Sweet smell of success

Elie Saab by Adriana Alvarez

I’ve got a new job. Well it’s not exactly new since I started last September. I’m working as a graphic designer at the Australian Jewish News and I’m really enjoying it.

At first it was part time but since January I’ve been working 5 days a week so I can work on the “more interesting projects” as the boss put it. Needless to say life has changed a little bit. More on that later.

One of those more interesting projects was working on the Wedding magazine that comes out annually with the paper. It was a really great project to work on. Probably the most girlie publication I’ve ever worked on and I loved being able to make things look as beautiful as I could. I used some illustration as background colour and texture. My favourite page however was the page where the illustrations were the highlight.

When the editor mentioned she’d love to have the perfume bottles illustrated, I was so excited but also a bit apprehensive. I knew exactly what I wanted them to look like, a soft, crisp watercolour. But could I really do it? I don’t get to do a lot of illustration in my design work so I’m a bit out of practise. I haven’t really done watercolours before, except when I was mucking around painting with the kids, or have a proper set of watercolours, just water soluble paints that the kids use. That’s what I experimented with even though the colour selection was limited. But what’s life without a challenge, it’s always good to try new things and I don’t need much of an excuse to do illustration.

I decided to do the pencil sketch and the watercolour seperately then put them together in photoshop where I could add some finishing touches and work on getting the colour right. This is how they turned out. I think they worked really well, I was very happy with them and it ended up being my favourite page in the magazine.

So despite my apprehensions the watercolours bring out the translucent nature of beautiful the glass designer bottles and the sweet smell of success.

So despite my apprehensions the watercolours bring out the translucent nature of the beautiful glass designer bottles and the sweet smell of success.

Coco Chanel by Adriana Alvarez

Prada and Tom Ford by Adriana Alvarez

Daisy and Vera Wang by Adriana Alvarez

Australian Jewish News Wedding magazine 2015Australian Jewish News Wedding magazine 2015

One of my colleagues mentioned that I should sell them as prints, so I might look into that. What do you think?

Going National


I’ve been on a little break from the blog so you must have guessed it’s deadline time. I’ve had two Spring issue deadlines, the hillscene and a new magazine which I’ve designed called junkies magazine. I must admit when I first heard the name I didn’t love it, or like it even. There’s some negative connotations there but the intention underlying it has nothing to do with what first comes to mind when you hear the word. It’s a magazine about rethinking, reusing, reducing and recycling junk.

The sustainable ethos of this magazine is something that I do love. This is the third issue, the first two were produced in Queensland but now it’s moved down to Melbourne. Bought by an enterprising local hills lady, Lisa Zee, who has a lot of guts and a passion for sustainability and all things recycled. This is her first magazine so it’s been a huge learning curve for everyone involved, there’s so much nitty gritty and fine detail to take care of. From finding content, advertisers, distributors and printers, even choosing the paper to print on can be a big decision the first time around. I think this issue is the best one yet. With some gorgeous photography by Danielle Quarmby, Carli Wilson and Pauline Langmead amongst others, I think it’s turned out beautifully. And since it’s been sold nationally, I’m very chuffed that my design work will have such a far reach.

junkies magazine pages

junkies page photos by Danielle Quarmby

It was great to be able to design something with more than one or two pages per article and be able to let the photos shine and give them some space on the page. It’s got lots of interesting features about people doing amazing things when it comes to creatively solving the problem of reducing waste. There’s so much inventiveness and innovation from people doing very simple things that will hopefully make a big difference. It will be available in Australia at discerning newsagents from September or you can get a copy of it online at www.junkiesmagazine.com

Get a copy and leaf through the pages and read it from cover to cover. Perhaps it will inspire you to rethink, reuse, reduce and recycle.

Junkies market page

Knit Merlynston Hall

Knit Merlynston Hall hanging event

One thing I get to see a lot of, is community. I always try to include an article about community projects and events in the hillscene and I never have to look very hard to find them. We’re blessed up here where we live with a strong, involved community. But it’s also very abundant in many places, when people get together to do something good for their local area, or a worthwhile cause no matter how big or small.

