GALLERY: LINDA HUGHES

Linda Hughes is an established jewellery maker working in Melbourne. Hughes' ongoing obsession with signage, stripes and the street is explored through the production of wearable works that reference the different ways in which we use and decipher the stripe in urban street-scapes. Her new exhibition STRIPED INFERENCE opens August 26 at Collins Place Gallery, and is part of both Craft Cubed Festival and Radiant Pavillion. In this exhibition Hughes reveals a deeper investigation into the political and societal settings of the stripe in Western Painting via hidden meanings and cultural mores that move between playful, fashionable and symbols of alienation. STRIPED INFERENCE also acts as a mini retrospective showcasing both her PhD alongside a new collection of works not to be missed.

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What is the premise for your exhibition at Craft this August?

My work is conceptually-based from research investigating the stripe acting as a substitute motif in historic paintings. Stripes were rare in the Renaissance and may have a specific connotation, for example, a striped uniform may represent authority or clown.

Why is the handmade important to you?

Handmade objects are a revelation to me in their ability to carry meaning, materialising ideas both from the maker’s intentions and audience’s reception. Most of all I relish artworks which are technically well-made and quirky.

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What was the best advice you’ve ever been given?

It isn’t necessary to climb to the top of a mountain to observe a view (painter Myra Skipper 1919-1994). I’m indebted to many gifted jewellery mentors such as Sarah Ross, Rian de Jong and goldsmith Robert Baines whose advice I revisit when at my workbench.

What music are you listening to at the moment?

John Legend, John Mayer, Wayne Shorter, Bruno Mars

Where do you go in Melbourne for inspiration?

Jewellery exhibitions and ACCA; I can still recall a vibrant image of Wolfgang Laib’s pollen installation

STRIPED INFERENCE

26 August – 16 September
Mon–Fri 11am–6pm, Sat 10am–5pm

Opening: Sat 26 August, 5-7pm
Artist Talk: Sat 2 September, 12pm

Read more about earlier exhibitions at Craft here

 

 

 

CRAFT CUBED: ANNIE GOBEL

Contemporary Jeweller Annie Gobel, draws heavily from reminiscences of her childhood. She celebrates the joy she found through play in this time as a way of overwriting and healing negative memories. Annie cites visual aspects of childhood playtime such as art and craft activities, line drawing and toy shapes as key influences on her intuitive working methods. These influences translate into her small geographical wearable sculptures. 

Craft is proud to highlight Annie’s work "Connected Lines" (image below) for the 2017 Craft Cubed Festival which is running from the 1–31 August 2017.

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To someone who has never seen your work: how would you describe what you make?

I create wearable artworks that explore aspects that are related to childhood times, particularly playtime. They are vibrant in colour and have geometric quality to it, obtained from toys. 

How important is the material aspect to your work?

I use liquid enamel to achieve colour, but what I find more important is that it allows me to mix my own colour. I find that mixing the colour itself is an act of play, which is part of my exploration in ‘playtime’.

What’s the significance of the handmade to you?

I grew up learning to appreciate the handmade, but it means more to me since I started making handmade work. I find that handmade works relate directly to the maker, from the original idea to the finished product.

How did your experience with FRESH! impact on you?

It was a confidence booster! It was a really good feeling to know that my works were acknowledged and it made me believe that I am right where I am. I have not stop making since then.

I remember I screamed the moment I received the email from Craft and replied it right away.

"Connected Lines". (2017). Annie Gobel. Mild steel, enamel, rubber. Photo by Disma Putra

"Connected Lines". (2017). Annie Gobel. Mild steel, enamel, rubber. Photo by Disma Putra

Who do you see as your peers? And how have these relationships manifest themselves in terms of your practice?

Fellow artists who have the same practice as me and maybe craft and contemporary jewellery galleries. I think they just keep me motivated and keep on making. 

Where do you see yourself in terms of culture and community?

I was born in Jakarta, Indonesia and I have spent over half of my life here, but I never feel less Indonesian.  

However, I feel that my practice fits best here in Melbourne. I find that the craft community here is very supportive and also accessible. 

What are some of the ethical considerations in your practice?

I try to recycle my materials as much as I can and use materials that are harmless to the environment.

How do you overcome creative obstacles?

When I’m out of ideas, I just keep looking for inspiration. It can be from other artists, my past works, a walk or simply looking through images on Pinterest and Instagram. One other thing is I just keep on making.

Best advice you’ve ever received?

If you’ve never tried it, then you’ll never know. 

FULL EVENT LISTING: ANNIE GOBEL'S CRAFT CUBED WINDOW WALK EVENT

CRAFT CUBED: MAYLIN EVANOCHKO

Artist and jewellery maker Maylin Evanochko's particular brand of celebratory quirk is a perfect blend of fun, cheek and fashion. Evanochko's background as a painter of large scale abstract works informs her accessories collection, one which is ripe with disarmingly addictive 80's fashion references from pattern clash to metallic animal prints. Each piece is completely unique, crafted by hand using leather, polymer clay and silver. She employs a layering process garnered through years of painting to achieve multi dimensional color effects and patterns, considering each pair of earrings like minature works of art. The complete Mazdevallia collection will be available at the special Craft Cubed Market on August 26, and we can't wait to get our hands on it!

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What is your earliest craft memory?

When I was about five or six I used to make weird creatures out of toothpicks and cut up vegetables. I'd start with something sturdy like a potato and then add all kinds of strange features. If I could also get it to stand up on its own it was pretty exciting.

What is your philosophy or motto when it comes to creativity?

You have to experiment, take risks and make the ugly stuff to get to the good stuff. There is no way out of it. For me, it is part of the creative process.

Where do you go in Melbourne for inspiration?

The botanic gardens are great for interesting shapes and unusual colour combinations.

What are you reading OR listening to at the moment?

I'm currently listening to a lot of PBS 106.7FM.

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How would you describe your studio or making environment?

My studio is a real mix of order and total chaos. I've learned over the years to take care of my brushes and art supplies so that part of it is quite neat. Where the actual making happens is what can only be described as a mess but it makes sense to me.

How does good craft make you feel?

Good craft reminds me that there are so many amazingly talented people out there who can do things that you didn't even know was possible. It makes me feel like there are endless possibilities and inspires me to experiment.

What other Craft Cubed events are you excited about?

I'm excited to check out the new jewellery work Inhabit presented by The Alley, in Fitzroy!

FULL EVENT LISTING: CRAFT CUBED MARKET AUGUST 26

CRAFT CUBED: LOUISE MEUWISSEN

Louise Meuwissen is a Melbourne based artist working in textiles, embroidery, sculpture and installation. Her practice utilises discarded objects linked to material and consumer culture to create intricate, ugly works. Imagine the anthromophic sculptural love child of Bob Mackie and Yayoi Kusama and you're getting close to the kind of magic she creates. Meuwissen is very busy this year at Craft Cubed, presenting works under multiple guises in multiple venues including Parasite at Docklands Library, Craft Hatch Open Studios, Slash Panache with Milo Gluth (Slash Panache - Stitch Glitch, online, and Slash Panache - Gallaop Wallop at Lord Coconut), In Common with Bianca Mavrick, at Guild of Objects, and Complete Me at Junior Space with Annie Gobel. We managed to hold her still long enough to find out a little more about her practice, dream collaborations and what the handmade means to her. 

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What’s the significance of the handmade to you?

