In our Essence

One of the most powerful and challenging aspects of our From This Place project was the Essence shoot where we asked each artist to work with us to curate their own unique portrait for the book and exhibition.

As we explored what From This Place was actually about, it became clear that ‘being seen’ and ‘being heard’ were key themes. At times this was an uncomfortable prickly space for all of us and I am so humbled by the bravery these women showed as they supported our vision.

The Essence photo was born from the feeling that there was something more, something unseen, something held in the inner life as a secret ambition or vulnerability. In the sharing  of that inner and most soulful place, the artists of From This Place have shown us their ‘essence’ the thing that makes them who they truly are.

And from that place, we view these portraits as expressions of magnificence and beauty. These are not glamour portraits, touched up to make people look impossibly appealing, these are real and honest, and they are portraits that have the power to move you.

What we didn’t realise when we started these shoots was how much the artist would bring themselves to the shoot, how much their individual creativity would shine through – the ceramicist painted her body in slip clay, we had golden water nymphs, magical goddesses, women of the forest and cups of tea.  In each portrait, their art was truly present.

It wasn’t easy for many of them. Most of us are uncomfortable in front of a camera and being the sole subject matter only amplifies the discomfort.  There were reservations, and transformations around body image and the impossible pressures of the standards of beauty in our world. There were slow intricate steps from wanting to hide behind to being seen and for many of the women this represented a profound shift in how they felt about themselves. Who are you without special effects, makeup, Photoshop, a carefully mediated image? The answer is you are you, and there is no place to hide.

We couldn’t ask others to do what we weren’t prepared to do ourselves so both Angela and I also had an Essence portrait. Angela’s truest self created a ritual around shaving her head and all that represented for her in moving forward in life. I put my portrait off again and again while I tried to figure out how I wanted to reveal myself. Every time it started to feel too complex, too many props (I didn’t really need my antique typewriter surely), too much posturing (I want to be seen like this but not this, left not right, from behind not in front), in these clothes, or maybe these or these, I had to capture myself and strip it all right back. In the end it was a rainy 10 degree day and my only desire was to be outside in nature with my horse. I ended up in the dam in the paddock where my horse lives (she wasn’t having anything to do with the light reflector) covered in mud. A kind of primal birthing out of the waters, at one with the earth, the water, the sky. It carried the same feeling as when I first walked out of the desert near Alice Springs having spent 5 days alone vision questing. Dirty but wanting for absolutely nothing, so full and happy and alive in my skin.

Angela rang me late that night after she had previewed the photos. As we chatted she sent me image after image until there was one that both of us fell silent on.

That’s the one.

We knew it instinctively. This portrait we chose for the exhibition makes me think of conjuring water. It feels right on the edge of uncomfortable for me but that is what makes it real. Later that night I revisited a short piece of prose I had written about ‘the water writing my hand’. I’d written it months before the first artist interview for the book after taking a walk beside the Yarra River in Warburton. I’d had no intention of including it in the book but suddenly I saw those words and this image in perfect harmony. Something had worked magic under the surface and I couldn’t deny it. That prose became the preface of our book From This Place and it gives me pause every time I read it.

How deeply our stories run beneath the surface, not just for my portrait but for every Essence portrait in our book. Angela has a profoundly beautiful way of capturing women in their fullness so that the world can bask in the knowing that we are all amazing, gifted, powerful creatures of life. I stand in awe of her and all the women who said yes to sharing their most essential self with us.


Writing lessons of the heart

Something powerful is activated when women seek to hold each other up in reverence and joy. This is what we found as we sat with each of the women who gave their stories to the From This Place project and this is what we saw released in our own lives as again and again the wise words these women had to share found their way into our hearts.

Every woman, no matter who she was or what she did had a moment in their interview where the words they dared to utter bought us to tears.

Not because they were sad stories but because they were truth – beautiful deep expressions that came from the source of who they are.

And as truth they cannot be forgotten.

These words, quotes if you wish, hung in the air like perfect droplets of water, waiting to infuse into all our lives. Sometimes the women didn’t even realise the beauty of what they had shared. But we held out our hands and let the wisdom fall onto our parched hearts and from there the book was written, not word by word, but drop by drop.

For this reason, their stories are an infusion into the deepest parts of us. We hear at the level we can receive and we are touched in places that most need to hear. As the writer, I have felt to be more a midwife, a conduit for story, a messenger between the holy and the earthly self. I have borne witness to creation, to creativity, to cathartic, captivating realness and every page of the book resonates with something much larger and more evocative than anything we could imagine.

