This year, as the days grew shorter and the nights longer for the third winter spent living in Gippsland, I found myself craving my home made Chai Tea. As I got the recipe out I realised that it had become a seasonal ritual since having moved to my new town. This yearly touchstone gave me comfort, not just from the tea, but from the gesture of continuity within a period of great change and upheaval. Traditions and rituals are so often lacking from our culture and daily lives as a way to mark and embrace phases of transition; they allow us to move into change rather than resist it and form an import part in creating a sense of inner and outer belonging.
There was both a sense of adventure and also a frustration when I first arrived in my new town. Everything that I had taken for granted over years of making connections in Melbourne, suddenly took effort through trial and error. This journey has been acutely mirrored in my art practice which was my main motivation for leaving the daily commute and the pollution of noise, light and traffic.
Since moving, my art practice has shifted from the internal world of still life to the outer world of landscape, offering a way to communicate the internal atmosphere of mood. Although having grown up in the city when I sit with the scope of my experience, Gippsland has felt like home long before I came here to live. It is not the streets, or the houses, or the shop fronts and streetscapes. Those come and go – for me, the big skies, the birds’ flight home at dusk, the smell of smoke in fresh air and watching the seasons paint the landscape at their whim are where I have discovered a new and deeply inspiring source of creativity and belonging.
The journey to belonging is not marked by outward recognition or unspoken rules of initiation, it is an internal strength born from a sincere commitment to something of deep significance to you. It might be a favourite recipe, a craft that comes out the cupboard when the season beckons or even a daily ritual of driving the long way home because the view is better … these simple acts of conscious living can help strengthen and deepen our everyday, particularly at this time year when we are asked to dance with the dark.
This article was written for the upcoming June issue of:
Valuing Diversity, Inclusion and Equity