To me the handmade signifies intrinsic elements of being human. It signifies innovation, adaption, skill, creativity, imagination, thoughtfulness, labour, beauty, love and connection across time and space. It is an integral part of my practice as an artist, and important to me in my day to day.

How would you describe your craft community?

Warm, welcoming and wonderful. An incredible group of talented and thoughtful, innovative, dedicated practitioners.

What is your earliest craft memory?

All sort of smooshed into one are:
Making cubbies from tree fern fronds. 
Making magic wands from cardboard and skewers. 
Learning that certain cushions weren’t for sitting on because they were very special and had taken my Mum’S Oma hundreds and hundreds of hours to make. 
That there is a difference between plastic, glass and crystal drinking cups.
Being in trouble for not sticking to the designated ‘making cupboard’ and raiding my mum’s special sewing materials. 
I suppose that pretty early on I learnt respect for the inherent preciousness of objects made with thought and love. I can remember having a lot of admiration for adults around me that could make something out of what seemed like nothing.

What is your philosophy or motto when it comes to creativity?

Don’t be derivative.

Where do you go in Melbourne for inspiration?

I find that those ‘ah-ha’ moments are often conjured by conversations or events that may seem unrelated to creativity or making, where ideas that have been incubating suddenly come together in a new way. Having said that, op-shopping never fails.

What are you reading OR listening to at the moment?

I’m listening to whale-sounds and The Bedtime Show for relaxing studio time, and Wowee Podcast for a creative boost and a sense of company. I’m sporadically re-reading Glenn Adamson’s ‘Thinking through Craft’.

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How would you describe your studio or making environment?

My studio is at home, looking out onto the garden. It is quiet and calm with green 70’s carpet and eclectic green furnishing, complimented by many, many indoor plants. I have a huge work bench, shelves of fishing tackle boxes housing collected materials awaiting future projects, works in various stages of completion, bowls of beads, stacks of fabrics, books and artworks.

How does good craft make you feel?

In awe that someone actually made it. Impressed. Moved. Excited.

What is your dream craft collaboration - if history and geography and money was no barrier?

I actually just had a few dreams come true as part of Craft Cubed! I collaborated on a piece with Bianca Mavrick, for ‘In Common’ an exhibition at Guild of Objects, and with Annie Gobel for her ‘Complete Me’ project at Junior Space. Milo Gluth and I have also worked together again on a couple of new works as Slash Panache.

What other Craft Cubed events are you excited about?

There are so many amazing events this year, I am excited about them all! I can’t wait for the upcoming Craft Hatch Market.

FULL EVENT LISTINGS: HERE

CRAFT CUBED: CHRISTINA DARRAS

Visual artists and jewellery designer Christina Darras has always flirted with fashion. In the past she has designed prints, textile designs and one off items for international clients including Clements Ribeiro, Caramell baby, Harvey Nicholls, Barneys NYC, Collette Paris and Paul Smith London. Darras has been making jewellery consistently for the last fifteen years, claiming that she makes work for "girls who want to have a happy day". Darras is bringing her unique take on jewellery design to the special Craft Cubed Market in August. We spoke to her recently about finding her feet in Melbourne's making community, earliest craft memory and what she's been most looking forward to in this years festival. 

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What’s the significance of the handmade to you?

Making things with my hands is vital for me. There is not one day I can keep my hands of being busy. I love my work. my aim is to accomplish something new, more challenging every day.

How would you describe your craft community?

I am new at the Victoria craft community, but I find it very friendly and helpful. I think we all share the same love for whatever one is doing, the same fears and hopes, we understand each other in a a fast world of consumerism, where everything is a product.

What is your earliest craft memory?

Playing with my crayons, pretending they were actual characters..Mrs Pink, Mr Brown, Mrs Green, etc..also playing with my grandmothers box of buttons and threads... pieces of cloth, making small people out of them.

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What is your philosophy or motto when it comes to creativity?

Work hard, be honest, don't do it for the money, do it for your soul.

Where do you go in Melbourne for inspiration?

NGV exhibitions and the seaside

What are you reading OR listening to at the moment?

The secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, and all day radio to get used to the language.

How would you describe your studio or making environment?

I work at home. It is cheaper. I wish I had more space though and also sometimes it is lonely.

How does good craft make you feel?

Wings to my heart !!!!!!!!!

What is your dream craft collaboration - if history and geography and money was no barrier?

Work with a Japanese kite maker and make beautiful kites or travel back in time in 2000bc in the Cycladic islands of Greece and sculpt little marble idols.

What other Craft Cubed events are you excited about? 

I wish I could take part in all the workshops and talks. Specially the workshops.

FULL EVENT LISTING: CRAFT CUBED MARKET 26 AUGUST

CRAFT CUBED WINDOW WALK: ISABEL AVENDANO HAZBUN AND NATALIE ERIKA JAMES

The Window Walk program is a key component of Craft Cubed Festival, offering the general public opportunistic encounters with some of Victoria's best artists and makers in public spaces.  Furniture designer Isabel Avendano Hazbun and writer and director Natalie Erika James have contributed an exciting exhibition that showcases the intersection between craft and film housed in the iconic Alpha 60 Flinders Lane Chapter House concept store. The exhibition features insights into the contribution of art direction and set design in contemporary cinema - and how custom props are often included as 'actors' in their own right within narrative construction .

Craft recently caught up with Isabel and Natalie to find out more their collaboration, how they married such seemingly dissimilar making methodologies and their favorite horror movies.

RELIC CHAIRS BY AVENDANO-HAZBUN

RELIC CHAIRS BY AVENDANO-HAZBUN

You’re both established makers in your own right – one of film and screen media and one of contemporary craft practice. How did your collaboration come about?

NEJ: I met Isabel through my brother who is also a woodworker and was sharing a workshop space with her. It was such a great fit given Isabel’s background in sculpture and prop-making in theater.

IA: I was sharing a workshop with Natalie's brother Chris at the time. I guess he thought we would work well together and he put us in contact with each other. I loved the project. I am a huge fill buff and horror is my favorite genre. I think I said yes right away. 

You describe your work together as an ‘intersection between craft and film’. Could you tell us more about the development of this project? How did you marry these two processes and did you discover similarities in your methodology?

IA: Natalie came to me with the script and a mood board and she explained the ideas behind the film and told me that she needed a collection of chairs made for it. I then read the script and did some research about dementia and more specifically ho the slow progressive degeneration of the mind affected people making art or just making. This plus the script helped me come up with a concept for the chairs. I made some sketches and together we decided what the best options were for the film Nat wanted to make.  

And Natalie – how did the physical reality of the works impact on your initial vision for the film?

NEJ: I don’t think it was too much of a departure from what I had originally planned! Isabel had done several drawings throughout the design process, so I had a good idea about the direction we were heading in the whole time. It’s certainly a big, eerie moment in the film that a lot of people comment on and remember. I knew while writing the script that the chairs were one of the key elements that would determine whether the film would ‘work’ or have the desired impact on audiences. That’s why it was one of the first things I put into motion during pre-production, and I’m so pleased with how they turned out. Isabel really blew it out of the water.

CRESWICK has garnered a number of accolades and has screened both locally and internationally since its release – Natalie, what are you plans for expanding upon this story and bringing it to a wider audience?

