I can’t think of anything worse than losing a child. I don’t think it would matter what age you or the child were. It’s just not the way it should be that the child goes before the parent.
With all our medical knowledge there are still many families being affected by stillbirth. One such family was Melbourne parents Simon and Sally Heppleston who after a healthy 40 week pregnancy had to face a future without their baby and without the fairy tales they had planned on reading to her.
Melbourne Graphic artist Tonia Composto, a family friend of the Heppleston’s, decided to create a limited edition of prints to fund stillbirth research. The Fairy Tales for Hope project, which has already sold nearly 2000 prints and raised almost $40,000 for the Stillbirth Foundation Australia, has a set of new illustrations celebrating various dates in the calendar. The original release of fairy tale artwork is still available and would look great in a child’s bedroom. And what a good cause your purchase would be supporting!
Sadly, six families in Australia suffer this devastating fate each day, with more than 2000 babies stillborn each year. “I still can’t believe this happens to people daily,” said Ms Composto. The grief, the sorrow, the injustice of it breaks me down. Sally never hid her grief and has fought for Hope’s memory since the day she lost her.”
Many years ago there was a cute little homewares store in Cammeray called The Ginger Jar. Whenever my mother visited from Brisbane we would head out to a different area and visit all the shops. One such time, we stumbled upon The Ginger Jar and I fell instantly in love with an artwork by Robyn Kennedy. I had never seen anything like it before and it was made from gorgeous Asian textiles. I just knew the artwork would be a great addition to my collection of Asian furniture and decorator pieces that we had collected during our three years living in Hong Kong. So I bought it!
A few years later, I came across Robyn’s name again and visited her solo exhibition in Woollahra. Mum was down from Brisbane and we were both in awe of Robyn’s exquisite pieces. So much work involved in every single piece! Since then I’ve kept in touch with Robyn and am delighted that she has agreed to answer my questions on her life and art. I hope you enjoy this interview.
Can you tell me a little bit about your background and what led you to the beautiful textile artworks you create?
For many years I’ve had an interest in interior design and the decorative arts. In the early 90’s I worked for an interior design company as their CAD operator….I think quite good training for the intricate work I do now!
The samples library the designers used for selecting materials and finishes for their projects was well overdue for a major cleanup and luckily I worked that weekend! As the designers added to the pile of “rubbish” I promptly removed pieces that I found attractive, particularly the textiles and timber veneers. I couldn’t believe all the gorgeous materials that, once admired, were now destined for the tip as “discontinued stock”. I knew that if I could, I would create something beautiful with them, to let them live on and be admired once again.
The next few years saw a flurry of creativity coming from my dining room – hours spent experimenting with different techniques mixing textiles, papers, photographs and timber veneers with beautiful found objects from nature, and then weaving metallic thread and other embellishments into the work. All of these pieces were “miniature art” and perfect for the then very popular handmade card market, when cards were not only a beautiful message but also a gift to frame.
After returning from a year overseas I was keen to get creative again, but on a much larger scale! The first larger works I created were two Japanese style Kimono figures made from antique pieces of Indian textiles (collected on my travels), contemporary textiles, gold leaf and metallic thread…they were very gorgeous, aged in appearance and they caught the light beautifully. This style of work developed over time into a series of exotic women, inspired by the women and textiles from Japan, China, Africa, Turkey and Uzbekistan. This was the starting point for my life as an artist – that was 1998.
Where do you find your inspiration?
The obvious and most immediate inspiration usually comes to me from a piece of fabric I particularly love, and more recently photographs I’ve taken on my travels. However, I do find inspiration everywhere – flowers, butterfly wings, exotic birds, sea shells, rock pools, autumn leaves, light, shadows, reflections, expressions of love, dreams, the female form, fashion, jewelry, art, architecture, interiors, Japanese style….and heaps more!
You use gorgeous textiles in your artworks, where do you find them?
