Tuesday, 31 March 2015


“I was born, raised and still exist on the side of a steep mountain surrounded by tall trees that drops into the Tasman Sea on the shoreline. On maps it is known as Austinmer, on the Coal Coast of New South Wales,” says Felix Allen, designer of maker of lighting, furniture and homewares for Somewhere South. From his base, south of Sydney, he shares a workspace in an old beer brewing factory with “furniture craftsmen, boat builders, coffin makers, garden growers and future thinkers”. As well as his lighting designs, and giant sculptural fishing hooks (for Shop U), Felix has created gems from coal washed up on the Illawarra coastline. He also received commissions from stylist Sibella Court for The Society Inc including “forest gems”, made from timber, coal, stone, pumice and clay, as well as wooden talismanic eyes. 

Which five words best describe you? Experimenter, discoverer, inquisitor, inventor, collector.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? A few years ago I started pulling apart, fixing then selling old broken furniture in a hot tin shed under the shadow of the tallest smoke stack in the southern hemisphere. 

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Venture off the trail. Sticking to the path is boring and you will never see what amazing things are really out there. This definitely applies to making things and in life.  

What’s been your best decision? Doing it on my own, you can learn everything yourself if you work hard enough. 

Who inspires you? Astronauts, explorers, mountain climbers, inventors, tight rope walkers.

What are you passionate about? Local history, paintings of ships, collecting, old bottles, feathers, things covered in dust, rusty things, abandoned buildings and climbing trees.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Anybody who has been to the moon or climbed Mt Everest.

What dream do you still want to fulfil? To build my own house from an old sailing ship. I'm still waiting for one to wash up on the beach near my house.

What are you reading? A book on kite making; it has some pretty outrageous designs I want to try and build for an upcoming project.

images courtesy of felix allen 

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Monday, 30 March 2015


“For me art is very holistic,” says Danish artist Sara Gade. “It’s a way of living. I create.” While she studied textile design, painting has always been her focus. But it was when Sara started to work with watercolours that she felt she had found her medium. “The fluid water is out of my control and in my control and in-between that is where my art arises, and that’s my path. That tension or connection,” she says. “I had to paint to be true to myself.” Born and raised in Copenhagen, Sara continues to live and work there with her two children. Limited edition prints of her work are available through Art Rebels.

Which five words best describe you? In relation to my work as an artist I would say that I’m passionate about colours and forms, honest, self-disciplined, strong and sensitive.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? To begin with I had a combined open atelier and a gallery and that together with social media - Facebook and Instagram - was a good beginning. I could be very local and global at the same time. So I got a lot of connections through that and things just happened in a very nice and quiet pace, and I hope it will continue like that. I’m very soon moving to another atelier without the gallery, so I can be more immersed in my work and I’m looking very much forward to that. So maybe more global than local now.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Focus on your work and be curious. Focus on all the positive things that happen, especially when you get a no, and one more no. 

What’s your proudest career achievement? When I make a painting that is really good, that’s the greatest and proudest achievement every time. But one time I had an exhibition where a person wanted to by a lot and wanted to take it home right away. So I had to come with more paintings and they were sold right away too. I remember one of them just got a divorce; she was supposed to buy a bed because she didn’t have one, but she decided to buy one of my paintings instead. It was really fun and it had a very intense energy.
What’s been your best decision? To choose who I listen to and most of all to listen to myself. 

Who inspires you? People who are passionate and true to themselves.

What are you passionate about? I respond very intensely to colors and forms and how they work together and relate to each other. I’m overall passionate about how we connect with each other and our surroundings. 

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? People I love who are no longer among us. I talk a lot to them, but I miss hugging them.

What dream do you still want to fulfil? I have a feeling that I will connect my art with something else, science maybe, which I’m very curious about. I hope to fulfill that dream. But I’m not sure how it will happen; it will come to me one day, I hope. 

What are you reading? I’m refreshing my colour theory again by reading Johannes IttenI’m always reading non-fiction about art, human biology, brain function, philosophy, design  and so on, it’s very inspiring to me. Only on vacation do I read fiction.

images courtesy of sara gade

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Friday, 27 March 2015


“On my first day at Vogue Living I knew I was on the right path,” says Danielle Selig, a Sydney stylist. It was a career she had never considered at school or university, where she graduated with an Arts/Law degree. But when she started working for a leading Sydney firm, Danielle soon realised it wasn’t the life for her. “The moment I knew this career existed and there was a possibility of doing what I loved full-time there was never any other option for me.” Danielle started as a style assistant at Vogue Living and after taking a maternity leave position styled her first decorating story and grabbed the cover. “It was hugely reassuring to have my work recognised in this way,” she says. Now working as a freelancer, she has also worked for Country Style and Inside Out.

