I first met Angela and her family many years ago when they were thinking of moving out of the family home and downsizing in Potts Point.
I ended up selling them the apartment in IKON that they currently have on the market with me again.
I was blown away when she told me she’d written a book over the past two years and wanted to hear more about it.
Angela’s book, Pearls: Wisdom and inspiration from women who are quietly changing the world, is a series of in-depth interviews with 41 women across NSW accompanied by stunning photographs.
Some of the women are famous in their fields, while others simply have fascinating stories. Angela and her journalist daughter, Liz, travelled over 12,000 km crisscrossing the state in search of both remarkable and everyday stories. She assembled a vibrant cast of curious, creative and inspirational personalities, from Jodi Rodgers, the sexologist from TV show Love on the Spectrum, to astrophysicist Kirsten Banks.
There are interviews with women firefighters, strip tease artists, creatives and regenerative farmers. Each of these women has made different choices, followed unexpected paths and learned their own lessons.
I sat down and had a chat with Angela about her amazing book.
I have to say, I feel a bit nervous about interviewing you after you’ve conducted all these amazing interviews for the book. Tell me about your career, Angela.
Originally, I started out as a physiotherapist, but I always had an interest in photography, which eventually took over. So I pursued landscape and travel photography. I’d always been an avid writer and loved to travel. When I was on the road, I’d write stories and send them home. I started writing for joy and did some freelance magazine work after getting involved with my daughter’s travel journal, Lodestars Anthology Magazine, which she runs from the UK.
So how did you come to write the book?
Travelling was a big part of my inspiration for the book . It shows you how to appreciate the world beyond your own bubble. I remember many years ago coming across the word “sonder”: it’s the realisation that everyone has a life as intricate and as nuanced as your own.
The more you travel, the more you realise that,while everyone has a unique story, we are also the same. We all want food on the table and to care for our family and those we love.
Two years ago, I was at a point in my life where my kids had grown up, and I wanted to try something new. I was travelling in far western NSW and stopped in the opal mining town White Cliffs, where people live underground. I had a conversation with a woman there, Honor Taylor, who ran the outback store. Her story was so different and amazing that I decided I wanted to tell it. I decided to write a book and showcase what women are quietly doing.
My daughter, Liz, was living in the UK, and she came home after the pandemic hit. We decided to collaborate on the book.
We travelled together and did the interviews face-to-face and took the photos over a two-year period. The first part of each interview is about what they do. Then we delve into more personal questions, like do they have a love story, or what would you tell your younger self?
We did research to find a diverse range of interesting women and took recommendations from people we spoke to. Collecting these stories became a real labour of love. I wanted it to be beautiful, to do justice to the fact that these women were so open and welcoming and shared their stories. We ended up with a 270-page hardcover book.
I’m so proud to be able to tell these women’s stories. They are a gentle reminder that there are many ways to live a life. We called it Pearls because women are full of pearls of wisdom.
What was your biggest takeaway from writing it – what did you learn from writing it?
I learnt that people are very honest and open. They love to tell their stories. And we are all so different, but there is so much that unites us. We all have the same fears, doubts, and sense of happiness.
I feel incredibly lucky that I had the opportunity to do it and to do it with my daughter. We had a lot of fun on the road. We are quite good friends, but working together gave me insights into other ways of doing things. She’s an excellent storyteller, and we helped each other.
When it came to the personal questions we asked each woman, I realised I hadn’t ever asked myself or my family or my friends many of those things. So we got together at the end with friends and family and asked them, which was a fabulous experience.
So, out of all the women you spoke to, do you have a favourite story?
They’re all very different – and we found them equally fascinating and absorbing – but perhaps the most poignant one I have a lot of nostalgia for is Elizabeth Burton. She was a Buddhist and Sydney’s highest-paid stripper in the 1970s. Sadly she died in February this year after sharing her story, which makes it all the more special that we got to meet her and include her in the book.
Some of the interviews were very memorable, like refugee advocate Rosemary Kariuki, who I interviewed in a police interview room at Campbelltown Police Station! And paralympic wheelchair racer Christie Dawes was just so open and honest. But every woman so generously welcomed us into their world to tell their story.
Are there any local identities in the lineup you interviewed?
Yes! We tried to spread the net wide and get a great range of locations and people and backgrounds. But naturally, some were local.
Elizabeth Burton was from Surry Hills. We also interviewed Louise Pleming, who founded RALLY4EVER from the tennis courts down at Woolloomooloo. There is also Vicki Brown from The Urban Beehive, who has hives at Woolloomooloo and sells her honey through the Wayside Chapel.
The cover photograph was actually taken by local Potts Point photographer Laura Reid.
Speaking of local, you’re currently selling in IKON – what have you enjoyed about living in this coveted Potts Point building?
Well, IKON is easy apartment living. The concierge is amazing, and it’s a well-built and well-run building. The pool and gym are fantastic and never crowded. It’s quiet, and we’ve been very lucky to enjoy great views.
I love living in Potts Point because you can walk out your front door, and the world is there. It’s a diverse area with a great mix of people and lifestyles but a village feel. It has a beautiful, almost Parisian atmosphere at night, and it’s lovely to wander the streets and take in the buzz. People are friendly and get to know each other, so you never feel out of place. Plus, you really don’t need a car.
Thanks for the chat, Angela! You can find out more about Angela’s book and buy it at her website: Angelaterrell.com/pearls-book.
If you’re interested in buying or selling in Potts Point, contact my team today.