A family of three travelling Australia with their campervan ‘Macy’ on a mission to ‘think, create and collaborate’.

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So, Luke + Alice, you’ve started a new festival in the beautiful Hinterland of QLD which is launching this November. Tell me a little bit more about the Fibre Arts Festival you’ve created and what your motivations were for creating something like this? 

The Fibre Arts Festival is a celebration of Fibre Arts and Fibre Artists from around Australia and NZ and really it's a great excuse to get some amazingly talented people together for a creative weekend.  We wanted to create more than an 'event' but a gathering of like minded people, who love to be creative and wanted to learn and share with other creative people, we also wanted to create an event that we would like to attend. The festival will run for three days and two nights and you can choose four workshops. This way you get to try a range of fibre arts with weaving, crochet, felting, paper making, natural dyeing and more, with some of Australia and NZ's leading fibre artists.  We will also have two live music nights, daily yoga, meditation and sound healing, a large swimming pool as well as all professionally prepared and catered meals throughout the event. The venue is set in the bush and right on the river. It's a stunning place to just walk around. One of our biggest motivation was that we would like this to be the place that fibre artists’ could come to connect with others, network, grow on their own skills and really feel that they not only give in the workshops but also fill up their own basket of knowledge. We hope that not only the artist but participants feel like they have the chance to share and learn as we have open workshop times.  

The festival is one price and is all inclusive, which means there are no extra surprises.  All workshops, all resources needed during the workshops, accommodation and meals are included. We are having a trade blanket which gives facilitators and participants the chance to sell or swap with others. You might want to bring money for this but that's it.

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From what I've learnt about you both so far, you've kind of gone against the grain, bought a camper van called 'Macy' and you're travelling around Australia to 'think, create and collaborate' with others. Can you share with us a little bit more why you've taken the leap toward this slow + minimal way of living? 

Alice - Yes, we wanted to slow down, re prioritize, unplug from the day to day, work on the fibre arts festival(as we love working together), enjoy the simple things in life and enjoy time as a family and teach our children the importance of following your passion and giving life a go.  

Luke - Yes, We have now been living in our camper for 9 months. Ruby (our 7 year old daughter) named her Macy and we are lucky enough to be travelling full time around Australia.  A simplified approach to living has always appealed to us and we have always tried to implement it into our lives, but it's not always easy when you have the 'real world' responsibilities.  We have had the house, the cars, careers and repayments that go with it and just decided to make this life a full time reality rather than a part time dream. We have worked really hard for over a year and a half planning and preparing for it.  Creating opportunities and paying off debt.  Like anything, we believe you need to plan to make sure that a lifestyle like this is not only achievable but sustainable as well.  Now, we get to travel and experience amazing places around us and Ruby gets to see and learn from her environment. 

Yes, our business (and personal) ethos or philosophy is to 'think, create and collaborate' because we've always believed in collaboration and when we put our heads together we can create some pretty amazing things. We also believe g that sharing with others creates abundance for everyone. When we hold onto it (life)(money) it doesn't flow well but when you are open and prepared to share you will always be looked after and have what you need. 

We're naturally curious and we want to work with those that share not only our curiosity, but those who are willing to question and experiment because that's when the real change happens.

What are some things you've learnt along the way? 

A new found appreciation for the now, freedom and how hospitable people can be.  When we're working and living day to day, we tend to lose sight of the simple pleasures.  The simple delights in not having a plan, a timetable or meetings to attend and the freedom attached to that. We have been blown away by the kindness of others we have found that the people we have met have been the best thing about this experience so far.  It gives you a new found hope in society and people.  We have met some of the friendliest and welcoming people on our travels and made some life long friends!  


What does sustainability mean to you both? 

Sustainability means a lot to us. It means we can continue to do what we do.  Without an understanding and respect towards sustainability in our environment, our work and our actions, we wouldn't be able to live the life we do.  We need to be conscious and aware of our decisions and how they affect us now and in the future.  We are always looking at creating sustainable (and ethical) business decisions, sustainable and reciprocal relationships and maintaining an awareness of our overall impact on this planet and people.  We travel to so many places and our important saying to our daughter is " leave each place better than you found it". We are trying to show our daughter the importance our decisions are. Sustainable environment, job, life.

Alice, you're a Maori Contemporary artist yourself - can you talk to us a little bit more about how you incorporate Maori tradition into your work and why you think it's important to preserve culture and heritage through art and creativity?

Preserving culture anywhere is so important and is a fundamental driver in why I do what I do.  I always explain our traditions and protocol at the beginning of every workshop I offer, I always pay my respects with a karakia (prayer/blessing) before I cut, weave or prepare any resources, I respect the traditions of my ancestors when I weave or design any art. It's not just in art that I live like this but my whole life, when I go to the beach I greet Tangaroa (God of the sea), when I go to the forest, new lands, before we travel. It's in everything I do and is in everything that I create, being traditional or contemporary.  It protects me and reminds me of the importance of being grateful for what we have. I believe that sharing my ideas and thoughts on these things gives others an understanding of how I work and I hope that it encourages those that already live like that or gives knowledge in an approachable way to the others. By celebrating my culture within my work, I have found it also drives others to celebrate theirs and for that I feel very lucky. 

How does the way in which you create art dictate or guide you on your sustainable living journey?

Because I use a natural fibre to weave and create, we are constantly reminded of how this resource provides for us and the process needs to be appreciated and respected.  We need to take care of the plant, it's surroundings and environment for it to continue to grow and thrive!  The same applies to the National Parks, beaches and environments we stay in as we travel.  These need to be cared for, appreciated and respected for them to be used and loved by our kids!  So, we are always leaving these places better than we found them and teaching Ruby how to respect these unique environments.

Why is it so important to you both to create community and connection through the events and workshops you have designed and your upcoming Fibre Arts Festival?

It's funny, because in this world of technology and social media we still seem to be incredibly disconnected.   A majority of my friends don't know their neighbours, they've already lost the ability to create and make like our grand parents did, we don't know how to plant a garden, grow our own food or even how to change a tyre.  Family and community is so important to keeping these basic skills alive, but it's sadly being lost.  
The Fibre Arts Festival is designed to not only support and showcase the amazing artists we have coming, but also encourage others to learn a new skill or just sharpen their skills while meeting other like minded people.  We're creating more than workshop spaces, but hopefully a meeting place for skill sharing, laughter and fun.  We not only want build a community within the festival but we want to see collaborations and opportunities after the event as well. 

What can we expect to experience and look forward to at the Festival?

We think there's a lot to experience and get excited about.  Like being with 25 of Australia and NZ's best fibre artists and being able to choose from over 30 workshops on offer....but, having the experience of being at the first Fibre Arts Festival and helping us shape an event that we believe will become something that will be around for many years to come, is pretty great! Alice... I am totally excited to meet all the amazing artist,  I can't wait to see what incredible things happen from this event! 

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