Fragmented Fantoccini

We are all like foolish puppets, who desiring to be Kings.  Now lie pitifully crippled after cutting our own strings……Randy Stonehill

How are you all going in these crazy times? I’ve been keeping myself busy by restoring furniture, decorating and generally making my home a space that suits my lifestyle.  I’ve been sadly lacking that the last few  years.  With everything that has happened, I didn’t have the energy to make this place the way I wanted it. But with this isolation lifestyle, I’ve managed to do just that (with the help of my son)..

In between all that, I’ve started a new series of images.  My friend Jenni and I were devastated when our exhibition Falling Through the Cracks was postponed due to Covid-19.  Of course, I can’t have models here to shoot either so I decided to revisit other images I’ve taken and work on them.  I have had a storyline in my mind for quite a while and have even shot quite a few photos for it, but never got around to really giving it time as an entity on it’s own. I can’t use that excuse anymore.

So as a series within that series, let me introduce Fragmented Fantoccini.  Fantoccini means a puppet show using puppets operated by strings or mechanical devices This means so much to me for a number of reasons.  First, I love puppets.  I even dreamed of being a puppeteer once upon a time. I used to make sock puppets as a child but I especially loved marionettes. And wind up dolls have always fascinated me along with pullstring ones.  I had a Mumma doll as a child.. When you moved it, it said Mamma in a really creepy voice, but I loved it.  I was enthralled with that voice box. To me it was magic.

The other (and more serious) reason I want to do this series is all about taking control of your life.  It’s so easy to allow someone, through many different circumstances, to take control of our lives.  Sometimes that happens through no fault of our own, but often we allow it to take the onus of responsibility off ourselves.. Whatever the reason, it’s not the best way to live.  It’s only the last couple of years that I’ve realised how often in my lifetime I have allowed others to take control of my narrative.  But no more.. I have my own voice.. and it says more than Mumma.

In this series, I have been influenced by the artist Margaret Keane who is the subject of the movie Big Eyes and the photographic artist Kelly Robitaille.  If you haven’t seen their work, go and have a look at them.  They’re worth it.  I love eyes so much that to emphasise them beyond reality is appealing to me.

So let me introduce to the first of my dolls.. Violetta (meaning purple),  Clementine (meaning mild or merciful) and Aurelia (meaning golden).  Until the whole story is told, I won’t tell you their backstories but trust me.. they have them.


A New Year and all it holds

Art is standing with one hand extended into the universe and one hand extended into the world and letting ourselves be a conduit for passing energy…. Albert Einstein


It’s been way too long since I wrote anything on here.  Life has been just a bit crazy.  It’s hard to catch up on all that has happened really.  The last few months have been so traumatic with all the bushfires affecting Australia.  We here in the Blue  Mountains have been living with the threat of evacuation for too long and though it’s finally settling down, the aftermath will be felt for a long time to come.  Tourists staying away in droves, businesses closing their doors as a result, the mental health of locals being affected, dreadful air quality due to smoke, homes lost, millions of animals killed and worst of all, the tragic loss of human life. But right now, I’m determined to remain positive and focus on the wonderful things happening.  It’s important for me to always look for the good.  So………

Towards the end of 2019, I traveled to Brisbane as two of my artworks were chosen as part of the Out from the Mist photography exhibition.  From that, one of those pieces was chosen to be one of only 7 to be displayed at the Victorian Arts Centre.  I also had another piece chosen to be shown at the Art Gallery of NSW where I  did another artist talk.  Around the same time, I was invited to NSW Parliament to attend an awards night revolving around domestic violence.  Needless to say, I was bursting with pride at all these events.

I’d been speaking to an artist friend on and off for ages regarding how we might one day do an exhibition together and towards the end of the year, she phoned to say that we could do an exhibition at Balmain Watch House in March (this year).  I of course, jumped at the idea and said yes.  It meant we had to work quickly to get images and bios in but we did it all in one day. I figured I’d have time to make a new body of work for it.   A few days later, I got an email to say that From Fractured to Fairytale had been picked up by the gorgeous Chrissie Cotter Gallery in Sydney……IN MARCH….

