Tuesday, 26 July 2016

DAILY PRACTICE | ARI ATHANS







Ari Athans is a Brisbane-based jeweller and artist.

Read her Daily Imprint interview here.

Her next exhibition Volcanic Bloom will be at Edwina Corlette Gallery from 2-23 August.

Describe a typical working day I like to start the day with an early leisurely ride around the lovely Brisbane River bike paths - it’s magical this time of year. The mornings are usually spent at my jewellery gallery/workshop. I work on the design and production of jewellery for the store and client commissions, such as wedding rings. I prepare work for the jewellers, meet with clients, order materials and lots of general shop stuff. The afternoons are spent at my home studio where I develop new jewellery pieces/collections. Sometimes I do some clay work but mostly I paint. When the kids come home from school, it’s the usual after-school stuff. I like to cook, walk the dog and then spend another hour or so in the studio. I also go to Clayschool one night a week.

What are your preferred tools, materials and equipment? In no particular order: Pantone box of coloured cards, gemstones, enamel paints, hammer, torch, pointy nose pliers, powdered pigments, wax carving, paper models of random things, BRT clay and oxides, gold, silver - all materials have their unique physical and optical properties.

How do you dress for your job? Mostly casual as nice things get trashed. I’m on my feet all day so comfortable shoes are a must. I’ve started to sew again; very, very simple dresses and tops. I have an extensive fabric collection that needs to be used.

What is the current state of your desk or creative space? Clean at the moment as I’ve just finished work for the Volcanic Bloom show at Edwina Corlette Gallery, which opens 2 August. We try to keep the jewellery benches as neat as possible as it is very easy to lose small things! However, when I am in the thick of it my space is usually messy.

What’s your approach to managing technology - from emails to social media? It’s always at the bottom of my list but essential. I have a website that needs to be constantly updated with new/sold works. I do mailouts for new collections/exhibitions. I enjoy documenting works in progress so Instagram works well for me. 

When and what do you have for lunch? If I am at the shop then we have miso with fresh veg or a giant salad.

What’s your preferred pick-me-up? Coffee and collage.

How do you combat creative lulls? I always have different mediums on the go so creative lulls are few. When it does happen I do a really good spring clean of the studios. I often find things that spark new projects. 

What role does silence or sound play in your day? I love working in silence mostly but I enjoy flicking through digital radio for old Greek folk music.

What's the last thing you do before finishing work for the day? I photograph the work whether it’s finished or not. It generates new ideas and perspectives. I then play with images in Photoshop; this works particularly well for painting. I also upload new jewellery pieces to the website.


images courtesy of ari athans and edwina corlette gallery

Monday, 25 July 2016

INTERVIEW | NATALIE WALTON







For more than nine years I have been sharing the stories of creatives from around the globe. Today I want to tell a little of my story, as it’s integral to a new chapter for Daily Imprint.

I believe in beauty - in pursuing, capturing, and celebrating it. But I am also a practical person. I enjoy order and simplicity. These two elements have been a thread throughout my work - as a writer and stylist.

As Hemingway said, “Write the truest sentence you know.” This quote has been pencilled in my notebook for years. I believe in paring down to the essence of a feature article or interior space. When it comes to styling, I like to distill ideas when creating room sets and editing homes for interior photography. When the noise is removed beauty can breathe.

After years of working on a best-selling interiors magazine, and styling people’s homes, a new variation on this truth has emerged. It’s time to simplify the art of creating a home. Too often places have cushion covers, towels and tableware that has past its use-by-date. Or key items are missing, such as a simple-shaped vase to suit a range of flowers. Also, many places lack the necessary texture to help create warmth and interest in a home.

Daily Imprint has always been about celebrating beauty everyday. It has now been brought to life with Imprint House, an online store that features homewares handpicked for their beauty and utility. Each item in the launch collection - Everyday Essentials - is multipurpose and can work just as well in a city home as a coastal house or a place in the country. (Incidentally, I have lived in all three over the past five years.)