Whether it be getting involved in your child’s school, your local community house or a charity there are always plenty of ways you can contribute. Angela Stock found one such project which was just begging for some attention. Her local community hall Merlynston Hall in Coburg is in need of some tender loving care to restore it to it’s former glory, so it could once again be used by the community. It’s amazing how these sort of projects garner such creative responses to try and stimulate interest, discussion and involvement from as many members of the community as possible. In an attempt to get as much community support as she could, Angela chose to do a crafty project which was easy enough for most people to get involved with. Knitting or crocheting a simple square to be added to a large care blanket to cover the hall.

Angela’s hope was to gain some community awareness and interest in this disused Hall, and it sounds like the project has done just that with 80 people braving the miserable day to see the blanket being hung at a community picnic earlier this month. Here Angela talks about how and why she got this project started and where she hopes it will lead. These intiatives always have small beginnings but the sense of community spirit they create is the impetus to inspire people to see the bigger picture.

Knit Merlynston Hall project

Tell me a bit about the Knit Merlynston Hall project.
Knit Merlynston Hall is a community craft project that aims to create a massive ‘care’ blanket for a disused community hall. The Merlynston Progress Hall was built in the 1920s by local residents but sadly, since the 70s it has been used by our local council – for storing Christmas decorations! This project is part of a campaign to see the hall restored as a social hub for years to come.

How did you get this project started?
Our group of residents and an artistic company called Collaborative Cultures presented the inaugural Merlynston Diverse Voices Festival in 2012 and for that festival I coordinated a series of knitted bunting with the words ‘save our hall’ embellished on them – 40 knitted triangles were strung around the garden of the hall for the opening of the festival. The support I received for that small project inspired me to think of another bigger project – that might have more impact and send a loud message to council and the community that there are many people who believe the hall deserves some tender, loving care.

In August 2013 as part of my Masters of Arts Management, I put a call out for 10cm knitted and crocheted squares. Via the facebook page and local craft and knitting groups as well as through weekly lunchtime learn-to-knit-workshops at my children’s school, many different types of people began to contribute. Some people have knitted just one, others over 150 and some children have completed one between their siblings – being just 10cm it was an achievable goal for many that had never crocheted or knitted or those who were remembering skills learnt many decades before. And by square deadline some 4 months later I had surpassed my goal of the 1600 squares needed to create a 15 square metre blanket. The contributors came from within our local area of Coburg and Pascoe Vale as well as wider Melbourne and interstate. We also had delightful packages arrive from crafters in New Zealand, USA, England and Japan which was very special. Facebook is amazing like that and I could then post photos of the overseas squares being incorporated into local squares and get immediate positive reactions from overseas – it was a great way to connect with a project thousands of miles away and also something far greater than one person could contemplate alone!  Over many hours and some working bees we created a 15 square metre blanket that was raised at a community picnic on Sunday 1 June.

Merlynston Hall blanket being put together.

What are your plans for Merlynston Hall in the long term?
Following this one-off display of the blanket I am hoping to negotiate with Moreland City Council the ability to keep rehanging (using ropes and pulleys! super physics!) the blanket and maybe even use the rigging to hitch up a projection screen for movie nights in the garden and other community gatherings.

We will continue to liaise with council about repairing the hall and in the meantime try and draw attention to the campaign.

What is the significance of these places to a community?
I believe community groups need places to gather be they for art classes, parent’s playgroups, men’s shed, craft groups, social events etc.

How can people get involved?
They can take a look at the project’s facebook page Knit Merlynston Hall as well as the webpage of our local community merlynston.wordpress.com. We’ve got a festival coming up in November “Merlynston Diverse Voices Festival” and we’re looking for volunteers to help organise the event.

hillsceneLIVE is born

hillsceneLIVE pack

On June 6th the hillscene Winter issue was launched with it’s first ever live event! Which was very exciting. It was exciting for me to see that something I started had grown beyond what I had ever imagined. It was exciting to see so many artists and performers come out of the local area who are working in such varied and experimental mediums. And it was exciting to be able to share this with the community. I feel like the hillscene is turning into something that can, not only showcase the creative spirit of the hills, but also help to shape it.

