Annette Wilson | Photographer

Perfect Air Filling Every Space

The ferry glided across Sydney’s harbour. I was the only passenger left on board. The deckhand asked if I was getting off at Circular Quay. The same place I got on. Yes, I was. He nodded in reply because he understood. He understood because he’d come across my type before, the type that is on the boat just because they want to be. Enjoying the least expensive cruise around. And the only one sitting outside under no cover, despite the sharp wind and tiny drops of rain falling from above. After nodding, he went back inside and attended to his duties, respecting my lonesome desire.
The boat heaved forward, its base breaking the otherwise perfectly calm body of water. A flock of seagulls raced alongside. I looked out to the skyline of glittering city lights and smiled to myself. And then I took a breath deeper than the regular. Filling the very depths of my lungs, until every tiny space was occupied. This is something I like to do when I’m somewhere I love and am happy in and don’t want to forget. The hope is that this air- this perfect air from this perfect time, will linger inside me a little longer, dividing itself amongst air circulating through my body in regular life, improving everything else always. I am almost certain it has worked, so far.

The winds of change have started to blow. I am really starting to feel it- every day becoming increasingly aware of it. I have started to say my first goodbyes, my first lasts. Each time I go somewhere, subconsciously I am wondering whether I won’t see it again for a long time, if ever. It’s exciting, but it’s scary. Life feels surreal, almost all of the time. It will surely only skew more as the deadline of the now, the ending of this season of my life, draws nearer. And for this I am excited.

At one stage I was adamant on creating a very strict time schedule for myself. To train me up, you know, some self-discipline. I can do it, I can have complete control of me! Or so I thought. It didn’t work. And I ended up feeling guilty every time my head hit the pillow after 11pm, or if I arose beyond 6.30am. This was no way to live. So I gave that up. And am living life to its fullest daily instead. Sleepovers with my best friend almost every night. Trips to the supermarket at 11.30pm, all the time. For silly things, like batteries, and olive oil spray. Patting the dog for an hour straight, wrist aching but smiling because I love her. Laughing out loud on the bus this evening because a girl put her ticket in the machine and it never came back. The bus had to be turned off entirely, then the machine reset, in order for it to spit the red, printed cardboard rectangle back in to her palm where it came from.
The pile of washing in my laundry grows taller every day. Maintenance bothers me. I would rather build up mess and spend an entire day cleaning, than do a little all the time. Maintenance is a chore, spring cleaning is an adventure!
I have bruises on my arms and legs and I don’t know where they came from. Probably swinging on my chair at work or moving my furniture around in the middle of the night, for fun and a sense of newness.
I have a newfound appreciation for living but a few kilometres from a myriad of beautiful beaches. Each week I endeavour to be there at least once. These days its every few and sometimes couple days instead. There’s an openness that lies there, it can’t be replicated without physicality. It’s somewhere I feel I need to be often. So that’s what I’ve been doing.
My skin is thankful for the salty remedies of the often ocean. But not so much for the additional sunlight. I feel the roses of my cheeks are permanently coloured by it, but looking in the mirror I am reminded constantly of my friendship with the sun, so that makes it okay.
I stay up late to think. It’s the best activity in the world. I drink from the same cup I water my plants with. Half a cup for you, half a cup for me. My peace lily has grown exponentially since its purchase. I haven’t closed my balcony door in over a month. Rain sometimes comes through the windows but none of my things get wet. I learnt that lesson the hard way. I play violin music with my viola. Nobody has time for alto clef! My oven doesn’t work- right now I’m making brownies in the grill instead. For a friend who lent me his car yesterday, to photograph one final wedding. Within 5 minutes the top went black. So I scraped off the black parts, mixed the half-cooked rest and put it back in. This time at a lower heat, so hopefully that’ll work.

The first of the lasts, a weird section of time and of life. But it forces a readjustment- of priorities. People priorities, time-using priorities, spending priorities. All of the priorities.

If the glittering lights in the harbour were turned out, all that would be left is a boat gliding across the dark ocean, no end in clear sight but a journey to be enjoyed no less. Icy droplets on a sunburnt face, perfect air filling every space. A new season is on the horizon and my arms are stretched wide open to welcome its embrace

Imagination and Knowledge: The Perfect Companionship

A dog at the hostel in Rotorua. Probably the best friend I made while there.

Rain piercing the otherwise flawless river.

My Aunty Diana, New Zealand. She is a whirlwind of creativity and excitement and individuality.

Lights on my balcony. Taken on New Years Eve. I'll share the story of that night soon.

Lately I have wondered about a few things.

