Artist Biography About the woman/the storyteller behind the art. raw and authentic - Healing Trauma, Grief & Leaving a Legacy
My name is Tina, I am a creative, an explorer, a thinker, a collector, a storyteller... I am also perhaps a little lost...okay, really lost.... I am healing and doing my very best to create love and beauty in my life.
I am a nature person. I love the desert. I love the forest & trees. I love thunderstorms and the wild open ocean. I have always lived in the mountains, the forest, near rivers and freshwater lakes, until recently, when I decided I needed the ultimate sea change. Something to re-awaken my spirit. Somewhere that would make me feel whole, alive and safe. I had a particular location tugging at my heart. The Prom Coast. Victoria, Australia.
Wilsons Promontory National Park (Called "Yirik" "Warnoon" and "Wamoon" by the traditional owners - the Gunaikurnai, Bunurong and Boon Wurrung people) is a large peninsula of beautiful rugged granite ranges, sheltered coves and bays. It is the southernmost part of the Australian mainland. It has been my 'go to' place whenever I needed to re-set, find balance, when I needed to feel closeness with my mum, and when I needed to reconnect with myself. This place, the ocean, the rivers, the dunes, hold memories for me, it feels like home, it is a place I know so well, and it is a place that knows me.
Actually, it is a particular group of red-hued, iron stained rocks that are very special to me. These rocks heard me giggle as a baby, they heard me sing declarations of love as a teenage girl with a crush, they heard me swoon with the joy of a new relationship (and swear, cry and scream when it ended). The rocks were the last place I remember my mum healthy, happy, before she had the brain tumor, when I was 9. These rocks comforted me when I was grieving for her many years later when she passed away....they were there again for me when I miscarried...and again for each loss that I endured...and there has been way to much loss for this soul to bear. These rocks never gave me advice, they never felt sorry or pity for me, I never felt like a victim or awkward around them, they were never happy for me or angry at me... They were just great big red granite Rocks, reminding me that the earth keeps turning, and they keep standing there, huge solid timeless pieces of granite, that hold similar secrets of people well before I came along, and will continue well after I am gone. I am now settled in my new place... and it has been wonderful to tell those rocks that I have come 'home' for a while.
I have always been creative, not just sculpting in clay, but everything from painting, photography, writing, journaling, and even a little pyrography. It's in my blood. I am not necessarily very 'good' at all of these things - but I really enjoy losing myself in art. My mother was an incredibly talented oil painter (painting mainly portraits) and my father was a graphic artist and signwriter. It took a lot of restraint as a small child, not to dip a brush into my mothers oil paints or draw a picture with my fathers very expensive graphic ink pens, but once in a while the temptation proved too strong - and I quickly learned the value of treating such art tools with respect and care.
Art for me, is not only an outlet for emotions. It is a place where I get completely lost, all consuming, it is passionate, and it brings me a sense of renewal, of vibrance, of flourishing and growth. Where an hour turns into several, and I look up from my workbench only to realise that midnight has passed, and I am lost in the rhythm of the night-crickets chirping outside the window. For me, it brings comfort. I need to be creative.
I sculpt in clay, paint in acrylic, oil and watercolor, sketch in pencil and charcoal, I have even tried tile mosaics (which I wasn't very good at - but enjoyed all the same).
Although both of my parents were creatives, for me, it started at 9 years of age, when my mum had a blood clot on her brain and a stroke. She was in hospital and then rehabilitation for almost a year. My escape was Art. I drew. I painted. I even sang. Art became Therapy.
This Art 'therapy' continued throughout my childhood and into adult years, it was a way to express my emotions, to manage stress and also a form of meditation and relaxation.
Grief, Trauma & Loss... My journey deeper into self-discovery and art as healing, started following a devastating series of trauma and loss. I lost everything I loved. Everything. They say things come in 3's, nothing prepared me for this... my mother died in arms, my happy marriage ended due to him having an affair, and I miscarried - on Mothers Day.
I fell apart completely.
