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This Is Me

I’ve never understood why ‘about page bios’ must be expressed in a distant voice of authority, like writing a report card; so here is just me, meeting you, over a cup of good coffee.

In addition to painting and studying, I have published a few books, run workshops in churches all across Australia, mentor an online group of ‘creatives’, and I’m working on releasing my own product line. If the words ‘serial entrepreneur’ come to mind, you nailed it.

If you haven’t already guessed, I should tell you that I love so many things that this life offers.

In no particular order, here’s my top ten:

I love colour. I’m captivated by the colours that emerge as I schmoosh my hands through paint on the canvas. I rarely mix a colour before I start, and paint directly from the tube with my fingers to keep the purest form of the colour I’ve chosen, whether it is an intense vibrant or a subdued hue. I let the colours play together, and love the mystery as shapes and images begin appearing out of the light and depth of mingled colours. To say I love painting is a superfluous understatement. Creativity has been the one consistent strand through all of my life.

I love photography. I have been taking pictures for 20+ years just for fun, way before smart phone cameras existed. I am obsessed with documenting every magic moment, although I’ve still not taken the time to learn the skills to capture that first morning light. I love that our world has become a visual banquet. Years ago when I began to write, blogging was a literary storytelling platform to share our journeys, now the picture tells the story. The image is King.

I love small business. It’s humbling to see people giving birth to their imagination. I love innovation, especially when young people express original ideas in their own business. I love ambition, I’m completely addicted to visionary young people. Creativity begets creativity.

I love food. Actually, I should say I love sharing a meal around a table, the ritual of breaking bread together. I love good food, good coffee, good wine, but oftentimes it is all about the conversation venue. The atmosphere is paramount. Opening the Brooklyn Tea Garden at the gallery (2014) was a venture that started because I am infatuated with places where you ‘can feel the love tonight’, and opening the Art of Tea gallery and cafe on the Gold Coast (2017) was the same seed of inspiration. Oh, and that rare commodity: real tea from real tea leaves. Eating, drinking, and talking. Cooking, baking, and photographing food. It’s all good to me. I am filing away all these snippets for ‘My Champagne Diet’, an out-of-the-ordinary cookbook due for release 2022; another obsession coming true.

I love traveling. It’s hard to beat being immersed in another culture, experiencing diversity firsthand, meeting people and hearing their stories. I’ve seen over 93 cities in 27 countries, although unsure exactly how many as I stopped counting way back. It’s such a big ‘small’ world, and I’ll not get to see it all, but I can enjoy trying. I’m sure I have gypsy blood.

I love the ocean. I love the sand under bare feet and the whitecaps breaking at my ankles. I love the sound of waves swishing on the shore. Back and forth, swish swish, I love the rhythm. It is the music I want to hear late at night and in the early hours. I love the indescribable bluegreen ever-changing colours. We might know the science of sunlight’s red, yellow, and green wavelengths being absorbed by water molecules that leave us only with every hue of blue, but we cannot name them. I paint with turquoise, ultramarine, cobalt and teal pigments, but capturing the colour of the ocean remains elusive. The ocean is our world’s greatest mystery.

I love people who ask questions. I love learning new things but can never think of questions to ask. Maybe it’s a childhood imprint from a ‘seen and not heard’ upbringing, but I’m intrigued by a person’s quest for deeper knowledge. I’ve been a meanderer with regards to my studies. I’ve studied design, journalism, children’s literature, biology, gemmology, theology, social media, art therapy (and still I don’t know what I want to do when I grow up) but I’m thankful for today’s multifarious learning platforms; Blinkist, TED talks, Medium, CuriosityStream. I love that we have become a society with fact-checking at our fingertips. Curiosity is undervalued.

I love being barefoot. I go a little stir-crazy when I can’t get grounded with my feet on soft grass or in the sand. Shoes are my enemy. Oh, I just heard the clatter of fainting females everywhere, sorry about that. I guess you won’t be calling me as a guest writer on your fashion blog now. I may be perceived as a city chick, but I’m really a beach-shack- no-makeup- just-a-sarong kinda girl. Give me sunshine through the treetops over plate glass windows any day.