One, I would be rich if every single person attending a stadium show gave me a dollar coin each. I have thought about that one ever since I went to my first concert in 2007. The Red Hot Chili Peppers fans filled the seats like nothing I’d ever seen and it was then and there, as they all cheered and screamed and waved their shining mobile phone lights around, that I recognised my love for and fascination of masses, of people or things, matching, doing things in synchronisation and sameness. I could watch choreographed anything all day and never become bored.
Two, I don’t give animals enough credit for being incredible. An impromptu trip to the zoo made me realise this. They are so intricate and so beautiful. Moving and living and breathing. Fast and slow. With cold blood or warm. Amazing.
Three, are our brains different to the brains of people hundreds of years ago- I mean, what were those people usually thinking about? It would be interesting to shrink myself down and go inside their thoughts just to find out. Times like these I wish the Magic School Bus were a real thing.
Four, fireworks. I don’t understand them. But I love them. I don’t want to understand them and will never delve further into the internet to do so, because there is too much beauty in the mystery.
Five, dreams. Last night I dreamt that I looked out across my balcony into the windows of all the apartments surrounding mine, and every single person was playing a stringed instrument. My local community were independently an orchestral collection. I wish it were true. As part of my job I do a few errands. Once I was walking down the street and heard waves of glorious musical sounds come from the top level of one of the tiny townhouses there. A genius at work inside their home. I make detours now just to walk by that house, and have since had multiple private concerts unaware of who the musician is or what they are playing. And they are unaware of me, an audience, as well. This is something I love.
And six, and of slightly more value, or at least more brain power, a trend all too familiar: and that is of the pending life livers. Surely there’s a better wording, but it will do for now. I mean the thoughts we all have, myself included, about the future. Always thinking about the future. One day I’ll do this, and that, I’ll know that person and this person and we’ll do this and that. Being excited for what’s to come. Always. There is nothing wrong with that.
Then I started to think about the now. This present time. This year. This week. Today. Did we long for this day to come, back a few years ago? Do we know him or her as we intended to, and do we do that which we always thought we would? Contemplation is a fickle thing. It gives you something to do but gets you nowhere. Except a free ride to the land of fun inside your brain. And to me, that has value. And so much of it.
I read on the wall of the recording studio belonging to my best friend’s dad, a quote by Albert Einstein. ‘Imagination is more important than knowledge.’ And while this is true, to me, knowledge can expand imagination and vice versa. Knowledge and imagination are the perfect companions, walking side by side between reality and a super reality- life as we know it and life as it could be. Imagination is the motivation to bring current reality to a higher place, a better place. Or at least a different place. If we had no imagination, I don’t think we would be a developed race in the slightest. Imagination is the base of foresight, or prediction, of anticipation. It is crucial to expansion.

Future aside, here are some things, some observations, some life livings. From now. Today. This week.
Australian beach culture. We live in one of the most multicultural lands on Earth. How cool is that? Yesterday, a Fijian family bobbed in the water near me, their dark skin glistening in the 6pm sun. A group of Tongan boys buried their friend in the sand, his bald head the only visible thing. They were laughing, a lot. On the packed bus on the way home, a mum used her elbows to push through to the exit, protecting the sleeping toddler in her arms. That night, a taxi driver slowed down beside innocent walkers as they strolled down the street- hopeful to provide a service. Then there was the security guard at the supermarket, always checking the bags of the ‘interesting’ people from around here. But he has never said anything to me besides many friendly hellos and goodbyes. Apparently I don't look suspicious enough. A whispered ‘thank you’ from my friend Luisa’s 2-year old girl, as her Dad zipped her into her pyjamas. Her voice soft and sincere, her face smiling and celestial. Staying up stupidly late with siblings to watch entire seasons of the OC, belting out ‘Cal-i-fooorn-iaaaaaa, here we coooome!’ at the start of every new episode. Watering the plants. Closing the window. Filling up the kitchen sink. Striking a match. And then lighting a candle. Plugging in a phone charger. Finding the separation tear between garbage bags on a roll. And then getting the correct gripping to shake it full of air. Spreading a blanket. Then tucking it in. A door closing. Or a cupboard. Or the lid of a washing machine. Scooping the washing powder and sprinkling it inside. Texting with two thumbs. Running for a bus. Walking home in the rain. Switching off the light and going to sleep. Then dreaming of apartment orchestras. And imagining what will happen tomorrow. And with that, imagination and reality meet once more, holding hands and dancing in the moonlight of life.

If this isn’t living then I don’t really know what is.

Great Ocean Road

Australia is a powerful land. Often I ponder on this conclusion, but on occasion I do forget. A little camping trip down the very bottom coastline of Victoria reminded me of its truth.