This is the beauty of sharing stories. Of allowing the stories to be as they are, not asking them to bend to some agenda or theme. Letting the story speak and then taking the blessings as they come. No story could be planned, instead it shaped itself and emerged on the page in a kind of ritual. A conscious state of stepping out of all I have been taught to receive a deeper kind of wisdom. Of inhabiting the words, of capturing brief glimpses of the essence of a person and then being open to the nuances of each story as it came through as colour, shape and symbol. People have commented about how each woman sounds so unique in their own story. I think this is why. It was not a conscious act but rather an authentic one.

For these stores to inspire you, they have first inspired us. As I sent each draft to Angela to read, she would reply ‘I have goosies’ and we would know we had captured something.

I felt these stories.

Time was irrelevant as I wrote them. I would gather myself at the final sentence and feel such a rush of joy – of disbelief, of absolute fulfilment that I was writing in a deeply resonant way with my soul’s purpose.

And I have gained so much more than I have given in this process.

Sometimes it was hard.

I faced a period of debilitating anxiety for several months as I struggled with my own lack of faith in my artistry, until finally I leapt from the edge of comfort and found new wings.

This is the inspiration that lives in the pages for you, too.


Why these artists?

book-4We have fourteen incredible artists in our book and we’d like to share with you a little about the process of how this came to be.

When we set out two years ago to develop this project we thought we would focus on 8-10 artists – such was the talent of the women we were meeting we expanded our aim, and yet there were still many wonderful women that could have been included that we just didn’t have the time or ability to extend our resources to cover.

When we started, we did a lot of research to develop a list of potential artists. We posted extensively on Facebook asking for people to let us know if they were interested in completing and an Expression of Interest form, or to let us know of women artists they thought might be interested. We scoured through several years of Open Studio brochures, worked through the list of women interviewed on local radio arts program, the list of exhibitors at the Waterwheel Gallery – you name it we unearthed it and from that place we encouraged women to step up. We received about 40 Expressions of Interest (and many people we contacted never respond at all) and it became apparent as we sifted through all the incredible stories that there was a theme we couldn’t ignore.

We needed to focus our attention on a much smaller geographic area than we originally thought in order to make it manageable but also because many stories spoke of specific community dynamics that were part of the Warburton and surrounds, and included the Yarra River.

We set about, from a holistic perspective, finding stories that represented a broad range of women – from a range of age groups, across a variety of mediums, and at different stages of their art careers because we felt that created the most ‘inspiring’ read where there would be something for everyone.

We also had as one of our selection points that chosen artists had taken that step out into the world in some way, and that they were mostly sustaining themselves through their art.

There was also an organic thread in the process where we trusted that those that needed to be in the book would come forward – we recognised it was a big thing and people needed to trust us with their hearts. For that reason, we always understood that many artists we may have reached out to who didn’t know us, may have chosen not to reply.

When you read the stories, you will come to know of their remarkable achievements.  Each one has opened up their lives for us to peer into. This is not always comfortable and we are incredibly grateful. We didn’t know every woman in the book, and neither did many of them know each other. Now we all do and we are proud of the way we have supported each other.

From This Place represents universal stories and while we know it is a wonderful representation of the artists involved, it also does much to elevate the profile of artists in the Yarra Valley generally and from this place, every artist is present and can benefit.

It’s been a huge project – more than 400 hours each devoted by both Angela and Lindy, over 60 photoshoots with more than 5,000 images to choose from, plus the hours provided by the artists themselves to interviews and shoots – and we are so very grateful for your support. Have we learnt something? Yes of course, Would we do it differently next time? – possibly but there has also been a divinely feminine hand in the process that we have trusted implicitly to bring the right women together at the right time. This divine guidance, dear readers, was a bigger influence that any of us could reckon. We could have filled an encyclopaedia with artists of the Yarra Ranges, but that would have required more than 2 years, a huge budget and mountains of energy!

There are so many inspiring stories in our community, in our world.  This is the beginning…

XXXX Lindy and Angela


Receiving your books

Hello everyone,

What a magical week we have ahead with our book launch and exhibition opening all set for this Friday night, 1 September, between 6pm and 8pm at the Warburton Arts Centre. How exciting.

For those of you who have ordered books and are coming along we look forward to handing you your own special copy! There will be a table set up in the main gallery and all you will need to do is have your name checked off the list – we will have this service going all night. You will also have the chance to buy additional books if you would like – cash and credit cards accepted. (Our special preorder price of $40 will end after the opening and the price will go to $45 per copy thereafter).

For those who have paid for postage to their homes we will be dispatching next weekend. For those who have had a change of plans and now need their book sent we will be able to arrange postage at an additional charge of $10 (for one book, $15 for two). We can check in with you and provide bank details after the weekend.

