The first time I saw one of Anatar's Canopy Cradles was at a music, arts, lifestyle and environmental festival in South-East Queensland. It was suspended from a large tree next to one of the dance-floors and there were at least four young kids swinging in it and laughing their heads off. It put an instant smile on my face to see them having so much fun, and also awoke this part of me that instantly wanted to be swinging in that big basket too.
It was a few months later when I was given the opportunity to meet the woman who had made these wonderful Canopy Cradles and photograph her with her own creations, it was one of the most magical photographic experiences I've had to date.
Residing in a wooden hut next to a creek not far from Mullumbimby, NSW, Anatar lives at one with nature. It was an enchanting experience to visit her at her open-air home and see how she's made it possible to live a full and beautiful life without leaving a large footprint.
"It is a lifelong learning and yearning that have led to these baskets being born, from years living lightly on the earth and spending long periods of solitude, submersed in nature. They demand massive amounts of motivation, intuition, awareness, skill, sensitivity, flexibility, resourcefulness, dedication and a deep connection to the self and the spirit of the land. One would need to follow me around for the whole process to fully appreciate what a labour of love they are."
In the past, Anatar was the quiet achiever, shying away from being 'seen' or feeling too humble to shine. However, Anatar wants to leave those old, limiting beliefs behind. She believes the world needs people with insight, compassion and sensitivity, to step up and become facilitators of change. In the photo shoot the wings were used as a metaphor for Anatar stepping into her own power, soaring to the next level, reaching and sharing her full potential. The wedge-tail eagle has an extremely powerful spirit and the wings were gifted to her, by someone who sees her strength and intention. She saw the gift as a sign that it's time for her to spread her wings and take her life's purpose to the next level.
"Canopy Cradles are a culmination of all I have lived and learnt thus far. They are ethically and sustainably harvested with total respect and connection to the land, hand-made from all natural materials and transported using a vegetable oil fueled vehicle."
She spends half the year at her creek-side home and the other half in Far North Queensland where she forages in the jungle to harvest what is needed to make the Canopy Cradles. She sources all her own materials by hand.
These photographs are a portrayal of Anatar embodying the wild, tribal essence that permeates her entire life experience. She often jokes that she feels like an indigenous soul, born into a white body, in some time and space that feels quite alien to her, almost like an abstract sci-fi movie. She finds it difficult to understand how people are living completely disconnected from the land, which has always been our life-blood. "How can we remove ourselves entirely from something that is inseparable from us?"
The idea to cover herself in mud was about stepping into her native skin, to eliminate the boundaries and illusions that keep us disconnected from the natural world. She has often yearned to dissolve the sense that she is separate from all that surrounds her and she sees the skin as one of the the illusions that maintains that sense of separation. By covering herself in clay she felt as though she was merging with all that is. It's also an expression of her wild side that is fed and nourished by the entire basket-making process. When she's harvesting the vines from deep in the jungle, it stimulates her hunting instincts and triggers a heightened sense of alertness and connection to the intricate, intimate agreement that is nature.
"I delve deep into the forests hunting the longest, juiciest tendrils of this ancient vine. I always ask the land for it's blessing to be there, and I harvest only where it is a pest to its surroundings. The job of these vines is to entangle themselves throughout the jungle and up into the canopy to reach for light, and my job is to wrestle them out by hand, often climbing into the canopy to cut from the top."
"I am blessed to bring these Canopy Cradles to life and witness the impact they have on people, and the sense of magic and wander that the natural world offers."
It was a great experience to collaborate with Anatar on this project. We both came away very excited about the images. It was an absolute pleasure to be able to bring Anatar's vision into a reality. It was also inspiring to meet this unique creature and witness such a raw and alternative way of living, loving and creating that is so at one with the our fascinating planet.
For more information about Anatar and her Canopy Cradles check her out online.
WEBSITE: www.wildawake.world INSTAGRAM: @wild.awake FACEBOOK: Anatar Wild Awake