Thursday, 30 September 2010
I was talking to a group of friends last night about the skill of writing - how sometimes to write simply (with intelligence) is harder than to gush, be super clever or verbose. I wonder if artists have similar conversations. Virgina Coventry's paintings are pared back. Her ideas are distilled into a single line, or two. It seems so simple but, of course, it never is. She recently exhibited at the Liverpool St Gallery in Sydney.
Which five words best describe you? Intelligent. Passionate. Determined. Urban girl who enjoys solitude.
How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? My career started with my first group exhibition at the Slade School of Art, London in 1968. Since then I have made a career as an artist – painting, drawing, printmaking; photographic projects; lecturing in art schools in Melbourne and Sydney and exhibiting my work.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? To be true to one’s self.
What’s your proudest career achievement? In 2004, the Drill Hall Gallery, Australian National University, held a survey exhibition of my work titled The Light of Open Spaces: A Survey of Virginia Coventry’s Work, curated by Terence Maloon.
What’s been your best decision? I taught in art schools for over 34 years. In 1999 I decided to retire from teaching to work full time in my studio and focus on my practice.
What was the starting point for this exhibition? The work from my last exhibition in 2007 at Tin Sheds Gallery, University of Sydney, and titled In Place was the starting point for this exhibition. My work over the last forty years has explored relationships between light, spatiality and colour. I use the language of abstraction to translate our innermost responses to embodied experience. More recently, my work has proposed “an ‘acoustics’ of colour”– a concept that picks up on the way we use the terms tones, keys and pitches in thinking and talking about both colour and sound. For this exhibition, I have created an ensemble of new medium to large-scale paintings. Both the paintings and the gallery in this instance are thought of as spatial fields where the dimensions, the distribution of colours, and the crossing of natural and artificial light might be brought into relationship. I use metallic and interference pigments to create ‘live’, vibrant surfaces that continually change in response to different light and angles of view. In installation, the space is an area for mediation and contemplation.
Who inspires you? Young and old people who are intelligent, compassionate and engaged with life.
What are you passionate about? Colour; the light of arid landscapes and big open skies, Sydney Harbour, Paris, New York City, music, long friendships, enduring relationships.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Henri Matisse when in his seventies.
What dream do you still want to fulfil? To still be painting at 90!
What are you reading? The Invention of Paris by Eric Hazan; The Vintage and The Gleaning by Jeremy Chambers; Parisians by Graham Robb; The Rest is Noise by Alex Ross...
images courtesy of virginia coventry and liverpool st gallery
Wednesday, 29 September 2010
I defy you to check out Third Drawer Down and not find something that makes you laugh, think on a tangent or realise you've found the perfect gift for someone. But that's not all that the business is about. In fact, Third Drawer Down was founded in 2003 as a publishing company. Since then director Abi Crompton has gone on to collaborate with established and emerging artists to create artworks and products, including Louise Bourgeois and Miranda July. The company's store in Melbourne's Fitzroy is a showroom, shop, gallery, design studio and museum all at once.
Which five words best describe you? Kind, witty, (eccentric), sincere, cosy and determined.
What was your first job and what path have you taken since? After I finished 8 years of university my first ‘real’ job was at the National Gallery of Victoria as Product Developer. This is where I learnt some of my tools for the niche industry I work in. My favourite aspect of the job was spending hours in a small room of wall-to-wall folders full of the gallery's collection and I writing down merchandise concepts using the collection as the visual reference. This still is my favourite part of my day.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Only work with good and kind people.
What’s your proudest career achievement? Working with Louise Bourgeois for Tate Modern in London. This was my first major product development project as Director of Third Drawer Down, and it has gone down in history as a retail phenomenon... we still have enquiries for the products, and the exhibition finished over 3 years ago.
What’s been your best decision? To work for myself.
Who inspires you? Donald Draper from Mad Men, Louise Bourgeois and Mickey Mouse.
