Tuesday, 31 January 2012

artist belynda henry

Not only is Belynda Henry a celebrated artist (she has been a finalist in the Wynne prize), but she has a tremendous output. She has just finished paintings for her 20th solo show, which will be held at the Richard Martin Art gallery in Sydney's Woollahra. The works are created on her property in the lush valley of Dooralong on the NSW Central Coast. It is here that she creates both paintings and sculptures, and finds inspiration from the landscape. While Belynda has been capturing the world around her for the past 15 years, her latest works are a slight departure in style. She's embracing blocks of colour, influenced by Australian tonal painters such as Max Meldrum, Clarice Beckett, Polly Hurry and Colin Colahan.

I am honoured to be opening her latest exhibition, and celebrating Belynda's achievement. If you would like to join me, please come along on Wednesday 22 February at Richard Martin Art from about 6pm.

Which five words best describe you? Messy, focused, painter, loyal, mum.
How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I just loved art at high school and really all I wanted to do was go to art school. I somehow got into Sydney College of the Arts (Sydney University) to do my Bachelor of Visual Arts. I majored in sculpture, but was fascinated by the painting students, I was always intrigued by their studios. After that I graduated with a teaching degree and became a visual arts teacher at a high school. I loved teaching but really all I could daydream about was being a full-time painter. My dreams came true in 2000, I had a baby girl, Chloe and landed my first representation with an amazing gallery called Libby Edwards galleries. I learnt to believe in myself, and never give up. I resigned from my teaching position and have been a full time artist ever since. I am now represented by a beautiful gallery, Richard Martin Art, Woollahra. I have working towards an exhibition for the past year. "Colour my world" opens 18th February, 2012. This will be my 20th solo show!
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? To appreciate the moment, be modest, listen to others and only talk about yourself if people ask.
What’s your proudest career achievement? Being hung as a finalist in the Art Gallery of NSW Wynne prize, (and hanging out with Edmund Capon).
Who inspires you? Michael and Chloe who always believe in me. The people in my life who are passionate, happy and always believe in themselves. I have a long list of favourite artists that inspire me. It's hard to mention a few: Louise Olsen from Dinosaur Designs, her dad John Olsen all the way to Guy Maestri, Elisabeth Cummings, Idris Murphy, early Australian impressionist painters. Oh gosh I could fill an entire page. Also, although I paint for myself - it's something that I just have to do - it really inspires me when someone out there in the big wide world falls so in love with something that I have created that they have to have it. That really moves me.
What are you passionate about? My two gorgeous girls, Chloe and Milla. My best friend and husband Michael. Art. Things that happen for a reason. Champagne and coffee. Beautiful and stylish objects and interiors. Creative, optimistic people.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Mmm. I have been lucky enough to meet a lot of extraordinary Australian artists by attending opening nights, so I have crossed lots off my list. 10 years ago I would of said Tori Amos; I cried at her concert because her music was so moving to me. Today I would love to meet Louise Olsen.
What dream do you still want to fulfil? Show our daughters our favourite sites in Europe. Celebrate a birthday in Paris. Live a healthy, happy, long life with my family.
What are you reading? Well, I paint most nights till late, so I only read just before bed. I just finished Kate Morton's, The Shifting Fog and Forgotten Garden. My mum, sister and sister-in-law are all in the same book club, so I'm lucky, they keep giving me piles of amazing books. During the day I go crazy for blogs, Daily Imprint is my favourite. I also love decor8, greige, The Design Files. Oh, and also interior design magazines, which I can't live without. Oops. I can't forget the many children's books I read to my girls every day.

images courtesy of belynda henry

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

photographer tony owczarek

I have always enjoyed looking at the catalogues for Melbourne brands Elk Accessories and Nancybird not just for the designs and art direction but the photography too. It turns out that Tony Owczarek is the man both of them have used - and for many years. He always captures a lovely moment with the talent. Tony's other clients include Purebaby and Hardie Grant.

Which five words best describe you? Creative, passionate, precise, excitable and fun.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I assisted as many photographers as I could to pick up the best few habits from each and used that to better my own practices. Then I started shooting and built up clients over time. I have been fortunate in developing and growing my business with a group of like-minded and creative clients who continue to provide me with the opportunity to challenge and expand my skill set, and are a great group of people to work with.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Assume nothing and have a backup plan for everything!