As mentioned earlier, the start of my collection was in the early 90’s with textiles from the Interior Design industry. I found that many of the large fabric wholesalers were keen to give away boxes and boxes of old textiles – heaven!
I’ve also discovered the beauty in antique hand stitched textiles from India (Rajasthan wedding gowns), Turkey and Uzbekistan. Travelling to these countries is not so frequent, so I make sure I buy plenty whenever I’m there.
Can you briefly explain your design process?
In general it’s quite a spontaneous process which starts with a gorgeous piece of textile or more recently a photograph. I try to visualize what would enhance this “feature piece, the focal point”. I’m thinking colour, pattern, texture, what shapes I’m going to use, will I introduce sheer fabrics and the like. Having selected the materials I then build the image layer by layer using acid free adhesives. Finally I apply all the embellishments – I particularly love this part of the process as this is when it all comes together and it starts to sparkle and speak to me!
Do you have an all time favourite piece that you have created?
It’s always the piece I’m working on, although a number of the works pictured are my favourites.
Is there an artist (or artists) that you love right now?
What’s next for Robyn Kennedy?
Although the ‘exotic women’ series are still very popular, I do enjoy experimenting with many other styles and techniques. In my most recent exhibition, I introduced photographic collage using photographs from my travels which were overlaid with sheer textiles and embellishments. I plan to explore the ‘photographic collage’ in more detail, seeing what I can create in a smaller format using photography, textiles and papers…. and of course intricate detail. My next solo exhibition (date still to be decided) will be a series of small works.
In March 2013 I will be exhibiting at the Balmain Watchhouse with 2 good friends, Karen Visser who captures beautiful imagery through photography and Grazyna Wollman who creates the most amazing kaleidoscope of gorgeous patterns and colors. My works in this exhibition will be current and past works, so it’s a good opportunity to see the development of my art over a number of years.
If you are interested in embarking on a journey of textile art, Robyn runs workshops at her home in Sydney. Contact Robyn for more details.
Artist and Designer Bethany Linz spent five years in the Mokum Studio as Senior Textile Designer. She is responsible for many of Mokum’s more exquisite and embellished designs. Recently Bethany has decided to go it alone and spend more time on her craft and in particular, printmaking and embossing. I spoke with Bethany to gain a little insight into her world.
Can you tell me a little bit about your background and what led you to creating exquisite designs?
Since I was four I knew I wanted to be an artist and, with the help of my creative mother and Steiner school education, I was lucky to fuel that dream. After my school education I studied art in Newcastle, where I was very fortunate to have acclaimed artists such as Michael Bell and John Morris as teachers. I have also been very lucky to have travelled a lot and experienced different cultures. I think having such a creative up-bringing and then designing in the Mokum studio helped push me that little bit more and helped to make me the artist/ designer that I am today.
Where do you find your inspiration and how do you transfer that to a design?
Like most artists/designers, inspiration can hit me at any moment – to me it doesn’t even have to be visual, I can be inspired by smell, music and novels. When I’m feeling a little lost for inspiration though, I know I’ll always find it in the Gallery of New South Wales in the Australian section. It’s not just the artworks that inspire me, it’s the artists that never gave up on their dream and defied the odds and became part of our history.
When you create your designs, do you have an end use or product in mind?
Having worked in the Mokum studio for five years, I learnt how to forecast trends and design textiles for specific applications, for example upholstery or feature cushions, so naturally with my art I also keep interiors in mind. I make lots of my embossings very neutral but, because I love colour, I like to create some that are a little more ‘out there’, just to please myself and if they never sell, I’ll be happy to hang them on my own walls.
What is your favourite part of designing?
I really enjoy the researching at the beginning of the process, I love history and I find that art has always been at the heart of it and documented better than any other form of history. I also find at the end of the whole process the most rewarding part of being an artist/designer is looking at the finished product – after all the hard work that’s both physically and emotionally exhausting – and being satisfied.