What are you passionate about? Making things happen.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? I would love to hire a house boat and invite Marcel Duchamp, Andy Warhol and Jeff Koons so nothing could disturb us except the weather.
What dream do you still want to fulfil? To collaborate with Jeff Koons on an art multiple or merchandise project.
What are you reading? The Cat in the Hat by Dr Seuss.
images courtesy of third drawer down
Monday, 27 September 2010
When theatre is good it can last with you for a lifetime. And it's nothing to do with the size of the venue or the number of performers. I distinctly remember being entranced by a play at the Belvoir St Theatre about ten years ago. It was about a family trying to escape Iran during the revolution. The cast was small and the set makeshift, but I can still see the boy and girl climbing out the window, trying to escape. Likewise I can hear the voices of all the different players from when I watched Dylan Thomas's Under Milk Wood a few years earlier.
It's been a while since I've been to the theatre, but I'm going later this week to see Tori Dixon-Whittle's one-woman show, Songs For Sylvie, and I can't wait! The play has travelled from Melbourne to Sydney and will be at the Seymour Centre on Thursday 30 September, Friday 1 and Saturday 2 October. Tickets are from $24.
But as a reader of Daily Imprint, you could win one of 10 double passes for each night - that's 30 x double passes in total to be won!
All you have to do is leave a comment and I will draw the winner's names at random. But, let's make it a little fun and interesting. Tell me about one of your favourite theatre experiences.
PS I've had some people who receive the blog via email respond with their comments that way. That's fine too. Or you can email me directly at natalie[at]nataliewalton.com
PPS I'm off to see the performance tonight. For those of you who have commented please contact me via email natalie[at]nataliewalton.com so I can get your full name and contact details and ensure you get access to tickets. Thanks!
And, in case you missed it, here's the original Daily Imprint interview with Tori Dixon-Whittle...
Which five words best describe you? Determined, loving, calm, life-long-learner, energetic.
What was your first career job and what path have you taken since? This necessitates a long answer as I've walked a very varied path! Firstly, I never really had a "career" job, I've always been interested in a great many things and have sought to explore as much as I can through my work... My first job, though, I had whilst I was still at school. It was at a nursing home, starting at 6am on a Sunday morning (!!). I was responsible for bed-making, food tray delivering, dining room table setting, meal preparation & serving, dishwashing & general cleaning up for 80 patients - it was a hard slog!! But I have never been afraid of hard work. And I realise in retrospect that I've always been interested in the subtleties of human existence, the tapestry of human life & despite the mundanities of this job, it was rich in stories of life. The Russian immigrant who wrote me letters about his past in a wonderful spidery hand, inspired by the fact he had a fresh ear eager to hear his tales; the dear old thing devastated by the betrayal of her memory, slipping through her fingers day by day, unsure each morning if she had had her breakfast or not; the dribbling old-before-his-time sixty-year-old who couldn't understand why I didn't want his help to dry the dishes! I am fascinated by the human condition & here it was an endless source, in fact. Some of the other roads I have walked: I was an actor for 16 years (starting as a little girl) - film, TV & theatre; I set up, cooked in & ran Tin Cat Cafe in Adelaide; I designed & manufactured bed linen & pyjamas for my homewares stores, Hallo Home wares; I have renovated over 20 properties; I have been actively involved in sourcing & importing furniture & objects for my partner, David Bromley & my store, A Day on Earth; I have designed, manufactured & retailed children's clothing under my label Velo Rouge; I homeschooled our daughter Holly for a year; & I started writing a year ago ... from which my one-person play, Songs for Sylvie has been born. Writing allows me to explore and marry many of my passions: from the science & psychology of the human brain through to horticulture, classical literature through to business ... And finally, in amongst this I am involved in the creative whirlwind that David whips up too.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Never give up! There is always a way to make it happen.
What’s your proudest career achievement? It would have to be writing my own one-person play whilst at the same time actively raising my 3 beautiful children.
