Natalie Parish, Upcycler, Scavenger Bags

Family, nature, art, science, history and travel ...

While working at the community centre in Broome, Natalie Parish discovered her love of wearable art with a prominent recycling bent. Upon moving to Brisbane, Natalie taught herself to sew, transforming industrial waste and upcycling old fabrics into jewellery, bags and sculptures. With discarded bags and tidbits found along the streets of West End and at Reverse Garbage, Natalie reuses old buckles, belts, zippers, bicycle tubes, seat belts and textiles, turning them into handbags, laptop cases and totes under the label Scavenger Bags. She’s designed a special shopping tote made from upcycled shade sail fabric for Bag Free February, helping Queenslanders swear off single-use, non-compostable plastic shopping bags for the month. From February 9 some of Natalie’s work will also be on show at Reverse Garbage’s Reduce, Reuse, Romance exhibition of sustainable Valentine’s gifts. The Weekend Edition caught up with Natalie to talk weekend essentials.

How do you like to start your weekend?
Usually by busily running the kids to dance and sport.

What’s your favourite thing to do on a Saturday morning?
I don’t have a favourite thing to do on a Saturday morning, as this day just feels like part of the working week. However, on Sunday morning, it would be breakfast in West End with family or friends.

How do you like to unwind?
Sewing, making jewellery, sculpting.

What are your essentials for a well-spent weekend?
Not having a schedule, no housework, friends and family. This can usually be achieved by going away.

What’s something you’ve been meaning to do on the weekend but haven’t got around to yet?
Go for a bushwalk at O’Reilly’s and do a felting course at Samford.

What’s your favourite thing to do on a Sunday evening?
Have a glass of wine while surveying our growing native garden in the backyard and chatting to my partner.

What are you looking forward to next weekend?
My art studio being finished and getting artworks ready for the Reduce, Recycle, Romance exhibition at Reverse Garbage.

What are you reading at the moment?
Douglas Adams’ Mostly Harmless – the fifth novel in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series.

What inspires you?
My family, nature, art, science, history and travel.

What was your childhood dream?
To travel and to go to university.

What has been your greatest achievement?
I’m hoping I haven’t reached it yet.

What is success to you?
A continual process of change, adaptation and growth often through accidental failures or mistakes. I mistook that mistake for failure, when with time it became a success.

What are your words of wisdom?
‘Live, laugh, love and be happy’ – I think I stole that from Rockin Robin. ‘Take chances, make mistakes and get messy’ – stolen from Ms Frizzle in The Magic School Bus. And ‘From Little Things Big Things Grow’ – definitely stolen from Paul Kelly.

Only a local would know … GOMA is open from 9:00 am on Sundays.

Perk up …
riding the bikeways of Brisbane, bushwalking and bird-watching in the hinterland
Relax … reading in bed
Dine … Swampdog Fish and Chips, South Brisbane
Indulge … camping with friends by a freshwater swimming hole in the middle of nowhere
Shop … Shop 51, Toowong, op shops, or any of Brisbane’s great markets
Catch-up … with friends or family for breakfast in West End
Be inspired … GOMA, Queensland Museum, or at the theatre at QPAC


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