Chelsea Lokes

  — Nurtured by nature

"My favourite days are spent in the New Zealand bush, trekking up a stream or climbing a mountain. At the end of those days, my mind is clearer and everything feels more simple." Looking away from the ocean onto a steep hill at Karekare.

I woke up this morning thinking, 'oh my god, it might be the last time I can enjoy the natural world as I know it.' A few discussions on global warming and some recent articles made me realize how late it is. While previously I thought drastic effects of climate change would happen after I'm dead, I now feel the opposite. It's all over. I'm living the last days.

It's not as apocalyptic as it sounds. I'm not more of an environmentalist than the average person. It's the feeling that it'll never be the same. I need to enjoy all that's remaining of the natural world today.

"I collected exposed clay from various places along the bank of the Te Auaunga Awa (Oakley Creek), a polluted creek, and threw 30 tumblers. Although there is wonderful progress being made to protect and restore the waterway, you can still see old tyres, metal, and rubbish dumped many years ago on the creekbed and amongst the greenery. The invisible influence these things must have on the site and the water interests me. I fired and glazed them all the same, yet each batch came out with different colours and textures."

In the past I would've been angry about how irresponsible the previous generations were in not being environmentally conscious, but now I realize that I'm part of a species that isn't driven by long term repercussions. It's not anyone's fault that we're a civilization that self-destructs--we can only live within the bounds of our abilities.

There are some indications that we have the potential to think longer term. To be considerate in being resourceful and to acknowledge our dependency on the planet. But culturally, the idea of dependency scares us.

A responsible adult is someone who isn't reliant on parents. A modern woman makes her own money without reliance on anyone, particularly a man. Success in modern culture is defined by how separate one is, how much you don't need anything from anyone.

"this is Tiritiri Matangi, home to some of New Zealand's special and protected species, such as Takahē, Kiwi and Tuatara."

Coming across Chelsea's work, I felt like I was relinquishing myself to the idea of dependence. Her photos acknowledge all that I'm reliant on. Fresh water, oxygen and plants not only provide life but also provide beauty and joy that is impossible to artificially manifest.

"I can't be in a hurry if I am outside. If I am going for a hike, I like to spend most of the day, that way I can be present and take the time to see everything. It is nice to have no phone service and to eat lunch at a rockpool or a mountain top away from everything else. Being too hasty would overshadow the simplicity of it."

Based in Auckland, Chelsea is surrounded by an abundance of nature. Her work springs from an appreciation for the planet.

"My favourite places are all in the Waitakere Ranges, a large regional park in West Auckland."

"I began actively learning pottery for my postgraduate work." Natural toned jugs.

A post shared by Chelsea Lokes (@chsealo) on

A 'civilized' pear drifting in the wild.

Is it so backwards to enjoy a more primitive lifestyle? Shouldn't the ability to cover more needs with less define 'better technology'? Are we really finding additional satisfaction or meaning in life with incremental 'progress'? I pondered these issues while browsing Chelsea's album.

Pottery on black sand

Many of Chelsea's images seem to have been taken while she was spending an entire day having fun outdoors. While I love the idea of spending time alone with nature, I've rarely done it. In the Pacific Northwest, I'm wary of bears and cougars. Recently I went hiking in Texas and saw more than a few snakes.

"We have no predators here which is why I feel comfortable going for hikes by myself. I don't think twice before walking through long grass, exploring a cave or rainforest. Many visitors can't comprehend how normal it is to be barefoot in New Zealand, I think this is why– we have only sharp things and bees to avoid."

Perhaps one of the best places to feel comfortably connected to nature is in Auckland. Better make a visit before things change for good.

See more of Chelsea's art and ceramics at @chsealo.


Resting Until Next Week

  — Post V-day happiness

Like a good Chinese restaurant, romance is a sticky subject.

“Compatibility is an achievement of love. It cannot be its precondition.”