What’s your proudest career achievement? Every time I receive the finished catalogue or magazine I have worked on I feel like this is the best moment in my career. To see the final product produced after days or weeks of shooting and re-touching and feeling proud of what can be achieved when you are working for and with great people is a pretty exciting.

What’s been your best decision? To build my own studio in Collingwood so my clients can be comfortable and relaxed in a space that is not being interrupted by others. Having worked in many studios prior to this I knew it was important to create a space that would be enjoyable to be in year round.

Who inspires you? There are too many to mention for so many reasons but people who don't give up when the going gets tough always gives me inspiration.

What are you passionate about? Photography for sure; it's always been a part of my life in some way. Behaving in an ethical way in every aspect of life. Delivering to my clients a product beyond their expectations. Keeping physically and mentally fit.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? In terms of photographers, Richard Avedon. Class and style, a rare commodity.

What dream do you still want to fulfil? Among the many would have to be to make a film of a book I read about 10 years ago and to do more work overseas.

What are you reading? Having a 15-month-old does not give me much time for reading but I do read PDN mag and I have Atomic the first war of physics on the go, I'm not into fiction.

images courtesy of tony owczarek; (elk - 1 & 2, nancybird - 3 & 4)

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

illustrator megan eckman

US-based Megan Eckman works in an old-fashioned way - using pen and ink to create her illustrations. "I enjoy illustrating fantasies that take the viewer back to their childhood," she says. Megan gained degrees in art and English and started her business before graduating. Studio MME not only sells prints of her work but also lockets, embroidery kits and some beautiful cat cushions, which she's just started to make.

Which five words best describe you? Quirky, humorous, intellectual, detailed, organised.
How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? My parents encouraged me to pursue creative degrees in art and English with one stipulation: I had to start my own business before I graduated. That's exactly how I started in 2009. After that, I've been doing freelance work for a few magazines, individuals, and selling my work online through my portfolio.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Keep learning. There is so much that they never ever teach you in art school, especially where business, marketing, and taxes are concerned. If you don't make time to read up on new tactics, new tax laws, and new tricks of the trade, you will never see your business grow.
What’s your proudest career achievement? Recently my work made its England debut in their illustration magazine, AMMO.
What’s been your best decision? Starting this business to keep a promise to my parents. And maintaining that business and not giving in to "easier" things.
Who inspires you? Whenever I'm in a creative rut, I always turn to Edward Gorey. He is the reason I went into art. My father used to read his stories to me at bedtime. I wanted to be just like him when I grew up.
What are you passionate about? Besides my illustration work, I'm very passionate about cooking. It's meditative and very much intuition and science blended together. I've recently moved to the big city of San Jose so there are hundreds of new foods for me to try.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Oddly enough, I would love to meet the children's author Diana Wynne Jones.
What dream do you still want to fulfill? It's my dream to live in Europe. I have two years to wait until my boyfriend finishes his graduate degree in photography and then it's off to Europe for us! We'll have to live in a place where they teach in English, though, since his linguistic skills aren't up to par.
What are you reading? Right now I'm re-reading The Thirteen Clocks by James Thurber. Wonderful children's book!

images courtesy of megan eckman

Friday, 20 January 2012

undecorate by christiane lemieux

If it was not enough for the Canadian-born founder and creative director of DwellStudio to have grown a successful design business with a global reach, Christiane Lemieux has also gone on to create a number 1 bestselling design book, as rated by the Wall Street Journal. Undecorate was released in Australia last year by Random House, and features 20 homes that embrace "the no-rules approach to interior design". It includes one of my favourite homes - the Brooklyn apartment of Kim Ficaro and James Wilson (pictured second from the bottom). And Christiane has included her own New York loft too (pictured bottom).