NEJ: So we still have another 6 months or so on the festival circuit with the short film, and then plan to have it up on a specific online platform that curates horror films. But CRESWICK was actually conceived as a proof-of-concept for a feature project called RELIC, which has the same tone, themes, and setting. It’s actually an entirely different story, following three generations of women – daughter, mother, grandmother – as the grandmother transforms into something ‘other’ through her aged dementia. We’ve gone through several rounds of development funding through Screen Australia and Film Victoria over the last year and a half, and are currently in casting/financing stage.

STILL FROM CRESWICK

STILL FROM CRESWICK

Isabel, your Relic Chairs are used in Creswick as a powerful tool to contribute to the development of the plot, themes and tone of the film. In the film, the chairs are made by one of the characters and represent a slow degeneration of his mental faculties. Can you describe how it felt seeing your work taking on a new ‘character’, as the artist behind them?

IA: I waited to watch the film on the big screen and it was pretty surreal watching something that you make take a life of its own and become something even bigger, become part of a story. My favorite thing was watching the actress react when she first sees the chairs. Also, when I was coming up with a concept for the chairs and especially when I was making them I tried to imagine being this guy being someone else. 

Your work already has a slightly surreal aspect to it – owing a lot to the fact that the chairs themselves are non-functional furniture. Did the final visual aspect of these come immediately to you when given the brief, or did you find the pieces presented themselves to you slowly, similarly to the maker in the film?

IA: I came up with a concept for the collection of chairs and an idea of what they were going to look like. IN the film they show the degeneration of the character's mind, and so visually I wanted them to represent the man himself, that is why they are bone-like (the back rest of the chairs look like a rib cage and a spinal cord), besides they had to be weird and unnerving the film is a psychological horror after all. Once I came up with a method of manufacturing them (they are all made exactly the same way except for the last one, same joiner, same sit and later carved) Once I figured this out I could really indulge in producing the chairs one at a time and in order from the original to the last to really show the progression of a man losing his faculties

And purely out of curiosity and as fans of the horror genre in general – could you both share with us some of your favorite films in this category?

NEJ: I’m a massive fan of films that sit within the psychological horror realm, that really have an emotional, character-driven core with thematic complexities. Along those lines, some of my favorite films include The Shining, The Orphanage, Rosemary’s Baby, Don’t Look Now and maybe more recently, It Follows. I also agree with Isabel - Audition, Kill List, and Wake in Fright are phenomenal too!

 IA:

POSSESSION BY ANDRZEJ ZULAWSKI (1981)

DEEP RED BY DARIO ARGENTO (1975)

THEKILL LIST BY BEN WHEATLEY AND BENJAMIN TAYLOR (2011)

SANTA SANGRE BY ALEJANDRO JODOROWSKY (1989)

ROSEMARY'S BABY BY ROMAN POLANSKI (1968)

WAKE IN FRIGHT BY TED KOTCHEFF (1971)

THE AUDITION BY TAKASHI MIIKE (2000)

MAMA BY ANDRES MUSCHIETTI (2013)

FULL EVENT LISTING: ALPHA 60 AND ISABEL AVENDANO AND NATALIE ERIKA JAMES

VIEW CRESWICK TRAILER HERE

CRAFT CUBED: KATE MEADE AND HELEN MATHWIN

Embroidery artist Kate Meade and Director of Wide Open Road and artist Helen Mathwin have undertaken a highly topical subject matter in presenting a multi-venue exhibition project THE HAND MADE HOUSE, focusing on the much mythologised 'Great Australian dream - home ownership. This exhibition posits the home as the ultimate object of modern super-consumption, with stratospheric market value and ultimate consumer desirability. THE HAND MADE HOUSE explores the trajectory of home ownership from generalised norm to become the ultimate emblem of status, inequality and ravenous consumption in western society. We spoke to Meade and Mathwin about how the handmade environment and community influence and inform their own practice and what other events they're looking forward to seeing during Craft Cubed 2017.

EMBROIDERED WORK BY KATE MEADE

EMBROIDERED WORK BY KATE MEADE

What’s the significance of the handmade to you?

KM: The handmade is central to my life. I have three young children so the handmade comes into elements of play with them. It also means I'm spending time making costumes, cubby houses, having crafting sessions with others etc. I'm lucky enough to be a Primary school art teacher so I get to be a part of facilitating the handmade in children's lives other than my own which is pretty fantastic. My partner and many of my friends are very creative, so much of our catch ups are based around making and talking about making. My partner and I are currently in the process of converting an old school bus into a home for us to travel in. This is kind of the ultimate in handmade for us. I spend pretty much every evening avoiding doing the dishes and choosing embroidery instead.

HM: In this day and age the Handmade is illogical, it is almost always cheaper and faster to get hold of the mass produced version of whatever you fancy than it is to make it. And that is why I love the Handmade.. because it flies in the face of logic, it places the process on a par with the product. And of course it carries the makers mark. Unique.

How would you describe your craft community?

KM: I am lucky enough to live in the thriving craft community of Castlemaine. There is always some project or craft event to connect with and be part of.

HM: Extensive! I live I Castlemaine. Every third person is a maker of some sort and there is a great sense of community, a sense of having chosen to be here to live a certain way that includes making as a life choice.

ARTIST AND DIRECTOR OF WIDE OPEN ROAD, HELEN MATHWIN

ARTIST AND DIRECTOR OF WIDE OPEN ROAD, HELEN MATHWIN

What is your earliest craft memory?

KM: My earliest craft memories are of making clothes for my barbie dolls. I have four sisters and we would spend hours using mum's scraps of fabric to make all the combinations of clothes we could think of. Also probably my favourite early crafting memory was when I was in kindergarten. My mum made me a costume entirely from newspapers. It even had a newspaper headdress. I really thought she was pretty incredible making something so magical. She definitely instilled in me the understanding that I didn't need special materials to be creative. 

HM: Daisy chains

What is your philosophy or motto when it comes to creativity?

KM: I'm definitely all about the making. I try not to get too caught up in the purpose or final destination for my work. As a result my work is usually an intuitive process and I often won't know where it's headed until I'm there. I create because I love being in the flow and the meditative aspects that come from this place.

HM: Let it out.

ARTIST KATE MEADE

ARTIST KATE MEADE

How would you describe your studio or making environment?

KM: I live in the bush and have a beautiful studio separate to the house. However as I have small children I don't often get down there. I can usually only work at night or snippets of time during the day, so I have pretty much taken over the kitchen table and use the studio as a storage space for art supplies. Luckily everyone at home seems cool with that and we just push my work to one side when we need to eat.

HM: Busy, messy

Where do you go in Melbourne for inspiration?

HM: The museum...

What are you reading OR listening to at the moment?

HM: Small is beautiful: Economics as if people mattered by E.F Schumacher

ARTWORK BY HELEN MATHWIN

ARTWORK BY HELEN MATHWIN

How does good craft make you feel?

HM: Like humans deserve to be here

What is your dream craft collaboration - if history and geography and money was no barrier?

KM: I have had a dream for a little while now, to be able to travel and learn from embroidery artists. There are just so many great embroidery traditions from all over, I would love to one day spend some real time exploring these and maybe some kind of collaboration could arise.....dreams are lovely things!

HM: Meret Oppenheim

What other Craft Cubed events are you excited about?

KM: There are so many wonderful events happening and I'm hoping to go to many, but Stories of us presented by the Windsor Workshop looks particularly intriguing and Stitched presented by Douglas and Hope also looks pretty great as I am of course a sucker for embroidery and fibre arts of all kind.