I love how Alain de Botton sets the record straight on the hurt 'romance' has brought to the world. Luckily (for my husband), I came across "The True Hard Work of Love and Relationships" before Valentine's day. By the time V day hit, I felt like a bad person for even suggesting any sort of romance.

The stickier, the better?

"None of the great, say, 19th-century novels about love does anyone ever do the laundry, does anyone ever pick up the crumbs from the kitchen table, does anyone ever clean the bathroom. It just doesn’t happen because it’s assumed that what makes or breaks love are just feelings, passionate emotions, not the kind of day to day wear and tear."

Where is this going?

I'm taking the rest of the week off to celebrate all that's non-romantic in this world. With my husband.


Schiaparelli & Prada

  — Vintage reigns supreme

Elsa Schiaparelli, L'Officiel, September 1933. Photo by Edidio Scaioni. Miuccia Prada, 2010. Photo by David Sims.

Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations is a book with images of Elsa Schiaparelli and Prada's fashion collections. I never knew there was so much going on in 1930s fashion.

In the past, I've considered Prada to be a pinnacle of design, but upon finishing the book, I'm no longer enamored by the brand. I've come across an 'anti-commercial'. Could you imagine? A brand telling me not to like them that much?

Perhaps Prada doesn't fall short compared to today's designs, but when placed next to Schiaparelli's work, the collections seem to lack the timeless attractiveness of great design.

Elsa Schiaparelli, Vogue, September 1938. Photo by Regina Relang. Miuccia Prada, 2007. Photo by Toby McFarlan Pond.

Schiaparelli on the other hand--the elegant simplicity seems unfussy and well thought out. I'd wear all the pieces today.

Perhaps my tastes have changed. The book reminded me of decades past, when I was fawning over a memorable Prada skirt or dress. Maybe it takes several decades to enjoy Prada designs in the same way I see Schiaparelli.

Elsa Schiaparelli, Vogue, June, 1938. Photo by Horst. Miuccia Prada, 2009. Photo by Toby McFarlan Pond.

"Miuccia Prada and Elsa Schiaparelli—both Italian, both feminists—share striking affinities in terms of their design strategies and fashion manifestoes."

The book proved the opposite. While there were similar details in their works, overall, the feeling and quality of design was strikingly different. My favorite works from the book are cataloged here. A few exceptional designs from Prada match the splendor of Schiaparelli.

Elsa Schiaparelli, Vogue 1935. Photo by Horst. Elsa Schiaparelli, L'Officiel, December 1933. Photo by Egidio Scaioni.

Placing one Prada outfit next to a Schiaparelli on each page--the actions, what the designs were able to evoke when compared to each other, spoke louder than words.


Surrounded by Monday Blues

  — Conflict-free products

Thinking while drinking tea

I wonder if there will be a day where I can buy products that were made by people who actually enjoyed making them. I met someone who needed to make a custom pair of pants. She found a lady on Etsy who knew how to sew. This lady charged below rate because she felt she was getting a deal--an opportunity to make something.

Everyone's on their internet phones these days so I can see how tactile work is now valued as a leisure activity. There are people who are willing to make things for fun.

Right now all the products I buy are full of 'Monday blues'. I can't imagine anything mass produced to be fun for someone to make.

It feels bad to be wearing 'Monday blues', to be hanging around curtains and sheets full of 'Monday blues'. If there's people who want milk from happy cows, there's people who desire products made by happy people.


Agitated Nights

  — Best form of therapy

Wandering through through the dreamy atmosphere of Budapest with two of my college friends

Recently, I've been waking up exhausted. There's so much drama in my dreams! Unfortunately, the instant I awake I don't know what I was dreaming about. I'm left feeling like I was in tense situations for a couple hours.

"...yet in one dream I can compose a whole Comedy, behold the action, apprehend the jests and laugh my self awake at the conceits thereof". - Sir Thomas Browne on lucid dreaming

I wish I could lucid dreaming when I want to. The few times I've accomplished it, I felt relaxed and energized. It's like being on a roller coaster. I'm still scared in dangerous situations but at the same time, I know I am safe. Nothing will happen.


