The Little Seeds
My degree was great, it was inspiring, provoking, challenging and valuable. BUT a degree in Critical Fine Art Practice doesn’t entitle you to an easy-to-pin-down job title or even necessarily career path. In fact, we spent three years talking about what CFAP actually means and at the end of it all I am still not totally sure how to encapsulate what it was, is or has the potential to be. It was not Painting, Printing or Sculpture. It was thoughts, ideas, discussion, understanding, questioning, critique, philosophy, painting walls white, scrubbing floors and sometimes eating teacakes.
None of those quite fill an “occupation……” box on application forms.
So here I am Rebecca Stern BAHons Mother Of One and since arriving in Australia (now half a year ago!) I have test-driven a range of careers for size. First there was the initial Art’s Volunteer roles which I thought was a good way to meet some people and get to know more about the local arts scene. I began volunteering at Octapod a multi-limbed arts organisation that runs a good range of projects. My Job is to create a project to celebrate their 15 year birthday. Then I joined the Newcastle Art Gallery as an Art Cart volunteer where I help out with the free activities for children held in the gallery every weekend. It is inspiring to see the tiny people getting their pastel covered hands stuck right in to creating their own artwork based on the current exhibition around them. I do that once a month and really enjoy being a part of such a well established gallery in a fun way! More recently I have helped out at the brand spanking new Curve Gallery whose older sister gallery is in Liverpool, UK. It is exciting to be in a city that is growing so fast.
Next came my venture into papercrafts. I filled my evening hours making cards, cupcake flags and pinwheels, mini luggage labels and strings of hearts with bells. I felt like a Chinese migrant worker in an Ipod factory fiddling about with teeny bits of floral paper but it was good to be so focused and to really make something pretty with my hands. Unfortunately the day I chose to do a stall at a Saturday market nearby it happened to rain all day and it was not only quite depressing sitting in the cold all day but also financially a flop. I made enough money to cover the cost of the stall but it really didn’t feel worth giving up all those valuable evening hours and my weekend again.
Then I picked up a leaflet advertising yoga for children and when I was looking for class times online I saw an advert seeking new yoga teachers. I have never done any formal yoga training and have always been on and off in phases with attending classes but I figured that having began doing yoga with my mum at around age 13 I have been doing yoga in some form for over 10 years. So, I braved it and applied for the job. After an interview in a café which felt scarily like a blind date I agreed to head off to Melbourne for a weekend of intensive training which involved a class of fully grown women jumping around pretending to be gorillas or some other posture inspired animal. So now I am a Yogabugs teacher and though a stroke of luck and perfect timing I was able to get Dylan a place at the Daycare where I teach my class. I was excited to think that I was getting $30 per class but then was informed that it was actually $30 per hour and since the class is only 30 minutes I only earn $15. More than anything I just felt embarrassed that I put so much into my class and my weekly wage is enough to buy two drinks in a pub. There was talk of taking on some more classes but due to the times and locations it would have been a bit complicated and since I was so deflated about my meagre income I wasn’t too keen on taking on more anyway.
I love teaching my little yogabugs and it amazes me how much they really engage with what I teach them. I have a collection of feathers I hand out at the end of our yoga adventure and they practice their warming and cooling breathes by blowing it and hold it on their bellies while they shut their eyes for relaxation. Sometimes teaching Dylan is a little tricky, whenever I do ‘Buster the Dog’ (woof woof) he climbs on my back, but he is getting better at understanding Mummy is teaching. At the end of the class today he gave me the biggest hug and said “well done Mummy, you are the best at teaching me yoga!” If only every job could offer such positive forms of feedback! Talking to a friend of mine who is doing a Primary teaching course I came up with a long term plan: I can do a Masters in Primary teaching in two years and get a full-time job with real hours and real wages. So this is on the cards for 2013…
Another strand of my career experimentation is my jewellery-making course at Studio Melt I am doing. I have been loving my Tuesday night out to learn something new and rewarding where I can indulge in my love for chunky silver rings. The course is run by a brilliant teacher in her new shop and studio which will be offering space to workshop graduates to sell their designs. So in a few months I may have my own collection of bling for sale. Watch this space!
It was at the class that I was offered my first photography commission by an Architect (the only male on the course) to photograph stylish Snow’s Patisserie that he designed. I was just taking photos of everyone working when he said he was looking for someone to photograph his work for his website so I said I would do it, show him the photos and if he liked them we could take it from there… He loved them! And so my measly $15 dollars has been trumped by a healthy three figure number. YAY! I was asked to do a family photoshoot for my friend on Friday so we will see how that goes!
Then there is my part-time career as a magazine editor, an extremely exciting venture with my friend Rachael in London called The Little Seeds. It is a magazine for children and parents to explore together and we have been busy bees creating each page and filled with ideas that will encourage little and big people to open their eyes to the world around them, get stuck into something fun and creative and hopefully make them smile too. It is stretching us both out of our comfort zones and pushing us into unchartered territory but I’m loving the process and the joy at watching an idea grow. I will let you know when it is ready for the big wide world! Eeek!
Then just to keep things interesting I braved my nerves and unhelpful feelings of inadequacy to approach a new collectively run gallery and studio space about joining them. So I am now a member of Time & Place and I was over the moon to be referred to as “thought-provoking”, I felt like I had forgotten was exactly what I’d like my work to be. As the little quirks of life would have it the weekly fee for the studio is a modest amount thanks to the incredible Renew Newcastle Project it is a part of… just the right amount: $15. In fact it might soon be dropped to $10 so then I will have enough change in my weekly earnings for a macaroon each for Dylan and I from Snow’s Patisserie!