The night held at Burrinja Cultural Centre started off with live fascinations which included a series of installation pieces, musical collaborations, dance and projections which were positioned around the gallery so you could wander at your own pace and interact with whichever one appealed to you. Among them were Vivienne Rogis‘s dance piece you had to look at through holes cut in boxes, Maggie Brown‘s work inviting you to arrange the contents of her wardrobe into labeled piles and Chung Liang-Liu who was blindfolded and needed to be led around by the public. All very hands on so you could get involved and be part of the work or just stand back and watch.

hillsceneLIVE fascinations

Then hillsceneLIVE continued with a more formal sit down session in the theatre for more live performances and a few speeches. I had to make a speech which is not my forté. I had it written out so that I wouldn’t forget anything or anyone. It basically covered why I had started the hillscene magazine and why I put so much love into this little project. I think it went well, I didn’t faint or throw up, or talk too fast. I did have to stop and ask a poor lady in the front row who was coughing violently if she was alright, so that probably broke the ice a bit. My brother had come down from Sydney to share it with us and help us celebrate, which made it even more special.

The evening went brilliantly, with some great artists, performers, comedians and films being showcased. At the back Amy Middleton and Emma Jennings were creating a live artwork using projectors, where the audience were invited to come up and direct the projected shadows to be drawn in by Amy and Emma. Even popcorn was handed out in a brown paper bag to add to your viewing pleasure. Gareth Hart is the co-ordinator of this mini festival and I have to say he did an amazing job getting it all happening. He added a lot of beautiful touches as wel to make the room and atmosphere so welcoming, the table settings in the room were draped with pages out of books and tea lights. The hillscene Winter issue pack was handed out in a brown paper bag with a page ripped out of a book stuck on it (compulsive reading) and filled with goodies like a blog sticker, a hillscene postcard, a bookmark teaser for the next event and a note form a stranger, which we had all filled out earlier in the night. It was somehow a charming DIY community event and edgy arts festival at the same time.

There were many highlights including the community dance group led by Gülsen Özer whose dance to ‘Last night I had the strangest dream’ by Johnny Cash was very moving. Roderick Price‘sImmerse’ sound piece using technology to translate his hand movements into music was also a standout. A lovely animated film by Jessica Harris called ‘Home’, a sketch comedy piece by Simon Godfrey called ‘The anti-sauce league’ where he played multiple parts was very funny, and the INKaleidescope artwork which was being realised by Amy Middleton and Emma Jennings with the help of the audience, were among my favourites.

Gulsen Ozer and collaborators - if you can dream it Gulsen Ozer and collaborators - if you can dream itGretel Taylor and Merin Trebilock - it's mine Gretel Taylor and Merin Trebilock - it's mine Simon Godfrey - the anti-sauce leagueRoderick Price - Immerse Amy Middleton and Emma Jennings - INKaleidescopeAmy Middleton and Emma Jennings - INKaleidescope Ben Kelly, Steve Davies and Roderick McLeod - life through the eyes of music

I love the way this mini festival has taken the hillscene to a different level, being able to include work that just wouldn’t work on the page. Work that you have to experience live. I’m excited to see what’s in store for the next one. I was going to add my speech here but instead I’ll put an email sent by one of our volunteers, who we always rely on to help make these ideas a reality. This one is by Gill Cruikshank, who distributes the hillscene to the local area each season. I’ll let her have the final word since she sums up the night and the hillscene so beautifully.

Hi Adriana,

Great to hear from you!
You must still be in a state of wide-eyed awe after witnessing your “baby” metamorphose from two dimensional into 3D and breathing in real time!!

You and Gareth did a totally awesome job putting it all together. I really enjoyed – as a volunteer – interacting with both the performers and the observers.

How lucky are we living in the hills? So many talented creative folk, shops, cafés and markets.
When I’m out delivering, people often say to me “how do we get our cafe/shop featured in the mag?”

My knee is nearly better so I’m very happy go out on Monday and deliver the rest.  

