Art & Wellbeing
with Shari Lowndes
MELBOURNE, APRIL 2021
For Australian artist and designer Shari Lowndes, of Szilvassy — inspiration comes from nature. When Amodern Alchemy is in Australia, we are always lucky enough to stay with Shari in her home in Carlton, Melbourne. While we were there earlier this year, we sat down with her to talk about her methods and tools for wellbeing, and where she draws inspiration from for her ceramics practice.
practice as an intertwined model.’
I am an Australian born female artist, with Italian, French, Portuguese, Austrian, Greek, Egyptian lineage. Working predominantly with clay, I am interested in embedding narratives of land, heritage and environmental subject matter into my works.
I am blessed to have grown up surrounded by Australia’s rainforests and remained close to this natural habitat throughout my teenage years. At the time I realised it’s beauty and influence, but moreso now as I apply myself to my art practice. When l commenced at SOCA (School of Clay and Art) in 2015, I then discovered my love for clay. I was fortunate to study under Shane Kent, an artist and philosopher who has a certain depth I have rarely been exposed to. What started as a casual pottery class once a week, evolved into an intensive education. I was lucky enough to be offered a scholarship with them. My time at SOCA, over the period of 5 years, formed intrinsic skills and insights I apply to my daily art practice. Interwoven through my work are undertones of my mixed heritage, but foremost is the relationship with nature.
In the mornings I prefer not to abide to a set routine as I find I need to be more intuitive of where I am at on that particular day. Having said this there are a handful of rituals I enjoy; morning walks with Luna (our pup) and my partner in our local gardens, coffee from a local Japanese cafe, and yoga. Throughout the day I often blend different herbal teas dependent on my energy levels, and the properties of different herbs I want to harness.
my mixed heritage, but foremost is the
relationship with nature.’
In the evenings I love preparing meals for my partner and sometimes friends. I always feel a great joy in the process and really love the feeling of nourishing others.
Bathing is a ritual I relish in, incorporating magnesium salts, candles, music and essential oils. Submerging in water is such a powerful experience, where I enjoy stillness in this state. Before bed I prepare more tea to assist in promoting a good night sleep accompanied with guided meditation.
Most mornings, the first brew I start with is a matcha, blended with oat milk, coconut butter and Superhuman. This is usually followed by coffee form a local cafe which I enjoy the spoil of someone else preparing for me. I prefer my mornings to be as quiet as possible as I find it helps me gather my thoughts for the day ahead and focus on what I hope to achieve. When I take that time for introspection I find I have a productive and creatively energised day.
Based on a Japanese methodology of Zen Buddhism - the practice of minimalism really resonates with me. Consciously I am trying to make better decisions on what I am purchasing and have realised that living well begins in the home environment. For me that is to live with art, plants and literature, eating mostly plant based organic foods and to utilise herbs.
my being, I don’t see either ‘art’ or
‘wellbeing’ as separate.’
Intuition is such a powerful tool, and often under-utilised. For me, growing up in nature I was taught of the many healing properties of different herbs and various home remedies taught by my mother. We would always heal naturally before turning to Western medicine which of course also has its place. I have increasingly enjoyed understanding and studying herbal properties on a deeper level.
To me, beauty stems from the foundations of looking after the body, the mind and giving to others. I am a strong believer in reciprocity. To feel my optimum I need to ensure I have a healthy gut and benefit from consuming mostly alkaline foods. I like to incorporate herbal supplements on a daily basis with both meals and drinks. Personally, Yoga is my most profound ‘wellbeing’ and ‘beauty’ practice - through movement and breath work it facilitates a deepening personal connection.
I relate to my Art practice and wellbeing practice as an intertwined model. My creative process is sometimes measured and mechanical; often focused on researching and sourcing materials or working to a brief. Other times it is much more organic and I am not projecting an outcome, simply exploring and discovering.
The process of making is an extension of my being, I don’t see either ‘art’ or ‘wellbeing’ as separate. Working with a material that is pure and from the earth as well as the practice of wheel throwing requires complete and centred focus. I relate it as a practice of meditation for which I feel grounded by.
With skincare, I mostly use naturally derived oils and serums. I have recently gotten into micro-needling at home which has been helping with hormonal pigmentation as a result of endometriosis. As I have gotten older, I wear much less makeup, if any. I have always approached beauty in this way, but like anything, with time your awareness and knowledge deepens and the practice becomes more concentrated or even simplified.
If my mind or spirit is feeling flat, I ground myself in nature or ensure I am consistently practicing Yoga. I see an amazing and brutal acupuncturist, as well as a chiropractor/NET practitioner who both assist when my body/mind needs a little extra tending to. The nature of my work is very physical, so it is crucial for me to look after and maintain alignment.
Over the past couple of years, and more recently, my thoughts are focused on where and how I desire to live. I was blessed in my childhood to grow up in Northern NSW, a sub-tropical climate. I yearn to be back there in nature by the sea daily. I dream to walk outside and only see trees, to live more self sufficiently in a home that my partner and I will create together. Like my parents had instilled, I want to be able to grow what is needed to sustain me, working in harmony with the land. To me that is a luxury I truly long for.
When it comes to land and environment, I read recently a quote by Stephen Harrod Buhner - “Our very humanness depends on them, and in return, they depend on us… Their out-breath is our in-breath, our exhale, their inhale.”
Human beings are custodians of an environment which is altered by our very existence. The responsibility is to own our part, which I believe starts with the individual being optimistic that change can occur. I remain hopeful.
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