What’s been your best decision? To have children.
Who inspires you? My partner David - an amazing creative genius - after 17 years together he still astounds me with what he conjures, the breadth & beauty of his vision I find truly inspiring ... and our children - so clear, so passionate, so loving.
What are you passionate about? Those dear to me, learning about & living life fully so as to make the most of my time on this earth. Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Oh there are many people I would love to meet from lots of different fields/persuasions/arenas, from Cate Blanchett (in saying that I have briefly met her,but really its not just about saying you've met someone is it? It's about being given an opportunity to spend some time with them!), to Fiona Wood (Perth neurosurgeon with 6 children!). But I suppose if I had to pick just one, I'd go with Socrates ... and part of the deal would have to be that I went back to his time - to see how he integrated with Greek society, to observe how he dealt with people's scepticism ... to learn from how he did not allow himself to be swayed from his pursuit of the truth.
What dream do you still want to fulfil? To fully explore the possibilities within my writing and performing.
What are you reading? This is Your Brain on Music.
images courtesy of songs for sylvie
Leon has done it again! What another great exhibition at his compact but knockout gallery space in Surry Hills, Friends of Leon. Recently opened is the show Constellations by New York artist Sara Blake. Curvy magazine hailed her as one of the "Top 100 female graphic designers and illustrators in the world". Her work has featured in The New Yorker and in conjunction with brands such as Grey Goose and Bacardi.
Which five words best describe you? Dreamer, obsessive, determined, stubborn, introverted.
What was your first career/job and what path have you taken since? My first job was working as a production assistant for a small interactive agency called Engine Three which specialises mainly in digital work for fashion clients. I continued climbing up through agencies but still felt something was creatively missing. I ended up taking a bit of time off in between jobs to start exploring illustration more. It took quite a bit of trial and error to start getting a feel for what was right and felt natural. I still needed to build a lot of momentum, so I went back to work in agencies full time while juggling illustration on the side. I'm still doing that today, and though extremely exhausting, I also feel extremely lucky to live that double life and support myself and the things that I love.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Love keeps us going no matter what. Corny, but it's the only truth I've got figured out in this life.
What’s your proudest career achievement? It's constantly changing. I'm so happy that I keep having to up the ante! First it was getting into my college. Then it was acceptance into the Keystone Design Union, then it was my first solo gallery show with the Friends of Leon Gallery in Sydney. Then it was a nomination to speak at Mexico's Design Week. All of have been very unexpected, somewhat baffling, and ultimately more motivating to conquer the next thing, whatever it may be.
What was the starting point for this exhibition? Some journal entries, a playlist in iTunes, my city, and some residual heartache. The show's name is "Constellations", and the work is intentionally a bit disparate. However, as the name suggests, everything is connected by certain rules and quality — texture, colour, and linework. This allowed a bit of freedom to play with subject matter, and also stayed truer to how I work overall... very impulsive and freestyle, but all marked with the same hand.
What’s been your best decision? Most of those big decisions get made for me somehow, either by fate or some mistake I make. They work themselves out. I think most of my most valuable lessons and moments that changed the course of my life, (usually for the better), have come from big, ugly mistakes.
Who inspires you? My very few but beloved friends. Beautiful strangers. My colleagues in the KDU and Depthcore. Fashion. Music. NYC. Texture. And overall just the stuff of everyday life we don't think very much of at the time.
What are you passionate about? Making stuff, design, running, the man I love, trying to figure out the next thing, music, my stupid cats.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? I'm pretty happy with the people I've already got. Besides, idols are always better in your imagination anyway, aren't they? I guess if I really had to choose, it would be Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights. I've had a crush on him since I was 13. Do fictitious people count?
What dream do you still want to fulfil? My dream has always been to figure out how to take care of myself completely by drawing things.
What are you reading? Blogs. Books with pictures. My inbox. I love reading, but I I don't have any free time, so I opt for an extra hour of sleep before picking up a book. I really miss getting into a good read though — hopefully my long flight from NYC to Sydney for the gallery show can help resurrect my old reading habits.
