For a long time, I struggled to call myself an Artist. When meeting new people, I had a bunch of other labels I clung to that seemed safer and easier to explain: Student, Analyst, Planner, Teacher, Sister, Daughter, Friend. This year I gave up those labels and moved to a tiny town to make art and eat bread. There is much more to the choice than that, and I don’t regret it, but it wasn’t easy. I’m committing to making art full time, and I’m hoping that this blog will be a place where I can share the progress of my paintings and other projects, something I have wanted to do for a long time!
A bit about me:
Three years ago in Melbourne I finally quit my corporate job to finish my teaching degree. I had fallen into the fashion industry by chance and it took me about 10 years to fall out of it. Quitting was one of the best choices I ever made. I learnt a lot – including about myself – and not all of it was good. I didn’t love the work and I wanted to do something more meaningful. Years before I had started my teaching degree, but put it on hold because I was in my early 20’s and felt I didn’t have enough experience to teach anything to anyone.
When entering teaching in my 30s I’ll admit I had my days where I wasn’t sure I had made the right choice. I suddenly felt too old – like I was just starting my teaching career and starting at the bottom when everyone else my age had 10+ years of experience. In the end it didn’t matter, I love teaching – I am taking a break from it now but I know that I will go back to it one day.
There's no place like home:
Deciding to pick up and move to a new country was hard for many reasons. My partner, Chris, had moved over to Aus from New Zealand three years prior and we’d created a nice little life in Melbourne. I have a reasonably big Italian family who I love, I often “shopped” at my parents place for left overs or garden produce. I had developed a great group of friends close by – rain or shine friends whom I love and who love me for my imperfections and quirks. I also didn’t know if I wanted to leave my job just yet. Teaching was the first time I had really experienced loving my job. It was hard, but it was so rewarding. We lived in a converted ivy-covered stables. Even I couldn’t believe that one – getting the house had been a stroke of good luck, it was the kind of place you could skip home to, and I didn’t want to give that up!
We moved to the Hokianga, in the far north of New Zealand’s North Island, in January. The primary reason for this was Chris’s work and I think we made the right choice. Staying because things were going well didn’t seem like a good enough reason. The move meant a lot of change – and change is scary, but I believe that change is good. Our new town is small but beautiful, every hill seems to have a new view with mountains and water. Depending on which side of town you’re on, you often get a stunning sunrise or sunset – most of my first conversations with the locals were about where I lived and what view we have. We have a cracker view of the sunset. Everyone waves hello, I’ve had elderly neighbours give me a lift when they saw me walking into town in the rain, it’s not unusual to have a conversation with a complete stranger and everything (about 7 shops) is pretty much shut by 7pm. It’s a nice life.
For first couple of months here I felt really guilty not looking for a teaching job. Committing to being a full time Artist feels scary for me – If I can’t make it work now, with no other commitments to compete for my time, what does that mean? But mostly I’m excited. I’ve started a bunch of lino prints, stretched and primed my canvasses, and started the first few paintings, and it feels good. I count myself incredibly lucky to have the opportunity to follow my dreams. I’m even more lucky that I have a partner who supports me in this endeavour.
I recently flew home to Australia, and I had a moment on the flight back to NZ when I was filling in the arrivals form. In the occupation section I wrote Artist for the first time.
So I suppose this is where my blog really begins
Have you made a big career change? What inspired you to do it – or what is holding you back? I’d love to hear from you!