So thank you for all your patience and support in helping us get to this wonderful moment. We have the books in our lounge room and they look beautiful. We hope you enjoy diving in and reading these incredible stories, and soaking up the beautiful images of these women.

We give thanks. Hope to see as many of you as possible at our launch so we can celebrate together.

Much love Lindy and Angela.

Pozible campaign love!

We made it – thanks to 146 gorgeous people who pledged to our campaign we have been blessed with pledges amounting to $10,825. (Target met at 8.30pm on 17 July.)




Thank you.

Artist Lucy Pierce writes about our book

Lucy worksI spent a beautiful few hours this morning in this incredible house built by the most amazing woman, Sioux Dollman, doing some promotion for the book From This Place- Inspiring Women Artists of the Upper Yarra Valley, a book by the gorgeous Angela Rivas and Lindy Schneider. As we spoke I realised why I love being a part of this project so much. It’s all about celebrating women, creativity and community, three of my favourite things.
And I feel these are all qualities our world is so hungry for, all vital ingredients in the co-creation of a new paradigm for our people on this earth. When I see the passion, determination, ferocious will and profound creativity that Sioux Dollman has conjured to create this exquisite living-sculpture of a home, I feel that when woman is in her full creative power, she can move mountains. And together, celebrating the vital essence of our capacity to create beauty and truth, we can build a world worth passing on to our children. It is here at this revelatory threshold of our creativity and our capacities to nourish and sustain ourselves and one another, that the necessary visions will birth themselves to initiate the miracle of our salvation from the current crisis of our kind.
So while it’s true that this book is centred on our small regional location, I feel it is deeply relevant to a much wider field, as we collectively learn how to celebrate, cultivate and enshrine a culture which can be a fertile container for the arts and our creative capacities to become more than what we currently know ourselves to be.
In the process of watching this book unfold, I think many of us involved now feel ourselves to be more than we were before the witness and celebration it has offered to our role as creative practitioners. May that magic spread.
If you’d like to take a deeper look into the lives and creative practices of 13 inspiring women artists, there’s a week left on the pozible campaign to pre-order a book.…/from-this-place-book-exhibition-1

Women Step Up to the Palette

By Kath Gannaway

Screen Shot 2017-06-26 at 12.04.41 pmOnly five per cent of artists hanging in permanent galleries worldwide are women.
That’s a statistic that was too challenging to ignore, and which in fact, was inspirational for Warburton writer Lindy Schneider and photographer Angela Rivas.
On 1 June, Lindy and Angela launched a Pozible crowd funding campaign to create a book in words and pictures of 14 unique women artists.
‘From This Place – Inspiring Women Artists of The Upper Yarra Valley’ is a project started more than two years ago in what Lindy describes as a moment of shared inspiration.
“Both of us had an idea; we were curious as to why we lived among so many talented women artists and we wanted to find out why,” she explained.
“We wanted to elevate our fellow artists, to raise their profiles in a world where it is often hard to cut through.”
That was where the five per cent statistic came to light – one of the most telling moments of their research.
They took the fact and decided to do something about it, starting in their own beautiful part of the world.
Their 14 women include painters and poets, potters and scenographers, sculptors and authors. Artists that have so many layers, that Lindy and Angela say it’s difficult to hold them to any one definition.
“These women are important, and their work matters,” Lindy said.
The names of many of the featured artists will be familiar to Yarra Valley residents – Belinda Rogers, Sioux Dollman, Marlee Nebauer, Jena Bedson, Maya Ward, Adrienne Kneebone, Kate Baker, Shlomit Moria, Indigo Perry, Gillian Farrow, Lucy Pierce, Jo Rothwell, Jenny Davis and Jeminah Alli Reidy.
The project which will launch in September is twofold comprising the hardcover From This Place Book of around 128 pages in full colour, and the From This Place Exhibition – The Essence Portraits, featuring 14 large-scale portraits from the ‘essence’ shoot.
The exhibition will run for five weeks at the Upper Yarra Arts Centre in Warburton and at the Yarra Valley Regional Museum in Lilydale in December and January.
The women are pre-selling copies of the book, and seeking support via the Pozible campaign to create a book that matches the quality of the photographs and the stories.
Lindy said with generous support from Yarra Ranges Council and the Warburton and Yarra Junction Community Bank Branches the project had grown beyond their wildest dreams and that they were now reaching out to the wider community.
Visit for more information on the authors and artists, and to support the project.

Source: Upper Yarra Mail  26 June 2017