Thursday, 23 September 2010
The longer I work in the magazine industry, the more I am reminded of how small it is. Quite a few years ago I went on a media trip to Vanuatu with a small group of journalists. I was quite new to the whole scenario of a famil (as they're called) and so behaved as I do when in the company of strangers: I sat back and observed. I find it fascinating to watch how people behave in group situations and I confess that I like to listen and learn more than talk about myself. I remember being intrigued by the features director of Vogue. While she bore many of the hallmarks of what I imagine to be a Vogue fashionista, she was also incredibly well-read (I remember her talking passionately about Russian literature) and had studied politics. I have since discovered that Mrs Press from the not-so-long-ago-launched fashion label is that same person. The intrigue continues...
Which five words best describe you? In need of a holiday.
How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I studied politics and started out as a journalist. My first magazine job was at Oyster, then I freelanced as a fashion writer for Harper’s Bazaar, The Australian, The New York Times Magazine, and Nylon. I spent five years as features director at Vogue Australia before completely changing my career two years ago. Now I design the womenswear label and beauty brand, Mrs. Press.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Dream big - if you put something out there, it might just happen.
What’s your proudest career achievement? Getting a book deal with Penguin. I’m writing a style book that sums up all things Mrs. Press.
What’s been your best decision? Opening our new Sydney HQ on Oxford Street, Paddington. Six months ago we were working out of a tiny shopfront in Darlinghurst. I had one part-time staff member and we shared a computer. I packed my first delivery of candles for David Jones on my living room floor! Now I have my dream store, which I was able to design from scratch, and spacious, light-filled studios upstairs. It’s my second home.
Who inspires you? Strong women with strong brands: Jo Malone, Alice Temperley, Tory Burch, Fleur Wood.
What are you passionate about? Creating a happy working environment where people can use their talents and be allowed to shine. Running a label, everything from the challenges and problem solving to the bigger picture stuff: telling a style story.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Nijinsky. I’m obsessed with the Ballet Russes. I just finished Richard Buckle’s heartbreaking biography of the dancer. Nijinsky was the most famous artist of his generation, but when he lost his audience he crumbled completely. He spent 10 years as a sort of proto-rockstar, the boy who could leap the highest, then 30 years in and out of asylums. Anyway, I’d like to meet him in his dancing prime and see him dance at the Theatre des Champs-Elysees in Paris, please.
What dream do you still want to fulfil? To write a good novel. I made my first attempt at 14 (v. embarrassing). I’ve started lots more but I always lose confidence around Chapter 5. And I’d like to learn to cook. I can’t cook for toffee. I burn toast.
What are you reading? Danielle Steel’s Jewels. I always read a trashy book after a finishing a heavy one.
images courtesy of mrs press
Tuesday, 21 September 2010
The brief was to come up with 6 ideas to revamp nanna-style pieces of furniture. I wanted to do it in a way that wasn't so obvious. After all, we all know that a lick of paint can save anything. I wanted to present some new takes on old ideas. And I had to tie it all together so the feature didn't look disjointed. That's when I saw a chalkboard room reference from Anthropolgie, which gave me an idea of how it might work.
I drove from one end of Sydney to another to find the furniture. Literally. I tracked a few pieces down at St Vincent de Paul in Sutherland. And the next day drove in the opposite direction to Vinnies at Brookvale. I also asked for friends and people via the online noticeboard at work to donate pieces for the photo shoot.
Then came the hard work. Night followed by day followed by night and day and on and on and on in a cold factory in Alexandria painting not only more than 20 pieces of furniture but also a dozen sheets of MDF with chalk board paint. Thankfully I had my trusty, dedicated and talented helper Renee Anne Baker (who also did the beautiful illustrations on the walls and floors).