As part of this new chapter, there will be some new and exciting features on this site. Tomorrow I will introduce DAILY PRACTICE - an insight into how leading creatives structure their working day, their preferred tools of the trade and the ways they get through creative slumps. I look forward to sharing the interview with you, and many more.

And, for those of you who are interested, subscribe to Imprint House's newsletter for discounts and special offers. Or follow the Instagram feed for giveaways and other news.

Which five words best describe you? Stop, look, listen and go.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I have woven two careers together for many years - writing and styling. But they are not as different as they might seem. They are both about telling a story - about a person, a home, or a space. They both stem for my innate curiosity about the world around me, and are a way for me to explore ideas about how we choose to live. This site, Daily Imprint, has also been doing this for more than nine years now, with a focus on the paths people take in life. Even after all of this time, I’m still fascinated by the decisions people make and the journeys they take. While it has been more than 15 years since I completed Bachelor and Master degrees in the Arts (first majoring in English Literature and Gender Studies at the University of Sydney, and then in Journalism at the University of Technology Sydney), I still enjoy learning. But now I’m a student of life.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Life is a work in progress. That is, nothing is perfect, we all have to make compromises, and we all make mistakes. But it is the people who don’t get caught up on this and just keep pushing ahead that break through. Which is all another way to say, don’t sweat the small stuff. But still think big.

What’s your proudest career achievement? That each day is (still) exciting.

What’s been your best decision? One of my hardest decisions has also been my best - to leave full-time employment at Real Living magazine and go freelance. I come from a family of people who have always been employees, who have placed importance on the security and stability of that. Leaving full-time employment felt not just like changing jobs, but choosing my own path in life - one that put trust in my own ability and belief in myself.

Who inspires you? Years ago I was more in awe of those who were in the spotlight for their careers - film-makers and artists such as Julian Schnabel, fashion designers like Vivienne Westwood, and writers - almost all of them, but especially the Modernists and more recently Junot Diaz and Donna Tartt. And while I still hold all of these people in high esteem, now it is those around me who lift me. The small empire builders, the artists who pursue beauty, and the photographers who help us all see. And still the writers. I will always place them on a pedestal.

What are you passionate about? Doing the best that I can. Leaving a positive mark on the world. Loving my children. Having a wonderful family life. Enjoying my home for the place it is today. Being an explorer of the world. And taking time to breathe.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Right now, I’d love to see my dad again. He lives in the UK, and it’s been too long. I am very much his daughter. I burn the midnight oil, just as he has done throughout his career. I get my love of words from him. As well as my interest in people, countries and cultures. 

What dream do you still want to fulfil? They haven’t changed - to publish a book, to create boutique accommodation, to live in New York and Paris. I’m getting closer on some counts, though.  

What are you reading? After a couple of years of reading mostly non-fiction, I have almost finished Where Angels Fear To Tread. I’ve also been listening to audio books as I now live 90 minutes north of Sydney. Enjoying Blink by Malcolm Gladwell.

images courtesy of imprint house; photography chris warnes, styling natalie walton

Monday, 9 May 2016

FLORIST KIERAN BIRCHALL







“When you start any business it’s 50 per cent gut instinct and 50 per cent free fall,” says Kieran Birchall, the florist and creative director behind MyFlowerMan. “You can crunch numbers for days but until you’re up and running and reacting to your customers whilst still being true to your creative vision then you can’t get a true sense of feeling like you’re on the right path.”

After working as a real estate agent for many years, a trip to the flower markets in Flemington, Sydney sparked an idea to consider a career in floristry. “But the whole idea was that I wanted to offer a different style and option compared with the more traditional concepts of a florist,” he says. MyFlowerMan, with a focus on native and natural arrangements, started as a side business about 18 months ago but has recently opened a physical store in Sydney’s Paddington.

“The support we have received from the beginning is something I get blown away by,” says Kieran, who grew up in Yamba, a town in Northern NSW. As well as selling flowers, and creating arrangements for clients such as fashion brands Bassike and Tigerlily, he sells floral-inspired artworks in his shop, such as the artwork by Vicki Lee and Ted O’Donnell, pictured above. 