Instead of accepting any sympathy or help - I isolated myself. I remember crying alone at the foot of a mountain. The reality hit hard. I had nothing and no-one. I didn't even know who I was anymore. I was completely on my own for the first time in my life.
Basically, I curled up in a ball and cried for a very, very long time. ...I still cry sometimes, believe me, I am still healing... but I also still have so much hope, and I still have dreams, and most importantly, I still love life.
Being on your own can be a very scary thing, especially if you have never been alone. You have no one to rely on to bring you happiness, and no one to blame for any unhappiness. ...it forces you to look inward....and inward is a very raw and real place to go.
Who Am I now that I have no one to define me? What do I need? What do I love doing? What is my calling? What inspires Me? What do I want? How do I love and care for me?
The seemingly simplest of things - are actually quite complex when you are forced to really look hard at yourself.
In the hours before my mum died, she gathered the strength to hold my hand and in her soft voice, simply said 'Be Happy Sweetheart'. Those were my mum's final words, and they echo around me everyday.
Be Happy Sweetheart.
It is so important to nourish your soul, to surround yourself in beauty and to take care of your heart, your body and your mind.
I remember a good friend saying to me, “It’s okay to be not okay" ...and that was so much better than hearing the “it will get betters,” That message resonated the most deeply with me. My grief was okay. It's funny that sometimes, people need permission to fall apart. It is from that broken place that we are finally able to become whole again.
Some things I have learned about Grief and Loss... If you can be around other people - be with people you find comforting and supporting, who allow you to be yourself, not those who expect you to put on a happy face for their sake. The full sense of the loss of someone loved never occurs all at once. The birthdays, wedding anniversaries and the first anniversary of the death often makes you realise how much your life has been changed by the loss. You have every right to have feelings of emptiness, sadness, despair, even guilt and anger. You may be frightened by the depth of emotion felt at these times. Unfortunately many people surrounding you may try to take these feelings away. Friends, even family, erroneously believe that their job is to distract you from your grief. Most grieving people need to speak about their feelings, the emptiness, sadness and depression and 'tell their story', to make living more tolerable. Talking about your loss in reality will help you to heal and work through the process of grief so try to find people who will listen to you and help you feel understood and not so alone. As people who have been blessed with the capacity to give and receive love, we are forever changed by the experience of grief in our lives. We, as human beings, do not 'get over' our grief but work to reconcile ourselves to living with it.
Memories made in love can never be taken away from you. If your memories bring laughter, let yourself smile, if memories bring sadness, let yourself cry.
I found a lot of Love and Happiness in my art. This is why the process of creating something from the heart and sharing that love, is so very important to me.
Anyone can benefit from art therapy... if you’re struggling with a serious circumstance, like grieving the loss of a loved one, feeling stressed by everyday demands or just in need of a little boost. Focusing on the feel of clay between your fingers, those smooth lines that appear with the strokes of a paint brush or even composing a beautiful picture when looking through the lens of a camera promotes mindfulness, a powerful healing practice.
Sometimes viewing others’ creative works can help us heal through the message evoked or the medium used.
I decided long ago, that every day really is a blessing. I make it a habit to rise early and watch the sun come up through the trees. The time of day when the birds are singing, but there is no other sound. I make sure to star gaze at least once a week, and leave the curtains open so that the moonlight pours into the room. I walk barefoot on the grass at least once a day.
I enjoy the quiet of nature. The Solitude. I enjoy nothing more than sitting by a campfire, with mug of coffee in hand, deep within a forest and surrounded by mountains. This is where I find myself. The real Me.
I think this stems from my childhood - my mum used to pack up the old Valiant and we would head off into the bush - I think for her, this was a way to escape the chaos of life - escape the people, the noise. Maybe she had deeper reasons for needing a refuge from normal life. For me, as a little girl, It was a constant adventure - sleeping under the stars, building tipi's from huge driftwood pieces, climbing trees and being the 'princess of the forest!'
I have spent a lot of time alone in wilderness areas, sometimes for weeks at a time. I once walked (and hiked up and over mountains) over 300km around Wilsons Promontory National Park in Victoria Australia, all by myself. It was an amazing (sometimes scary) experience for me, spending over 2 weeks totally alone. Sitting on a secluded beach at sunrise with my 'billy' boiling on the campfire, with only some wallabies and a wombat for company...it gives you time to breathe, to just be.