Then came the official shoot prep day. The goods got loaded onto a truck and taken to Mondo Studios in Alexandria. The walls went up, the floors were laid down and then the furniture was put into place. We had to alternate between two set-ups. Build one, shoot, build the other, tear the first one down, put another up, shoot the second one, tear it down and so on until we had six room sets. Then it was time to pack and label all the boxes and goods and get out of there before the studio closed at 6pm.
The shoot is in the October issue of real living, which went on sale today. And it's also been featured in this week's issue of Woman's Day.
images real living and chris warnes
Monday, 20 September 2010
Friday, 17 September 2010
When I recently went to see The Falls play an acoustic gig at the opening of an exhibition at Blender Gallery I was reminded how much I love music, and intimate performances. So I was really excited to learn one of my favourite singers - Melanie Pain - is returning to Australia to perform alongside fellow French chanteuse Emilie Simon. And the great news is that a limited number of Industry Tix - ie, 25% discount - have just been extended to readers of Daily Imprint for the Sydney show!
For more details on their tour, visit Cartell Music.
And to really get you in the mood, here is Melanie Pain's interview with Daily Imprint.
Which five words best describe you? Happy lucky French female singer.
What was your first job and what path have you taken since then? My first job was in a big advertising agency in Paris, I was 24, then I worked in design for a while and 2 years later I did my first recording and my first concert, it really changed my life and here I am: a singer.
What's your proudest achievement? My first solo album "my name".
What's been your best decision? To quit my job to go on tour with Nouvelle Vague in USA.
Who inspires you? People and landscapes.
What are you passionate about? Shoes and Greek philosophy.
What's the best lesson you've learnt? Always deal with big things first.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Napoleon.
What dream do you still want to fulfil? Learn how to surf.
What are you reading? The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald.
images courtesy of cartell music
Thursday, 16 September 2010
Books are my first love, although they've been sorely neglected this year. At least the literary kind. But one title that did manage to sneak its way in was The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas by Irish writer John Boyne. It looked small and so I thought it would be an easy read. In many ways it was. Yet it's a story that's incredibly powerful. It's a testament to a writer when they can make the complex seem simple. Kudos to John Boyne, who has gone from selling books behind the counter to making them fly off the shelf. The book was also turned into an equally moving film.
Which five words best describe you? Loyal; Reader; Focussed; In Love.
What was your first job and what path have you taken since? My first real job was with Waterstone’s booksellers in Ireland, where I worked for seven years before leaving to become a full-time writer.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? That a first draft is to a novel as a piece of stone is to a sculpture. You have to chip away at it for a long time to find something worthwhile inside.
What’s your proudest career achievement? My seventh novel The House of Special Purpose. I’d written several books from the perspective of a young character and wrote this one from the point of view of an 82 year-old man. In doing so, I tried to make the language of the book more elegant than before and I felt satisfied with the result.
What’s been your best decision? Leaving my job in 2003 to write full-time even though at the time I could neither afford to do so, nor did my career look particularly promising.
Who inspires you? A writer like Colm Toibin, who never repeats himself – The Master and Brooklyn, for example, are completely different types of stories – but manages to create lasting works of art with every novel.
What are you passionate about? Getting young people to read.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Kate Bush
What dream do you still want to fulfil? For a long time my dream has been to spend an extended period in Australia. However I’ll be doing that in 2011 as I’ll be living in Sydney through January and February.
What are you reading? The World Beneath by Cate Kennedy. I’m enjoying it very much – the characterisations are often very funny but also perceptive; the story itself is highly engaging.
Wednesday, 15 September 2010
I have been chasing photographer Richard Powers for an interview all around the globe. Literally. We have been in contact while he's been travelling from Antibes, France, where he lives, to LA and back, and then during his sojourn to the north coast of Denmark to "catch up on life" in a shack. And I know he's been telling the truth because I've seen the paper trail - of magazine features in Vogue Living, Inside Out, Elle Decoration... He is prolific and consistently good. Not only in magazines, but books too. New Natural Home is due in 2011 and The Iconic Interior in 2012 (a follow up to The Iconic House), all with Dominic Bradbury.