I washed my hair in a rock pool, which was filled like a cup by the ocean's tap. The water was cold- the voice of ice calling out to our skin, our goosebumps sounding a response. The rocks around everywhere looked like burnt honeycomb and we had to be careful of European wasps who used them as walls of their homes. One evening we watched the sun set from the top of a mountain overlooking Johanna beach. The firey mass of glory beyond our comprehension turned 8-bit in our eyes- it somehow looked digital, and we wondered how so? Contradictions were in abundance.
Another evening, we spotted a lonely koala pounding its way up a bushland road, so we slowed the car and followed alongside it. We marvelled at the creature our country is so well known for, yet we see next to never. It's funny how perception and reality rarely align.

But what I loved most was the sound of Australia's bushland at night, right in the middle of it. The middle of the night, I mean, as well as the middle of the bush. Far from roads and streetlights. Emily was sleeping quietly next to me in our tiny tent, and all that was left to hear was the soft hum of Summertime bugs and night birds hovering in the sound waves surrounding us.

Commonplace life

Pressing pink on our cheeks, the sun and its high season made itself known to us as we walked, slowly, down the streets of Baulkham Hills.
Amy fell asleep on the grass moments after flopping down on to it, soft brown sunhat over her face. Soph and Claire sat on the swings side by side, discussing exam notes as they rose and fell into and from the sky.
Earlier that day we drove Josh to the train station, in a car with not much power. It heaved around corners and even moreso up small hills, but the music blasting through the speakers and the seats filled with scream-singing 20-year olds gave it enough energy to complete out the trip.
This is life, my life, the life of a female 20-year-old living in Sydney, Australia, and while it feels normal and commonplace, I know that to someone living elsewhere, it is the furthest thing from that. These are the thoughts that today consume mine.

Lighting things and watching them glow

Tonight I was running late, really late. I took it from just a figure of speech to something in the real world, and ran right up Crown Street to make it to my meeting on time. The running slowed to a brisk walk, as I powered down Oxford.
And then the wind picked up. I crossed the road at Hyde Park and coming towards me were 10 or so others, crossing from the other side, holding their clothes tight and shaking their heads as their hair swept and plastered across their faces, from the force of the wind. I laughed, out loud, as a boisterous 20-something year old lost his hat, shouting ‘my hat! Nooo!’, as it flew across the bustling intersection. The wind was so powerful, it blew rubbish out of the bins and down the streets, metal signs hanging above stores made wallowing sounds and I really couldn’t walk, or even power walk, in a straight line. And I really, really loved it, and my cheeks hurt a little from smiling so much.
Extremes remind me to live with fire, burning fire, lighting things and watching them ignite with glow and warmth and a little bit of fury. And to watch and take part in the warmth and glow of others who light fires too, and together the smoke from our fires twist and twirl and make dark shapes and shadows in the sky, darkening the dark and lighting the light, so that all the world can see.

Onlookers onlooking.. through their phones.. as the sails of the Opera House were lit in fluorescent technicolours.

This little lady wouldn't stop looking at me, maybe because I wouldn't stop taking photos of her looking at me. It was a vicious cycle.

Blinding flash on the faces of her children.

One final stroll through the bush by Siris mountainside home, just before she was due to leave for her flight to Iceland.
Siri is now in Portugal after travelling around Europe for 4 months, and most likely at an airport again- as today she heads to Kathmandu for a month trekking in Nepal. I recognise that our friendship will never be the same again when she returns and moves away permanently, but I am so thankful for everything we have shared.

My cousin gives tiny puppy Nollie Crooks his first ever bath. For some reason we thought a red sarong was the equivalent of a rubber bath mat. It really wasn't, and poor Nollie didn't have a fun time, but I'm sure he was grateful to be all clean and nice afterwards.

Picking up a ceramics class at uni was one of the best things I ever did for myself and my life. This week, I sat quietly crafting a small section of my hand-built vase, for 7 hours straight, and though I left covered in white from the clay and my skin drier than ever, I also left with a peace I haven't felt in a long time. I am excited to know that at some point in the future, whenever that may be, this beautiful, cold, organic medium will occupy a relatively substantial part of my world. I just know it will.

Up there with people-watching at the arrival and departures gates at the airport on my 'most favourite things to do in the world', is being asked to photograph concerts of bands I barely know, that have fan-bases beyond the imaginable. In particular, teenage girl fanbases. The emotional rollercoasters they all seem to be on, are wonderful things to watch. I can't help but feel left out, because I don't think I ever really was that crazy about anything. Besides the time I met Teddy Geiger, and cried. But we'll leave that story for another day.

Picnics in the park with the greatest of all friends. When you find real friends, you know they are real, because something is different about a real friendship that you can't explain but you can feel. There really is so much I could say about this shining, glorious soul dwelling inside the beautiful slender form that is Amy. I don't know where exactly she came from, and why at this time, but I promise it was part of the grander plan. All that needs to be said is that I am SO grateful, because I needed Amy, now.

Raena & Anna, the most wonderful small business owners of all time. Such a joy meeting people with so much self-contentment.