Which five words best describe you? Whirlwind, passionate, disorganised, light-hearted, honest.
How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I graduated from the Parsons School of Design in New York with a degree in fashion design. I started working in fashion for Isaac Mizrahi, then the GAP. I got a chance to design for a home furnishings company called Portico. While there, I started trying some graphic textile designs and realised that was a big market for a modern look in the home furnishings market. That is how I decided to go out on my own. The author part of my career is very recent, but I really love it and I am ready to do my next book too.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Never be afraid to take a risk and try something new. I like to learn something new every day.
What’s your proudest career achievement? Undecorate is one for sure. I never thought I would be an author. We also recently launched our first furniture line. Pulling all of that together from the fabric to the wood finishes to the forms was an amazing experience.
What’s been your best decision? Besides having my children – going off on my own to start my business. I now employ 35 people who are like my family.
Who inspires you? I am inspired by the people who change the world and there are many... From someone like Anthony Lake the Executive Director of UNICEF – who helps children all over the world – to philanthropists like Bill and Melinda Gates who are putting a stop to childhood malaria.
What are you passionate about? That is a long long list. I am passionate about microfinance for entrepreneurs in developing nations and organisations like Kiva. I am passionate about UNICEF and eradicating childhood poverty and disease. I am passionate about our local organisations like CMOM in New York that promote literacy for children in at risk situations.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Again, so many. Off the top of my head: da Vinci, Hillary Clinton would be very interesting and I think dinner with Jon Stewart would be funny and cool.
What dream do you still want to fulfill? I would really like to get my pilot's license and fly. I would love to fly a plane around the world.
What are you reading? Right now I am finishing up Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom.

images courtesy of christiane lemieux and random house

Thursday, 19 January 2012

designer leah bartholomew

Beneath The Sun is the tale of a designer who has come full circle, and then some. Leah Bartholomew grew up in Northern NSW but moved to Melbourne to study. While there she also worked for Melbourne designer Beci Orpin, who became somewhat of a mentor. Now Leah has returned to her homeland and has set up a design business that uses her illustrations in a range of homewares and stationery which are produced locally and in an environmentally sensitive way.

Which five words best describe you? Cheerful, spontaneous, illogical, fun, determined.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I moved from Northern NSW to Melbourne after studying fine arts and after exploring the city for a year, did some screen printing and decided to do a Diploma in Graphic Arts at RMIT. I had been a fan of Beci Orpin's work for sometime and in my last year heard she was looking for an assistant. I was happy to just show her my folio, never believing I would actually get the job. She called me immediately and wanted to meet me. I worked with Beci for five years, she was the best mentor I could have asked for. Now I have done the full loop and returned to NSW where it all began to start my own business.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Not to put too much pressure on myself to have a "style" in my art-making. If you put yourself into your art/designs, the style will inevitably show itself. I feel like I've got about three different approaches to my art-making; in the end they seem to combine into the one.

What’s your proudest career achievement? Making my first solo show happen. "Where The Dry Leaves Fall" was a long time coming; it was a body of work I really needed to get out. It played on a lot of nostalgic feelings I was having about the place I grew up and how it was affecting the place I was in at the time. It was like every piece in the show was clearly set out in my mind; I just had to make them. I was so happy the night it opened: Melbourne delivered a perfectly warm night to suit the show. It was incredibly assuring to see all the red sold dots appearing on the walls, lots of people of all ages were feeling similar connections to their own childhood.

What’s been your best decision? To move back to the hills of the Tweed Valley and start Beneath The Sun. As much as I adore Melbourne, the time had come to return to the place my heart was with. Here I'm surrounded by the perfect elements to suit the label. After some tough times in Melbourne, it's been an incredibly rewarding and happy experience to set up my studio from home and make the things I love in a gorgeous surrounding. It feels like I'm in the right place.

Who inspires you? Such a long list of people and things! Artists like Geoff McFetridge, Marcus Oakley, Kirra Jamison, Marcus Walters, Sonic Youth, Kandinsky, Steven Harrington. My mum and her huge capacity of kindness. Humorous people.

What are you passionate about? The place I live. Shark documentaries. Well-designed houses. Colours. People and their idiosyncrasies.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? My Pop. He died when I was young and I would do anything to know him now. Since being back home I have spent a lot of time reconnecting with my dad, it would be great to hear about him through his dad. He was a really funny man with a lot of character, I think we would make great friends. Besides him, I would love to have met Margaret Olley for her free-spirited nature and her obsession for her art-making.

What dream do you still want to fulfil? Living in California and working with some of my favourite designers, taking regular trips down to South America.

