enough stuff

Choosing the perfect accommodation can be one of the most challenging aspects of travel, especially so when we’ve not previously been to the place and are unfamiliar with the lay of the land, cool areas etc. There are so many things to consider, and location is often a decision we have the most trouble making.

This was certainly the case when we were looking for a place to stay in Vancouver. However throughout our searches there was a real standout for us and although we thought it might be a bit far out from Downtown, we kept coming back to it and finally made the decision to book Leah’s place.

The initial attraction for us was the title Leah used in her AirBnB ad to describe her place: “delightful zero-waste guesthouse”, we were fascinated and wanted to know more. Then browsing through the photos we were totally charmed by the quirky art & decor and Leah’s commitment to recycling. The perceived distance from town became a minor consideration when compared to the allure of a more exotic travel experience.

Feeling remarkably fresh from our 15 hour direct overnight flight from Sydney to Vancouver, we arrived at Leah’s sweet house in the southern suburb of Kerrisdale, and everything about it felt just right. This would indeed be the perfect spot for our time in Vancouver.

As Leah guided us through her little flat underneath the main part of her home, she told us that absolutely everything in the space was re-purposed, recycled or reclaimed. Apart from the smoke detector and fire extinguisher, nothing had been purchased brand new to set up her flat, though everything was all fresh and immaculately clean. It became apparent to us that Leah is a master of recreating.

Over the course of our stay at Leah’s place she shared with us some of her personal story, and the meaning behind her incredible artworks. The title of this installation is “Divorce: A Waste Audit – 30 pieces made entirely from the waste created by one family over a 9-month period”.

 

Miscellaneous Family is made of 20 years' worth of the random bits and odds and sods that end up in the junk drawer.

“2016: broken and cast-off toys, ornaments, pins, baby teeth, nail clippings, earwax, coins, erasers, umbilical stump clamp, plastic packaging, medical waste, mislaid game pieces, paper, etc.”

For some time and for some reason Leah decided to stop throwing out any garbage from the family’s daily life while the marriage was in crises preceding the separation. She didn’t know then that she would ultimately create an extensive array of art pieces made entirely from the family’s household waste, as well as the flotsam and jetsam accumulated over years of family life.

Each piece has its own significance and much of it is heartbreaking, projecting the sense of devastation of relationship breakdown and the subsequent division of children and assets and memories.

At times I would stop and just look into a piece and each time I found new and deeper meaning.

"The new owner wants to see the property"
Pink bath towel, 1994 – bought just before we met
Red gingham serviette, 1996 – made by us for our wedding
Green tea towels, 1996 – wedding gift from his cousins
Blue hand towel (now purple), 1998 – new house, new Costco towels
Homemade white flannel baby wipe, 2002 – ready for our son
Turquoise tea towel, 2006 – yard sale favourite
Black – old gonch
Grey – holey sock

“”Four of Hearts” started life as a skating costume and the hanger from a wedding veil.”

"address labels and dishwasher tablet packets"
"...and then there were 3"

Leah has the kind of creative talent that I’ve not come across before, that goes way beyond those 30 examples of coping with the fallout of her divorce. When Dave and I talked with Leah about her other creations she said she’s been playing with discards and making stuff all her life, but never considered to call it art. Well she sure does now and has set herself up to help others tap into their own creative energy.

There is evidence of Leah’s quirky creativity all through her garden as well, in fact she has opened up her backyard to a local gardening group and welcomes all kinds of people to share in the community of sowing, growing, harvesting and friendship.

 

 

Booking Leah’s delightful zero-waste guesthouse has been one of our best accommodation decisions to date, and I’m glad we followed our hunches that it would be an interesting experience. It was that and so much more.

Despite the melancholy tone of the art installation, I found the whole experience of being in Leah’s home to be powerful: uplifting and energising.

Our only regret is that we didn’t have longer to stay, I feel we were only mid-way through some fabulous conversations with Leah.

Dave and I have both been through relationship breakups and Leah’s thoughtful and insightful artworks really struck a chord with both of us.

For me, personally, it made me pause and consider my own actions, feelings and learnings from those days, and I wish I had the ability to harness it all into something so creative and meaningful, as Leah has done. I’m sure it would have been helpful on so many levels.

Isn’t it funny how some simple interactions can leave such lasting impressions. That’s something I love about traveling, opening up to new people and interesting experiences.

Oh, and by the way, Leah’s place is not at all too far out of town – just a nice entertaining bus ride. Plus, the house is super close to really cool cafes and bars (happy hour!).

You may be interested in reading some more about Leah and her interesting journey. Here a some links. (I’ve checked with Leah, and she’s happy for me to be sharing this stuff)

Leah’s Airbnb listing

Leah’s blog

This great article about Leah recycling life’s castoffs

In the Vancouver Courier

A really interesting story about how Leah created a community garden in her own backyard

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. How wonderful. What a delightful experience. And you know I love her ethos.

  2. Great post Sue. Some Air BnB stays can lead to wonderful experiences and you’ve just had one.
    I admire people that have an artistic streak as I have none!!!

    1. Nor I Glenn, sadly. This stay does remind us to look outside of the “norm” when looking for a place to stay.

  3. Que lindas palavras, Sue! E que experiência incrível para vocês dois! Eu quase me senti na casa dela!!!

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