A trip to Queenstown with Rosie Fea
Rosie Fea is a writer, photographer and one of the many women who are a profound source of inspiration for us.
Over lockdown last year we met Rosie. I would get lost daydreaming, escaping isolation through her photography! So we weren't surprised to find when we got talking how her words transcended us away, to the foothills of Queenstown.
We knew we immediately we had to collaborate through words and imagery and we are so excited to share this beautiful interview and photo series with you.
Rosie Fea, Self Portrait wearing Phoebe Shirt
Tell us a little about yourself Rosie?
I am writer & content creator. In the years since university I have established a freelance-based body of work, allowing my ideas to be showcased through various forms - photography, communication, and the written word, and having me sink into an itinerant rhythm for some time, travelling various countries in bursts seeing what narrative opportunity awaited. However, after spending much of 2019 solo in Greece, I returned with a new work venture priority: being part of a larger team. Spending 2020 back in New Zealand unfortunately saw this wish transpire in a slightly alternative way - securing my place as part of the widely touted “team of 5 million” during our national lockdown.
Kastelorizo, Greece, 2019
What came out of that period for you?
The stasis that ensued offered a greater respect for my craft, with more time to augment my understanding of what it is I can contribute from home shores. One project being a small book of miscellanea (prose and poetry) I have penned over the years but done nothing with, set to be printed and released in time for winter this year.
Rosie's home, Queenstown, 2021
Can you tell us about your upbringing in Queenstown? What parts of your history do you see as being foundational to who you are today?
Mum and I have been talking about the phenomenon of ‘genetic memory’ after some writing about my great grandparents resurfaced lately.. My grandad Doug lived in a tent in the 1920’s while his father worked as a raceman on the original Arrowtown Irrigation Scheme here. Reading about his childhood, and making parallels about that provenance, I now acknowledge that so many of the ties I feel to this place go beyond my own individual memories.
Growing up in this town was utter privilege - many would now refer to Queenstown as a ‘rich white bubble’, so I’m fortunate to have experienced a humble version of here before the development boom and big money came to town. We lived in a small cottage my parents built using recycled materials until I was 7, and had a pet lamb that my sister & I used to dress in beads and host tea parties with. We would sled down the tussock bank in our nighties after dinner, bounce snow off the trampoline in winter, and roam the craggy hills behind the house. We moved lakeside after that, so my teenage years were replete with wharf jumping, boating, picnics and beach bbqs with friends / cousins who lived down the road.
Queenstown, NZ 2021
This irrefutable connection to being outdoors 99% of the time has been the foundational thread that has carried through to now. I guess informing my striving for a simple way of life, and the acknowledgement of things that are much more powerful than we are.
Queenstown, NZ 2019
Can you share a bit about how your perspective on the town has evolved over time — how has returning to this place impacted you?
While travelling and living quite episodically for a few years, I used to view each time I returned here as a massive failure on my part. Like I was in retrograde and not adventurous enough. But thanks to Covid / 2020 and the enforced staying put, I have now grown weirdly obsessed with this sweet hermitage. I have yielded to a more holistic perspective of it being a place of emotional reconstitution and sustenance for me. The seasons are very pronounced here so everything has this really thick elemental feeling -it’s quite a marvel.
Like right now - it’s late autumn and there’s the beginnings of winter snow dusting the top of the mountains and all I want to do is walk and walk and walk at dusk until my fingertips go numb.
Rosie Fea x Muse featuring Holly Skirt
Can you tell the story behind the beautiful imagery you created with our Capsule Six pieces?
The photos of the Tuinman-Bell sisters were captured just across the road from my parent's house on a peninsula called Kelvin Heights.
Ever since I was small we have just called it ‘the back beach.’ It feels so consoling to be down there as it’s almost an extension of home - where many thoughts and deliberations, languid afternoons, and summer floats have occurred. So, without lying and saying there was intentional artistry behind the photos that we took, I think they just pay homage to family and familiar places. With sisters - Shelby I’ve known since I was 5, and Brylee I recall being born.
Together in this place that we all know so intimately. Also, the juxtaposition of them being relatively unperturbed and comfortable in the discomfort of a truly brutal southerly wind coming up the lake. Hardened hometown locals! The prism effect adding to a sense of the blurring between memory and reality when you visit old places.
Are there any artists/writers/creatives who you admire?
I enjoy photo collections that reveal an artist’s personal experience, or their interactions with intimate everyday scenes and processes. The quieter moments with loved ones, or their sense of a space. A few that come to mind are Linda McCartney’s photos on the road with The Beatles, Herbert List in Greece, Max Dupain & Olive Cotton’s documentation of the Heide group in Melbourne, Alfred Stieglitz’s portraits of Georgia O’Keeffe at home on Ghost Ranch.
Filmmakers like Richard Linklater & Sidney Lumet for their honesty and social/political commentary.
The harmonious / symbiotic philosophy that underpinned the architectural work of Alvar Aalto and Charlotte Perriand.
The Minoan’s pioneering use of colour and shapes and storytelling - Greece opened me up to a level of antiquity so different to what we experience here in a relatively young NZ.
Bilingual speakers - their use of language as a portal to another point of view is so impressive.
Cinematic composers - people who create whole entire worlds of emotion through sound
Rosie Fea, Self Portrait
Also, people who don’t necessarily carry the badge of creative or artist but who duteously pledge themselves each day to the small not-so-sexy steps that open up space for beauty and creative occurrence. Like spontaneous, unhurried, undivided conversation. Noticing a birds nest or something small and inconspicuous on a walk. Finding their genius in the push back against conformity - or freedom through discipline.
People who don’t need a big spectacle to feel like they are enough: people like my uncle Ian who worked in a university boiler-room for 40 years and bikes in the rain, travelled India for 3 months with one change of clothes and half a toothbrush in a backpack, and who has never uttered a nasty thing about anyone.
Is there a passage from a poem or excerpt from a novel that you find yourself thinking about frequently?
Lately it’s been this one page from a Tennessee Williams notebook:
“Keeping a journal is a lonely man's habit. It betrays the vices of introspection and social withdrawal, even a kind of narcissism. It has certain things to recommend it. It keeps a recorded continuity between his past and present selves. It gives him the comforting reassurance that shocks, defeats, disappointments are all snowed under by the pages and pages of new experience that still keep flaking down over him as he continues through time, and promises that this comforting snowfall of obliteration will go right on as long as he himself keeps going.”
Also this great bit from a Jenny Offill book which I loved:
[From The Sayings of the Desert Fathers] “A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad they will attack him saying, “You are mad, you are not like us.”
Rosie Fea, Self Portrait
What books are on your bedside table?
To the Lighthouse, Virginia Woolf
Daphnis & Chloe, Longus
The Wind in The Willows, Kenneth Grahame
The Poetics of Space, Gaston Bachelard
Letters to a Young Poet, Rilke (to be used as a pacifier when I’m too stuck in my own head)
Rai Valley Cottage, NZ, 2021
What is the best advice you have been given?
I love the philosophy of ‘first time, last time’ - to receive everything as if it were to be the very first time you did, or the very last time you would.
See more of Rosie's works on her blog and instagram. Her upcoming book is due to be released this winter, follow her on at @rosiefea for release dates
Rosies blog: https://mind-you.weebly.com/