So I now have From Fractured to Fairytale on at Chrissie Cotter from the 4th to the 15th of March and Falling Through the Cracks, a collaborative exhibition with Jennifer Trezise from 20th to 22nd March.  It’s going to be an extremely busy month.  April will be spent recovering I think.  I’m certainly not complaining.  I have been given some incredible opportunities and I don’t take them for granted.  But if I’d known, I would probably have preferred more time in between exhibitions.  However, I know it will all fall into place. I  am truly blessed.

I’m busily making headdresses and shooting images for the new exhibition as well as tweaking a few things for From Fractured to Fairytale ready for it’s next viewing.  I can’t show you them all now as I want them to be fresh when they are on display.  Art of course, has a mind of it’s own and the pieces have turned out to be very much a reflection of the things happening around me, in all their brutality, but I’m not going to force it to go in a way it doesn’t want to.  Art tells me what to make, I don’t tell art.  I’m also off to Ballarat during February for some much needed hugs, kisses, Puff the Magic Dragon and cups of tea from my granddaughter.  I will be working while I’m down there to get everything finished.

I’m also setting up a newsletter opt in so people can stay up to date with what is happening with a bi monthly newsletter.  I will not EVER pass on details of subscribers to a third party, nor will I be spamming you with offers etc..  it is strictly a newsletter, so if you’d like to stay up to date, drop me a line through the contact form on the website Livonne Imagery and I’ll add you to the list.

For now, I’m hoping you all have a wonderful 2020.. And although it’s late, here is some of the work I did in 2019.  So much more to come in 2020 and I look forward to sharing it all with you..


Blue Fringe Arts 2019

I know this transformation is painful, but you’re not falling apart.  You’re just falling into something different, with a new capacity to be beautiful….William C Hannan

I was thrilled to have been featured artist at Blue Fringe Arts and Literature prize last week during their annual exhibition and art/literature prize. I had the opportunity to speak at the awards ceremony and I will attempt to share what I MEANT to talk about.  I tend to get side tracked and forget some of the things I want to say when I speak, which is probably why writing is so much easier for me to do.  I can go back and edit… Public speaking isn’t quite so flexible.  So I will share with you here, the gist of what I meant to say.

Three years ago I was in a really bad place, both mentally, emotionally and physically.  I was in an horrendous housing situation which was triggering my PTSD beyond belief.  Reaching out to politicians, media, authorities, anyone who would listen, I was desperate to find my way out of it.  I got some practical help from our local State Member of Parliament, the wonderful Trish Doyle.  She helped in many ways, but one of those was to put me in touch with some organisations who might be able to help me deal with the emotional side of what was happening.

So I had one of the workers come out to see me and I showed my art.  I’d only been doing it for about a year at the time and so was not confident with it.  She suggested I should enter Blue Fringe Art prize which is for people with a lived experience of mental illness.  I, of course, said no.   No was my first reaction to everything at the time but I felt my work wasn’t good enough to be exhibited.

The next time she visited, she brought the entry forms with her.  I told her I couldn’t afford the entry fee.. She told me it was free.  Sigh!  That excuse gone,  I caved and entered just to shut her up.  It is indicative of how worn down I was, that I didn’t have the energy to sabotage myself as I would usually do.  So I went to the op shop to find a frame to use as I couldn’t afford professional framing.  I found one for $10 (still more than I could afford to be honest) and framed a work I’d already had printed.

On the day of the awards,  I went along and I came second in the photography section.  I took my seat again and as usual, my mind started to wander through the rest of the awards.  When they were announcing the overall winner, I realised that it was my work that was being described.  I went hot and cold.  My stomach started to knot and ache.  I had difficulty breathing… Classic anxiety attack for me.  My son sitting next to me realised it and said quietly.. “just breathe mum”.  I got up, accepted the award with what probably looked like a nonchalant attitude.  I was masking the anxiety.

But amongst the inner turmoil, something changed in me that day.  I started to believe that maybe my art  was actually good enough.  In fact, maybe I was good enough.  Because up until that time, if I’m honest, I was just sitting back, waiting to grow old and die. I felt I had nothing of any worth left to offer the world.  Suddenly, I started to see my art with fresh eyes, which then rolled onto making me look at myself a bit more kindly.  I finally felt alive again.

