Megan Kinninment lives on the north coast of NSW, where my parents live. Its a place where I spent time growing up and where we spend Christmas holidays every year. So one of the first things that attracted me to Megan's blog were her beautiful photos of the landscapes around Byron and beyond.
This part of the world has a strong hold on my heart and her pictures immediately conjure for me all that is wonderful about it, the green, green hills and small village halls, the rattly wooden bridges and expansive views of ocean and coast. It speaks to the wonderful mix of farm and new age, tradition and innovation, the markets, the beaches... it's no coincidence that Megan also works as a journalist and digital producer on the local paper. She manages to show the best and most inspiring parts of this beautiful area.
Like many of my other favourite blogs, Megan's also chronicles a creative and loving family life, lived simply and close to the earth. She shares her ideas and practice for natural and creative living, her successes and challenges alike. Megan is a gardener and a maker as well as a writer. A recent rainbow party was full of wonderful ideas for a colourful, handmade birthday.
There is much to love about The Byron Life and it has a permanent place on my reader, so if you haven't spent time there do go and visit, it's the next best thing to being there!
Thanks again Megan for being part of Show & Tell, especially this week when the local floods kept you so busy at work!
1. Can you give us a short description of your blog/style/work
The Byron life is a personal blog about living life simply and creatively as a mum to three girls. It’s heavy on photography, a passion I rediscovered through blogging. I make stuff, grow stuff, photograph stuff then write about it. I’m a journalist who has had to unpick her training in objective reporting to writing as “me” on the blog. Liberating, if a bit scary sometimes.
2. Why blog? How did you start?
I started blogging when I was on maternity leave from my job as a regional news reporter. There was never anything strategic about the blogging, I just started for the love of writing and photographing and the ease of being able to publish my own work and connect with other creative women and mothers. Interestingly though, everything I’ve learned through blogging I now apply to my work as journalist/digital producer, so maybe it was a strategic and clever move after all!
What has been amazing about blogging for me is the way it has connected me into a community of creative people and motivated me to do something creative in my life every single week.
3. Family taught/Self-taught/Trained?
Journalism: Uni, then did a traditional newspaper cadetship; Photography: self taught; Craft: mostly self taught, but I also studied fine arts/ceramics at East Sydney Tech (as it used to be known); Gardening: my mum.
4. Workspace - studio or kitchen table?
I have a “special” writing desk that is never used for writing. Instead I write from the living room, with my kids playing and yahooing around me and I sew/craft on the kitchen table because the “studio” aka garage is currently a shambles. Like many mums, I’ve learned to create from the centre of the action while still cooking, talking, rousing on yahooing children etc.
My kids will automatically start making stuff next to me, or else hassle me to get off my own computer so they can watch Peppa Pig and totally not get that I have a deadline… and yet somehow it all comes together, despite the chaos. I also stay up late some nights, when the house is quiet, to get that “me” space for creating away from busy little hands and yahooing kiddos.
5. Blog/Shop name, where does it come from?
My blog is about my life in Byron Bay, so I wasn’t terribly imaginative there!
6. Favourite writing/ photography style?
I love realism; non-fiction; reportage and photo-journalism. Blogging was very hard to get my head around at first because I was trained to write in the objective third person. Now many of my paid published pieces are written in a similar style to blogging - first person accounts.
Photographically, again journalism informs my photos. My photos move between being published on my blog, to being published in the print or online edition of the paper. Sometimes I have a go at something more abstract and atmospheric, but I always come back to a photo-journalism style.
7. Ambitions/future directions/future projects you'd like to try?
I would love to have a book published (non-fiction) and I dream of having some photographs exhibited. I’m ever-so-slowly working towards those dreams.
8. Are you neat and organised or, ahem, creatively messy?
Ahem, creatively messy! (I like the way you phrase that, Susie. “Creatively messy”. So guilt-free. Thank you.)
9. Favourite handmade, handcrafted item you own not made by you
My girls all have crocheted blankets made by my mum and given to each girl when they were babies. I treasure those blankets so much, knowing the hours and hours of work/love that went into each one.
10. Favourite food/recipe?
I love spicy, Asian food and I am trying my hand at growing as many of the ingredients for those recipes myself. I blogged this chilli and lemon grass salsa recipe a year ago and since that time I’ve got to the stage where I can nearly pick all of the fresh ingredients from my own garden: chillis, lemongrass, basil, coriander and ginger. I live in an environment where the Asian-style plants grow well, so I want to keep expanding this aspect of my garden.
11. Favourite colour?
12. Star sign?
13. Favourite place, landscape (not necessarily Australian)?
I can’t go past my beautiful Byron Bay, but Kakadu also has a special place in my heart. I love the intensity of these places; the sometimes maddening heat and relentless rain of the tropics and the fact that everything grows like crazy in these environments.
14. Any tricks for juggling life/work/family with creative pursuits?
I don’t know the trick for how to juggle these things; I’m still tweaking it. My only advice is to keep on with your creative life, no matter what. Even if it is in small ways, five minutes here or there; an idea written down on a piece of scrap paper; a project that sits on the table waiting for you to come back to it over a period of weeks… it’s important to carve out that time for yourself. And, embrace the mess! Creative work wins over housework at my place.
15. Favourite designers/artists/crafters/writers etc?
Kim Wallace is a new discovery to me (I found her work through Instagram) and I really love what she is creating – very delicate, subtle ceramics using lace textures. I love her IG feed too.
The other artists listed are all women whose work I have long-admired. They are all strong, passionate women; ahead of the game in their fields.
16. Your favourite thing you've made/written/done?
I was happy with this interview I did with Julian Assange’s mother, Christine and my favourite ‘thing’ would be a simple stoneware bowl I made 20 years ago on the wheel at college. I still use it every day in my kitchen for fruit.
17. Three words to describe yourself?
Creative, determined, sensitive.
18. What do you like to do besides creating?
Sleeping is fun and quite novel these days, so I do that whenever I get the chance! Gardening is also my thing. Spending time in my garden, just pottering around, is one of the ways I unwind.