Which five words best describe you? Intuitive, risk-taker, creative, determined, honest.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? After completing my Arts/Law degree I practiced as a lawyer in a Sydney firm, however, it didn't take me long to realise that billable hours were not for me! 

I swiftly left the law firm and it seems all my stars aligned as I soon started interning at Vogue Living. I worked closely with Vogue Living style director Alexandra Gordon who was generous with her time and knowledge. I quickly learnt the ropes and after a few months I was brought on full time to cover Alexandra's maternity leave.

After almost a year in this role, then editor-in-chief Victoria Carey gave me the opportunity to style my first decorating story for the magazine. I was lucky to be able to work under the creative direction of Giota Letsios and unintentionally managed to land my very first cover. I’m eternally grateful to Alexandra, Victoria and Giota for nurturing me as a stylist at the start of my career. 

I took the plunge into the freelance world this year and so far it’s been exciting, challenging and also really rewarding. I’m have a few exciting personal projects in the works at the moment and am looking forward to seeing what else lies ahead this year. 

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? To trust and rely on my intuition. I’ve learnt that I work best when I do things that excite me. Because of this I've started working on a few shoot concepts that are purely ideas that I really want to bring to life. Be kind, always be kind. 

What’s your proudest career achievement? Styling my first decorating story and cover for Vogue Living and later learning the story had been requested by Vogue China and Vogue Portugal

What’s been your best decision? To create a career out of doing what I love on a daily basis.

Who inspires you? I’m currently inspired by the work of stylists and set designers Studiopepe and Milan-based interior designers Dimore Studio. Lorenzo Castillo always inspires me with his clever use of pattern in his interiors. 

What are you passionate about? Pattern, textiles, linen, hotel robes, pasta, peonies, design, interiors and travel - in no particular order!

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Gio Ponti.

What dream do you still want to fulfil? Pack up and move to Italy. I’d also love to take a ceramic course and learn a language.

What are you reading? One of my best girlfriends has just given me Amy Poehler’s Yes Please.

images courtesy of danielle selig; photography felix forest + art direction giota letsios for vogue living 

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Thursday, 26 March 2015


“I fell in love with the idea of being able to freeze a moment in time,” says award-winning US photographer Mark Edward Harris. While he first got a taste for photography after watching his father document their family road trips with an 8mm movie camera and a 35mm still camera, it wasn’t until he completed a major photo essay shoot in Vietnam in 1992 and received a lot of magazine coverage and awards as a result that the direction of his work changed. “This really gave me the idea that you had to do bodies of work to be recognised in the photo industry,” he says. His work in Japan, Iran, South Korea and North Korea has led to books but it was his first publication in 1998 Faces of the Twentieth Century: Master Photographers and Their Work that became a catalyst for his career, and won the New York Book Show Photography Book of the Year and Best of Show awards. Many of his other monographs have gone on to win awards too. In 2006 Mark also collaborated with interior designer Kelly Wearstler to create Domicilium Decoratus

Mark’s editorial work includes photography in Vanity Fair, Life, Wallpaper*, National Geographic Traveler, Harper’s Bazaar and The New York Times. He has also shot fashion images for Gap and portraiture for Coca-Cola

Which five words best describe you? Nice, focused, disciplined, occasionally funny.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? My first big break was getting a job on The Merv Griffin Show in the 1980s. Merv had a major talk show in the US and I was able to take care of the celebrities in the Green Room then photograph them on stage during the filming of the TV show. After the show ended I took a four and a half month trip throughout the South Pacific, New Zealand, Australia and Asia to build up a more documentary style portfolio.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Work hard. And when you’re tired, work even more.

What’s your proudest career achievement? My book North Korea being named The Photography Book of the Year at the 2013 International Photography Awards at Carnegie Hall was up there for sure.

What’s been your best decision? To go back to school and get a Master’s Degree in a special major I put together combining history and photography. It gave me a solid base to do my book projects on places such as North Korea, Iran, etc.

Who inspires you? The great historians Will and Ariel Durant.