What are you reading? Lots and lots of blogs, magazines and Graphis books. I'm not a big reader unless it's design books.

images courtesy of beneath the sun

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

designer caroline quaine

Caroline Quaine + Katherine Norman

It took a visit to New York to discover the work of Australian furniture designers Norman + Quaine. One of their sofas was in the home of expat stylist Marcus Hay. He had actually owned the piece since living in Sydney, and it was one of the few objects he'd taken with him to New York when he relocated for work.

The sofa had strong Modernist lines and as Marcus is such a collector of vintage pieces, I thought it was one of his many great finds. (You can see it in his post here - and read an interview with Marcus here.) But that's the clever thing about the designs of Norman + Quaine: they nod to the past while being grounded in the world today. The products are also made in Australia, and the founders, Katherine Norman and Caroline Quaine have been in partnership for the past 20 years. The Sydney-based duo have not only created furniture with longevity, but interiors too. Katherine is an interior designer while Caroline is an industrial designer. They have for many years worked with respected retailer Living Edge. Here, Caroline shares some of their story.

Which five words best describe you? Contemporary, simple, bright, layered, quality Australian-made.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? We met working for architects Mitchell Giurgola Thorp on the furniture team for New Parliament House Canberra. We recognised a niche market and started Norman and Quaine in 1990, designing and developing products, working closely with our manufacturers Woodmark International. We opened the showroom in Surry Hills in 1993 and supplied furniture to both the design and residential sectors.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? To always provide the best possible experience to any client.

What’s your proudest career achievement? Seeing our furniture in many public spaces.

What’s been your best decision? Probably forming a long-lasting and supportive business partnership.

Who inspires you? Craftspeople in developing countries who produce designs of stunning simplicity and beauty for everyday practical use. People who utilise and adapt skills passed through generations.

What are you passionate about? Travel; beautiful layered interiors combining old and new, contemporary with traditional.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Frida Kahlo

What dream do you still want to fulfil? A year living in India.

What are you reading? Have been enjoying reading about the work of Studio Mumbai

images courtesy of norman & quaine

Friday, 13 January 2012


It is always interesting to see what imprint an editor has on a magazine. Sometimes publications can seem beasts unto themselves, in that they steer the look and feel. But other times an editor comes along who takes the magazine on a new journey. This has been happening at Belle since editor Neale Whitaker arrived. Previously the publication was highly geared towards an architectural aesthetic and readership. Today it is more expansive, featuring high decoration as well as modern simplicity.

Neale started his magazine career in the UK, working on the cult title i-D, and launching Food Illustrated for leading retailer Waitrose, he has made a name for himself in Australia. He has edited Marie Claire Lifestyle and Vogue Entertaining + Travel. Neale has also worked as creative director for Bill Granger, written a book The Accidental Foodie, and been a judge on TV's homeMADE and The Block. He is currently editor-in-chief of both Belle and Good Food magazines. The images, above, are from the Feb/March issue of Belle.

Which five words best describe you? Impulsive, honest, impatient, emotional, cynical.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? My career has taken so many twists and turns, but my first "break" was getting a job as a reporter on cult British style mag i-D back in the early 1980s. It was short-lived, but enough to get the magazine juices flowing.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? From the CEO to the receptionist to the most junior assistant, everyone deserves respect and courtesy. It’s an old-fashioned lesson but I happen to believe it.

What’s your proudest career achievement? Launching a magazine called Food Illustrated in the UK, early in 1998. It punched far above its weight in terms of its influence in food magazine publishing around the world, then and since.

What’s been your best decision? Moving to Australia.

Who inspires you? I feel I’m supposed to name a current designer and of course, many do inspire me (Noe Duchaufour-Lawrance springs to mind), but throughout my career my inspiration has been Terence Conran. Nobody has had the same impact on what we now refer to as "lifestyle". His influence on food, restaurants, hotels, retail and design has been unparalleled. I also have great respect for Martha Stewart, Paul Smith, Tricia Guild and the late Joseph Ettedgui. I’m inspired by individuals who retain lifelong creative integrity around their brands.

What are you passionate about? Keeping things in perspective and remembering that we are all here for a very, very short time.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Picasso, Peggy Guggenheim, Michael Buble, Justice Michael Kirby, Barack Obama, Billie Holiday, Sade Adu, Elizabeth David, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, David Sedaris, Patricia Urquiola, Pedro Almodovar, Teena Marie, Tom Ford and Robert Pattinson. Oh sorry, just one? Elizabeth David. By all accounts she was a difficult old trout but I think she’d have been a riot.