Since that time, I’ve had numerous opportunities that I could never have dreamed of having.  I have had a residency at Arthur Boyd’s Bundanon Trust, I have spoken at the Art Gallery of New South Wales,  I have had my work published and have won other soul enriching awards.  I currently have work on display in Brisbane and at the Melbourne Arts Centre.   Last year in the lead up to Blue Fringe, I was having treatment for breast cancer and working on my entries into Blue Fringe kept my mind off the invasive procedures that I was undergoing.

I credit that all to Blue Fringe 2016.  Because that is the day my soul started to grow again.  The committee, volunteers, sponsors, supporters, TAFE, the workers who encourage entries and the dignitaries that always attend are amazing and I thank them all for their tireless work.  But mostly, I want to thank the artists who are brave enough to bare their soul and put it on display.  They show the world the beauty within.  They are changing perceptions.  In the media, people with mental illness are often portrayed as tragic, angry, anti social people who are not worth anything.  They are so wrong.

The work on display is anything but tragic or angry or anti social.  It is bright and beautiful and its shows the hope that lives in the heart of the artist.  It pays homage to the resilience of the human spirit.  By speaking out through their art, these beautiful and brave souls are changing the way mental illness is seen.  And only by sharing our stories and changing perceptions, can we change the world.

(These photos are merely a tiny slice of the work on display.  Head over to Blue Fringe Arts on Facebook to see more of the day)




All The Best People Are

Have I gone mad?  I’m afraid so.  But I will tell you a secret.  All the best people are….. Lewis Carroll – Alice in Wonderland

Last year at Blue Fringe Arts Exhibition, I ran into Rose who had made and exhibited a gorgeous, over the top, Mad Hatter’s hat.  The hat told a story, as all the art in Blue Fringe does.  I said I would like to do a shoot with it one day and almost a year down the track it finally happened.

For those who don’t know about  Blue Fringe, it is a yearly art and literature prize that runs in conjunction with Mental Health month. Blue Fringe Arts celebrates and acknowledges the creativity of people with a lived experience of mental illness. Based in the Blue Mountains, the Festival is held in October each year to coincide with Mental Health Month.

Blue Fringe Arts originated as the Adrienne Brown Awards in 1992.  Adrienne Brown, born in 1969, was a young woman who had a lived experience of schizophrenia.  Her long struggle with her illness was relieved, at times, by her love for poetry, the arts and music.  Adrienne is remembered in the Blue Fringe Arts and Literature Festival for her passion for creative expression.  It is now coming up to it’s 27th year and will be held at Wentworth Falls TAFE from 23rd to 26th October.   It’s well worth seeing.

This year, I am the featured artist, and I am so honoured to have been chosen.  I have been fortunate and humbled in the past, to have won both the Photography prize as well as the overall art prize.  Winning was fantastic, I’m not going to lie.  Being chosen as featured artist, unbelievably exciting.  But being surrounded by such a diverse group of incredibly talented, creative and passionate people and seeing the difference art makes in lives is by far the greatest thing about Blue Fringe.  I have made great friends and love spending time with so many of the participants and the committee.

So last Saturday, while a blanket of snow fell on the Blue Mountains, I was going into a bit of a meltdown.  I had about 12 people organised for a big Mad Hatter’s Tea Party.  There was a cast of 10 but one couldn’t make it due to the weather.  I also had a behind the scenes shooter and someone who was painting faces too, so I was in panic mode at the inclement weather.  The venue had already had to be changed to an inside location, due to the sudden cold snap but snow really was pushing the friendship.  I love snow.  Adore it….. But the roads were closed and the thought of my whole cast of characters not being able to make it sent me into a tail spin.

I had been preparing for this for ages.  Making costumes, headdresses, scepters, planning images, researching….  I had borrowed equipment from Purple Sky Productions, my “go to” when I need anything.  A portable green screen for a Down the Hole shoot, which I’ve yet to edit and some nice bright lights made for a great set up. The night before the event,  Lachlan had helped me start setting up the teaparty.  I was not going to be happy if it all fell down.  However, Mother Nature was kind and the snow cleared, the roads opened and the shoot went ahead.  We had a tea party feast with great conversation, laughter and fun.  I did some of the costumes and some of the characters did their own.

