People / Cindy Hamrey
Cindy Hamrey is a creative soul of many talents; a florist, ceramicist, cook and stylist. She epitomises slow living; having spent much of her life in quest of the solitude that comes from whole food, handmade pleasures and time worn rituals. At present she works from her home studio on the Gold Coast, Australia under the moniker Nest and Nettle; balancing a traditional career with a never ending parade of creative pursuits.
Not only is she in the throes of establishing a range of handmade stoneware but she is also frequently commissioned to create beautiful native floral arrangements that grace tables, homes and bouquets. With a ceaseless passion to learn and thrive Cindy has carved out quite the diverse life for herself. She embodies that industrious undercurrent women seem to possess in balancing pressures of modern life with their own creative pursuits; a talent I myself have witnessed in my own work with her. Recently we shared a more candid conversation though where she divulged the nature of her inspirations, rituals and advice for other passionate creatives.
1 / WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
Living close to nature and the earth inspires me; living simply inspires me. I realise those are rather clichéd notions but what I mean is that as modern pressure builds up I am inspired by the fact that you can still live a relatively simple life in your own home. That might mean growing herbs and vegetables or making simple things of function or of beauty. Trying to live simply in this fast paced world is a conscious way of living.
2 / WHAT DOES THE IDEA OF GATHERING MEAN TO YOU?
Funnily enough, when my children were teenagers they would call parties a ‘gathering’ just so that I might let them go; my first thoughts of a gathering then were a group of teenagers getting up to mischief. Now though gatherings to me are - simple home cooked food, people, laughter and great conversations.
3 / WHAT DO YOU THINK MAKES THE PERFECT GATHERING?
A gathering is all about the people. A perfect gathering is one where you meet new people, eat good simple wholefood and learn something you mightn't have know before. Sharing stories and laughter always makes a gathering memorable too.
4/ DO YOU THINK ROUTINE HAS A PLACE IN A CREATIVE LIFE? DO YOU HAVE ANY OF YOUR OWN DAILY RITUALS?
Because, my life is very busy. I find I cannot be pushed to be creative or work to a deadline. I think it has to do with my star sign; I'm a stubborn Taurean you see. I absolutely love getting up before dawn and going into my studio to create. I photography quite impulsively when there is beautiful light or I am making something and notice a good angle. I love also to make functional things, inspiration never comes if I feel what I'm creating isn't useful; rather I feel a sense of purpose when I'm making something for a reason. I do have one daily ritual that keeps me grounded and my hormones balanced; every day I walk bare footed on the grass in my garden. Mostly, I love to do this in the mornings but on busy days I might not reconnect with the earth until later in the day.
5 / WHAT IS YOUR IDEA OF A PERFECT DAY?
To wake before the sun rises, make a cup of coffee, then retreat into my studio and work with clay or flowers until breakfast. I would follow this with a homemade breakfast in the company of my husband out on a deck with the daily newspapers. We would then go for a long walk on the beach. Lunch would be made from my garden and then I would disappear down into the studio again for another couple of hours. In the afternoon, I would spend an hour in the vegetable garden, have a drink with my husband on our front deck while the sun goes down and cook a beautiful dinner. All my children and their partners would join our table to share my food, I'd kiss them all goodbye and go to sleep for the night with my beautiful husband, knowing all my family are happy and healthy.
6 / WHAT ARE YOUR GO TO RESOURCES; BOOKS, WEBSITES, PODCASTS OR STORES?
For many years, I learnt how to cook, grow and make things on my own accord simply by doing. I only discovered google a few years ago. I don’t have many cookbooks or resources. However, the cook books I do have I treasure, my all-time favourite is Wholehearted by Brenda Fawdon. I saw this book at a book store in Byron Bay about 5 years ago and I loved it from that moment.
7 / DO YOU TEND TO CHOOSE POSSESSIONS FOR FUNCTION OR BEAUTY? DO YOU HAVE ANY OF SPECIAL MEANING OR SIGNIFICANCE?
I tend to have functional items however I do choose pieces for their beauty as well. I am not very sentimentally, so I don't really have a collection of special things.
8 / Although you’ve a background in commercial floristry your approach to floral arrangements is far more organic and seasonal. How do you go about styling and foraging for your work? Is it intuitive or do you tend to plan ahead?
When I trained as a florist, the industry and the designs were very traditional and I wasn't inspired by the trends. Now, I love that I can see beauty around my neighbourhood and bring foliage and flowers inside to admire. When I planning for an upcoming event I keep an eye out for trees and plants that will be flowering at that time and use the seasonality to guide how I'll style. At times, I visualise what I'm going to do however, once I have begin my intuition tends to takes over and my plans often change.
9 / As someone who balances their creative work with full time employment what advice would you give to people who are looking to develop their passions into a business? Are there any sacrifices that have to be made?
Just start and when someone asks if they can buy what you're producing; either a product or service, say yes and then worry about the details later. I think the only thing I sacrifice, is exercise; instead of going for a walk, I go to my studio to make something. I wouldn't mind a little more time in the day.
10 / How important do you think community is?
I have found my community is very important. Before, Instagram, I was very isolated, I felt I didn’t have any creative sisters. Now though I have so much love and support for what I do that it overwhelms me at times. It's so important to cultivate a community that supports you and what you do; indeed it's one of the most of important gardens you can nurture.
11 / WHAT DOES SUCCESS MEAN TO YOU?
Success to me is having the love and respect of my family and friends.
12 / FEAR CAN BE A RATHER POTENT FORCE IN THE LIFE OF CREATIVE PEOPLE. HOW DO YOU OVERCOME MOMENTS OF SELF DOUBT OR ADVERSITY?
Being a creative we are never happy with our end result. I endlessly doubt myself and what I do however, I try to let that go because at the end of the day there's always someone that loves what you do or have to offer.
12 / THE BEAUTY OF HINDSIGHT IS A PRECIOUS NOTION. WHAT WISDOM WOULD YOU OFFER YOUR YOUNGER SELF GIVEN THE CHANCE?
I would have told myself simply to 'believe in myself' I always thought that I a little odd because of the way I lived, I wish I'd owned it more when I was younger. I to love see young people start their own businesses, before they get married, or have children and financial commitments. However, no matter the wisdom I have now, I wouldn’t change anything of my life because it has made me the person I am today.