Is colour an important part of your design or is texture more important?
Years ago, when I was walking through a gallery with one of my mother’s friends, she asked me what artworks I was drawn to. After observing my choices, we both discovered it was colour that drew me to each one, not necessarily the subject matter. With my own work I love to apply different colours to the same design and see how dramatically the colour can change the mood. It’s amazing how colour can make a design look completely different.
Who is your design idol?
What does a typical day at the office involve for you?
Every day I need to divide my time up so I can spread myself across my work evenly. I’m currently finalising my embossings for my forthcoming solo exhibition in Sydney (at the “breathing colours” art gallery, Balmain from 25 September to 6 October 2012). I’m also illustrating my second children’s book , which I must admit is extremely challenging, but can be very rewarding.
What’s next for Bethany Linz?
I would love to establish myself more as an artist and keep creating more embossings. In the near future I would also love to create a wallpaper collection that ties back to my art, but at the moment it’s just a dream.
Do you remember those lovable boys from series 1 of The Block? After appearing on the show in 2003, Gavin Atkins and Warren Sonin were highly sought after for their interior design and property styling skills and established Designer Boys Interior Design. After almost a decade of assisting clients Gavin and Warren followed their creative talents and built a wholesale art business that provides original designs and exceptional service to interior designers, architects, decorators, hotels and specialty retail stores.
The boys recently launched their new catalogue full of gorgeous pieces. I asked the duo a few questions about their inspiration for this collection.
Who is you design idol?
It’s Mother Nature of course! We are constantly inspired by her magnificent work and beauty all around us. Living in the Byron Bay hinterland we are constantly reminded about the beauty of nature & how the palette changes with the seasons. One of the biggest reasons is when you sit in a beautiful natural setting, like a rainforest, you feel uplifted, calm & exhilarated all at the same time. This is a true sign of great design – energetically it changes the way you feel in a very positive way! Mother nature will always be our idol & it’s ashamed that so many people are losing touch or even frightened of nature.
What is your top tip for buying artworks?
We love to purchase artworks that are textural & with a touch of nature – it helps reconnect you to nature & you feel very grounded. When you view an artwork it should make you feel good inside. It should have nothing to do with the price tag… It could be an emerging artist or a decorative piece that you personally admire. It’s in the eye of the beholder…
What is your favourite room in your current home?
Now that’s hard one! We’ve just finished building our home & it’s an 1880′s farmhouse which we have extended and made contemporary for today’s living – so many rooms are our favourite – it was custom to all of our needs. The living room is particularly special with large windows overlooking a magnificent valley – wherever you sit in this room you can see the rolling green hills, the cows grazing & the sky. At night we light our oversized stone fireplace. It sets the ambience for the entire room.
How does living in the Byron Bay Hinterland influence your designs?
We live on 60 acres & surrounded by nature everyday. It’s truly inspiring for us. We are at our happiest & most creative when we have time out from our busy lives just to recharge ourselves on our hinterland property. It’s what we define as our new luxury – having the space & the solitude to reenergise our creativity – that’s priceless. This luxury has nothing to do with money or expensive labels. It’s all about taking time out with nature, to be mesmerised by it’s beauty. So many of artworks have been inspired by the beauty around us. The textures in particular!
Your art collections are very textural. Is texture something that needs to be included in a room design?
We love mixing textures in our own interiors and we did for a long time when we doing interior design & decorating for clients. On the mood board, clients would often question why we use so much textures in our design palette & with many of them clashing. We would always say that you will need to trust us & of course, the finished product would always be a proud moment, when clients would often ask why they feel so good in their rooms we create for them. Our secret is the use of texture, symmetry & balance in all of our designs. All of artworks are about the use of textural materials made from natures and showing them their best.
Your latest collection includes a range of colourful prints. Is there a reason you’ve introduced so much colour into your range?