It’s such a quality mag – edgy design , great photos, interesting articles and a very cool way to encourage people to support local enterprise and talent.
Considering it all started as a school mum with a great idea, you’ve done a marvelous nurturing job!

Well I’ve waffled on enough!
Hope to meet you soon,


To see a list of all the artists on the menu and a link to their sites go to the hillscene blog

hillsceneLIVE menu


Clare James’ detailed world

Will-it-take-many-nights Clare-Gingko-collage

Clare James draws her inspiration from the natural world around her and the small details of life shared with her family. So living in the idyllic natural surrounds of Healesville, would certainly provide plenty of stimulus to inspire her. Her soft watercolours have a beautiful intricate quality without the fussyness of perfection. She works in a few different mediums including ceramics and has a range of cushions, prints and cards, which she had on show at the Yarra Valley Open Studios weekend last year.

She is currently having an exhibition of her latest work at Yering Station in Yarra Glen. The show features artworks created during a 31 day stay in a tent in her back garden, which explains the incredible attention to the miniature life that surrounds us. These works are a celebration of a microscopic view of Clare’s garden, detailing the charm in the ordinary which we mostly overlook. Here Clare explains the process and inspiration of creating the works in her current show.

She Hides in the Ginkgo, and Weaves in the Night.

I thought I needed to escape. A yearning to leave behind stories in the news of a changing climate, of war, and of nature being destroyed. My anxiety felt bigger than me. Run to the mountains, disappear into the desert, go and clean my mind in the ocean? I have a family I need to protect. I decided instead to sleep in my garden. Get to know another side of this place that calms me and is seemingly familiar. Meet her micro world and her nocturnal world, her star world and her weather world from a little tent on the lawn. So I disappeared into nature, in a tent, in my backyard for 31 nights.

I knew my garden, I worked in it and grew food and flowers in it. My husband and I were married in it. I played in the garden with our children, teaching them what I know, and I thought about the connection between what I planted, the animals that live here and those that visit, but this made me realize that I only knew my garden in a certain way. I knew it in daylight. I knew it in nice weather. I knew it at night time only to lock up the chooks or look for my pet rabbit. I knew it only with what my eyes could see. I decided to look closer and connect in a deeper way. This led me to sleep in it, to listen to and observe new things, to research my findings in books and online, to look daily at bits and pieces under my microscope and make a body of work about this little patch of land.

During my time in the garden I discovered so much, about my garden and about myself. It didn’t feel strange to head outside each night on my own. I was never scared. I watched the silent and enormous tiger slugs come out of the rock wall and heard their rasping tongues as they ate leftover dry dog food when I put them to my ear. I discovered an orb weaving spider who hides in the ginkgo each day and weaves through the night. I still visit her each night in awe and fascination of her patience and skill. She makes a new web, perfect and complex, every night no matter the weather. I discovered that she changes the size of her web from over half a metre to the size of a tea plate depending on her needs. She fascinates me.


I wondered how much I miss by living under a ceiling, inside walls. How many starry skies and storms have I slept through? Did I really know how a full moon’s light makes our garden look, and how pitch black a moonless night is? How close the lightning storms feel when you are laying in a tent? I didn’t know how quickly the crickets would take shelter from the rain (which was under my tent) and continue their song.

The competing noises of suburbia and nature each night wove another layer into this experience. Everything seemed louder when I was outside alone. Dogs barking, truck brakes, crickets purring, possums fighting, distant voices and music, repetitive frogs and owls. All contribute to the soundtrack of my garden. Then I thought about all the silence around me. Layers and layers of my observations, questions, thoughts, feelings and findings went into drawings and paintings, sculptures, stitching and writing to draw this body of work together.