HM: Complete Me, presented by Space Junior

FULL EVENT LISTING: EXHIBITION THE HANDMADE HOUSE

CRAFT CUBED: CANDU CREATIVE

Established in 2008, Candu Creative brings highly specialised knowledge garnered over 30 years in the moulding and casting business together with experienced teachers in fun interactive workshops. With studios in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane Candu focus on providing spaces where students can explore materials and techniques in a supportive environment with like minded makers. During this years festival they're running a suite of classes to teach resin art, jewellery and homewares to beginners wanting to learn new skills, and more experienced wanting to work with new materials. We asked Marketing Manager Sophie a few questions about the Candu community, and the importance of the handmade.

What’s the significance of the handmade to you?

The handmade is about letting go of our busy minds and slowing down. It is about seeing what happens when we try something new. It is about learning skills by doing and enjoying ourselves by getting completely lost in the process.

How would you describe your craft community?

We connect with a lot of makers, local businesses, sculptors and designers. The students who come to our classes come from a range of backgrounds including artists as well as weekend creatives, people who might spend the week behind a computer but want to get out and get their hands dirty on their weekend.

What is your earliest craft memory?

As a child I loved the 'Useful Box' segment on Play School! I can never look at an object without thinking about what it might become.

What is your philosophy or motto when it comes to creativity?

Play, have fun and enjoy the process. An outcome is a bonus, not the goal.

Where do you go in Melbourne for inspiration?

I love wandering the lane ways in the CBD. I am also inspired by the street art, street fashion and random sculptures in different parts of Melbourne.

What are you reading OR listening to at the moment?

I'm exploring world music through some CDs I picked up at an op shop on the weekend.

How would you describe your studio or making environment?

Our studio space is really bright with lots of different jewellery and art samples. I try to keep a good balance between creativity and a semblance of order.

How does good craft make you feel?

All warm and fuzzy inside.

What is your dream craft collaboration - if history and geography and money was no barrier?

I'd love to work with Kate Rohde, she is such an inspirational resin artist.

What other Craft Cubed events are you excited about?

I'm always excited by the workshops on offer, particularly working with timeless materials such as leather and clay.

FULL EVENT LISTING: CANDU CREATIVE WORKSHOPS

 

CRAFT CUBED: LINDY deWIJN

Lace maker, artist and crafty soul Lindy De Wijn is a public artist living in Melbourne with a diverse practice that explores the role art plays in connecting people, ideas and space. Her contribution to this years festival manifests these concerns in a collaborative project LEAVES OF LACE  - a site specific installation featuring lace gum leaves made by members of the Australian Lace Guild Victorian Branch and community members who have participated in workshops run by the Guild. This installation at Boyd Community Hub is part of this years Window Walk program that brings contemporary craft into the community, giving visitors the chance to be introduced to the rhythm and beauty of bobbin lace making with Lindy de Wijn and other women of the lace making community keen to share their skills and love of lace. We caught up with deWijn to find out more about her creative process, community and other events she's looking forward to seeing in Craft Cubed 2017. 

What’s the significance of the handmade to you?

I am the person who needs to touch things, run my fingers through the grass, feel the texture of the fabric or the warmth of the sun on metal.
I love to work with my hands and appreciate the things that have been made with time and love by others. It is personal and one of a kind. When I use items made by hand they fill me with warmth and a sense of calm in a world that is increasingly busied by technology. 

How would you describe your craft community?

In regards to Craft Cubed, this is my lace community. It spans across oceans. The technology that I despise at times also allows me to connect with lace makers across the globe to share our love and passion for the craft. I am a member of lace guilds locally and globally and have the honour of catching up fortnightly with local lace makers in the northern suburbs of Melbourne. It is such a privilege to share time together an hear the clicking of bobbins as we chat, share stories, assist each other and inspire each other. In the 25 year or so I have been making lace, the lace community has supported me in my journey. The 'elders' of the Guild have amazing skills a techniques and their knowledge is amazing. I am inspired by contemporary lace makers who try new mediums in lace and contemporary design. The lace community is so diverse and there is so much talent and knowledge to share and inspire.

What is your philosophy or motto when it comes to creativity?

I believe that everyone is creative and although I am a bit of a perfectionist I have learnt to love and bask in the beauty of mistakes and what can unfold from them. My practice is very process driven so I often start a design with a general idea but the flexibility to change things as the creative process unfolds. I love the creativity seen in children as they express themselves freely, getting lost in the journey and experimentation and then basking in the creation when done.

Where do you go in Melbourne for inspiration?

My greatest inspiration is nature. I also love going to galleries with friends and family to observe the way they see the world, lines, shape and colour.

How would you describe your studio or making environment?

Flexible. I have a dedicated space at home but always find myself creeping out of the space to be around others. I hate feeling contained. I love taking my lace on the train, tram and to cafes or a park.

How does good craft make you feel?

Amazed and inspired. It makes me stop and think wow that is so clever/beautiful.

What other Craft Cubed events are you excited about?

I think I must have attended one of the first Craft and Design as a Career events years ago and am still inspired and motivated by that day. I also love a good workshop and there are so many to choose from this year!

FULL EVENT LISTING: EXHIBITION LEAVES OF LACE

CRAFT CUBED: CARLY ALTREE-WILLIAMS

Carly Altree-Williams is a Melbourne based illustrator and textile artist trying to bring an awareness to the beauty found in our local environments through her work. Williams takes her original illustrations rendered in watercolour and utilises embroidery, collage and digital printing to create beautiful, thought provoking functional pieces informed by her ongoing research of local eco systems and native plants. Williams is holding what promises to be a super cool Mini Market in the beautiful Darebin Parklands on Saturday August 19 to showcase handmade products that celebrate nature and sustainability with fellow artists Cat Rabbit, Evie Barrow, Rohanna Holiday and Tanya Lazar de Calero of Courtesy Please. She'll also be selling her work at the special Craft Cubed Hatch Market on Saturday August 26, giving you two opportunities to catch up with this fantastic artist her gorgeous work during Craft Cubed 2017! 

What’s the significance of the handmade to you?

I think Tai Snaith's " Slow Down, World" sums it up for me. I love how making things can pull you out of that frazzled state of existence that we all seem to be operating in these days and brings you back to the present moment. The handmade has been an integral part of my life since I was a child. I really can't function properly unless I have time to make things! I try to incorporate the handmade as much as possible in many aspects of my life be it with food, gardening, gifts, homewares etc by making myself or supporting local, handmade products. I'm hoping this way of thinking will pass to my kids!

How would you describe your craft community?

Amazing, supportive, open and encouraging. I have made so many friends through this community and love sharing my passion with others who feel the same way about craft!

What is your earliest craft memory?

Probably something with my mum - maybe around 3 or 4 years. She used to do so much sewing when I was younger and I remember her making a wedding dress and I got the silk off cuts to use as a comforter!

What is your philosophy or motto when it comes to creativity?

Having small windows of opportunity for making around working, kids and life - you can't really wait for the perfect moment - I have really learnt this year to push through and just start drawing or making regardless of how I am feeling and the result that I produce. It's so important to keep exploring, experimenting and practicing your technique.

Where do you go in Melbourne for inspiration?

Darebin Parklands of course!

What are you reading OR listening to at the moment?