Weaving colour into any ones life is true magic – it makes you feel good, but not too much. Some designers can go over the top with colour and it can make you feel uneasy. We like using a splash of colour in our designs to uplift the spirit and to create a focal point in a room. In this art collection we’ve introduced the beauty of colour through sophisticated water colours. The reaction has been overwhelming and we must agree colour is the NEW black!
What’s your favourite piece from your new collection?
Everyone has a favourite Designer Boys artwork and we’ve created our art collection to meet the diverse range of tastes from our clients. However, the Lexington Collection is one that stands out. It is a strong geometric design that is made from soft cow hide, silver foiling & mother of pearl shell. It is all handcrafted and designed by us. It’s very sophisticated and was a big seller at Decoration & Design in Melbourne.
I’m sure you will agree the pieces are just gorgeous and I can’t wait to use them in my next interior. Thank you Gavin and Warren for providing such beautiful artworks and answering my questions.
If you would like to include one of these pieces in your home, contact us for details.
Yesterday morning I attended a breakfast to celebrate the finalists in the Art On The Floor competition.
For the last ten plus years, Designer Rugs has collaborated with the International School of Colour and Design to hold a rug designing competition. Students are encouraged to enter a design or two and the lucky 6 finalists have their design made into a rug which they get to keep. This year there were over 200 entries.
As a past student of ISCD I’m always keen to see what the students are doing. At the breakfast, each finalist stood before her rug (yes, it was an all female final this year) and gave us some insight into how she arrived at the design. The ladies bought back memories of the various art and design assignments that form part of the foundation course at the ISCD. The judges, Yosi Tal from Designer Rugs, Lucy Sutherland from the International School of Colour and Design and Claire Bradley, Editor of Inside Out Magazine, gave their comments on the design too.
This rug was created from a texture exercise involving dripping and flicking methylated spirits on gouache paint and watching it bleed out to circles. The rug was praised for it’s balance of composition and colour which is a difficult combination to get right in a modern rug.
Emma Corrigan designed this rug with spaghetti! It is a contemporary, edgy rug depicting the view of the buildings and lights from the road leaving central Sydney.
The design for this rug emanated from a collage that was made from a shattered bar code. It was a bold and striking design that would look great in any room that needed a pop of colour.
The purple rug was actually the image of a brain which was then scanned and enlarged and coloured intensely.
“Swirls” was inspired from the lid of a hairspray bottle which was then repeated and enlarged and became a semi abstract painting. The swirling gently organic shapes of nature were also considered and enhanced the design.
And the winner was……..
Susan Trainor with her rug, “Blossom Embrace”. Susan explained that she had chosen her artwork from a natural object as the starting point for the rug design. Her natural object was a gum nut which she had drawn on a plain background. Susan decided it was a bit bland so took to the drawing with her artline pen and created the movement and interest in the background. Susan can see a family embracing in her rug which gives it a feel good factor.
It was a very exciting morning for the finalists and their families to see the designs made up into gorgeous rugs. Thank you Designer Rugs and ISCD for the invitation. And congratulations to all the finalists.
If you would like assistance sourcing rugs for your home, contact us for an online or in-person consultation.
I was recently asked if I had designed an entire room around a small piece of artwork or an accessory.
The answers to my questions have appeared on Patricia Davis Browns‘ blog, Dig This Design.
You can check it out here.
Sometimes a piece you love will take you on a fascinating journey and you end up being surrounded by colours and patterns that will appeal for a very long time.
If you would like assistance creating an entire room design from one of your treasures, contact us for an online or in-person consultation.
Remember those lovable larrikins from The Block, the first time around – Gav and Waz?
They were great fun on the show and went on to become highly sought after interior designers.
I’ve mentioned before that they then went on to develop an artwork collection which is timeless and elegant.
The boys have just released a new website and more gorgeous artworks.
If you would like to purchase these artworks, or need assistance in selecting artworks for your home, contact us for an online or in-person consultation.