I wanted to know more about some of the invertebrates and plants that I discovered. I read books at night in the tent about earwigs, slugs and spiders. I photographed them with my SLR or my microscope camera. I was intrigued by the way that lichen swelled up before my eyes when wet under a microscope. The beauty in the tiny bits of debris left in a spider’s web after its meal is finished. Each day I would potter around the garden collecting leaves covered in aphids or dead insects from window sills or spent flowers or spider casings and examine them under the microscope. From this tool I was able to get a glimpse of how complex everything around me really is. The patterns on the wing of a fly look like a river system or an aerial view of suburbia. The glistening beads of pollen smothering the anther of a flower, the hairiness of a spider and its eight eyes all staring in different directions; just how hairy and silky and beautiful every moth is. Everything I looked at gave me inspiration. These amazing details were everywhere I looked.

My time in the tent and with my microscope led to this new body of work. Layers of observations, questions, thoughts, feelings and findings went into drawings and paintings, sculptures, stitching and writing. I want you to share my experience of the extraordinary universe that exists under our very noses. On our window sill. In our backyards. I read once that new species to science are now just as likely to be discovered in our gardens as in the rainforest or ocean. I hope my work gives you the chance to encounter this amazing world. It is just at your doorstep!


She hides in the Ginkgo, and weaves in the night is on till 29 June at
Yering Station – 38 Melba Hwy, Yarra Glen.

To see more of Clare’s work go to her facebook page.

Redress yourself

Adriana Alvarez redress challenge

Here’s a challenge I came across a few months ago and have been meaning to write about. It’s the Get Redressed challenge 2014.

Redress is a Non Government Organisation (NGO) established in 2007 in Hong Kong, with a mission to promote environmental sustainability in the fashion industry by reducing textile waste, pollution, water and energy consumption. According to the Redress website thousands of tonnes of used clothes are dumped each year around the world and this is becoming a huge environmental problem and a drain of natural resources especially when almost 100% of textiles could be reused or recycled. Making textiles uses a lot of natural resources such as water, oil and land and is a major contributor to pollution from the use of chemicals, power and transportation. So it makes sense to reuse these resources and extend the life of our clothing as much as possible.

They have various campaigns including the Ecochic Design Award, The RCert and Industry engagement which are working with the fashion industry to come up with innovative ways to help reduce waste. Their consumer campaigns work on the opposite end of the supply chain and are designed to reach and educate a wider audience.

Textile waste is increasingly becoming a serious environmental threat. The increased speed of the fashion supply chain and consumer’s throwaway attitude towards fashion has contributed to the large increase in textile waste generated worldwide.Textiles are considered to be almost 100% reusable or recyclable, but textile recovery rates remain relatively low. – See more at: http://redress.com.hk/the-issues/#sthash.LiC

Last year’s consumer challenge was the 365 Challenge, a one-year secondhand clothing challenge seeing Christina Dean, Redress founder, wearing 100% dumped and discarded secondhand clothes every day, to promote the ‘Redress it, don’t bin it’ concept. This years challenge features inspiring sustainable fashion outfits, worn by people around the world. Each month they have a theme for extending your wardrobe with sustainable fashion choices. You can then upload a photo of yourself wearing the challenge item, and perhaps make it to their instagram feed. You can go there for inspiration from designers and others following the challenge. This months theme is ‘Reconstruction’ or ‘upcycling’ which is the process of making new clothes from previously worn garments. I have a few of these in my wardrobe and here’s one of my favourites.

Citizens of Elysium skirt detail

It’s a skirt made from recycled, vintage 70’s fabric with a great pattern and colours, plus I love the interesting design with all it’s darts and offbeat folds. I wear it a lot and because it’s a one-off I always feel fab and special when I wear it. It’s made by Citizens of Elysium, who despite their post apocalyptic website have a sustainable and ethical fashion focus. Making small run, handmade garments from recycled fabrics and industry waste, with the view of having a long life rather than being fast fashion fodder.

My wardrobe is filled with many upcycled, recycled, swapped and vintage (second hand) numbers, some are unique and made by local designers, others are clothes I’ve discovered at op shops or recycled clothing shops. They’re generally in great condition and a lot cheaper than new clothes but I also love the fun, and unexpected thrill of finding a garment you like, in your size, sometimes even a designer label for that bargain basement price. I wish I could say that I’ve been doing it to help save the environment rather than out of a love of affordable fashion, but the more informed I become about the waste associated with fashion the more I will consider my fashion choices with the environment in mind.