I love God. He is my source. He is my comfort and my strength. The trinity are my best friends; my inspiration and my motivation; my alpha and omega. My happiness is homemade and I have made Christianity my home. My prayer for you is that you find your spiritual home too.

I love gemstones. And fine diamonds and coloured diamonds. I grew up enveloped by beautiful jewellery. It’s hard to be definitive when I say I love beautiful things. We all see beauty differently. I love the clear, clean, simple aesthetics of well-cut gemstones and master-crafted pieces of jewellery. I have favourites, but they do change. Today I love peridot, aquamarine, rose tourmaline and tanzanite, but I love canary yellow diamonds best. What a privilege that I began my working career amongst the finest of such beautiful things.

Want to know more?

I spent my early years on the north shore of Sydney in a typically dysfunctional middle-class family, doing fairly typical middle-class things, apart from playing with diamonds on the kitchen table (an often-repeated story of me as a 6-yr-old mixing gems in the sugar bowl).

I worked in publishing for John Fairfax magazine group for 10 years while moonlighting in the family jewellery business, until branching out with my own fine diamond jewellery designs at Wendy Manzo Diamonds in Pitt Street, Sydney, first at the Hilton and then at the Piccadilly. I embodied Wendy Manzo Diamonds for almost 27 years (1985-2011). I continue to design for selected clients.

In 2003 I began painting, loved it, and soon found a gift for live speed painting in church worship services. For almost 10 years I led a team of worship artists at DaySpring Church, encouraging them to jump into their creative vision and explore the prophetic potential of their work. I learnt the utmost respect for volunteers.

My home and career were put on hold when my life turned upside-down-inside-out in 2010. Losing everything except what truly matters, it was my darkest hour. My art kept me focused on what is good, reminding me that there is always hope, and life is magnificent despite its rollercoaster nature. We all need hope, don’t we! I’m almost brave enough to finish writing the inspirational book, ’88 Days’, that I hope will help others navigate their darkest hour.

My art career has taken me to paint and exhibit across Australia and around the world, including New York, San Francisco, Florence, Indonesia, New Zealand, and Parliament House Canberra. In 2013 I was featured on the Australian television program ‘Colour In Your Life’. This series is included in The Polaris Collection, part of the Lunar Codex being launched to land on the moon in 2023. Yep, my art will be on the moon, enclosed in a time capsule collection of Earth’s contemporary art, literature and music.

What else? The paradox is that I present to the world as an extrovert, and it may surprise you to learn that I identify as an introvert. It’s a little like the swan swimming gracefully but paddling like crazy under the water. I process stimuli and internalise information before I can speak, I don’t like surprises, my mind is like a computer with three dozen tabs open at once, and every little detail is important in my environment. I like social media because I can connect with you without going into large crowds of noisy people. (Ahem, did I just say that out loud?)

The man that holds my hand every day, my life accomplice and kindred spirit, has two big hearts, one for his family and one for the world. He is a counselor, educator, and a musician. I feel thankful to be with him every single day. Together we have three adult children, all independent brilliant young men, of whom I am ridiculously proud.

My man and I are old souls. We like weathered wooden boats, walks on the beach, and are forever embarking upon the next adventure. He is absurdly brilliant at more or less everything he turns his hand to, is a legendary drummer, and brews the cup of tea that fixes everything; while I have absolutely zilch sense of direction, but make great steak and salads, and have annoyingly strong opinions on all sorts of things that you may or may not find on this blog. We love rock’n’roll. We love helping creative people fulfil their potential and live life successfully. And we’re both fond of searching for the meaning of life. Often.

Here’s cheers to imperfect people, always learning, giving it a go, failing, dreaming bigger, enjoying the small stuff, getting messy, and above all else – embracing the diamonds on the water. Everything is symbolic, keep interpreting. Life is better with a little brilliance.

If you’d like to tell me about the things you love, or contact me with any questions, commissions, bookings or opportunities to work together, feel free to post a comment or drop me a line at [email protected]

You can also find me

posting here
tweeting here
snapping here
pinning here

I cannot thank you enough for taking time to read my blog. I hope you enjoy it. I wish we could have coffee in person, maybe someday. If you ever see me out and about, do come and say hello.

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