Words by Julia Eskins
Photos by Aleyah Solomon
Mimi Audellynn has always been most comfortable when she’s on the move. She attributes it to her nomadic lifestyle (she’s never lived in one place longer than six years), unconventional upbringing, and the need to keep her creativity flowing like water. But even when she’s not travelling, her hands are often found in motion, weaving textiles into imaginative works of art.
Spending her early years in several places including Nova Scotia, the United Arab Emirates, Colorado and Florida, Audellynn has collected inspirations from around the world. Her latest adventures have taken her to Central America, including Colombia and Costa Rica, where she fell in love with the Pura Vida lifestyle.
Favouring a “funky and vibrant” aesthetic, her works are reflective of these travels, as well as her observant personality and tendency to act on intuition. She still has her first weaving: “a hap-hazard thing” comprising a mixture of natural and synthetic fibres, with soft alpaca and pops of neon. It’s her favourite work to date.
“I’ll never get rid of that little guy. I want it to become so tattered and worn that eventually I have to encase it in glass like a proper masterpiece,” says Audellynn.
Along with selling her works in Canada, including at Makenew Curated Thrift Shop and WishBook II in Halifax, she teaches weaving workshops and takes on various creative projects. In fact, she styled Here & There Magazine’s Sentaler shoot in 2015. It only made sense to reconnect in Halifax, where she was teaching weaving classes before jetting off to Colombia. Before her trip, we caught up with her to talk about her artistic background, worldly adventures and, of course, her canine sidekick Kiedis.
Julia Eskins: Let’s start from the beginning. How and why did you start weaving?
Mimi Audellynn: A few years back, I moved from Halifax to Toronto with my then-partner. To be blunt: I picked up weaving as a coping mechanism for my anxiety and depression. I had seen this resurgence of modern day weavers all over Instagram (Judit Just, Maryanne Moodie, Natalie Miller, Meghan Shimek, to name a few) so I YouTubed it. Very Internet, I know. I rigged a loom out of a piece of cardboard and got to it. It's a very mindful practice: similar to knitting or painting. It helped me to focus my thoughts and energy, while creating something unique and tangible. It didn't really matter what it looked like or how long it took me, because it was mine and it made sense to me. That's just about the best feeling in the world.
JE: Were you always artistic?
MA: I believe we are all born artists. It's just whether or not we are given the opportunity to flourish in an environment that fosters creativity, and in what direction we choose to take that creativity. From a very young age, I was given that environment. My parents let me be weird. They encouraged me to express myself. They still do. I also didn't grow up with much money, so I had to get creative. I had to learn the value of ingenuity. I had an excellent childhood. My parents somehow always made it work, all the while teaching me the importance of putting in the work.
JE: You’ve lived in many places, including Costa Rica. What was that like?
MA: I went down to Costa Rica about seven years ago to visit a friend and just fell in love with the lifestyle. I amassed an amazing tribe of women there that just made me feel so powerful and purposeful. My experiences there were pivotal in the self-realization of the importance of lady friendships. When you push past all of the social constructs that we, as women, are taught from such a young age – to resent each other's accomplishments, to be jealous or competitive – you instead learn to be respectful, supportive, and to give each other allowances.
JE: Lady friendships are definitely important. But clearly, your dog also holds a special place in your heart. Can you tell us a bit about your furry sidekick?
MA: He came into my life when he was just a little nugget, basically showing up on my doorstep in Jacksonville beach one day. I was reading Scar Tissue at the time and the name Kiedis (as in [Red Hot Chili Peppers’] Anthony Kiedis) seemed to suit him. You would be hard-pressed to find a soul who hasn't fallen in love with him. He's just so weird and chill and totally indifferent to mostly everything. He sleeps 80 per cent of the day (usually cradled in someone's arms like a baby), but is always up for an adventure (especially if that involves a car ride).
JE: Speaking of adventures, you’re now in Colombia. What brought you there?
MA: Colombia, by far, is my most favourite place I have ever visited. It is the land of magical realism. Geographically, the country has everything you could want: rainforest, beaches, mountains and desert. The food is nourishing, the coffee is unmatched and the people are warm and hospitable. This time around, I'll be staying at my girlfriend’s resort for a couple months. She and her husband opened Gitana del Mar in 2013, and it is a phenomenal pocket of paradise tucked into the Sierra Nevada mountain range, on the northeast coast where the Caribbean meets the Atlantic. This part of the country has been blessed "the heart of the world" by the local indigenous people – the Kogi – and it certainly reflects that. We'll be doing yoga and Pilates, taking jungle treks and maybe a trip to the desert to see the flamingo migration. I also plan on teaching weaving workshops to guests of Gitana, as well as executing some more pieces for the bungalows.
JE: Your practice is constantly evolving. Are there any new techniques you’d like to experiment with?
Mimi: I am deeply interested in experimenting with natural dyeing. Especially pertaining to the traditional methods of Central and South American practices. I hope to work with the local indigenous communities, educating myself on their techniques, while honouring their history. I have acquired a small collection of Mochila bags from the Wayuu tribe of the Guajira desert (which is just east of Gitana, extending to the Venezuelan border). I would be delighted and honoured to work alongside these women. What they’re able to create with their hands and hearts, is beyond incredible. I use my mochila everyday, and will be bringing some back to sell (fair trade, of course!) in Halifax.
JE: What’s the next destination on your travel bucket-list?
MA: I would love to spend a good chunk of time exploring Africa, including Morocco, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Angola and Mauritius. It’s a lofty idea, I know, but I want to dig my hands into the ground that we all sprouted from. My dad lived in Sudan in his early years. Ideally, I would love to visit all of the places my parents lived before I came around: mainly the Philippians, India and Singapore. I definitely inherited my suitcase spirit from them! ■