The gorgeous Rachael painted the most glorious faces while her partner Richard went to pick up things I’d forgotten.  My darling Kirsty was taking behind the scenes images and Nick from Filmclass Pictures came in and did a bit of filming.  Everyone got into character and made the shoot so much fun.  To be honest, the pictures weren’t as good as they should have been as I was too intent on enjoying the day too, so wasn’t completely in photographer mode.  I don’t really mind.  I’m so blessed to be surrounded by such wonderful people.  The experience was by far the highlight for me.

But here they are.  My wonderful cast of characters.  I have lots of behind the scenes stuff I will put up soon but for now, let me introduce you to Alice, the Cheshire Cat, the Queen of Hearts, the White Queen, the Mad Hatter, the March Hare, the White Rabbit, the Duchess, and of course, TweedleDee and TweedleDum.  – All the best people are!

curiouser and curiouserred queen, white queen and meits always tea timeas it isn't it aintferrets are ferrets

The Long Road to Happiness

She finally found the strength to let go of the past. She no longer needed the fear which had haunted her for so long. She found a way to set her spirit free and followed the long road to happiness.  Allowing the past to wash away from her soul. With a promise of brighter days…..Livonne

There has been so much upheaval and trauma in my life and if you had told me seven years ago that I would one day know absolute peace and happiness, I would have called you crazy.  And yet, that’s where I find myself. At peace with my life and happy with where I find myself.

Little did I know when I entered a classroom in 2013 to study photography, that it would be the first steps on the road to happiness.  I had been trying to work my way back to happiness for years and the fact that I’d even considered doing a photography course says I had started making some progress.  But it was only when I started looking at life through the camera lens that really started to find myself.

Whilst I don’t create many self portraits as such, every image is a reflection of my life.  Each image has part of me and my story in it.  That has been incredibly healing and has turned out to be the road to happiness.  This image is perhaps one of the most telling I have ever made.  It is me!




Imagine a fairytale

Sometimes in the middle of an ordinary life, life gives us a fairytale….

I was thrilled to have had the opportunity to do a photoshoot with these gorgeous girls last month, just 5 weeks before their wedding.  Well yesterday was the day they said “I Do” to each other and started a new life together and now the adventure for them begins.

I knew I’d end up doing a mermaid image when I took a photo of them beside the pool.  The Little Mermaid has always been one of my favourite Disney movies.  Part of that is because of the music which I adore but there’s more than that.  I love mermaids.  I always have.  Mermaids and Unicorns.  I believed in them, in fact I still do.  Just because we’ve never seen proof, doesn’t make them not real.  Even if they are a figment of someone’s imagination, they are real and beautiful.

I’ve often been called a dreamer.  Mostly it was meant as an insult, but I now take it as a compliment.  The dreamers of the world hold so much power in their beautiful minds.  Imagination is the precursor to real life.  Someone imagined electricity,  phone, computers etc before they came into being and our lives are radically changed as a result.

We need to use our imagination everyday to imagine a new way of life.  Imagine what we could do if we all collectively imagined a world with no poverty, no war, no hatred, no climate change. Imagine a world where people are accepted for who they are with no judgement or prejudice.  Wouldn’t that be amazing?   To quote John Lennon.. Imagine all the people, living life in peace… Imagine, Imagine, Imagine.  We all need to imagine.

There was a song I heard when I was a very small child by Tom Clay, about the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Robert Kennedy and John F Kennedy.  It impacted me greatly on many levels as a small child but regardless of the trauma and grief in it, the words that impacted me most were these.  “Some people see things as they are and say why?  I dream things that never were and say why not.”  Those powerful words made me feel like I wasn’t alone in my dreamer world.

Someone once dreamed that you would be free to love whoever you wanted to love and yesterday proved how far that dream has come.  Isn’t the world amazing? We all know there is so much more to do, so many more wrongs to make right, but let’s celebrate each victory.  Let’s appreciate every dream that becomes a reality.  As Maya Angelou once said, “If you’re always trying to be normal, you’ll never know how amazing  you can be”.. Let’s stop living ordinary lives and start living our fairytale.  Imagine that!

