I’m the person who does the big overseas trip, and everyone has to keep hearing about it for years to come! If you follow my Facebook page or blogs, it wont take you long to see how excited I still am about Steve and my first trip to the other side of the word this year. It was only three weeks, but we did London, the English countryside around the Avon Valley and Salisbury Plains, and Paris. We ‘loved’ it! I’d been wanting to go all my life, and it was everything I had dreamed, and 10 times more!
People kept on telling me how perfect it would be for me to paint the cities and villages over there. I kept telling them that I would let the people over there paint their own cities and villages, because my passion is to paint this nation.
So, now I’m home, they are still asking me if I will paint English and French towns as I loved them so much. If I had an abundance of spare time, which I don’t, I would consider it. But my answer hasn’t changed. In fact, after seeing the long history and deep identity of England and Paris, it has only served to intensify my motivation to capture New Zealand’s identity in my paintings. Going to the art galleries, and seeing the great art masters bodies of work, still wowing people 100’s of years after their creation, has only served to deepen my resolve to keep working on my own body of work of Aotearoa.
I’d been painting and publishing New Zealand Towns and cities for 15 years, when I had my epiphany moment. If I could do anything with Sarah Platt Art, what would it be? And I knew the answer immediately. I want to have every town and city in the nation painted and publish in the collection. It will be a simple and honest body of work that documents and captures our stories. Our wee slice of heaven. There is no way I can accomplish this in my life time unless I have more artists helping me. To do it, I will also need to build Sarah Platt Art in such a way, that it has sustainable momentum, and had the ability to keep growing, even after I get too old to keep painting. I will need people around me who will be willing to become part of the story as I work on telling ‘our story’. I’ll need customers, and contacts, champions and people who can lend their wisdom and favor. I will need people who are just willing to encourage me. Every time someone buys a piece of Sarah Platt Art, or simply decides to follow me on line, they are doing this.
Is there a deep resolve in you to do something important? What will you need to make it happen? Not all of us have that feeling of a call, but most of us can become part of a significant story when we partner with those that do. I’m asking you to partner with me.
Yesterday we finally got our head board for our bed. Now I’m of a ‘certain age’, I tend to wake up ‘very hot’ quite often during the night, which necessitates finding a cool spot in my bed to move into so I can sleep again. So we bought the biggest bed we could find, a Californian King. The cost of the bed was one thing, but we also now needed new bedding. When all was done, there was no room left in the budget for a new bed head, so I put it on my vision board and bided my time. I fell in love with the head board in Mike and Rachel’s room on the programme Suits. This was going to be the one for me. Then when we hired a wee honey stone cottage in England this year, the bed in the room actually had one. It confirmed my choice.
Eventually I had money in the budget to start shopping. We had to have it made up, because the market didn’t have ‘Ready Made’, for a Californian King bed. I wanted to support my home town, and have one made here, but my coin just couldn’t go that far. In the end, after some homework, we had a small Auckland company make one for us and ship it down. I almost cant believe it. I finally have a bed head, and not just any bed head. It’s the deep buttoned, grey linen one I wanted.
Now some people don't really care about their physical environment. It’s just not important to them, and I actually admire them for that. I swear if I died, my home would become a time capsule, and that Steve would probably never think to change one décor item ever again. Probably my daughter in law would step in and tell him when he needed new carpet. So I’m just going to have to live a long time along besides him!
For me, I do care. Someone said I have a knack of looking at something, and pulling all the beautiful things out and putting them back together, presenting them in a beautiful way, so others can enjoy them. I’ll take that! That’s exactly how I want to bless people! So along with that talent, comes a caring for how I present my home. I love programmes like The Block and have recently discovered the HGTV channel, filled with house building and make over programmes. I love seeing new rooms beautifully put together and presented. I love the ideas and the new trends. I love the concept of making our homes beautiful. But the truth is, most of us don't go out and buy a whole house full, or even room full of new ‘on trend’ furniture and items all in one hit. We do it little by little, and bit by bit. We do it according to our budgets, our motivation and our priorities. For me, when I couldn’t stand my cheap rimu Formica bedroom suit anymore, yet couldn't afford new pieces, I took the time out one new year, and spray painted it, and replaced the handles. It took time and energy and a bit of money, but I got the beautiful white bedroom furniture I craved. Now it’s the brown Formica doors in my house I’m hating. Every time I see them I can imagine how much better they will look when they are white. I’ve had a quote to have them painted, and one to have them replaced. I might end up painting them myself, but in the end, I will find a way to make it happen.
So to finish up with, what is your little by little, bit by bit? Is there something you are wanting to do? Is it something as simple as new cushions? Is it painting a room a new colour? Is it buying a beautiful new piece of art? Or are you one of those people who just don't care so much about your physical environment. Maybe your little by little, bit by bit, is building your fitness, or planning your next tramping trip? Maybe it’s learning a new recipe, or getting a qualification? Maybe it’s doing a Te Reo Maori course? The point is, if we really think about it, we all have something, and making that something happen will require us to put in some effort and pay the cost. Most of us cant do it all at once, but we can do some of it. What is the next thing that you want to make happen, and what is it that you are enjoying that you have achieved?