So much listening - today it's Missy Elliot, Iggy Pop, Queens of the Stoneage, Jeffrey Lee Pierce Sessions and the Gun Club so far. Also reading about how to make good compost in Tim Marshall's "Compost".

How would you describe your studio or making environment?

In the corner of the lounge room - surrounded by kids with a sunny window that looks out at my vegie patches.

How does good craft make you feel?

Inspired!

What is your dream craft collaboration - if history and geography and money was no barrier?

hmm thats a hard to narrow down - I would say Romance Was Born, Hayao Miyazaki or a wood worker - I love A J Fossick.

What other Craft Cubed events are you excited about?

Definitely craft and design as a career (my yearly event), Getting there by Teddy Bears Wednesday, Slash Panache: Gallop Walllop - everything really!

FULL EVENT DETAILS: DAREBIN PARKLANDS MINI MARKET

CRAFT CUBED: HOLLY LEONARDSON

Holly Leonardson has developed a reputation as a multi talented, multi disciplinary visual artist and studio jeweller. After completing a Bachelor of Contemporary Art in Tasmania and a year living in Melbourne Leonardson has returned to her home state of Queensland and currently resides in the beautiful Sunshine Coast where she works with a mix of found objects, craft and precious materials, Her amazing works are guided by playful material-led process and experimentation - elements all on show in the gobsmacking exhibition PIQUED Collection and Connection, that she's created in collaboration with Mae Finlayson exclusively for this years Craft and Design as a Career conference on August 12 and 13. We spoke to Leonardson about her earliest craft memories, op-shop inspirations and what she's looking forward to in this years program.

What is your earliest craft memory?

Beyond drawing, my earliest craft memory is making a papier-mâché box resembling a cat with my mum. That, and lots of classic pasta / shell adorned picture frames.

Where do you go in Melbourne for inspiration?

When I was living in Melbourne, it was a huge novelty to be able to go op-shopping for materials at Savers outside of typical thrift store hours. Finding new old books and discarded craft DIY objects to incorporate into my work is always inspiring.

What are you reading OR listening to at the moment?

Kokono No. 1

How would you describe your studio or making environment?

My studio is based at home, and I am lucky to be living near a small mountain and close to the beach so if I need a break I can be in two completely different environments. The making space itself can be described as colourful, improvised and modest, with a growing collection of books for collage purposes.

How does good craft make you feel?

A kind of tickly-fuzzy feeling.

What other Craft Cubed events are you excited about?

I'm really excited to see Mae Finlayson (my collaborating partner for PIQUED) and my jeweller friend Bianca Mavrick speak at the Art and Design as a Career conference. 

There are so many other events I wish I could attend, however my Melbourne visit this year is going to be short and sweet!

FULL EVENT LISTING: EXHIBITION PIQUED Collection and COnnection

CRAFT CUBED: AMELIA MARKS

Emerging contemporary jeweller Amelia Marks works with precious materials, printed metals, plastics and paints to create work that reflects her current focus on society's changing relationship with the natural environment through colour, texture and organic forms. Marks is one of four jewellers participating in new exhibition INHABIT opening in a 'forgotten alleyway' in Fitzroy on August 26. Through this exhibition the artists aim to challenge the idea of the city as devoid of beauty, through an on-site intervention that explores the potential for connectedness and interplay between people, the natural environment and urban spaces. We spoke to Marks about her own work space, Melbourne's tight knit jewellery community and other events she's looking forward to seeing in Craft Cubed 2017.

What’s the significance of the handmade to you?

Handmade is so special - it is unique and different. When you hold something handmade in your hand, it is more than than the object - it is someone's idea, their passion, their time, and their skill.

How would you describe your craft community?

I love the community of contemporary jewellers in Melbourne! It is always such a joy to meet some of the people I insta-stalk - it is almost like meeting a celebrity - and everyone is so helpful and generous with sharing their skills and promoting the work of other contemporary jewellers. My favourite community is a small group of us who came together over a love of gin and jewellery.... now we just have daily chats, and help each other out with jewellery questions, gin questions, life questions!

What is your earliest craft memory?

Making fimo (although they call it polymer clay now!) jewellery with my mum. We made banana and eucalyptus leaf earrings.. we both thought they were the height of fashion back in the 80's.

What is your philosophy or motto when it comes to creativity?

Make what you love! I don't follow fashions or styles.. just whatever I love and feel like wearing is what comes out at the jewellery bench.

Where do you go in Melbourne for inspiration?

My work features a lot of leaves and flowers... so I'll head to the botanical garderns, or even just a walk around my local streets, sticky-beaking into everyones gardens.

What are you reading OR listening to at the moment?

I'm reading 'How to stop giving a f**k'. Sometimes I get too caught up in what I'm doing or working on... this book has helped!!

How would you describe your studio or making environment?

I am lucky enough to share a space with two other wonderful jewellers in the River Studios building in West Melbourne. Supported by the City of Melbourne, it provides affordable and spacious studio space, and takes the isolation out of working alone - providing space to 80 artists, there is always someone there!

How does good craft make you feel?

Excited! I am always amazed by the clever ideas and skill that makers in Melbourne posses.

What is your dream craft collaboration - if history and geography and money was no barrier?

Frida Kahlo - I'd love to turn some of her images into jewellery.

What other Craft Cubed events are you excited about?

Left of Centre, the open studio event at River Studios. Although I can't participate myself due to a date clash, this is the perfect opportunity to come down and see this amazing space. Have a chat to my neighbour Marty, he is delightful, and turned his studio into a really warm and welcoming space.

FULL EVENT LISTING: EXHIBITION INHABIT

 

CRAFT CUBED: DEE VAREL

Melbourne based textile designer and knitter Dee Varel has fashioned an international career as a designer working on knitwear collections, international client based projects and trade shows. She's bringing her skills to the people by hosting two of her popular 'arm knitting' workshops on August 5 and 27 as part of this year's satellite events program. We spoke to Varel and found out a little more about her practice, the importance of community, and what she's most looking forward to in Craft Cubed 2017.

What’s the significance of the handmade to you?

I love the tactility of the handmade. There is something valuable about knowing a person has spent time and care into making something.

How would you describe your craft community?

For me networking is key and the people around you provide knowledge, ideas and propositions that expand your world. My craft community is made up of a variety of people from different disciplines and walks of life, from textiles designers I went to uni with, to Artist run spaces and pop up spaces where creative people come together. As well as Artists and craftsman I have met living overseas.

What is your earliest craft memory?

My earliest craft memory would be my mother painting bouquets on the corners of table clothes and my father mending his work clothes.

What is your philosophy or motto when it comes to creativity?

Keep Inspired and anything is possible, remember that inspiration can come from absolutely everywhere.

What are you reading OR listening to at the moment?

Places Women Make by Jane Jose

What other Craft Cubed events are you excited about?

I’m Looking forward to the Bloomin Beauty exhibition, which includes a lot of talented textile friends as well as the watercolor workshop by Elizabeth Barnett and also the Window Walk Project collaborating with some iconic Melbourne stores.

FULL EVENT LISTING: ARM KNITTING WORKSHOP

CRAFT CUBED: JILL SYMES

Ceramicist Jill Symes has established herself as a maker of substance. Her signature slab constructions feature bold mark-making, effortless technique and strong colour combinations that vibrate with the kind of confidence that only comes from years dedicated to perfecting your craft. This year Symes is presenting a new body of work inspired by the Australian landscape entitle FRAGMENTS OF LANDSCAPE, at The Gallery BACC Brighton, and opening her doors to the public as part of this years Open Studio Program August 19 -20. We spoke to Jill about the significance of the handmade, her own making environment and got her top picks for this years Craft Cubed festival. 