An Ordinary Life
Sometimes in the middle of an ordinary life, life gives us a fairytale.



The Magic

I do believe something magical can happen when you read a good book….JK Rowling

I can honestly say that reading is the most important skill I have ever learned in my life.  Of that there is no doubt.  I have spoken before about how someone gave me a “read along” book of Mary Poppins when I was quite young and with the help of Tinkerbell ringing a bell when it was time to turn the pages and my amazing Mum, I learned to read at a very young age.

By the time I went to school, I was well ahead of other kids and did the first 2 grades of school in one year thanks to my ability to read.  Reading has always been able to distract me from whatever was going on in my life.  Being able to read from such an early age, I retreated a lot into the books I read.  I didn’t just read them,  I became part of them.

I climbed the Magic Faraway Tree to visit Moonface and Dame Washalot.. I became part of the Secret Seven and when I ran out of those books, I shifted my allegiance to become the sixth member of the Famous Five.  Little Women, Seven Little Australians, Anne of Green Gables, the list went on and on.  I read voraciously.  I read fairy tales, poetry, magazines.. anything I could find.

I’ve never forgotten how special it is to open a book and feel the magic of becoming part of the story.  I never want to lose that feeling.  When I went to the Promoting Passion workshop by Brooke Shaden last month I took a range of photos of the models there.  As soon as I took this one, I knew I would make it into a homage to literature.  The gorgeous  model is Lea Lorenz and she played the enchanted reader perfectly.



When Life Imitates Art

Paradoxically though it may seem, it is none the less true, that life imitates art far more than art imitates life…….Oscar Wilde

On the 15th April 2018, I was playing with some photos I had taken in Paris and I pondered what the earth would look like after we careless humans had finished with it. That thought prompted me to make this image of Notre Dame Cathedral with water pouring in, the roof destroyed, given back to nature…….Post apocalyptic . While I posted it on Instagram and Facebook at the time, I ended up removing it from Instagram as it’s not my usual style of work.  I left it on Facebook though as it’s harder to scroll back and to be honest, I’d forgotten about it.

Scroll forward a year  and I woke up to the news of Notre Dame being destroyed by fire. Then Facebook sent me a memory… a reminder that I did this picture.. On the 15th April 2018… Exactly a year to the date that Notre Dame burned. While I pictured it flooded and it had actually burned,  I imagine the water inside would have been quite plentiful after the fire had been put out. 

Then I saw a photo taken of the inside of the cathedral after the fire.. The roof was damaged in a very similar way.  Not exact but similar.. And if you’ve been to Notre Dame, you’ll see that it’s exactly the same area that I imagined damaged.   While I know it was human error due to the renovation work, I have to be honest,  I felt totally spooked by the similarities and of course the date, being exactly a year prior to it’s destruction.  How often does life imitate art?  I think more often than we actually realise. 

I’m a strong believer in envisioning our future the way we want it.  I’ve always kept a vision board and mostly everything has happened that I’ve put on them.  Is it really a secret of the universe or do we see the images of what we want and remind ourselves constantly what we’re working towards?  Is it a combination perhaps of the two?  Really, does it matter?  As long as I’m travelling the road I want to be on and it’s working for me, I’ll keep doing it.  But when I think of envisioning my future, this wasn’t what I had in mind.  It makes me more careful of what thoughts I allow my brain to entertain.

So I’ll share this image of Notre Dame that I named “After We Leave” even though it’s not my usual style… It still freaks me out a bit to think that I did this exactly a year before Notre Dame was damaged.  Was it a premonition?  Or just a spooky coincidence.  I guess we’ll never know.  There are some mysteries of this thing we call life that remain just that.. A mystery.  And just in case it does work, let’s all imagine a world living in harmony, where war, poverty, climate change and crooked politicians don’t exist and we live as one with nature…. It can’t hurt can it?


notre-dame-comparisonThe image on the left.  Credit Livonne Imagery.