During my late 20's I sold everything I owned and traveled Australia for 2 years in a secondhand Delta Daihatsu Van, which was fitted with a bed, fridge and dog bed for my best friend. Working along the way, mainly fruit picking. We camped in remote desert regions of outback NSW and QLD, by pristine Rivers in the Snowy Mountains, and in the tropical rainforest of Far North QLD. This experience taught me many things, but most of all it taught me the value of trust and letting go.
I have spent time with some incredibly inspiring people.
My father is one of those people, throughout his life, he has followed many of his passions as an artist, photographer, graphic artist and signwriter....The things that impacted me most is that he has always been a conservationist, living simply, growing his own food and living his life so as to leave the smallest footprint possible. He taught me Respect. He encouraged me to question everything. To explore. His passion for life and his love of the earth influenced me more than he will ever know.
My mother passed away on July 15th 2006. Her name was Gloria Margaret. She was an artist, a writer, a traveller and a dreamer. Her life was not an easy one, and she had many hardships and heartbreaks from her childhood and during her life. She was one of those women who looked strong on the outside, but was secretly broken on the inside, but who was brave enough to keep on fighting no matter what life threw at her.
Two good friends of mine, were Sue and Don...I had know Sue since I was a little girl... Together they built a beautiful handmade strawbale home which was infused with love and wonderful energy... these people sparked the inspiration in me... Don actually crafted Teepi's and Sue created her own drums. They were so passionate about sustainability and the environment... Staying with them, learning from them and seeing how they live in harmony with the land was very educational and the passion they had was wonderfully contagious. Sue and Don were killed in a tragic car accident at the end of 2016.
I have cared for injured and orphaned wildlife, including kangaroo's and emu's. I have lived fairly self-sufficiently, growing almost all of my own food. I am a passionate person, striving to live an abundant, love-filled, authentic life.
“One of the worst griefs people feel is the longing for elders in their lives. How many times do we find ourselves in conflict, fear, or despair and wish we could receive guidance from someone who knows better? There is no shortage of older people in our communities, but what differentiates an elder from an older is not just age, but the wisdom they carry and the position they hold in their community. Among other qualities, an elder is someone who is committed to staying put, who has lived into the competencies of belonging and made an invitation of their lives to the young ones growing up around them. Elder wisdom comes not from the accumulation of knowledge, but from reflecting on life; instead of living in a state of unworthiness and regret, we can grieve and forgive the past, find the redemption in our story, and recognize how it fits into our ancestral mythos. This work becomes our gift to the future.” Excerpt From Belonging: Remembering Ourselves Home by Toko-pa Turner
The following speech is attributed to Chief Seattle (though plenty of controversy surrounds the true origins of this speech). It remains one of the greatest essays on the environment in existence.
Chief Seattle's 1854 speech on the environment
"How can you buy or sell the sky, the warmth of the land? The idea is strange to us. If we do not own the freshness of the air and the sparkle of the water, how can you buy them?
Every part of the Earth is sacred to my people. Every shining pine needle, every sandy shore, every mist in the dark woods, every clear and humming insect is holy in the memory and experience of my people. The sap which courses through the trees carries the memory and experience of my people. The sap which courses through the trees carries the memories of the red man.
The white man's dead forget the country of their birth when they go to walk among the stars. Our dead never forget this beautiful Earth, for it is the mother of the red man. We are part of the Earth and it is part of us. The perfumed flowers are our sisters, the deer, the horse, the great eagle, these are our brothers. The rocky crests, the juices in the meadows, the body heat of the pony, and the man, all belong to the same family.
So, when the Great Chief in Washington sends word that he wishes to buy our land, he asks much of us. The Great White Chief sends word he will reserve us a place so that we can live comfortably to ourselves. He will be our father and we will be his children. So we will consider your offer to buy land. But it will not be easy. For this land is sacred to us.