What dream do you still want to fulfil? My dreams change daily, if not hourly. To write more books is a constant.

What are you reading? A biography of Peggy Guggenheim and Michael Kirby’s Private Life.

images courtesy of belle magazine

Thursday, 12 January 2012

designer & shopkeeper alexandra bond

If the saying is true that if you can make it in New York, you can make it anywhere, then it's going to be interesting to watch the trajectory of Alexandra Bond and Nicholas Barber. Together the couple have been running a successful architectural interior design business in New York. On returning to Sydney recently they established Dunlin, a way of opening their contacts book to many homewares companies previously not represented in Australia.

Which five words best describe you? Optimistic, adventurous, enthusiastic, tireless but sometimes exhausted!
How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I began my career as an architect after graduating from UNSW, where I had met Nico while he was studying architecture at Sydney [University]. We moved to NYC where we designed an amazing range of projects together, from homes in New York City and throughout the Hamptons to hotels in Latin America. Working and living in New York was an experience like no other, especially running our own company. We learnt so much, and worked with the most amazing collection of clients, companies and craftsmen; it was an amazing education in design, and one I can't recommend highly enough to any young Australian designer. We began Dunlin as an extension to our architecture and interiors practice, as a way of bringing these amazing craftsmen and companies back to Australia when we moved home from NYC. Davey Lighting, for example, we found while designing a jazz bar; to now be representing them and seeing them used in gorgeous homes across Australia is wonderfully rewarding.
What's the best lesson you've have learnt along the way? A few! Only work with the best, be it suppliers, consultants or clients. And the value of moving forward, something NYC instilled in me, to do something as well as you possibly can, learn from it then onto the next.
What’s your proudest career achievement? I am really proud of seeing Dunlin grow and flourish, it’s been a lot of work by a lot of wonderful people whom I’m very proud of.
What’s been your best decision? Firstly, starting a company with Nicholas. Also to keep working hard and to never give up, I’ve had a lot of not so good ones too!
Who inspires you? My family and friends, who I learn from everyday, and even though it's not a 'who': travelling. I don't think anything keeps you as compassionate and curious as being a bit of a gypsy.
What are you passionate about? Right now its Trancoso, being a better surfer, good friends, family and brunch.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Ellsworth Kelly or perhaps a day with Frida, Diego & Juan O'Gorman would have been pretty incredible; my mum and I spent a few weeks in Mexico City last year and adored it.
What dream do you still want to fulfil? To continue doing what I am doing would be more than enough, and finally, finally getting a dog!
What are you reading? I have an unhealthy addiction to magazines, I'm afraid. Reading-wise I loved M, so I am working my way back through Peter Robb's works. A death in brazil is in my bag right now.

images courtesy of dunlin (image 1 via desire to inspire)

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

photographer james geer

There are only a handful of Melbourne photographers that get used by Sydney-based interior magazines time and time again. James Geer is one of them. He has had his images published in Inside Out magazine and Real Living as well as Living Etc in the UK. James also exhibits his photography, and has been a finalist in the National Portraiture Prize. He started out as a graphic designer, detoured to photography, assisted in New York and returned to Melbourne after three years. Now he not only produces work for magazines but also clients such as Hermes, Nike and Levi's.

Which five words best describe you? According to me = relaxed, observant, loyal, particular, motivated. According to my three-year-old: dizzy, smile, nose, funny, yummy.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? Started out in graphic design, in a studio that was shared with a photographer, started assisting him, loved it, went to NYC for 3 years, assisted some big names, started shooting, came back, here I am!

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? To watch light, when you do this, every and any thing can have beauty.

What’s your proudest career achievement? My first solo exhibition last year "DEEP" was a huge challenge, extremely exposing and ultimately incredibly rewarding.

What’s been your best decision? To ask Rebecca to be my wife.

Who inspires you? Anyone who works with their hands making things using traditional methods.

What are you passionate about? The ocean and it's inhabitants.

What dream do you still want to fulfil? To turn off the phone and computer for a few months.

What are you reading? A visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan.

images courtesy of james geer


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