We are super excited to be joined on A Simple Path this week by Dorian Bowen of The Welsh House. You may already know Dorian from his gorgeous Instagram account, but if not, or if you've always wanted to know more about the man behind the pictures, read on.
You won't feel quite as rested as if you had just woken up to a dewy morning on a Welsh hillside, but his words will bring solace and respite from the busyness of your day. Savour this one.
1.Can you tell us what you do and how you came to be doing it?
I live in rural Carmarthenshire, having returned to Wales in 2010 after a career in London, hoping to slow down and simplify life. For the most part I run a holiday let company called The Welsh House
specialising in slow living
escapism in unique Welsh cottages.
Although I never considered myself to be a photographer or a writer, in 2015 I started posting a photo a day on Instagram. Since then it has evolved to become the foundation for my online work and a springboard for some of my biggest and wildest dreams. I’m passionate about wellbeing and reconnecting children with nature, because I know first-hand the huge and brilliant changes it can bring. My deepest passions are simplicity, self-improvement and inspiring others, so Instagram is where I can be most creative.
2. If you had one piece of advice or wisdom to pass on to your younger self, what would it be?
Trade your exception for appreciation and the world changes instantly. I’ve been overwhelmed by the support and encouragement that my Instagram community has given me. I must confess that I do tend to share my thoughts a little more these days with internet strangers than real life people because sometimes we’re more our true self online. The community aspect of Instagram has played a great part in inspiring my love of nature and seeing it in a creative way.
3. What is it about the simple life that you find appealing?
The benefit of a simple life is that it gives us an excuse to ignore our problems and the changes we need to make in life. Eliminate stress in your day. Create a morning routine that will influence the rest of your day in a positive manner. Complain less, because life goes faster than you think. Eliminate digital distractions and be more present with those you love. Increase communication and intimacy in your primary relationships.
Social media is amazing, and I’m as addicted to it as the next person, but social media is also making us all more disconnected than we’ve ever been before through the illusion of increased connection. Yes, we are able to communicate with thousands of people with ease, but with what depth? Social media is robbing way too many of us of real connections and real life experiences. Rather than looking at the world as we walk somewhere or walk with nature, we regress to what the digital world has to offer. If our addiction level stays the same, things could become really scary, and this doesn’t even take into account the potential repercussions of so much exposure to technology.
Learn to want less instead of wanting more: try to recognise when you have everything you need and live a more meaningful life. Fill your life with people you love and eliminate toxic relationships. Detach and surrender the relationships that aren’t working for you . Give time and space for healthier, more meaningful and loving relationships. We deserve all that life has to offer us, and it’s easier to achieve more fully when you eliminate what doesn’t work and replace it with what can and will work. This is probably why I’m drawn to handmade objects like primitive stick chairs, wooden spoons, rough linen cushions
and bedding. It’s about using things that already have a story, things that are handmade, with all their imperfections. Being in the countryside also enables you to capture the moment much more easily: watching the setting sun is a ritual worth embracing. It doesn't last long but it's worth treasuring the moment.
4. How can we counter the pulls of content-sharing and curating images of our lives with the need for being in the moment?
I think it has a lot to do with balance; constantly creating new content can be demanding. I often plan what I want to create, but during the editing process I am frequently drawn to a photo that I would have least expected to feature. I have trained my eye to see Instagram-friendly shots. So I can really enjoy being in the moment without seeing it through the lens. But if you can put a sense of movement into your shots - even the ones that were pre-planned or a little more considered, then you can create work that has greater meaning and resonance with both ourselves and our wider audience. Having a structure really helps to focus your mind and to be creative, as we often need boundaries to work within. With the increase in less curated content, like Instagram stories, it’s getting less and less sustainable for people to keep up a facade. Being yourself openly and unapologetically means that people can connect with you on a more personal level, and therefore you don't need to work as hard pretending to be someone you are not.
5. Who inspires you?
I’m inspired by a number of creative people, both in real life and online. My online mentor has to be Sara from Me & Orla who always seems to be able to keep ahead of the game with such creative ideas. On Instagram I follow a lot of botanically-inspired, artistic, crafty people, along with an extensive list of bloggers who are mostly writing about slow living and lifestyle.
6. What are your essential homeware items/ things you couldn’t do without?
I adore linen bedclothes
and have a weakness for linen tea towels,
which always photograph well on a lifestyle shot. Whilst historically I collected stick back chairs, more recently I love collecting old wooden spoons - especially the ones with great patination. I’ve also become passionate about organic ceramics like the ones made by Sarah Jerath.
7. What would you like to be doing in 10 years’ time?
To be honest with you, I’m not entirely sure what I will be doing next year, so thinking about 10 years seems to sound like a lifetime. I would, however, like to grow my presence online and reach out to people who believe in slow living
escapism. I’ve noticed an increasing trend towards ‘digital detox’ and I will be embracing the opportunities this gives me to switch off.
8. What’s the wildest thing you’ve ever done?
I wouldn't say that I was a particularly wild person, but having lived in London for 25years I’ve seen my fair share of wild things in my life! Probably my wildest thing is leaving London and returning to the countryside and rediscovering nature once again. Oh, and in 2006 I built a house with a group of family and friends between sunset and sunrise. Then in 2010 I demolished it and rebuilt it from scratch! It's where I currently live and is called Ty Unnos.
Thank you so much Dorian for these thoughtful and thought-provoking ideas, and for your stunning images. Happy digital detoxing! But don't stop posting your beautiful images on Instagram, we would miss you too much.
Find the linen products featured in Dorian Bowen's pictures above (including the mustard linen throw,
stonewashed linen bedlinen and linen tea towel) at linenme.com
. And if you like the sound of a slow living escape in the cottages pictured, nestled in the stunning Welsh countryside, check out thewelshhouse.com
. We are already packing our bags....
For more in our A Simple Path series, go here