I'm a writer and photographer living in lutruwita/Tasmania.
I’ve been a writer my whole life.
As a child, I lived in my head. I was a prolific reader who enjoyed creative writing. In late primary school, I learned how to do research projects, which I loved. I dreamed of becoming a journalist because I enjoyed the research: gathering large quantities of information, sifting through it to find the most important elements and writing a story from what I’d learned. But as I progressed further through the school system, into university and the world of work, writing became a chore rather than an activity I did for pleasure, and I stopped calling myself a writer.
Looking back, however, it seems obvious that the elements of writing that I had enjoyed as a child were still there in my paid work, but they were packaged differently and I couldn’t recognise them. Now I consider these skills to be my key strengths, in particular my ability to take in a lot of complex information, to review and analyse it, and to present it so that the people it's intended for can easily understand it. Stripped back to the basics, it's exactly what I loved doing most at school and during my high school work experience with the local paper.
I've kept a journal since I was ten years old. Journalling is now a daily practice that I can’t imagine not doing. I've also been writing a blog, stepping on the cracks, since 2011. It documents my stories about taking on new challenges and experimenting with new ideas as I explore how to make a meaningful life for myself.
Outside the blog and my paid employment, my major writing project is my mother’s life story.
I’m also a photographer.
While I’ve always been a writer, I never saw myself as artistic, even though I enjoyed drawing and painting when I was young. In primary school, I won a design competition and, perhaps fittingly, I used the prize money to buy my first camera. Though I dabbled in photography at various times, it wasn’t until 2017 that I started to take it seriously.
With an ancestry that includes an engineer, a builder, a draughtsman and a photographer, it comes as no surprise to me that I’ve come to love photographing buildings and the spaces around them. (Though I might just as well have become a farmer, a librarian or a bus driver. Actually, no to bus driving. I hate driving. My favoured means of transportation is walking, which we’ll get to in a bit.)
Using photography to express my love of beauty and excellence, I find great joy in creating something beautiful out of something that isn’t.
My current photographic projects include Hobart Street Corners, an Instagram project that documents my city’s street corners as they were at one moment in time, and my website, which showcases some of my favourite photo galleries.
Writing and photography are similar crafts . . .
They both tell stories. With my words, I can show a reader what a place was like and what happened there. With my images, I can do the same thing: document a place at a particular time.
But just as I can use my words to shape the story, to focus on a certain element, and to present it from the perspective only I could have, I can use my images to show a subject from my point of view. Every choice I make—what I keep in the frame, what I leave out, what I focus on, what I minimise or hide—means that my photograph can be just as subjective as any text. And with the digital tools available to me, I can manipulate my subject to look nothing like what a passer-by might have seen.
Silence and solitude are my lifeblood.
I’m not one for crowds: I stand on the sidelines and I gravitate towards the shadows. Away from the noise and the bright shiny objects, I have the space and the time I need to be in my head.
I especially enjoy long solitary walks. Walking is my exercise, my escape and the best way I know to explore my world. By walking, I'm learning to slow down and notice more. Getting from one place to another as quickly as possible holds no interest for me. I want to explore the back roads and the detours to find spaces that are unloved and unappreciated, or have been forgotten and left to themselves. When I walk, I get to know places at my own pace and in my own way. I can create my own world in my mind. And, whether I'm exploring the outside world or the one in my head, I find great delight in discovering things that are what they are not. And things that are not what they are.
Contradictions fascinate me.
As suggested by my Instagram name, straightlinesgirl, I'm drawn to straight lines and sharp angles. These are key themes in my photography, and I embrace them without apology. I love making art that is neat and clean, minimalist, often in black and white, in the same way as I aim for simplicity in my writing. But I know that the world is a mixed-up, chaotic, constantly changing, colourful place and that I, too, despite my efforts, am imperfect. Nothing is permanent, and straight lines are an illusion, an ideal that doesn’t exist.
Rather than trying to deny the world's imperfections and contradictions, I'm learning to embrace them and, more importantly, my own.
While I can make the work that I love in a disorderly world, I don't have to let this define me. As I’ve explored new ways of doing things and moved beyond the rigidity that I thought was keeping me safe, I’ve learned that I can step on the cracks and nothing will happen to me. I can break all the rules if I want to because they’re my rules and the only person who is holding me to them is me.
But I have to do it my way. I used to think that breaking the rules meant I had to splash bright bold colours around on a canvas and make a mess and that if I did this I would magically unlock my creativity. However, I didn't enjoy it, I didn't feel more creative; it just left me frustrated. I eventually realised I was unhappy because I was trying to do something that wasn’t right for me, something that wasn't letting me say what I wanted to say. I know now that there's a place in my life for the boldest of colours without me needing to use them in my art. There are other ways I can push beyond my boundaries: ways that work for me and encourage me to use my own voice, rather than the voice I think I should be using.
Discovering my creativity is all part of making my way imperfectly through my weird and wonderful life. Scary as it is, I want my life to be an adventure that I fully experience and immerse myself in, even the parts I don't like, because there can be no light without darkness, no joy without sadness, and no growth without fear.
As I explore, my practices of walking, writing and making photographs provide the silence and headspace I crave. By documenting my experiences in words and images, I'm able to better understand myself and the world, celebrate its contradictions and express its beauty the way I see it.