Who are you?

My name is Jessica Grilli and I am a full-time secondary school visual art teacher and part-time photographer. 

How do you care for yourself? Do you practice any daily rituals?

I take care of myself by eating well and adopting an everything-in-moderation attitude. I love to cook and come from an Italian background with a family of passionate cooks who have imparted their knowledge onto me. My first ritual is a big stretch when I wake up, followed by a walk around the block with my pet whippet Audrey. We go get a coffee from our local hangout and play ball at the park. It’s a nice start to the day, and it makes me feel happy knowing that she is getting out and about before I leave for work. I get up pretty early these days, so going to bed at a regular time is very important to me. Sleep is a glorious thing—I love to be all cosy and snuggled up most evenings. I try to go to yoga three times a week as it helps to challenge me physically and mentally.

How important is it to you to be connected with the natural world on a daily basis?

It’s so important. Being out in the elements helps me to get out of my head and I am so lucky to have the company of my beautiful dog who often reminds me to go outside, even when the weather is filthy. When we are out together walking or at the park, she reminds me to focus on her, she’s a magic dog. It is great that we live so close to parks and the Merri Creek as these places feel very removed from the city. My workplace is near the bay, so I am lucky to spend my lunch down by the beach during summer. 

Is your own state of well being inextricably tied to your connection and work within the outdoors?

Yes, I get so much pleasure out of exploring new environments and returning to ones that I admire in different seasons. I am amused by the colours, patterns and shapes that I see on my walks—whether these are out in nature or around the block. I am a colour magpie—it is like something is ignited in my head when I see certain hues and this makes me happy. There’s a lot of humour in nature too, which often makes me giggle or blush and having a laugh is so important to our wellbeing. Especially during these times. Nature reminds me that there’s more to it all than human-centred issues. Go and have a look at a dahlia right now—the symmetry! The colours! It’s amazing. 

Your subject matter often focuses on the plant kingdom and wild, untamed landscapes. What draws you to capture these scenes time and time again?

I am drawn to the intense beauty of the plant world and find flowers mesmerising for many reasons. Those wild and untamed landscapes are places I have returned to often to contemplate. I visit these scenes time and time again because they are reminders. I went through some very hard challenges over the past 2 years with my mental health and focusing on capturing nature has been one of the ways that I have recovered from that incredibly dark time. I try to capture a feeling or emotion that I am working through in these works. It’s a way of communicating without words.

When and how do you feel most fulfilled?

I feel most fulfilled after exploring a place, taking some photographs and cooking a nice meal for my loved ones. Simple pleasures.

What wisdom does the natural world provide you with? Is there anything that is clarified for you?

The natural world is far wiser than any of us! It is always changing for me, but at the moment it is teaching me to accept that beauty is imperfect. Change is always happening and all things eventually pass, even if they feel like they won’t. It helps me to put things into perspective and to accept that a lot of things are out of your control.

When feeling disenchanted, how do you return to yourself?

I go for a walk with Audrey, soak in the bath and listen to music.