April 09, 2020

To Inspire and Get Inspired - Maryvonne

To Inspire and Get Inspired - Maryvonne

What difference a month can make!

My mother Maryvonne arrived to visit us for a 3 week holiday on the 3rd of March. On week one, I was given the opportunity to open a pop-up store at the Fremantle Markets so to do something fun in the midst of installing a store in 3 days instead of chilling in the South West, I introduced Mum to the idea of being part of our community blog in exchange of beautiful photos of herself with her granddaughters.

Well 3 weeks later, she is now stuck in Australia, living with us for the foreseeable future as the flight and situation deemed too risky at her age. Yes, she has received a file of photos that would make any grandmother jealous and an ANJELMS Project wardrobe to keep her clothed through her stay.

For my part, it is the first time in 25 years that I see my mother for more than two weeks at once, let alone live together so it is like showing her my way of living in Australia and the choices I have made for my family. The thing that brings me a lot of joy is the time she is spending with her grandchildren, teaching them about their French heritage through cooking, singing, watching movies, and stories of our ancestors. Meanwhile, the girls introduce her to their world; art for Maddy, the process of weaving, drama and song for Sasha. So if one positive comes from this challenging time is this privileged family time.


Who is Maryvonne? What is your daily life like back home in France?

This year, I will be 77. I am retired and enjoy life to its fullest.

I am an early riser, so my morning ritual is: I get up, prepare my breakfast on a tray that I take back in bed, listen to the news, and read the book I have started. Once I have rung my loved ones, I tend to my lush garden balcony in the suburb of Paris where I live. I find there are new treasures every day, a flower, a bud, or a transplanting project.

In the afternoon, I have set activities.

Monday: cardboard craft, with a dozen ladies, choosing what each of us would like to create, pick a fabric to cover it, advise, offer suggestions in a friendly environment.

Tuesday and Wednesday are nordic trekking days for 10kms. Every week, without fail.

On the weekend, we meet as a group with 5 close friends. We have lunch out, then visit an exhibition, catch a movie or go for a walk.

Then, I make sure to visit my 4 elderly neighbours who are all over 85. Very interesting.


What are you doing to cope with the changes to cope and adapt to your current life in Australia? What do you miss the most and what positives are you getting from the experience?

My life in Australia is nothing like my life in France. Everything is so different, I feel a bit unsettled. To live alone and then suddenly to live as a family of 5 gives me so much happiness. To be able to spend time with my daughter, her husband, and granddaughters and share their life for the first time is a beautiful experience. I think that parents always want to give their adult children advice but I realise sometimes it is a mistake. They have created their own life. It is important to accept the different paths we choose in life.


You went to India with Gaelle last year to visit Rajasthan and meet the team at The Stitching Project, and experience her collaboration with the project. Tell us about your impressions on that visit, the team, the workshop and the working conditions for the artisans. What is your fondest memory?

Only amazing memories of our trip in Rajasthan, so many discoveries and especially to have been able to follow the processes from start to finish of Gaelle’s creations: from the raw with Khadi cotton, to the natural plant dyes done in the gardens of the workshop, to the block printing skills and processes, to the craftsmanship skills of the Stitching ladies. I was able to share with these women so many privileged moments.

I have been so impressed by the workshop where Fiona’s works every day. The workshop was immaculately white with natural light coming through. The atmosphere was serene and calm with each employee in the room dedicated to their task (sewing, ironing, silk sari sorting, block-printing, etc)

To see the women and men put in the center of the lunch mat their home brought meal and share them together with the mountain of chapatis cooked by the workshop cook was a lovely experience.

I was also impressed by the respect and friendliness everyone was showing each other regardless of gender or caste something I know is such an achievement in India.

Having witnessed so many dark, dirty workshops with chemical smells coming from them, it was so inspiring to visit The Stitching Project. 


Gaelle, your daughter has been running The Anjelms Project for the last 10 years. What have you discovered from her personality?

As a young child, Gaelle has always had a very strong personality. When she makes a decision, she will accept all the challenges and obstacles that are necessary to get the end and succeed. I am really proud of her.

As someone of experience, what would be your advice to the younger generation? And what legacy do you hope to leave?

I am indeed 77 years of age with the experience that comes with these years but each of these experiences was gained in such a different context and time.

I think the new generation will be so different. The new tools and technology are great but relationships, communication, and connections can not only be virtual. Texting will never replace the speech of the visual.


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