My girlfriend who usually cleans my house most weeks, has not been able to come for a while, and I’ve been exceedingly busy preparing, for and doing home Shows out of town, and designing and getting my apprentice artists started on the Wairarapa collection. The upshot is that our house had not been cleaned for weeks, which is very unlike us. Add into this, the fact that our beautiful long haired white burman cat, Neo, is malting, and you get our charcoal coloured carpet coated in lumps of fine cat hair. In fact, when I groomed him on Thursday, I had enough of his cat hair to make a little shadow Neo cat. My home was an ‘Open Studio’ this weekend as part of the Manawatu Art Trail, so on Friday I needed to give it a thorough cleaning so I could present it in it’s normal beautiful fashion. It was actually nice having nearly a whole morning off my normal work responsibilities to ‘minister to’ my home. Tend to it’s needs and take care of it! I’m fairly sure I always do a better job than anyone else, because no one loves my home as much as me. Before I start, I actually clean the clogged up head of the turbo vacuum. I pay attention to the little stuff like cleaning the pet gunk of the cat door so you can see through it again. I don't just dust, I clean precious objects in hot soapy water, and dry them to a sparkle.
The down side of cleaning my home is that I really become aware of things that need attention. The window frames are crying out for sanding and new coats of paint, the laminate is chipping of the bottom of the doors and the carpet is getting really worn and thin. How long can we eke it out before we deal to those things?
The up side of doing the cleaning myself, is that all the dusting and polishing makes me really focus on every little item in my home, and I find myself pondering on just how wealthy I am. I love the look of a newly decorated room with all the latest ‘on trend décor object’s you can purchase at the beautiful home furnishing places. But in reality, most of the objects we have in our homes are not freshly bought off the shelves. They are collected treasure we have gathered over the years. I am exceedingly particular about every object I bring into my home. It has to be displayed in just the right place, and I will often spend weeks, moving things around the house until I feel they are in the perfect spot, in harmony with their surrounds. Each week after my friend has cleaned my home, I will go around and move everything ever so carefully back to the right angel! So what are these ‘precious things’, these ‘treasures’ and ‘tauonga’ that make me feel so wealthy, and why do they hold so much value? They are objects as varied as the things that are maybe 100 years old, inherited from both sides of my family, like my wooden standing clock, my large stone storage jars, and the beautiful jug that belonged to my favorite Gran’s mum. They are things as new as the religious iconic trinkets I bought in the cathedral souvenir shops in England a few months back. They are beautiful pottery and glass pieces, sculptured by someone else’s hand, now representing value to me, not just because of their own beauty, but because of the place each piece was purchased in, and the people I was with at the time. They are gifts from my husband and even a Christmas gift bought for me by my daughter in law, who made sure she got the perfect rose gold coloured vase I had had my eye on. Just a cheap décor item, but now valued, because it was bought with her love for me. In fact, I realized as I consider every object in my home, that it had won its place there, not just for the delight it brings with it’s excellent appearance, but for the connections the memory of it congers up. On my dresser in the front hallway I even have a wee Kinner shell, beautiful in it’s warm sea green colour, with cream pearl like bumps lined up in perfect rows. I hold it for a moment and remember the day I found it. A sparkling Boxing Day when we drove to Island Bay in Wellington. We put the Kayak in, and our daughter and her ‘twin cousin’ paddled around the glassy breathing sea water, exploring the little channels, while my hubby and Mum and I wandered about the rock pools. My dad contentedly sat like a lamb in the car parked overlooking the beach. Windows down of course! He already had dementia, but was still good enough to accompany us everywhere like that. So as I dusted I held that wee shell for a moment and the memories came flooding back. My eyes watered up as I said the name, ‘Dad’. Now this inanimate object has a soul, and it’s all connected to the happiness of that morning, the love shared with family, and the memory of my father. As I dusted my house that Friday I was staggered to realize just how much soul my home has. In my room there is a wee framed silhouette cut out of me as a little poppet. I stole it from mums when I found it buried in a draw years ago, and had two deeply wooden molded silver frames made, one for it, and one for a happy moment captured in a photo of my three kids all tumbling out of a tunnel slide on an Auckland Holiday. While the silhouette picture is of me, I realize it is actually the love me and mum share, that makes that a special piece for me. It was the fact that she had it made by an artist in the first place, at a time when money would have been tight.
So my home is full of tauonga! And of course, it got me thinking. I spend my working life trying to create such objects for others! Paintings of towns and places they loved. Places they grew up, maybe raised a family or just worked in. It is always my hope that these pieces will do just what my precious objects are doing. Remind them of the people who they have done life with. The ‘connections’ are the real treasure of life. I hope people will remember the day they made the choice to get that special piece to bring into their home, or the person who bought it for them with love. I hope it will hang on their wall like a quiet sentinel, reminding them of good times, good memories and things of value! Remembering why each of my possessions are precious today, reminds me of why I value the work I do.
So What’s my take for you as I ponder ‘Precious Things’? Am I just telling you to clean up and make sure you dust everything off? A little bit. Mostly I’m saying, recognize your treasure. It might be you need to frame that piece of art hanging off the fridge, done by your kid or grandchild. Just get a cheap frame from a department store. It might be to unpack those boxes hidden away from your last move, and get those special pieces back out on display. You might modernize them with a new piece of decor art if that’s what you want. But treasure them. Remenber the people and places they represent, and count your blessings every time you see them.
This is the start of something new, hopefully you will share some of my story about my passion for painting the towns and cities of our wonderful New Zealand