An afternoon spent inside the genius mind of Jonathan Baker, the man behind Anatole, made me feel inadequate but mostly just really, really alive.

Musical odes and shivering soldiers at the Dawn service. I wrote a little about this morning here, Chapter XIII.

Beautiful Kate in the Mountains of Blue, during an extra long day of collaborative productivity.

The most kind-hearted 5 year old you could ever meet, Bella.
Bella and her 4 older brothers. I love that they're all wearing Hurley jumpers, apparently it is the 'cool' thing at the moment. And I love and cherish the fact that they will look back on this photo in the coming years, and laugh at themselves for caring about things that hardly matter- but matter so much at the time.
Their sister cats, coming out from under the house only because Josh's hand held a little bit of ham.

A marshmallow in dog form, a walking cloud. This teeny, tiny puppy appeared at Taylor Square after another of Imogens shows, and it was the fluffiest thing we ever did see.

The girl who sits by my side at work. We spend so much time together that we end up speaking complete nonsense, in between themed music-listening days (once it was 'Jessica day'). This was taken on 'cute hat day', where we both wore 'cute' hats. I love Desiree so much.

Chels overlooking the Tasmanian seaside, Darby in the leaves of an Australian native, Arliss making a sandy mess of Conningham Beach, and Rosie bewildered by a found starfish.

A girl I know will be in my life until the end. She hadn't heard of Carmen Sandiego until I pointed out to her the alikeness of her outfit to Carmens.

Honestly, Elize has unknowingly played the hugest part in my little journey toward photo-taking and word-writing and world-seeing the way I really do. I haven't quite made it yet, but one day I will get there.
She is the kindest in the land.

A candlelit collaboration show in an upper level of a secret building in the heart of Sydney.

Just before dusk, the sun shakes the brightly-coloured leaves of the trees in Emily's backyard, as we set up fairy lights and stuck vinyl planets to the windows of her home. A time travel themed 21st birthday party saw Em dress as a zombie Mexican (I think..), so I made her a wreath of found flowers (literally taken from plants on the side of the road on my way to work), wound in coloured ribbons. It also included some small red chillis, which burnt my eyes a little.

Baby Ivy and the most loving of parents, visiting from Canberra. Kylie reminded me of a Disney princess, and she sung like one too.
It's days like these, when the light is like this, that I think even more about the fact that my livelihood relies so heavily on something so natural- the sun and its qualities, and I really, really love that.

Siri in front of the towel cupboard after dinner with both our families sitting around a big, square wooden table. Our last meal before her departure.

Imogen's Nan at Imogen's show, told me some things I will hold dear to my heart for a long, long time.

Kelsey and Sam, they will marry in November, and I am SO excited.
Emily makes an appearance. She'll be a bridesmaid, and I will have the best day photographing familiar faces and the celebration of a lifetime.
Kelsey's smile lights up the world.

Matty and the day he sold out the Enmore. The last one in this series reminds me of tie-dye and mixed berry smoothies.

Jatz, Bubba and Emma... /Jasmin, Benjamin and Emma. The blue-eyed half of my siblings.
It isn't often that we travel anywhere as a family, with so many of us our schedules rarely align. So it was the best, when we all hopped on a plane and flew to one of my favourite places, Tasmania. It was the first time my younger two siblings had been on a plane, and I watched their faces as the aircraft sped uncomfortably fast before hovering in the air.

Rosie, a face displaying the calm before the storm. Moments after this picture was taken, she furrowed her brows and growled at me.
Bethan helps Paris show me her handstand. A feat I will never achieve, and will never try to achieve. Being upside down doesn't feel nice.
Laughing girls after netball training- 45 minutes which brought me back to feeling like my 10-year old self like nothing else.

A bow-tied boy, just after his primary presentation. Pear in mouth and a nose needing to be cleaned.
A tiny girl in a tiny dress, from the outside looking in.
The young children at church put on a little presentation every year, and rehearse for the weeks leading up to it. As such, our usual meeting room was switched to one much smaller. Piled into a classroom were thirty or so ladies, with smiling faces and all different sorts of hairstyles. As the teacher taught, my mind got caught in its own world, and I started to really think about people. And breathing. Human bodies with lungs and hearts and oxygen circling throughout. I watched each lady individually, their bodies rising and falling as breath filled and exited their lungs. An hour later, as I walked home, I began noticing the people who walked by me: that they, too, were heaving up and down, a million and one different things happening inside of them to make them work. And I don’t know why, but it really intrigued me, and I went home feeling like I had discovered something new, about people and living and being, even though I had known it most of my life.

Joe came and picked us up from outside my home, inside his cars cupholder was a plastic tumbler filled with water and a little cutting of a jasmine plant. I knew it would be a good day from then on.