What’s the significance of the handmade to you?

The handmade object offers direct contact with the maker with the knowledge that time has been spent in the creation of this object that I have before me.
To me it also means self-sufficiency in a world of technology, where basic artisan skills are easily lost to technology. From my own experience as a potter, the process of making offers a form of meditation in the creating and making, and is technically challenging in the making and finishing processes required for a satisfactory outcome.

What is your earliest craft memory?

My earliest memory is of my mother and father making meaningful toys which were fun, inventively designed and made mostly from found materials, such as scraps of builder’s wood and paint from my father’s shed, and cloth from my mother’s handmade clothes.

What is your philosophy or motto when it comes to creativity?

We are all creative, it’s a matter of finding the medium that “turns you on”. Discovering clay changed my life. It offered a myriad of paths to explore my own creativity, from experimental periods of digging and using my own clay, to building kilns, then acquiring the technical skills required to make something in clay according to my vision.

Where do you go in Melbourne for inspiration?

Inspiration is everywhere - mostly in nature. I find inspiration in the birds, animals and plants in my garden; the seasons; my urban seaside surroundings and activities; my local beach in differing weathers; meditative swimming in the sea. Also the discussion of ideas in any media I find inspiring.

What are you reading OR listening to at the moment?

The Dalai Lama’s Cat by David Michie, which is about the REALLY important things in life - written from the cat’s point of view. It’s lots of laughs - a chapter or two in the morning gets my day off to a good start.

How would you describe your studio or making environment?

A retreat at the bottom of my garden that lures me to ideas, productivity (on a good day) and (importantly) solace. It’s ambiance is provided by good natural light, Radio National (current
affairs and some great music) and a wood fired heater on cold days.

What other Craft Cubed events are you excited about? 

I’m excited about my open studio days on 19 and 20 August as I love the sense of crafting in the community that is created when people can see behind closed doors in a working pottery, with the opportunity to get the “feeling of clay” for themselves, and see the processes involved in making hand-built pottery.

FULL EVENT LISTING:  FRAGMENTS OF LANDSCAPE

CRAFT CUBED: ANTHEA ABELL

Creative force behind crochet label Full Tilt Nanna, Anthea Abell is one of Craft's go to experts for our ongoing Outreach Professional Development Program - not only does she know all there is to know about crafting a creative career she's also a brilliant networker and generous mentor. This year Anthea is presenting Community Cake and Crochet on Sunday August 27 between 2-4pm in collaboration with the superfab Windsor Workshop. This afternoon draws together some of the most enduring and endearing aspects of communal craft making, with 100% of the profits from the event going directly to the very worthy St. Kilda Mums organisation. Completely excellent and highly recommended. 

What’s the significance of the handmade to you?

In this instance, the significance of the handmade is one of support and community. 
The handmade crochet blankets that I help collect, create and curate are given to complete strangers. But with each stitch, we hope that the recipient family knows that there is love and care for them and that they are not alone. 
In the winter time especially, we know that a handmade blanket provides physical warmth for a baby or young child and an metaphorical hug for their carer.

How would you describe your craft community?

The group of volunteers that take part in our ongoing project are from all different backgrounds, locations and assist in various ways. I co-ordinate a postal collection of crocheted and knitted squares that are handmade all over Australia and around the world!
The makers often include a note with their work - thanking ME for allowing THEM to contribute. I found this a bit odd and kind of topsy turvy to begin with, because it was me wanting to thank them for their help. 
Over time though, I've realised people often want to extend some kind of altruism, but don't know how. So I make it easy for them to become part of our volunteer community and assist in a really practical, crafty way.  Making a completed blanket is a really big ask of somebody, so by allowing people to make as much or as little as their life allows, I've found people are more likely to feel they can commit to helping.

What is your earliest craft memory?

Scratchy wool on my neck from handmade knitted jumpers!

What is your philosophy or motto when it comes to creativity?

That inspiration is everywhere, and even when you think you are making just for the fun of it, there is meaning in what your hands are creating... sometimes you just have to dig deep to find out what it is. Once you've grabbed the key, you need to open that part of your heart and keep expanding your work.

Where do you go in Melbourne for inspiration?

I spend a lot of time in parks around Melbourne with my daughter. Young children have this sweet way of slowing down their environment and looking at everything in minute detail.
Textures and colours of things like leaves and puddles and playgrounds are so fresh in my eyes from sharing these moments with someone so curious. I also quite like to wander around yarn shops and fondle fibres like a total creep! Often a ball of cotton comes first and THEN I decide what to make with it.

What are you reading OR listening to at the moment?

I am reading Alain De Botton on love and Clem Ford's "How To Be A Girl".
I listen to too many true crime podcasts and at lot of Richard Fiedler.

How would you describe your studio or making environment?

Unstable!
It's wherever I can sit for any amount of time and get some work done around the tiny woman I'm raising. Sometimes it's the kitchen table, sitting the floor, in the car while she's napping in the back or on public transport. I dream of a studio where things don't have to be packed up and sharp scissors can stay on a table.

How does good craft make you feel?

Impressed usually. I have absolutely no shame in exclaiming "YES" out loud when I see a piece that speaks to me. If given the chance, I also love to feel things. I work with fibres and I love touching textural works like weaving. Looking at a piece and imagining the time spent and skill involved regularly knocks my socks off.

What is your dream craft collaboration - if history and geography and money was no barrier?

I would love to travel back to the 70s and make a crocheted bikini collection with New Zealand artist Pony McTate. We'd take today's upcycled denim yarn in our time machine and blow everyone's mind. It would be so WILD!

What other Craft Cubed events are you excited about?

I'm excited to be having a piece in The Windsor Workshop's show "Stories Of Us" which is my first ever exhibition! Can't wait to see Christine Jame's work at Douglas & Hope and Craft & Design As A Career is always a highlight of my creative year!

FULL EVENT LISTING: COMMUNITY CAKE AND CROCHET

CRAFT CUBED: JESS McCAUGHEY

Jess McCaughey is a Melbourne based textile artist with a very particular penchant for hand crafted animals. Under her label teddybearswednesday she creates incredibly detailed and entirely unique creatures that are impossible not to fall for.  In her latest exhibition Getting There currently on show at Ryzanoff Gallery,Albert Park, McCaughey presents 85 'spirit bears' displayed in single file in a quiet migration to destinations unknown. We asked Jess a few quick questions about her process, what informs her making philosophy and what things she's most looking forward to seeing at this years Craft Cubed Festival.

What’s the significance of the handmade to you?

Handmade is my life. It's my passion and my life blood.
If I couldn't make, I'm not sure I would survive. I find it hard when and if I don't do some sort of making in a day. When I go on holiday I always take some sort of making. I even make on my "time off", when not making bears and toys, I knit socks and recently jumpers.

How would you describe your craft community?

Encouraging , supportive, inspiring

What is your earliest craft memory?

The making box in my house growing up as a child. I can't remember never not having one.

What is your philosophy or motto when it comes to creativity?

Embrace the wonky

Where do you go in Melbourne for inspiration?

