tend to work directly from my emotions and intuitions, so if I have any objective, it is this; that I work independently using only what I can fashion myself from my own local resources. My work always addresses beauty and the contemplation of beauty and my interaction with the natural word. My failure to adequately achieve this is what drives my search.

My main concern at the current time is to envisage some sort of relationship or engagement between intellect and passion, thought and action, trying to bring some harmony into my own troubled existence through the creation of beautiful objects while dealing with the tensions and anxieties of a modern life. A life that I am attempting to live ethically and responsibly. It is easy and glib to rattle off such statements, but very difficult to walk the walk, to actually live it.
My hundred moons of solitude have allowed me to indulge my introspection and I have come to realise that Garcia-Marquez was talking to me when he discovered that place, the gap between reality and fantasy, the realm where inspiration lies. Reality is all tough, hard work, fantasy is much more plastic and malleable, like clay. I feel that I ought to write something profound about this, but fail to. I would have liked to have written something meaningful perhaps about Henryk Gorecki and Arvo Part’s spiritual minimalism and radical simplification and how it’s influenced my radical localism and minimal spirituality, but apparently not.

I wish that I could have written about my desire for beauty and simplicity, my trips to Japan, where I failed to find my muse and how simplicity is so complex that it is indescribable and how trying to make something elegant, simple and uncomplicated, simply isn’t simple or uncomplicated.

I’d like to have said that the many long hours spent doing mindless manual work like the sorting of little white granules of quartz from the dross of dark rubble found on an ants nest, so as to get just the ‘right’ textured grit to add to my clay body, is actually exhilarating in the achievement of it, and that the most boring job of grinding stones down to dust so as to make a glaze can be very rewarding.

I wanted to express something of the beauty and the rewards in the many little steps in the creative process, no-matter what they are and that I’m actually starting to realize that I’m often happiest labouring at this tedious nonsense, not just because it is leading to something bigger, (which it is) but because each step, each event, is complete in itself, as an act of beauty. They coalesce to create the beautiful, elegant whole that are these works. But I didn’t.

Probably all the better.

I failed to find my muse, I continue to fail to create it, I fail to write about it meaningfully and I fail to adequately describe my failure. Isn’t life a beautiful and complex thing!”

Don’t throw it..Rethink it! by guest blogger Lisa Madigan

With sustainability at the forefront of many of our minds it’s a time when creativity can truly shine in a new light. Rather than the constant consumption of mass produced items we’re starting more and more to support artisans and craftspeople, opting for items with character over being compelled by sheer quantity and slashed prices. We’re following the line of production and caring about where things are sourced from and that all those involved in the production process are being fairly treated. It’s a wonderful and exciting time!

We’re also looking at how we can apply a sustainable ethos to our own homes, to the things you already possess and in our attitudes. Which brings me to – don’t throw it, rethink it…

It’s amazing how when you bring in a weathered old wooden ladder that’s sat outside hidden amongst garden tools and vines for years it can come into it’s own as a gorgeous interior highlight. Holding anything from gorgeous scented candles like the divine range from Palm Beach Collections, to little dishes for your favoured jewels. I have one ladder that’s a staple piece in our bathroom to hang towels from, and recently placed one in the bedroom { that came from the garden } to hang my ever rotating scarf collection, along with some smaller odds and ends on the top shelf. They’re handy and they hold a silent story and I love that.

One of my current irresistible interior impulses is to use vintage bottles to hold my favourite cuts from the garden, feathers, dried foliage and twigs. I’m also hooked on giving flowers a second form, allowing them to dry naturally like the hydrangea below, they’re exquisite and are just as stunning mixed with fresh cuts in vases of different shapes and sizes.

Or why not take a second look at an old piece of furniture. A cherished chair of mine was a roadside find, maybe there’s something hiding in your shed or garage or cupboard that you can take another look at with fresh eyes, perhaps it’s not longer fit for it’s original use, so get creative. Something as simple as an old crate can be flipped on it’s side to create a book shelf or a chair that no one could ever sit on could be a beautiful tableau as a bed side table.

I admit the raw look may not be for everyone, but there are many ways that we can begin to appreciate what we already have and looking to items that have soul and a bit of history rather than the latest lifeless tv unit. I’m not saying all new is bad, quite the contrary, there are some amazing products being produced with integrity and skill, and it’s these that I love to support wholeheartedly and mix in with all of my lovely weathered old bits.

It’s all about balance and harmony a contrast and diversity in textures and form, each piece contributing to the whole.

Supporting our future and acknowledging our past.

Sustainability most certainly is now.