LENSES ON THE EVERYDAY & SEASONALLY SACRED with LONDON BASED PHOTOGRAPHER KRISTIN PERERS
As we tend toward the Autumnal Equinox on September 22nd here in the Northern Hemisphere, we enter a period of time full of sacred seasonal celebrations and observances based on the cycles of the moon, of the sun, and of the growing season ending with harvest and simultaneously beginning again with the dormancy of seed and soil.
Late summer to early fall holds the Islamic and Jewish New Year celebrations, early harvest celebrations and a shift in the light and color and garden foods and flowers of our days.
This week Cultivating Place offers out the first in a two part series on the sacred of the everyday in our seasonal garden lives, the first in conversation with London-based artist, designer, nature lover, photographer, and Vicars wife Kristin Perers, whose works and days are intentionally grounded in bits of nature and color all around her - wherever she might be.
Kristin joins us to share more about her abiding passions and what the everyday sacred means in actions small and large, in ways that are seasonally grounded by year, and seasonally oriented across her life.
In our conversation, Kristin describes her early life born in Chicago followed by her family's early move to and life in a small town on Florida’s "space coast" in the 1960s and 1970s. Her father buying an office furniture business, her mother a maker of all kinds of life things - from paintings to clothing for the kids. Kristin went on to attend the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York and she became a fashion designer working for the likes of Calvin Klein and Georgio Armani in time, which is in part where she learned to become a 'color forager'. In these early design school and career days, she also met and developed a deep friendship with the first person she considered to be an artist. And Kristin began her own lifelong painting and artistic practice, and first began as well to use photography not yet as an art form but as a way of documenting and taking notes, as a kind of visual sketchbook of its own. She married and she and her husband ultimately moved to London for new opportunity and started their young family. I
In her design and then styling and photography work, Kristin developed a ritual of picking a seasonal botanical element – a sprig of foliage, a branch, a flower, berries - To incorporate in the scenes she was depicting as a way to ground herself and root herself in her vision for the work. This became a kind of "Northstar" practice, which Kristin incorporated into making her family home - foraging for signs and colors of her season and her place. Kristin documented her own making of a seasonal home in her first book, The Seasonal Home. As it published, her marriage began to unravel, pushing her into a new and highly aware and artistic and generative phase in the midst of her grief.
Ten years ago, Kristin remarried an Anglican Priest, William, and for ten years the two have made their lives together at his Vicarage in the diversity of East London. ONe of the first involvements, Kristin had in her role as Vicar's wife was going to bat for the preservation of the Vicarage Garden, which was being looked at by developers willing to pay a high price for the piece of land. The Garden and Garden Committee prevailed and the Garden remains in place. Kristin and the church garden committee went from there to reconsidering the garden as a whole: determining to maintain the rosemary and lavender hedges, rethinking the roses and considering how to honor the many decades of ashes strewn in this sacred garden space.
In time, the Garden and church community has come to include the aesthetic voice, energy and work of Worm London, a creative floral design studio now ensconced in part of the church hall. Worm is the vision of two women Katie and Teri both inspired by many things starting with the imperfect wildflowers that grew around them as girls on the coast of southern Ireland. Kristin collaborated with Worm on an 2020 exhibit for British Flowers Week at the Garden Museum of London, which is incidentally housed in an old church, and this exhibit focused on the seasonal sacred 'altars' of our human relationship with nature's cycles, began her down a road of considering the sacred in her own life - and the importance of this in all of our lives.
Kristin'a first book The Seasonal Home was published in 1998. She is currently at work on a book exploring the sacred in the everyday and the altars we find and make all around us.
You can follow Kristin online at kristinperers.com and on Instagram @kristinperers, or @theflowerfactorystudio
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JOIN US again next week, when we continue our discussion about the everyday and seasonal sacred in our garden lives in conversation with Rabbi Arthur Waskow, co-founder of The Shalom Center in Philadelphia, PA and author of Seasons of our Joy, A Modern Guide to Jewish Holidays. With the Islamic New Year in mid-August, the Jewish New Year of Rosh Hashana on the new moon September 6th, the Jewish celebration of harvest at Sukkot being celebrated from the full moon on September 20th through 27th (with the Equinox on September 22nd), these are conversations deeply rooted in time and seasonal cycles.
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Thinking out loud this week:
Hey It’s Jennifer –
Abiding. Abiding passions, interests, relationships, responsibilities.
I am pondering these ideas – the strength in this language. To abide is to wait, to endure, to remain, to stay. I think of plants – maybe particularly the native plants of any of our current places, and the plants that have been introduced and have adapted to become contributing participants - the herbs, the weeds, the weedy wildflowers.
I am thinking of the relationship between abiding and abode, where we live and make our places, and of the relationship between faith and abiding, faith and our gardening impulses to live in faithful relationship to our chosen plant communities. I often see the greatest gifts of my ancestors from great great grandfathers to great aunts and uncles to mother and and father and now to my children and one day perhaps theirs the culture and faith at its best of our planted lives – the growing garden year grounding me and abiding in me far more strongly and instinctively than so much else. I can lean into that faith.
Constancy is another form of abiding. And I want to shout out to the constancy of you listeners of CP – many more of you now than when we started this growing conversational journey 5 years ago. Sometime in this past two months, CP crossed the line of more than 1 million listens over its lifetime. Wow.
Thank you all for being out there. For growing along together in how we think about, talk about, value the positive impact of what it can mean to garden – together.
Welcome to you new listeners and new donors – without listeners and without donors I could not do what I do - I could not do what I do without your support and presence. I could not do it with such abiding tenacity as I do now, certainly.
Every listener on air or through the podcast matters to me, every subscriber to the podcast (wherever you get your podcasts) matters - and every dollar of support (through the support button at the top right hand corner of every page at Cultivating Place.com matters!) helps me in collaboration with Matt, Sarah, Angel (who does the tech work at NSPR) to create this content week after week. So thank you – especially you monthly subscribers – those who give $5 and those who give $50 a month – you all make this possible.
A few things to know – and few things I would love to ask of you! – first, while I don’t transcribe each week’s conversation, I do write up what I call 'Show Notes' for each episode and those are posted every week under the podcast tab at Cultivating Place.com, these posts always include beautiful, expanding and enlivening images from the week’s conversation. At the bottom each week’s show notes is the section called Thinking out Loud this week – go there for the written version (often longer) of my podcast break thoughts to you – many of you have asked me about these recently so I figured I would walk you through it.
Finally – if the program as a whole – or individual episodes move you or get you thinking – please let me know and share it forward with your family, friends, your garden club, your book club, networks on social media.
This organic and heartfelt sharing is what has grown us to 48,000 monthly listens/430,000 annually – and it is this ever expanding network of caring cultivators of place that I truly believe can help grow our world better.
One garden and gardener at a time – together.
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