Afternoon tea with Emma Magenta at Esther’s Table
It had been a tough weekend. The usual existential crises, and rambunctious joy that only a hearty dose of Eurovision can bring. And so it was necessary to take a break – a tea break – a tea break of reassuring proportions.
I frequently exercise the right for a “lady-date” with my friends – one where the focus is on us, doing stuff we want – often in pretty dresses – often involving fancy cake or flavoured tea. On Sunday my lady date involved devonshire tea at Esther’s Table with artist Emma Magenta. I popped on my favourite blue frock, gathered a girlfriend in each arm and trundled us off in my ancient car across the great divide (Parramatta Road) to Annandale.
The story of Emma Magenta is a wonderful one – and I’ll re-tell in a second hand fashion.
Working in Berkelouw books, after completing a creative arts degree, Magenta decided to re-claim her joy for drawing. Instead of weighing herself with all the expectation and theory of art school, she posed herself the artistic question of what it means to be joyful in making art – and retraced her steps to her childhood. To technically un-know all she’d been taught she decided to start drawing with her left hand – pictures of whimsy and delight and joy. Over a period of time, pictures created on the backs of brown paper bags (bookstore staples) she pinned them behind the counter – and slowly accumulated a following. Some had delighted in the “talent of children” in reference to her illustrations – mistaking her challenge. And then, one day a publisher offered her a book deal and she was published.
And then, she was offered to a web series:
and now onto another film project (of mysterious/secret contents)
It’s a rags to riches, creative fairytale narrative…
For me it was about a year ago, during a particular and difficult time, when my dear friend Sally handed me The Gradual Demise of Phillipa Finch, wrapped in shiny purple paper. It was a wonderful oasis for me during an emotional drought (that had preceeded an emotional flood). I had recently been told that I was too sensitive – a label I have always prided myself on – despite the fact it often gets me into trouble/turmoil.
Emma Magenta had somehow presented an internal, emotional world as a beautiful fact, not a flaw – and I turned the pages of this pink book with delight and wonder, and instantly became a fan.
In a world that feels so often, so brutal – that claims if you show your emotional side, it’s a sign of weakness, I was relieved, utterly. Completely.
Emma Magenta herself is a warm and quirky woman – an artist, a mother – with a plain way of speaking and sparkling eyes – with a robust presence (the type you’d expect from a female cage-fighter) and with an incidentally singing voice which is sweet and velvety (a moment of Fleetwood Mac appeared in her reading)… for $20 we received a cup of tea, a brief and personal introduction, some reading, some tea and scones and a portrait by Emma of each of us.
Here’s a taste from her recent TED Talk
I buy art with my heart. My house has a series of works by Max Gosling, Tim Andrew, David Sichler and even an oil by Catherine Zimdahl… and now two Emma Magenta’s. I had decided to buy Sally a picture… and she bought me this titled “Never love anyone who isn’t stronger than your own darkness”:
And for me it is also a reminder that art is there to help us to connect, to feel, to think, to be playful, and dare to be ourselves.