Snow Melt

  — Handling frustration

The snow was so heavy and unexpected that three large branches tore from this tree. This was taken during the snow, before the branches fell.

Last week it snowed heavily. Just for one day and totally out of the blue.

It was beautiful to see really large snow flakes float down from the sky. Although there was at least a few inches, the snow started melting the same day. All the streets were slushy for 3 days. I didn't leave the house and ended up agitated towards the end of the week.

Today my husband and I hiked the Redmond Watershed Preserve. This was the closest hike that didn't require a Discovery Pass, a pass I paid $30 for and somehow lost. I am so angry. I don't know how this pass disappeared from the green sleeve I placed it in. It cannot be replaced.

Lost of water all around from last week's snow melt. The Redmond Watershed Preserve had plenty of puddles.

Why is it so hard to get over something like this? I feel guilty for not double checking the car we rented to see whether the receipt had flown under the seat of the car. I visualize it being there, waiting for me to find it--and I just didn't bother.

It's already too late. Even if it is inside the rental car we returned, it's gone.

"I don't deserve another pass."

The whole issue could have been resolved by getting another pass, but instead, I found ways of seeing myself as someone who wastes money. Seeing myself as 'wasteful', I didn't think I deserved anything.

It's crazy how often I get in the way of my own happiness.


Guilty Desire

  — Embarrassing wishes

One of the few photos I like of the ones my husband took, although my smile looks totally forced.

Guilty pleasures are proudly revealed while guilty desires are not. Like the desire to be rich--that's something people are embarrassed letting others know about.

Sometimes I wish I had one of those boyfriend photographers who can take flattering pictures of me. When I ask my husband to take my photo, he considers any random snap to look good. Whether I'm awkwardly moving my limbs or my lazy eye is totally being lazy...he finds me flattering in all the photos he takes. How is this possible? I'm not looking svelte or glamorous!

Although....I'm very happy he sees things this way.

Perhaps I am cured of my guilty desire.


Farnsworth House

  — Something extraordinary in an unexpected place

Simple clean lines, photo by jalbertgagnier.

After spending over two thirds of my life in Chicago, every city I've visited pales in comparison in terms of architecture. It's the variety of architecture that's available downtown that makes it impressive. The skyscrapers are one thing and then the older brick buildings are impressive in other ways.

Despite how many photos I've taken in places I've traveled, I hardly have any of Chicago--that's how much I've taken it for granted. When I first moved to New York, I was surprised how boring they city was. Brownstone after brownstone miles on end, from Manhattan to the edge of Brooklyn, all have similar facades. To my surprise, New York had just one Mies building.

Travel gives me perspective on what I already have. Rather than opening my eyes to how others live, new places open me up to appreciating what's in front of me.

"Nature, too, shall live its own life. We must beware not to disrupt it with the color of our houses and interior fittings. Yet we should attempt to bring nature, houses, and human beings together into a higher unity." - Ludwig Mies van der Rohe

Recently I came across the Farnsworth House. It's such a beautiful house and yet it's located within the proximity of the suburb I grew up in. The super unexciting suburb, a place I cringe thinking about.

Having gone to Venice for an architecture Biennial, it's a shock that something so world class is next to a place I consider the polar opposite.

"The house was created in order to enable its inhabitants to experience the rural silence..."

"there is no garden architecture, no pathways, beds or flowers", photo by jalbertgagnier.

As someone who isn't well-versed in architecture, it's even more exciting to have context to a work I'm discovering for the first time.

"If you view nature through the glass walls of the Farnsworth House, it gains a more profound significance than if viewed from the becomes part of a larger whole."

Quotes from wikipedia.



