Real – living a balanced life with author Victoria Alexander »
Travels in pictures, and in your mind
By Robyn Lewis
It’s not often we talk about the deeper meaning of life here on VisitVineyards – sure, we love to be happy and to experience la dolce vita at vineyards and wineries around the country – but what is contentment, where do you find it, and how do you keep it when you’ve got back home?
Victoria Alexander, once a fashion editor for Vogue Australia and Cosmopolitan magazines, an art director and stylist, who also established The Film Business, The Russell Hotel and The Bathers' Pavilion in Sydney, believes the answer lies in following your instincts.
Her instincts are clearly very creative, both visually and in the realms of food, textiles, writing and more. Real is her fourth book; she is also the author of the NSW classic The Bathers' Pavilion Cookbook, and other titles including One and Colour.
Alexander has obviously worked hard and been fortunate enough to be able to make a career following her instincts. I know many who have not had such fortune, from talented photographers who got locked away in legal careers, teachers who’d prefer to be weaving, to the classic ‘artist starving in the garret’ and doctors who'd rather be winemakers.
Now of course with the internet, especially sites like eBay and Etsy, it’s a bit easier to make at least a basic living from your creativity, but then you need to become a marketer, still have time to create, and remain inspired too.
Real – living a balanced life may provide you with some of the latter, especially if you love to travel (or would, if other things didn’t get in the way).
This beautiful, tactile book contains photos from 27 different countries – some developed, others where time remains still – taken by the author over the past decade, although the book is not arranged that way.
Rather, its chapters reflect themes and thoughts: What is real? Our extraordinary world. Harvest. Sustenance. Nature. Cut from the same cloth. Belonging. Travel. Colour. Baskets. Calm. Intuition. Imperfection, to name a few. Alexander takes pains to emphasise that in the end, nothing belongs to us, that we are all travellers, and share a lot more than we might think.
As she says “Any savvy traveller knows that the best souvenirs are invisible. It’s the people we meet who transform us. Through travel, as any meaningful relationship, we discover similarities”. The same could be said of sharing a bottle of wine, a meal, with people we meet. Travel. Food. Wine. This book adds beauty, and insight.
For the photographers amongst us, all the images were taken with her Canon 5D Mark II – none have been digitally enhanced. They are often the small details of life, or people caught in interesting (and always authentic) poses – no Instagram selfie type shots here.
There is so much to delve into, like The Best of Life Magazine but with an arty flair, and eschewing any violence. They are glorious in their detail, their texture, and what they wordlessly say.
To Alexander, “being real is about valuing the importance of craft and culture, both traditional and contemporary. Embrace the old Buddhist word mottainai, meaning ‘don’t waste what nature gives you’… Simple, soulful things matter… pure wool… ceramics… paper. hang-woven rugs…
Being real is about remaking and reusing in a clever way. Your way is all it takes to make it clever”.
Reading that, this book could easily be a hipster manifesto, but it’s way more than that. It’s not contrivance to create barriers, but the reverse – to break them down, to help us all enjoy and express our own inner creativity and wonder at the world, and to realise how alike we all are, of whatever race or nationality.
Buy it to snuggle by the fire with, or for inspiration each day, to dip into or to savour over time. To learn to be content, with what you have and what you can create. You won’t be throwing this one away, and in time, Real – living a balanced life will become a valued treasure of your own.
Real – living a balance life by Victoria Alexander is published by Murdoch Books (Sydney, NSW, 2015; hb 320pp) and retails in Australia for RRP A$59.99
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