Artists’ Diaries | Gabi Lardies

MONDAY 18.06.18


My alarm sounds. Rather than getting out of bed, I instantly check my emails to see if the design studio I’ve recently begun freelancing for needs me to come in today. I recognise the precarity of this work, and feel uncertain about the employment relations I’m perpetuating, but, in my (privileged) situation, this kind of flexible, part-time work allows me the days I spend in my studio and enough money to survive. Despite this, the lack of email comes as double edged sword – gladness to have the day to my own practice, and a slight worry – do I need to find another job? Will I make enough money this week? As a freelancer with a few years of experience and contacts, recently these worries have made me over-commit myself and deprioritise my own practice, so I quieten them and enjoy a few (quite a few) extra minutes cosy in bed.

 After tea and toast I make myself a salad for lunch with veggies from the farmers market yesterday. I allow myself to appreciate some stupid small things like having an amazing Julienne peeler and a round tupperware because I was quite depressed last week and you gotta savor happiness when it comes. I do a load of washing and a couple of other chores I didn’t get to on the weekend.


I’m feeling a good thinking day coming so I walk to the studio rather than cycle to get me in a nice relaxed but engaged headspace. I moved into a shared working space just two weeks ago. Strange Haven at 281 K’ road is “a workspace, venue and clubhouse for community happenings.” I have a desk in the main area which is a cake-slice shaped room with the pointy end as a shop front. A beautiful flag by Phoebe Patcher hangs in the window. I’m happy to see two fellow residents already in and having a little chat. Although the space is shared by many people, it is fairly quiet as almost everyone needs outside jobs to maintain their lives and creative practice.



“I like to have quite a lot of stuff around my space, even if I have to tidy it away for events. On the wall I face when I’m sitting, is a photo I love by Meg Porteous, and the other bits and pieces are research or past work by myself.”

 I spend a couple of hours on some client design work, have a tea break with the gang, reply to some emails and find its already lunch time. My health ambitions this morning were too high and the salad doesn’t quite hit the spot, so I venture to K-rd for a cheeky samosa.


I flick to a page in my notebook where I list my current or upcoming creative projects and realise Auckland Zinefest is alarmingly close (July 14th). I make a note of the fact I’ll be running and bookbinding workshop and need to track down all my tools which I’ve not used in a while… I leave that task for another day…

I have a piece of writing swirling around in my head which I’d like to have printed for Zinefest. I’d like to write about Kowhai and it’s waterborne seeds alongside some research and thoughts about migration. I feel like I need more knowledge before I start writing, so I read a book about migration for a couple of hours. I take notes while I read to make sure I am focusing and forming my own thoughts from what I read. I have found without taking notes, things too easily slip out of my head (brain like a bloody sieve), or I read without making my own connections or opinions on what I’ve read.


On Saturday I went to a really great writing workshop at ArtSpace. It was run by Anna Rankin who led us through exercises I found extremely generative and fun. I decide to use one to start getting some of the swirling thoughts down on paper.

From Anna’s notes:

“Lyric essay exercise

This is an essayists and a poet’s exercise, because you bear down on a single word. Title is usually the word that’s been selected.

Select a single word. It will be in five numbered parts. Numbers have a cumulative and associational effect which are modes linked to poetry.

1, 3, 5 write about a personal memory, in present tense, associational not chronological

2, 4 analytical, philosophical, myth, religious texts, quotes, words used in film and literature, intellectual, word deviations, history.”

I write by hand and give myself only 40 minutes. As I’m treating this as a generative exercise, a time limit allows me to quieten the critique in my head and simply get things out. Critique will come later, when I’ve got material to work with, but in early stages I can too often find my own critique paralysing. I feel great about having gotten the writing started, even if it’s just scrawls in badly composed sentences.

I check my email and feel excited that two books I’ve requested are ready to be picked up from my local library then spend about 30 mins making changes to some design work.


On my way home, I come across a box of mismatched vintage tea cups left on the side of the road. I think about how they’ve probably been replaced with mugs that look handmade but are actually from K-mart… so I rescue, wash and put them in the flat cup collection. When my flatmate comes home, we admire them together.

cook, eat, clean, get into my yoga gear – comfy clothes – none of this lemon business!


Every monday I go to yoga at Ponsonby Central. It’s free and the instructor is great! Four of my good friends come and I also chat to another regular. I love having this time set aside purely for my well-being, and I am next to my best friend attempting some very ambitious balancing poses so I enjoy a bit of giggling as well.

At the end of the class the instructor says something lovely and uplifting about supporting and sharing good energy with the people around you 


After a shower I make a cup of tea, dip some bikkies in and have a scroll through social media. The less I use social media, the quicker I get bored of it, so pretty soon I am reading again – this time a beautiful novel – Potiki by Patricia Grace.  

“The shore is a place without seed, without nourishment, a scavenged death place. It is the wasteland, too salt for growth, where the sea puts up its dead. Shored seaweed does not take root but dries and piles, its pods splitting in the sun, while bleached land plants crack and turn to bone.

Yet because of being a nothing, a neutral place – not land, not sea – there is freedom on the shore, and rest.

There is freedom to search the nothing, the weed pile, the old wood, the empty shell, the fish skull, searching for the speck, the beginning – or the end that is the beginning.

Hope and desire can rest there, thoughts and feelings can shift with said grains being sifted by the water and the wind.

I put my bag down there one evening and rested, leaving a way for nothing, the nothing that can become a pinprick, a stirring. I took warm clothing from my bag and waited through the night for the morning that would become a new beginning.”

Pg. 18



I check my emails and assume no email means the design studio won’t be needing me tomorrow, so I plan out my day. I am slightly obsessed with making lists – but only because they work! Articulated tasks become achievable and don’t slip away undone. I usually have lots of smaller projects, clients and work happening all at once so I need to be organised to be on top of everything and minimise stress. I find that planning the day before gets me off to a good start in the morning and being decisive rather than faffing about throughout the day. This efficiency is important as the struggle for the work/life balance is constant. For tomorrow, I aim to spend just a couple of hours on admin and design in the morning, and the rest of the day drawing ideas for some new fabric works, reading, writing and experimenting with scrap paper for ideas to print and format some new publications.


I spend about 40 mins writing this… in bed with a warm hottie on my lap…mostly thinking it’s been a lovely day. I check in with a couple of friends through messages and have a little think of the evening events I want to go to this week.


back to my book 🙂