Which five words best describe you? This is tough!

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I really took a leap starting MyFlowerMan and thankfully it’s paying off.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Try to work with those who share the same ethos as you. It makes for a much more constructive, interesting and satisfying outcome. 

What’s your proudest career achievement? Honestly opening our store in Paddington. It’s amazing how seeing something so tangible with your brand on it makes everything seem real and allows you to reflect on how cool it is to create something from nothing or a very simple idea at least.

What’s been your best decision? Taking a risk to do something I really enjoy.

Who inspires you? Every small business owner. Since launching I have a new-found appreciation for all business owners or anyone how has taken the plunge. Let’s just say I’m shop locally kinda guy.

What are you passionate about? The ocean.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Michael Jordan – to shoot some hoops. 

What dream do you still want to fulfil? Buying a house or a farm or just somewhere I can tinker and potter around when I’m old. Maybe that’s a country thing?

What are you reading? Sadly nothing at the moment, mostly just reading emails.


images courtesy of kieran birchall; photography elise hassey

Monday, 2 May 2016

ARTIST ROBERT MALHERBE







“I feel that painting is an aid to living,” says artist Robert Malherbe. “Drawing and painting intensifies the way we see the world.” Born in Mauritius, he moved to Australia as a young boy and after travelling and living in Europe, is based in Blackheath, NSW. Robert has just opened his first exhibition at a public gallery - a survey show of his work at the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre - which will run until 5 June.

“I’ve always had faith in my work but things began to change for me when my paintings were hung in major art prizes and drew positive notices from respected art critics,” he says. “We’d like to pretend that these things don’t matter but they do.” He has been a regular finalist in the Wynne Prize and in 2011 was awarded the AGNSW residency at Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris. In 2015 he won the Manning Art Prize, judged by art critic John McDonald. “I felt I knew where to go with my practice when I realised that my subject matter was right in front of me,” Robert says. “This was when I was around 19 or 20. That’s why I paint directly from life.” Already is he is focussed on his next commercial exhibition - at the Jan Murphy Gallery in Brisbane, from 14 June to 9 July. “I’d like to see my work getting more intense, clearer, brighter and better,” he says.

Which five words best describe you? I love what I’m doing.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I really didn’t have and I still don’t have a game plan. Libby Knott, who was a curator at a small Paddington gallery, saw the work I was doing and gave me my first solo show. It sold very well and drew the attention of a major Sydney dealer who then exhibited me in the following years. After that I began to show in other states as well. I suppose it all followed from there.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Keep doing what you like but get better at it. Also, if the work doesn’t surprise you then don’t show it.

What’s your proudest career achievement? Being able to paint on a daily basis while maintaining a loving relationship.

What’s been your best decision? Not to put too much importance on money even when there wasn’t any.

Who inspires you? Anyone who has painted a good painting. I also love reading the great poets.

What are you passionate about? I’m passionate about many things but mostly painting and drawing. I’m not a very sporty person.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Living - I’d love to chat with Frank Auerbach again. Dead - I would love to have a drink with Rembrandt and stroll along the beach at night with Wallace Stevens.

What dream do you still want to fulfil? My dream is to make it past 85 years of age and quietly go while squeezing a tube of paint.

What are you reading? Two books: Paris Nocturne by Patrick Modiano and Autobiography of Red by Anne Carson.


images courtesy of robert malherbe

Monday, 18 April 2016

SHOP OWNERS MICHAEL LIIRA + MELISSA WALKER







While Michael Liira has a strong appreciation for Swedish design, which has informed his working life for the past 16 years, his connection to that country is a personal one too. His mother’s family fled Estonia just before WWII and moved to the southern city of Helsingborg. His grandfather worked for the Swedish Merchant Navy while his grandmother made tennis shoes for the Swedish shoe brand Tretorn. “My grandparents always spoke very fondly about their time in Sweden, and this is where my love for Scandinavia began,” Michael says. While he was born in Australia, after studying science at university, with a major in marketing, he started Scandinavium with business partner Joel Schuberg in 2000 with a focus on importing Scandinavian design products.