My studio, my house, around the streets of where I live especially my wild magpie friends.
Wool Baa, Morris and Sons and Luccello, NGV, Craft Vic.

What are you reading OR listening to at the moment?

Listening to Bill Callahan, RRR, the Complete Set of Mermaid Avenue ( Billy Bragg and Wilco) , Abba , Blitzen Trapper, Sufjan Stephens, Reading Margaret Preston, Bind Minds

How would you describe your studio or making environment?

Cosy and lovely at my studio in the Nicholas building shared with fellow artist Victoria Mason.
Messy at my house.

How does good craft make you feel?

The best.

What is your dream craft collaboration - if history and geography and money was no barrier?

Making things for Steiff.

What other Craft Cubed events are you excited about?

Darwin Parklands Mini Market
Stories of Us
The Window walk.

FULL EVENT LISTING:  GETTING THERE

 

 

CRAFT CUBED: KYOKO IMAZU

Guest Artist in Residence, ceramicist Kyoko Imazu, is showcasing her work alongside Tommy Hluchanic, Colin Gallagher, Dawn Tang, Vanessa Lucas and Courtney King at this year's Northcote Pottery Open Day taking place 10am - 3pm,  Saturday August 19. This Open Day is always a bumper event offering behind the scenes insights into contemporary ceramics as well as loads of fun 'hands on' activities, demonstrations and a makers market. We asked Kyoko a few questions about her earliest Craft memories, where she goes for inspiration and some of the events she's most looking forward at this years Craft Cubed Festival. 

What’s the significance of the handmade to you?

The significance is the fact that it's one of a kind unique object in the world!
I think beautifully handcrafted handmade work - be it ceramic, jewellery, prints or sculptures - starts to have a soul after the creation. And when it meets the right owner it just brings sparks and chill in the spine to the person. It's quite rare but it just happened to me today at Northcote Pottery Supplies. I saw a pot made by Yoko Ozawa. It was like meeting a long lost friend. Such a strange feeling but I JUST HAD TO GET IT! 
I'm also a printmaker by trade and I make editions of hand-printed etchings. Even though each print is meant to be the same image and same tone etc, it is handmade, printed each by hand. Each print is the one and only work of art.

What is your earliest craft memory?

Collecting feathers in the playground in kindergarten and pasting them on papers to create an image of one big bird. And also drawing rabbits for my mum.

What is your philosophy or motto when it comes to creativity?

Go to the studio and do something - anything, everyday. It could just be doodling, reading, looking at old works, daydreaming or watering plants... To me it's about creating a habit of being in the creative space.

Where do you go in Melbourne for inspiration?

I usually sit in my studio and browse my old sketchbooks or books for any creative sparks. I try to go to Museum too and draw specimens there - it's the best satisfying feeling. 
Or go to friends' studio for chat - my dear friends printmaker/textile artist Ema Shin and jeweller Abby Seymour always fill me with lots of love and creative energy whenever I go to their studios.

What are you reading OR listening to at the moment?

I'm reading Animal series books published by Reaktion Books on rabbits and hare. These books explore the historical significance of animals from the perspectives of mythology, art, history, science, products, food, imagination etc. I'm borrowing them from retail manager Sarah Knight in Northcote Pottery Supplies. She also has a soft spot for rabbits like I do.

How would you describe your studio or making environment?

Organised mess (Some disagree) with lots of small pieces of papers. Only I know where things are...

How does good craft make you feel?

Brings sparkles in my head. Eyes wide open and heart thumping from excitement

What other Craft Cubed events are you excited about?

I love handmade small precious objects so I'm so excited about many jewellery exhibitions like the ones hosted by E.G.ETAL. All ceramic open days happen on the same day on 19th August - I wish I could go to all of them!

FULL EVENT LISTING: NORTHCOTE POTTERY OPEN DAY

GALLERY: KATE ROHDE

Renaissance Woman

Kate Rohde in conversation with Sophia Cai


Kate Rohde’s studio is situated on a quiet street in Melbourne’s inner north. Located in a former warehouse that has since been transformed into dual living and working quarters, Rohde’s ground-floor studio is filled with materials and tools, works in progress for exhibitions, as well as containing previous  works from the artist’s decade-plus long career.

When I visit for the first time, Rohde is generous with her time and shows me individual works in her studio. I feel like a golden ticket visitor to Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, mesmerised by the candy-toned colours of her creations, uncovering hidden gems from the artist’s past, present and future. There is a life-sized swan sculpture (‘made for a show at Tarrawarra’, Rohde tells me) to a collection of bangles in Rhode’s trademark resin (‘a collaboration with Alexi Freeman’), and a table covered in white fake fur that I observe on closer inspection are sculptures of fantastical animals.

I then notice the concrete floors, which are speckled with spots of coloured paint and resin, a visual diary of sorts that traces the artist’s previous projects in the studio. In the kaleidoscope of colours I see bright hues of aqua blue, hot pinks, dark emerald greens, imagining the works that they would have come from. Rohde is known for her colourful imagination and exuberant style, and I am not disappointed by the glimpses I see in her working space.

By far the most commanding piece in the studio is one that has not yet been finished. Sitting atop the central table is a resin work still in its cast, and also the largest vessel Rohde has made to date. This work will be a central piece in Rohde’s solo exhibition at Craft titled ‘Luminous Realms’, which will be a major survey exhibition for the artist. Rohde is excited to speak about this exhibition, which is a timely show for the artist following the birth of her first child, and a busy past year of exhibitions and opportunities.

Artist Kate Rohde in her studio with Sophia Cai. Photo: Shermaine Wee

Artist Kate Rohde in her studio with Sophia Cai. Photo: Shermaine Wee

 

Sophia Cai: Let’s start at the beginning: You studied fine art at university, but over the last ten years your artistic practice has diversified and taken on quite multidisciplinary directions that include gallery exhibitions, art fairs, design commissions, jewellery objects, as well as fashion collaborations. Do you make a distinction between design, fashion and art in your work, or do you see these different practices as one?

Kate Rohde: I guess now more so than ever, I see all my different work as very closely related. I think the idea of the artist working solely in one domain is actually quite a contemporary idea, and a bit of an illusion. Historically, artists were skilled workers and produced across different areas – a classic example here being Leonardo da Vinci, the quintessential ‘Renaissance man’, who did a bit of everything. It seems like a recent phenomenon where artists are becoming much more specialised. This also seems like quite a Western construct. For example in Japan, craft remains highly venerated, imbued in the broader culture and given a great deal of respect.

Personally, when I first began working as an artist I did feel more pressure to create or make works that were ‘fine art’, but as time has passed I have come to realise that it is actually much more interesting to work across different fields. Not only does this broaden the scope of opportunities, it also affords me chances to learn and develop through new ideas. I think that once you open this door, you realise the benefits of having a more expansive, open practice.

 

SC: It is really interesting to hear you talk about this, and how it has been beneficial to remain open to different practices and approaches, rather than strictly define yourself or your work. For instance, it’s fascinating that you use resin as a primary material in your handmade works, something that is heavily processed and reliant on industrialised processes and technologies. Was this something that you consciously explored in your work?

KR: I started using resin originally because I liked its material qualities. It was only after using it for a while that it dawned on me that I was using the same material that a large percentage of everyday items in our contemporary world are made of – although wielded in a different way.

 

SC: Plastic is so ubiquitous, it’s disposable, you can get it so cheaply, but your practice seems to elevate its throwaway nature to something that is a lot more considered.