Unlocking the Soul

She lived in a cage with the door wide open, never realising she could leave.  She craved freedom.  She longed to fly.  She desperately yearned to unlock her soul.  Then one day she realised that she had held the key in her hand all along.   She had only to  believe in her wings to carry her and to trust her dreams to guide her……….Livonne

When I gained my Diploma of Photo Imaging in 2014, I really had no idea what I wanted to do.  As I’ve spoken about in previous posts, I tried all sorts of the usual commercial photography options and found I really didn’t enjoy them.  I was at an age where I wanted to find that one thing that would enhance my life and not feel like a chore.  I had tried my hand at composite photography but really didn’t have the skills to make the images that lived in my head though I kept trying.

As I browsed the internet for inspiration, one particular artist’s name constantly appeared –  Brooke Shaden.  I loved her images.  Though they were a bit darker than I would normally be drawn to,  their beauty drew me in.  She was able to tell a story with one image.  The storyteller in me was enchanted.

I bought a few of her tutorials and learned so much about how to make a cohesive image out of many different photos.  She spoke about finding inspiration and textures and curves and all sorts of stuff that I was longing to learn.  Armed with the knowledge, I started to bring the images in my mind into reality.

I became quite voracious in my need to learn and went on to find many other artists who had different techniques and teaching styles.  I had never wanted to become a Brooke clone but rather to find my own style, however the inspiration I gained from her was invaluable.   A few months ago, I saw that with the sponsorship of Sony Alpha Female program, she was coming to Australia for a Promoting Passion 2019 workshop in Melbourne.

So last week, I headed down to attend the workshop.  It was fantastic being in a room with so many other like minded people and listening to Brooke speak about finding our passion and following our dreams.  The other guest speaker was Joel McKerrow who I was enthralled by.  An  award winner writer, poet and speaker, he held the audience in the palm of his hand with his awe inspiring prose and wisdom.

All in all it was a great day and I was so pleased I made the effort to go.  Although there were many highlights throughout the day, the image maker in me was thrilled to spy Brooke posing for some images on the other side of the room and I managed to head over and get a few shots.  Here is my favourite of the day.  It was appropriate for me that she had keys in her hand as it was her images that inspired me and her tutorials that unlocked the skills needed to bring my dreams to life.  It was an honour to finally meet her and even get a hug.  Thank you Brooke.



From the Depths

Because there is nothing more beautiful than the way the ocean refuses to stop kissing the shoreline, no matter how many times it’s sent away…. Sarah Kay

Resilience is an amazing thing.  We speak of courage and of strength as  the most important characteristics a person can have whilst resilience can sometimes be seen by others, as desperation.  We’ve all seen them… the people who keeps trying and trying and never seem to get anywhere.   It can seem a bit sad, some might even regard it as pathetic,  because people only see the percieved failure… But it’s that resilience, that determination to brush oneself off, get back up and have another go that is the most important.

Yes, it takes courage to decide to try something new.  It takes strength to do it. But it’s resilience that will finally get you over the line.  It’s not easy to feel like you’ve failed at something just once but when you’ve failed time and time again, that really is confidence shattering.  The feeling that everyone is judging you and more often than not, they are.  But it’s the “I’ll give it one more try” person who will eventually succeed.  And when success comes, it tastes all the sweeter for the wait.

Thomas Edison is quoted as saying “I have not failed.  I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work”.. That is what resilience is all about.  Over the years I’ve tried many things to find that one thing that will make my soul sing.  I sometimes despaired of ever finding it.  I was embarrassed when I failed at something else.  I have been laughed at and criticised.  I’ve had people tell me to my face that I should just give up or mocked what they considered to be “my latest thing”.  But I didn’t listen.  Oh it hurt, but I knew that in amongst the chaos and sadness of this life, there was something special that was my key to happiness.

I found it in making art.  I didn’t think that’s where I’d find it, but I have.  I’ve risen above the criticism and the chaos and have found my happy place.  When I’m making an image, I lose all sense of time.  I’m in a peaceful zone and I love it there.  I don’t do it for anyone’s approval.  It is my sanctuary. Just as the ocean continues to roll in and kiss the shoreline, only to be sent away everyday, I have persevered in my quest to find my soul purpose.  And trust me…. it tastes sweet.  When the world says “Give up!” hope whispers “Try one more time”.

From the Depths