WORDS BY LARINE STATHAM-BLAIR
I am a naturalist and lover of all things art, music and mindfulness.
I sometimes find profound meaning or deep sentiment in seemingly straight-forward moments, memories and symbols. But I’m certainly not hippy-dippy or prescribe to ju-ju. I’m probably what you would call a deeply spiritual sceptic.
That’s why it came as a complete surprise to me that a day at Wattle Cottage and Wellbeing Centre could touch me on such a deep level. When artist Jane Marin invited me to attend one of her retreats, I was in a personal slump. As a visual artist, I’d heard a lot about art as therapy, but it wasn’t something I’d ever considered doing. I decided to give it a go, and promised myself that I would lean into the experience with an open mind.
On the drive out to the Centre, I set my playlist to shuffle and asked the universe to pick a song that would set the tone for my day. Train – Calling All Angels. No kidding!
Hidden in a clearing in the cane fields, the Centre is surrounded by beautiful shady gardens. I’m flying solo and am relieved when I only know one other lady in the group – no need for small talk. We start with some deep breathing exercises to clear our minds, and Jane directs us to close our eyes, to scrawl and scribble our feelings, thoughts and intentions down across the canvas.
There is an air of ease when you are with Jane. You can’t help but feel like she sees you.
I randomly select a Celtic Oracle card, Tinne Holly, which in tarot symbolises renewal, protection and wholeness. It offers backbone, justice and strength. I was born in December and my parents had always intended to name me Holly but changed their mind at the last minute.
We apply layer upon layer of paint to the canvas; each time using different techniques and colours that resonate with us. I chose green, blue, yellow and orange.
After a lunch time stroll along a creek that joins the Elliott River, we each select a bee to add to the canvas as the focal point, using texture paste and acrylic paint. Great! I absolutely love these cheeky little pollinators but knew very little about their spiritual meaning before the retreat. Turns out the bee means productivity and personal power. The ancient Druids saw the bee as symbolising the sun, the Goddess, celebration, and community. They are a constant reminder to give back to the world what you take from it.
The thing that’s different about Jane’s workshops and retreats is that they are about the process, not the final product. Jane’s retreat helped me let go and reconnect with a side of myself I hadn’t seen in a long time. It was magic.