KR: Yes, I feel like what I make is a lot less refined than what you see being produced in factories and manufacturing plants. From the moulds, to the sanding and finishing, it’s all streamlined and automated in these places. Even with all my hand-making and building skills, as well as the individual attention I give to my works, I can’t compete at all with those industrialised processes.

 

SC: I’m interested to hear what you specialised in at university; did you have a background in sculpture or casting? When did you start working with resin?  

KR: I actually studied painting at art school. I originally made a lot of soft textile-based works, because I didn’t have any real training in using sculptural tools and materials so I came to it through a more round about way, using materials and techniques that were familiar to me.

When I did Honours at the Victorian College of the Arts, I had a very basic lesson in resin mould making and casting from a fellow student, and from then I was self-taught. I think being self-taught has been good because although what I make is not necessarily demonstrating perfect or ideal methods, I have developed my own methods that work for me.

Image caption: Kate Rohde’s jewellery collaboration with Alexi Freeman for NGV Design Store. Photo: Shermaine Wee

Image caption: Kate Rohde’s jewellery collaboration with Alexi Freeman for NGV Design Store. Photo: Shermaine Wee

 

SC: Do you think that is the difference between people who work with the same materials in a professional studio craft context and contemporary art context, in the sense that there is a level of expectation with output or its finish?

KR: I definitely think this is the case. Certainly before I started making functional objects such as my recent jewellery for Pieces of Eight, when I was just making sculptural art pieces, the idea of the finish wasn’t really central. For resin for instance you need to do a lot of sanding, and I didn’t really do this for my early resin sculptures. It’s almost horrifying for me now to think back on that, but gradually as I started making more functional wares like jewellery I realised the necessity of all this sanding and finishing. Perhaps if you begin as a craftsperson, those values of refinement and finish are there right from the beginning.

 

SC: There is a recent trend I’ve noticed in terms of particular craft practices where people who have been working in the field for a long time or have been trained at particular institutions might have an idea of the ‘right’ way of doing something. At the moment for example there is a big interest in ceramics in contemporary art – although that has opened up further discussions about what it means to work with clay.

KR: Yes, and I think it has only been beneficial for me to engage with these ideas. I do also think this has been a natural part of the development of my artistic practice and career. Perhaps it’s only natural that as I get older my expectations change, and that when I was younger and started working I still had a lot to learn.

I was in the Adelaide Biennale this year and there were two ceramicists in particular – Glenn Barkley and Ramesh Nithiyendran – who both operate on a very fine art end of the spectrum, very well crafted but whose works challenge and push the boundaries of traditional studio ceramic practice and expectations. So that might challenge a viewer who has ideas or preconceived notions of ceramics looking or functioning in a certain way!

 

SC: I find it interesting that we are still having these conversations now. I almost feel like surely because contemporary art is now so multi-disciplinary, the old adage about ‘craft vs art’ is just not interesting anymore.

KR: Yes, It should have been put to rest a long time ago! (laughs).

 

SC: I studied art history, so I am also really interested in your continued references to Baroque and Rococo in your work. Can you tell me a bit more about the influence of art history and the decorative arts on your practice? How did you first encounter these ideas?

KR: My first real exposure to this period of history was when I was a 19-year old art student and I went to Europe for the first time. I saw in Austria, Germany and Frances these real examples of Baroque and Rococo art and design. It was the first time that I went to museums that were built in that era, and also my first time seeing art presented in different interiors, not just ‘white cube’ spaces, but interiors that were contemporary to the time the objects were made so you could gain a wider contextual understanding.

 

SC: Were there any standout museums you remember going to?

KR: The one that really blew my mind away at the time was the Pergamon Museum in Berlin, but also going to the Louvre for the first time. It was incredible to visit these galleries that as an art student you would have heard about or seen in books. Part of the reason I loved it was because in Australia there isn’t really anything like it, the built environment is relatively recent, so this ornate decorative era never existed here. 

 

SC: Do you think if you didn’t go on that trip, your art would have turned out completely differently?

KR: I think it would! Seeing those places and historical sites influenced me a lot.

SC: While your work makes direct reference to Baroque and Rococo, one of its most distinctive qualities is your use of bright colour. How important is the use of colour to you and is it indicative of particular meanings?

 

KR: For me, it’s not so much about the implied meanings but more about the fact that colours can create a feeling. Colours can have strong psychological effects, and your experience of a space can be completely altered through colour. I’m interested in these experiences.

SC: Speaking of creating strong experiences, one thing I have noted about your work is your focus on creating a Gesamtkunstwerk, or ‘total work of art’ that immerses the viewer. Many of your recent projects such as your solo exhibition at Karen Woodbury Gallery and your contribution to Rigg Design Prize at the NGV (National Gallery of Victoria) in 2015 have really shown this. Is this something you will continue to explore, and does it relate to your broader interest in ornamentation and decorative arts?

 

KR: From the time I was an art student my ideal was always to make works that would operate in a more ‘complete’ environment, if not created by me then in venues that were non-traditional non-white cube spaces, that had their own histories. Places like the Johnston Collection in East Melbourne to a niche museum in Tokyo that contained obsolete teaching instruments, where I had an opportunity to create an installation.

For the Rigg Design Prize, when curator Simone LeAmon invited me to be part of it she said she wanted each of the artists to think of their contribution as a complete interior, not just as objects. For me, that was a dream come true and the gallery supported me in doing new things such as making a custom wallpaper. Working in a larger institution gave me the opportunity to be more ambitious with my vision.

 

SC: To finish this interview, please tell me more about your show ‘Luminous Realms’ at Craft. What are you most excited about showing?

KR: ‘Luminous Realms’ is sort of like a survey exhibition of the last ten years that also encompasses the time I have been working with resin as well. There are a couple of resin works from my very first big cabinets, and then various vases and vessels that I’ve made. Craft also asked me to develop new wallpapers, and I really enjoyed the process previously at the NGV and was really excited about the prospect of returning to this again.

Kate Rohde in her studio. Photo: Shermaine Wee

Kate Rohde in her studio. Photo: Shermaine Wee

 

SC: Your previous solo gallery exhibition was called ‘Ornament Crimes’ in reference to an essay by Adolf Loos, which was highly critical of ornament in art and design. What do you make of this, and the value of ornamentation and decoration versus pragmatism and usefulness? Particularly as artists, working in a volatile climate of political and economic uncertainty, what is the value of art?

KR: Anyone who works in a creative field, particularly in the arts, will be susceptible to these crises of faith I think. We may think that we are working in rarefied ivory towers, or that we are bourgeoisie makers, academic dwellers.

The truth is, while the world could probably live without us, I do believe we also bring a lot of joy to people. What I always loved about art is that it can spark inspiration, and act as a starting point or learning tool to consider other histories, stories and cultures.

As a philosophical thought, art is an entry point into deeper questions and brings a lot of joy to people. While my own art does not directly address social or political issues, I feel like it offers a great escapist option for people and everyday mundane realities, while also acting as a gateway for deeper thinking about things.

Work in progress in Kate Rohde’s studio. Photo: Shermaine Wee

Work in progress in Kate Rohde’s studio. Photo: Shermaine Wee

Kate Rohde’s exhibition Luminous Realms is showing at Craft until 11 February 2017.

Sophia Cai was commissioned to write this interview as part of the Craft Writers Program