This shining water that moves in streams and rivers is not just water but the blood of our ancestors. If we sell you land, you must remember that it is sacred blood of our ancestors. If we sell you land, you must remember that it is sacred, and you must teach your children that it is sacred and that each ghostly reflection in the clear water of the lakes tells of events in the life of my people. The waters murmur is the voice of my father's father.
The rivers of our brothers they quench our thirst. The rivers carry our canoes and feed our children. If we sell you our land, you must remember to teach your children that the rivers are our brothers, and yours, and you must henceforth give the rivers the kindness that you would give my brother. We know that the white man does not understand our ways. One portion of land is the same to him as the next, for he is a stranger who comes in the night and takes from the land whatever he needs. The Earth is not his brother, but his enemy and when he has conquered it, he moves on. He leaves his father's graves behind, and he does not care. He kidnaps the Earth from his children, and he does not care.
His father's grave, and his children's birthright are forgotten. He treats his mother, the Earth, and his brother, the same, as things to be bought, plundered, sold like sheep or bright beads. His appetite will devour the Earth and leave behind only a desert.
I do not know. Our ways are different from yours ways. The sight of your cities pains the eyes of the red man. But perhaps it is because the red man is a savage and does not understand.
There is no quiet place in the white man's cities. No place to hear the unfurling of leaves in spring, or the rustle of an insect's wings. But perhaps it is because I am a savage and do not understand. The clatter only seems to insult the ears. And what is there to life if a man cannot hear the lonely cry of a whippoorwill or the arguments of the frogs around a pond at night. I am a red man and do not understand. The Indian prefers the soft sound of the wind darting over the face of the pond, and the smell of the wind itself, cleansed by a midday rain, or scented with the pinon pine.
The air is precious to the red man, for all things share the same breath - the beast, the tree, the man, they all share the same breath. The white man does not seem to notice the air he breathes. Like a man dying for many days, he is numb to the stench. But if we sell you our land, you must remember that the air is precious to us, that the air shares its spirit with all the life it supports. The wind that gave our grandfather his first breath also receives his last sigh. And if we sell you our land, you must keep it apart and sacred, as a place where even the white man can go to taste the wind that is sweetened by the meadow's flowers.
So we will consider your offer to buy our land. If we decide to accept, I will make one condition - the white man must treat the beasts of this land as his brothers.
I am a savage and do not understand any other way. I have seen a thousand rotting buffaloes on the prairie, left by the white man who shot them from a passing train. I am a savage and do not understand how the smoking iron horse can be made more important than the buffalo that we kill only to stay alive.
What is man without the beasts? If all the beasts were gone, man would die from a great loneliness of the spirit. For whatever happens to the beasts, soon happens to man. All things are connected.
You must teach your children that the ground beneath their feet is the ashes of our grandfathers. So that they will respect the land, tell your children that the Earth is rich with the lives of our kin. Teach your children what we have taught our children, that the Earth is our mother. Whatever befalls the Earth befalls the sons of the Earth. If men spit upon the ground, they spit upon themselves.
This we know - the Earth does not belong to man - man belongs to the Earth. This we know. All things are connected like the blood which unites one family. All things are connected.
Whatever befalls the Earth - befalls the sons of the Earth. Man did not weave the web of life - he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.
Even the white man, whose God walks and talks with him as friend to friend, cannot be exempt from the common destiny. We may be brothers after all. We shall see. One thing we know, which the white man may one day discover - Our God is the same God. You may think now that you own Him as you wish to own our land, but you cannot. He is the God of man, and His compassion is equal for red man and the white. The Earth is precious to Him, and to harm the Earth is to heap contempt on its creator. The whites too shall pass, perhaps sooner than all other tribes.
But in your perishing you will shine brightly, fired by the strength of the God who brought you to this land and for some special purpose gave you dominion over this land and over the red man. That destiny is a mystery to us, for we do not understand when the buffalo are slaughtered, the wild horses tamed, the secret corners of the forest heavy with scent of many men, and the view of the ripe hills blotted by talking wires. Where is the thicket? Gone. Where is the Eagle? Gone. The end of living and the beginning of survival".