  — Textile art

"years ago, when I had just quit my day job being a host in a restaurant, was completely disappointed by my studies in architectural design, and stuck in the house after a surgery...I decided to take matters in my own hands... After a few months, I had taken some Illustrator and InDesign classes and started a blog" - Corina Nika

I've followed many creatives online over the course of several years. Corina Nika was one of the first, a graphic designer who's work had blossomed during the first two years I've followed her. It's like being part of a journey. Through their style, presentation and initial works, there are clues as to what a creative might achieve. It's amazing when things move forward.

Most recently, I've been admiring the textile art of Hanna Chung.

Rughooking in progress, textile art by Hanna

"I work full-time as an interior designer at an interior architecture company based out of NYC."

Hanna's @afternoonswim caught my eye in the past months. Hanna posts warm and natural interiors that reflect the style of home I admire. Her consistency in delivering a relaxed mood shows a deep understanding of design. I was excited to find out that she was making works of her own.

"I can attribute my creative desires to my Mom. She is a talented textile artist and I am forever inspired by her. While growing up, I always loved the way she beautifully decorated our home"

I've seen plenty of weavings, but I haven't seen much of other textile art. Hanna designs her own work and the abstract shapes of her textiles are arranged in ways that feel relaxed, free of restriction. If you look close at the fibers, there are textural dynamics within the colored sections.

"I came up with the idea of crafting something to fill a creative void I had..." A textile in progress and a tapestry wallhanging.

On mentioning the interior design firm where she works: "Our company mainly works on commercial projects, for large corporate companies, and our clients have a standard look they follow... it is hard to be creative..."

I don't know if it's true, but it feels like more people are making their own art these days. Perhaps it's the result of working in a post-industrialized society? People have a need to make things with their hands but they also have a need to exercise creativity.

"textile was not the first thing that came to mind. I took knitting classes first, then weaving, then machine sewing, and then rug hooking, somehow they all happened to be textile related."

I'm excited to see more from Hanna. There's enough interest in her textile art that she's opening a shop.

"At first I had not intended to sell anything I made, I made them for myself and to decorate my home. Then my friends starting seeing some of the things I had made and they fell in love with them." Sketching out textile art ideas.

"There aren't too many things I can say about the shop as it is not opened yet and is still in the planning stages. I am currently focusing on only textile, but one day I hope to broaden my shop and add other creative inspirational pieces."

Visit @afternoonswim for Hanna's selected interiors and textile art.


Beauty & Home

  — Deep enrapture-ment

'Home'. Taken from the car, on our drive around Lake Crescent. I thought we would be back, but the trails were either closed or covered with snow. These blurry photos are all the photos I have.

"Tu sei tutto, Sylvia! Ma lo sai che sei tutto, eh? You are everything! Tu sei la prima donna del primo giorno della creazione. Sei la madre, la sorella, l'amante, l'amica, l'angelo, il diavolo, la terra, la casa...ah, ecco cosa sei, la casa!" - Marcello in La Dolce Vita

"You are everything, Sylvia. You know that? You are everything! The first woman on the first day of creation. You're mother, sister, lover, friend, angel, devil, earth, home. That's what you are: home."

I instantly knew I was home.

Imagine a place similar to Lake Como in the evening, dark silhouettes of mountains overlapping infinitely into the distance. The lake is smaller than Lake Como and feels more insulated. Looking up, I feel like I'm in a caldron, surrounded by towering black sides. Wispy clouds hover in and out of mountain folds. I can't help but notice where the earth meets the sky. There's hardly any development in sight.

"Lake Crescent is known for its brilliant blue waters and exceptional clarity, caused by a lack of nitrogen in the water which inhibits the growth of algae." - Wikipedia

The lake is located inside the Olympic National Park. I found trickling waterfalls every ten yards inside the dark forest.

How is beauty linked to the feeling of home? I haven't really explored this connection, but in the middle of La Dolce Vita, I saw this theme come up. Marcello, entranced by Sylvia's beauty and spirit, feels 'home'. I can't understand how it makes sense, but when I experienced Lake Crescent, I was indeed home.