In 2007 he began a new chapter in his relationship to Scandinavia, starting the furniture and homewares distribution business Fred International. It is a venture with his wife Melissa Walker who he met during the process of establishing the brand. She has extensive experience in advertising, after graduating with a degree in communications at the University of Canberra in 1994. Since launching they have established strong relationships with interior designers and architects while maintaining a retail presence too.

The latest incarnation for the brand is a new 200 square metre showroom in Sydney’s Rosebery. “With the new space we feel we are starting to give people a glimpse into what’s been in our heads for so long,” Melissa says. “We’ve known for years we wanted to build something with integrity and longevity. It takes time to form partnerships and relationships with the companies you represent and clients you sell to.”

Next up, they hope to open a showroom in Melbourne. 

Which five words best describe you?
Michael: Passionate, thankful, funny, relaxed, dad.

Melissa: Passionate, collaborative, organised, Paleo (in theory).

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since?
Michael: In early 2000, myself and a business partner, Joel Schuberg, began importing clothing from Sweden and Denmark. We were the first to introduce brands such Acne and cult denim brand Psycho Cowboy to the Australian and New Zealand markets. Being in Scandinavia regularly we gained a further appreciation for Scandinavian design. In the mid 2000s we moved away from the clothing industry to focus on furniture from Scandinavia. In 2007 I started Fred International. It has been a long process and we are now seeing the rewards for our hard work. There are excited times ahead for Fred International.

Melissa: Working in advertising, which taught me organisation, how to multitask and deal - or not - with people. I was always good at balancing the books and getting things done so although I’ve gone down that path I’ve managed to get myself as close to the creative process as I can. I love working with talented creatives and seeing the possibilities and the outcomes.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way?
Michael: It has been said before, trust your instincts.

Melissa: You need to go with your gut instincts. You need to make strategic decisions, stick to them and keep moving forward. That you never give up. You just have to work through the hard times.

What’s your proudest career achievement?
Michael: As we have just recently opened our new showroom in Sydney, so opening the new showroom. We have created a space that makes you feel like you are in a Scandinavian apartment.

Melissa: Running two successful businesses and being a mum I’ve - somehow - finally managed the achieve a work/life balance with a bit of travel thrown in for good measure. 

What’s been your best decision?
Michael: To align Fred International with the best manufacturers and designers in Scandinavia.

Melissa: Having Ella.

Who inspires you?
Michael: My wife Melissa Walker. She is an amazing business women. She always has views on business strategy different to mine. She is always right.

Melissa: Getting to work with immensely talented people who inspire you everyday. From the Scandinavian designers we represent to the Australian architects, interior designers and stylist who are literally incredible at what they do. 

What are you passionate about?
Michael: Obviously Scandinavian design, my wine cellar and our beautiful daughter Ella.
Melissa: To be able to surround myself with beautiful design. I truly believe your life is uplifted when you are surrounded by beautiful things whether it’s furniture, art, fashion, food or people and places. 

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet?
Michael: American modernist architect Pierre Koenig. I made contact with Pierre via email in 2002 and started conversations about drawing up plans for a home in Sydney. He was very excited because he did not have a house that he had designed and built in Australia. Pierre died in 2004 and regrettably the project never went ahead.

Melissa: How do you chose? I’d probably go for a strong creative woman like Coco Chanel.

What dream do you still want to fulfill?
Michael: To begin construction of our new home in Manly with interiors designed by Dana Tomic Hughes from Studio Yellowtrace. The brief was to “design something that has not been seen before”. From what we have shown so far, Dana has fulfilled the brief.

Melissa: Working with our favourite Australian interior designer, and friend, Dana Tomic Hughes to renovating our Manly home, which we’ve been planning for nearly five years now. We should be done by 2020.

What are you reading?
Michael: Mr Men books to our daughter Ella.

Melissa: For me - The life-changing magic of tidying up by Marie Kondo and for Ella - anything with princesses and fairies.


images courtesy of fred international; photography felix forest

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