Photos by Miro Anderson (aged 12)

Sayraphim Lothian does guerilla kindness

Sayraphim Lothian public artist

I found the work of Sayraphim Lothian via a Pozible campaign which I funded earlier this year. It was her ‘Journey: the Kakapo of Christchurch’ project to help bring 124 handmade kakapos (New Zealand’s native endangered parrots) to Christchurch as an act of Guerilla Kindness. I thought this was a fantastic and intriguing idea, and I followed the campaign through her newsletters as she held workshops to make Kakapos in Christchurch and left her crafted goodies around the city, to be discovered and have a life of their own. Some of them found homes and have had arty adventures of their own which made it back onto her facebook page. I received my Kakapo making kit recently and have yet to put it together. It’s waiting for a rainy weekend when I get my sewing machine out, then I’ll have to decide whether to keep it or leave it out in an act of Guerilla Kindness of my own.

Journey the Kakapo project Journey the Kakapo project

Sayraphim is busy working on many interesting projects, I asked her a few questions about her work as a public artist and her Guerilla Kindness ethos.

What is Guerrilla Kindness?
Guerrilla Kindness is part street art, part craftivism, part random acts of kindness. There’s a number of people using the term in different ways, but for me, it’s about leaving small, handmade works of art around for people to find and take home. It’s about creating a beautiful moment when someone walking down the street spots something lovely that’s been left there, just for them. It’s like the art equivalent of finding fairies at the bottom of the garden, and the magic that’s associated with that. But basically, it all boils down to trying to make the world a better place, one handcrafted item at a time

How did you get involved in this movement/ethos?
It was really through the work of playful company The Agency of Coney from London. One of their co-directors, Tassos Stevens, came out a couple of years ago and was running workshops as part of their work The Loveliness Principle. As part of one exercise, we were asked to brainstorm sneaky ways to do nice things for people anonymously, and that was the spark that started it all. My world opened up, doing nice things for people could be a body of work, could be a way of life. So that workshop really changed my work, it changed my life! I started brainstorming ways, and then carrying them out, how I could do nice things for people through art. It started with a project called ‘For you, stranger’, in which I made fake cupcakes and left them out with a tag that read ‘For you, stranger’ and I got some really lovely feedback from some of the first finders, about how great it was to find the cupcakes and how much it made their day, so then I was hooked!

Tassos’ visit also prompted myself and a few other people to start a games and playful company of our own, called Pop Up Playground. We make games and playful situations for young and old. Play is very important to learning, to understanding yourself and others, to building and maintaining social and communication skills, but as adults we somehow forget to play. So Pop Up Playground is all about bring play and fun back for adults!

Can you tell me a bit about Craftivism?
At it’s very basic form, craftivism is using craft for activism purposes. So it’s about changing the world, changing minds or opening up discussions about issues through craft. That might be through a crafting group, though crafting in public where people can come and talk to you about what you’re doing and why, it could be making things for people in need, like blankets for homeless shelters or beanies for newborns in hospitals, it can be about producing items with political messages on them to display in public, banners, clothing, quilts etc. It can be making your own clothes, cross stitching radical messages or simply learning to patch your clothes to make them last longer. There’s many people making craftivist work in various ways both in the public and private sphere.

The term itself was coined by Betsy Greer in the US in 2003, although the idea of using what skills you have to make your voice heard is by no means a new one! The suffragettes, for example, made banners and stitched messages to their clothing, sewed petitions and created a wide range of what would now be called suffragette merchandise to sell in stores to get their message out there. Betsy had edited the first compendium of craftivism, called ‘Craftivism: the Art of Craft and Activism’ which has just been released in the US and will be released in Aus soon. I’m very excited about this book, it’s filled with essays and interviews from people working in craftivism from around the world and I was really honoured to be asked to write about Guerrilla Kindness as part of it!

