Labour of love

chai "Do you remember, all those years ago, we had the perfect chai?" ~ Shaw Hendry, Vitamin Ep.13

Do you have something in your life that you do purely for the love of it? It takes your time, it saps your energy, it probably costs you money. But you do it because you love it and you can't stop doing it because this is your passion.

If not, I highly recommend you find this something!

For me, this is writing and drawing and snail-mail. I spend hours of my time writing on this blog, and writing letters, taking photographs, and drawing and painting pictures on mail, even though I am a time-strapped working mother. I create zines and print them and post them out for free, each individual zine taking about three hours to make, not counting the original drawings. I spend literally thousands of dollars a year posting letters to complete strangers all over the world. I wake up at 5 or 5.30am every morning to write a book about snail-mail that I doubt will ever make money which means it will probably never find a mainstream publisher...

And I do all this because I love it. Because it is my passion. Because I never want to be NOT doing these things.

Adelaide local Shaw Hendry had a passion for art, and for the written word, so for six years he created, edited and distributed Vitamin, a free zine celebrating the visual arts culture in South Australia and beyond.

I recently discovered the online archive of Vitamin, and reading through all 13 "episodes" has been like falling down the rabbit hole into a surreal-yet-familiar otherworld of art.

Shaw told his contributors they could write "pretty much what they wanted, so long as it related somehow to South Australian visual culture." The only writing advice he gave was "say what you mean, and speak in your own voice." The result is a publication that shares and celebrates accessible art and personal philosophy, seasoned with a healthy, down-to-earth dose of uniquely South Australian culture and experience.

Vitamin is a beautiful read. Refreshing and real and...healthy. Like vitamins! It is, by its own admission, "a repository of small but powerful truths."

Sadly, Shaw passed away in April 2010. A final episode of Vitamin was published six months later, as a tribute to Shaw and the contribution he and his humble, handmade zine had made to the Australian arts community.

I feel the loss of Shaw, although I never met him. Reading Vitamin, you get a sense of the family he created, and the powerful impact that his labour of love had on the arts world that was clearly so important to him. It's a beautiful reminder that love, not money, truly does make the world go 'round.

Thank you for the lessons and the encouraging, edifying, inspirational read, Shaw. I wish I knew you.

Image credit: Rajesh Pamnani, licensed under Creative Commons

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