Which five words best describe you? Happy, calm, decisive, adventurous, nomadic.
What was your first career job and what path have you taken since? I picked up my first camera whilst backpacking in Australia & Asia in 1988 – I photographed what I saw and realised I had been taking pictures since my childhood but without a camera – ever since I can remember I would draw an imaginary frame with my eye and still do - perhaps some of my best pictures were taken without a camera! A good friend of mine, Edward Ashley Carter, is a commercial designer and he gave me a few of his projects to photograph back in 1996 when I had returned from Asia & South America with 1000 rolls of film to process. I have a graphic eye so was well suited to this medium – most of all I enjoyed it, which always helps and reflects well in any subject you photograph. Since then I have been shooting interiors & architecture for high end shelter and architecture magazines, book publishers, architects and designers worldwide.
What's the best lesson you've learnt along the way? That light travels in straight lines - the rest is simple!
What's your proudest career achievement? My latest book published by Thames & Hudson - The Iconic House by Dominic Bradbury - prequel to The Iconic Interior, which I am working on at the moment and is due out Spring 2012.
What's been your best decision? There are a few - to decide that I didn't want a "proper job" instead I travelled the world; also deciding that I wanted to spend my days taking pictures. This decision was made on a local bus (with the obligatory chicken and goats) in Guatemala in 1991. Another was to turn down the offer of becoming a photojournalist covering wars and famine and, of course, to ask my wife Danielle to marry me.
Who inspires you? The architects, designers and homeowners who continue to create the amazing homes for me to photograph - without them I am lost!
What are you passionate about? My family, wine and a good day skiing.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Sebastio Salgado - he is a Brazilian photojournalist who began his photographic career at 40 and now shoots for Magnum Agency. He has a terrific eye... Also, the bandits who stole all my cameras off a train in India back in 1995!
What dream do you still want to fulfill? To be given a six-month assignment by National Geographic in Tibet.
What are you reading? The Millenium Series by Steig Larsson.
images courtesy of richard powers
Tuesday, 14 September 2010
Pretty has a new name in fashion, and it's Rachel Gilbert. Since relaunching her label in 2007 at Rosemount Australian Fashion Week, she has built a steady following of not only admirers - I'm forever checking out her dresses at Bondi's Butik - but also (and perhaps more importantly) buyers. The label is stocked internationally, including on the prestigious online store Net-A-Porter.Com. Rachel studied at the Whitehouse Institute of Design and earned her stripes at labels such as Lisa Ho and Morrisey. She was also the head designer for Nicky Hilton's label.
Which five words best describe you? Determined, creative, passionate, loyal, driven.
How did you get you career start and what path have you taken since? I would have to say my career start would have been being offered the position of head designer for Nicky Hilton's brand Chick at the age of 22. That opened up many opportunities and made me realise I wanted to create my own path and my own brand on an international scale.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Learn from your mistakes "quickly" and criticism is the best way to learn and grow.
What's your proudest career achievement? Seeing someone I didn't know in one of my very first pieces at a ball.
What's been your best decision? Staying true to myself and my vision.
Who inspires you? My family and loyal Rachel Gilbert clientele.
What are you passionate about? My family and friends.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Obama.
What dream do you still want to fulfill? To live in Paris with a showroom and a Rachel Gilbert store.
What are you reading? Eat, Pray, Love.
images courtesy of rachel gilbert
Monday, 13 September 2010
Last week was a bit of a whirlwind for me. So today I'm catching my breath a little. I thought I'd take the time to share these beautiful artworks by Kathleen Kngale, which are available through Metro Gallery.
Kathleen is a 70-year-old Anmatyerre woman from the Arlperre Country. These works follow her return to the Delmore Downs.
images courtesy of kathleen kngale and metro gallery