Craftivism book by Betsy Greer
What are some of your current projects you are working on?
Currently I’m reworking ‘For you, stranger’ to make it more environmentally friendly. I wanted to be able to make colourful and cheerful cupcakes out of more eco-friendly materials. I’ve got a couple of projects that can’t be talked about in public yet  (ooo! I wish I could!) and with Pop Up Playground I’m working with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra on a playful workshop called Paper Orchestra which sees members of the public make fantastic paper instruments then sit in with the orchestra and be conducted by eminent conductor Richard Gill. We’re also working on a city wide game based on Julius Caesar with The Bell Shakespeare Company called #TrueRomansAll in which players run around the Melbourne CBD and either try to stop or help facilitate the murder of Caesar. #TrueRomansAll is about decisions and consequences, how will you decide which side you’re on, what deed will be done and what does that mean for the people of Melbourne and the players personally? I’m really excited about both these projects!

Sayraphim Lothian cupcakes

Your Kakapo project was funded through a Pozible campaign. Do you often use crowd funding to get a project off the ground?
‘Journey: the Kakapo of Christchurch’ was the first project I’ve crowdfunded. Usually my work is self funded, but because this was such a big one, I felt I needed help! The project plan was to make 124 kakapo, which is NZ’s critically endangered flightless parrot, and take them to Christchurch to leave around as acts of Guerrilla Kindness for people in a city that had gone through so much. I also wanted to run free crafting workshops for people to make their own simple felt kakapo which they could then leave out for other people or take home for themselves. Since there was flights, accommodation, materials for 124 kakapo and then 100 kakapo kits and everything else I needed, I couldn’t afford to do it on my own, so I turned to the community to help me fund that. It was a big job, promoting the campaign was a full time job for most of the month it ran, but we made the total with about a day to spare and that was amazing! It was such a great feeling that 150 people believed in my project enough to put their money down and help me bring joy to the people of Christchurch.

Journey the Kakapo projectJourney the Kakapo project

Anything else you’d like to add?
How to find out more about the work I do! You can find my previous projects at www.sayraphimlothian.com and www.popupplayground.com.au, or follow me on twitter and instagram@sayraphim and facebook at facebook.com/sayraphimlothian


I’ve been away on holidays recently, first for a long weekend away camping and then for 10 days to New Zealand. I know, lucky me. When I’m on holidays I always buy a few magazines and it’s generally the only time I get to read one from cover to cover. I have loved magazines from when I was young, graduating from Dolly at high school through fashion mags like Cleo, Cosmo, Marie Claire, In Style as I grew up and then moving onto home magazines like Inside out, Home Beautiful, Wallpaper then more arty or green magazines. More recently I have started buying Frankie, Smith Journal and Peppermint which are a great mix of culture, craft, fashion and sustainability with lots of unique stories, interesting photography and quirky characters. I have heard that Australia is the magazine buying capital of the world, a staggering 172 million magazines are sold here a year.

I definitely contribute to that figure, buying my fair share of magazines which are sometimes left by my bedside leafed through but unread. Renegade Collective is quickly becoming my current favourite. It’s a mix of all the movers and shakers in the world, from entrepeneurs starting amazing businesses to inventors, bloggers, artists and generally anyone getting out there and successfully doing what they love. Which is very appealing and inspirational when you’re interested in doing your own thing. That’s what I took with me on holidays and have pretty much read the whole thing.

Renegade Collective cover

Renegade Collective magazine

You can tell a lot about a place from it’s magazines, about what people value, what they are passionate about and what they find appealing. Because I love magazines and need to keep my finger on the pulse, and I’m always looking for inspiration for the hillscene, I picked up a few New Zealand magazines at the airport on the way home, for research purposes. Here’s what I got.


Full of well written, researched and thorough articles that are a decent length. This issue featured Gay pride festival in New Zealand which included some interesting personal stories about the gay scene and cultural events relevant to this topic. There were also other stories, about a local political hopeful, the strange death of a hacker and the de-regulation of meat processing plants. With a food section, guide of events, music and book reviews and a design feature, it’s very comprehensive. Definitely not a light read, it’s for those who are interested in more serious news and in depth features.

