A while ago I came across Kirsten Rickert’s incredible instagram feed, and fell in love. Her beautiful, dreamy, evocative images of her daughters, nature and art are so incredible I just had to share them with you. I am delighted that Kirsten agreed to a little interview, I know you will love her work just as much as I do…
Please could you introduce yourself and tell us a little about what you do?
You will find me in the garden, woods, or in a field of wildflowers. I always have busy hands, making, creating and foraging for collected natural treasures. I grew up in an alternate area of subtropical Australia, when I left home I travelled around the world solo for many years. I started university in my mid twenties, studying fine art. I finished my degree at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. Then I had babies! We now live just outside of Manhattan where I spend my time homeschooling our two daughters. My role of mother comes first, woven into this role I am a freelance artist, writer and photographer, contributing to magazines internationally. I am also trying to write a book!
You have a love of nature, that is evident in your photography, can you tell us where this love began?
I was very fortunate to grow up in a part of the world that is like paradise. My mother’s family have farms and many hours of my childhood were spent roaming paddocks, playing in the dam and creek, jumping off waterfalls and beach combing. As a child I did not know how lucky I was, I did not know any different. Years of traveling as an adult brought home to me just how fortunate I was to grow up in this area. There are many beautiful places in the world, but I realised that a place where you can grow a massive variety of fruit and vegetables all year round and I place with untreated clean/fresh water, and incredible diversity of plants and animals is really a special place. Over time it sinks in that these are the things that really matter, not just for me, but everyone. The area I grew up in also has a lot of alternate thinkers and environmentalist, so you could say my love of nature was in the air I breathed. My family worked very hard to have the land that they have and I am so very grateful for my childhood spent on it. It was very simple, and basic and humble, and my family were not rich in money, but I look back now and think wow, I was blessed I was to have a connection to this land, the plants and the animals.
You have traveled the world, where do you consider home?
Home is Australia, this area I talk about above, on far north coast of NSW. One day we will return. My family are waiting for us to hurry up and move back! In my dreams we build a home and settle for good on my Aunt and Uncle’s property in the rain forest. In the meanwhile I have easily have made myself at home in other places along the way.
I love how creative you are, where does your inspiration come from?
Looking out my window, the environment and my daughters. I really try and be inspired by what is happening right before my eyes. I am also inspired by things I see happening in the environment that I wish were not happening. Like the decline of the honey bees, chemicals being sprayed on crops, monoculture, genetic modified food, poor treatment of animals, excessive consumerism, plastic, and basically the earth’s resources being misused…all of these things fuel my passion to create for change. I am conscious to use my creativity in a positive way that adds something to life, but does not cost the earth greatly. We all want beauty in our life, but to me something is only beautiful if it is good from the roots, if it comes from a good place, with good conscious intention/decisions. I was thinking earlier today as I was sorting some shells how much I dislike those white store bought starfish you see in homes. To me, when I see them sitting in windows and on coffee tables, I don’t think “What a lovely seaside trinket” I think of those poor starfish being mass harvested from the ocean, killed and then bleached! Three things that are really actually terrible. It makes my wonder why people would want that “energy” in their space. A souvenir like that, to me does not convey a good experience. I am always surprised that people do not use their imaginations to consider how things end up in a store for sale. Anyway…with that said, my goal is to source things and create in a gentle way, as much as possible.
What is your favorite time of year?
Well each season appeals to me for one reason or another, I find something to look forward to with each change the weather brings. I love the change of season, I get excited like a child. I grew up with only two seasons, summer and what might be considered Autumn and so this experience of living in the north east of America has been a treat as there are really distinct seasonal changes. It has been a novelty and a great source of inspiration. I suppose if I have to choose, it would be spring, for the flowers and that wonderful feeling of awakening and new life after a long winter, it is such a celebration..ooohhh but I love Christmas time too!
You involve you daughters in most of your creative projects, do they help you in the making?
Yes, the girls are always involved one way or another, and I see this deepening as they get older because they seem to be getting more and more involved. Beyond helping me forage and collect and be my models, I ask them to share their creative opinions too. They give me feedback and together we discuss what we think works. I love that we work together. It is one of the great experiences of homeschooling, they are learning and creating right along with me.
You use a lot of plants & flowers in your art, where do source your supplies?
Generally I use whatever I can find abundant and free in the environment. Things growing in my garden, or things I see while out walking. I work with found seasonal flora, sticks, rocks, feathers, or any other natural items that I stumble across or that stands out to me. Like for instance the other day our neighbour trimmed his trees and the girls and I collected all of the cuttings and then the next moment I was laying the leaves all over our attic floor…I needed to work with the leaves, they were just sitting there and I was compelled to make them a creative medium so that they were not wasted! If you go for a drive with me in the country side I will pull the car over and stop a zillion times to look at things growing along the side of the roads. My children are very patient! If I am not working with things from nature, I look for recycled materials that are also free and abundant, like cardboard!
Do you have any tips for my readers on how to display nature in the home?
Hmmm… I do not know that displaying nature in my home is my strong point. We certainly have a large collection of found things from nature, but I do not think we display things in the best possible way. We have moved a lot the past few years and we often talk about moving back to Australia so I have not invested in household furniture or put much thought into decorating, because our situation is temporary. We have lots of collections in baskets and bottles and things sitting along the fireplace mantle. I think if I knew we were settled then I would apply my creativity to displaying/decorating within our home with more enthusiasm.
Finally, what is your favorite flower?
Oh I do not have one favorite! Certain flowers definitely evoke emotion and memories for me, I grew up with subtropical flowers and now live in a very different climate. I would say I have favorite flowers depending on the geography, climate and season. I could not possibly choose just one. All flowers are beautiful in there own way, but it is the combination of scent and the beauty and the nostalgia that pulls the heart strings… from my childhood it would be gardenias, jasmine, frangipani…more recently with the change of geography and climate I have fallen in love with cherry blossoms, roses and iris. Oh I love flowers, there are so many more I want to add to the list!
Thank you Kirsten! You are such an inspiration, you have certainly inspired me to get out there, a create works of natural art… I might start with a mandala this weekend.
I wholeheartedly agree with the starfish thing. I must admit I have one, it was a gift from my grandmother, so although it’s a horrible thought what happened to the starfish and the process, I can’t bear to part with it because it came from her! Taking items from nature, should be a free flowing process, never taking much, nor anything living (shellfish etc). I think that you, Kirsten, do it with such grace, and mindfulness, we should all follow your lead.