Metro magazine


A much glossier magazine, this one was the fashion issue. It has a lot of articles about fashion forward people like personal shopper and arbiter of style the rich and famous Betty Halbreich  who is 86 years old, three real life women who live and breathe vintage style, and even a story about a luxury fashion brand in Brazil creating great opportunities by recycled drink can tabs in it’s clothing range. There’s also stories about well known local interviewer, inspirational new businesses and creative power couples, and more diverse features on iPads in classrooms and the link between genes and health. There’s the usual home, food and beauty sections as well. My favourite part was a fashion illustration feature, where ten designers shared a piece from their upcoming collection which was then illustrated by Kelly Thompson.

Next magazine


My favourite magazine from New Zealand though is Good. I’ve been subscribing to this one for a while. It’s not just the articles that appeal to me, it’s the great design and use of photography that I find so inspiring. For starters the paper is recycled so it has a beautiful matt quality and feels rich and thick and the design on the pages feels lush and warm. No stark white pages with glossy photos, it’s all muted and inviting tones. It’s full of homespun goodness and environmental features, a bit of crafty advice and how-tos and lots of people doing upcycled, vintage or designers that use sustainable principles. I like it’s mix of in-depth features and smaller bites of people, products and information.

Good magazine

This issues’ features include an expose on the negative effects of sugar on our health and it’s environmental impact for indigenous cultures, an A-Z of fabrics, how to save money and conquer your debt, and even the story of Maggie Eyre who gave up her successful career in Europe to care for her 93 year old mother. There’ a gardening section, simple parenting and home tips and a great seasonal food section with amazing photography.

This is one magazine I don’t always get to read properly but I love getting each issue and devouring it’s visual feast. I love it because it’s, well… good.

Good magazine food pages

What are your favourite magazines?



hillscene issue 14
Hillscene autumn issue showcasing some talented local VCE artists.
hillscene issue 14
Kirsten Laken’s window for Mater Christi College featured in the hillscene Autumn issue.
hillscene issue 14
My favourite photoshoot from this issue, the charming home of Alicia from Time Worn Style with photos by Jen Angel.


It’s been a while… That’s because I had a few deadlines. The main one being the Autumn issue of the hillscene. When I have a big deadline I go into blinkered mode and the only thing that matters is meeting the ‘deadline’.

At those times if you came over, you might wonder what the hell happened to the house. The pile of washing to be folded and put away becomes like a huge mountain where we have to rummage for clothes that are then worn all wrinkly but at least clean. The faministration (family administration) and other paper work get’s left on the kitchen table which we won’t see for weeks. I might occasionally watch my favourite program as a way of relaxing and getting away from the computer but then I’ll feel guilty that I’ve wasted an hour when I could have been working. But generally speaking all of my time is spent working on the job in the mad rush to meet the ‘deadline’.

Of course all the essentials get done. Kids to school, pick them up, race them around to their various activities, dinner made (the quick and easy staples rather than a delicious new recipe), clothes washed, etc. Then there’s always the late nights, later than usual. So late I might actually lie about what time I got to bed, though the dark circles under my eyes might give me away. But it’s all in the name of meeting the ‘deadline’ which is the one thing that just can’t be missed, no matter how tight or impossible it may seem.

The hillscene deadline is a bit loose and I have on occasion stretched it a bit because I didn’t want to make it impossible for myself when other, better paid, work beckons and gets a priority. Once the job is at the printers it’s time to get some well deserved sleep. It’s a relief to see the finished mag through an exhausted haze and enjoy it briefly before it gets distributed. I generally need a few weeks (more like a month) to recover before I can get back into the next issue, when all the stress is soon forgotten in search of new stories. But with other deadlines there’s no such pause, the next one looms as soon as the last one is gone.

Deadlines do have their advantages though. Without a deadline it’s easy to procrastinate and put things off. That’s why when I want to do some artwork I book an exhibition or join a project or even just telling some friends what I intend to do, so giving myself a deadline. Otherwise nothing would ever get done. Stressful as they may be they give you an impetus to get off your butt and make things happen.

Safety CD
Another one of the deadlines I worked on this month, a fun job for Dandenong Ranges Music Council.