What are you passionate about? Travel, history.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Sandy Koufax, I always wanted to be a major league baseball pitcher. He was the best.

What dream do you still want to fulfill? I would like to travel to 100 countries. I’m stuck at 89 countries on my travel map since I tend to go back to the same places to really dive into a story. 

What are you reading? I spend most of my reading time with my nose stuck in Japanese and Korean language textbooks. I always enjoy Murakami’s short stories when I sneak in some casual reading.

images courtesy of mark edward harris

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Wednesday, 25 March 2015


“I am a straight person, and like to do the right thing,” says Penny Hanan, the founder of 1803 Artisan Deer Design. “As soon as I stumbled upon the idea of 1803 it made complete emotional and intellectual sense to me.” It was during a trip to New York when she saw a leathergoods business connected to a family farm that Penny first thought about establishing a business that could use the natural by-products of her family’s deer farm in Orange, NSW, Mandagery Creek Venison. She wanted to do it in such a way that it would involve employing Australian artisans. Penny uses a traditional tanner in Port Elliot, South Australia to turn the raw hides into leather. This is then sent to a leather worker in the Yarra Ranges in Victoria, who creates cushions, handbags, purses and mouse pads. For the knives, Penny uses a bladesmith in Tasmania. Penny has deliberately chosen Australian artisans and kept production small scale so the business can stay on-shore. “Every aspect of what we do, what we make, where we make it, our transparency, our sustainability focus ticks all the boxes for professional happiness in my mind,” she says.

Which five words best describe you? Enthusiastic, honest, generous, loud, happy.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I studied agricultural economics at Sydney University - as a country girl from Orange it offered a great mix of practical and business skills. My career started as a graduate with Macquarie Bank - thankfully for both of us it was a positive that it didn’t really last long. I then fell into recruitment as I had ridiculously applied for another banking job and was actually offered a position within the recruitment firm. It was good for me - very people-orientated, it was fast, busy and as I evolved professionally over my 13-year career, I worked with some great people and great institutions. Children changed my outlook and flexibility though, and so taking advantage of the temporary collapse of Australian financial markets during GFC, I resigned, and while feeling home-bound, lost and bewildered at what my next step would be I returned to university to study a Masters of Education (Ed Psych). It became apparent during my part-time studies that education was not going to be the end destination, the process of intensive learning in a new field was uplifting - emotionally and intellectually. I loved it, the gift was a renewed sense of self-confidence, a spring in my step and a desire to start a new chapter, which took time to work out what it would be.

I travelled to NY with my husband and saw a brand of leathergoods which focussed on promoting a family beef business. It really connected with me and so I returned home with a business proposition for my brother and father. If it was to work, I needed their support as dad was the deer farmer, Tim wears two hats - deer farmer and the venison processor/marketer - and my potential role involved developing an artisan Australian collection using the byproducts of our commercial family’s deer operation in Orange. They liked the concept as it was sustainable, it was Australian and it was a new angle for educating Australian consumers about venison.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Trust your gut - with people, with products. What draws you to someone or something is often a great guide. Less is more - keep it simple in life, in business and in design. 

What’s your proudest career achievement? The journey with 1803 has been full of firsts, all fantastic. That is because it is all so new for me personally, but also because the path has such decency and real soul. The artisans with whom I have forged very strong good friendships - we work well together, they are all masters of their crafts and they all enjoy this collaboration for what it is creating: a transparent and sustainable artisan-based business operating across four states which can be traced from the farm gate. So, in a world which is so busy and so complicated, as I reflect I guess it is the 1803 journey that is my greatest achievement so far. 

What’s been your best decision? To resist the temptation to expand the collection and the business to meet the demands of others - our plan is based on considered organic growth that will enhance and support the lives of all the artisans with whom we work, and my family. There is no need to rush - this is not a sprint.

Who inspires you? I don’t think it is a “who”, but rather, “what”. I don’t want to sound boring, but when I think about inspiration, I think about my brother’s beautiful farm and the graceful, elegant deer that he breeds. The natural beauty of deer needs little embellishment to stand out from the crowd. Our leathers are soft and supple and our antler has an authentic and rugged texture that is unlike any other material. We design products in an understated and elemental way to celebrate the natural beauty of deer. Deer are the inspiration for all we make.

What are you passionate about? Oh goodness, as a woman in her mid-forties, there are so many things to be passionate about - to embrace with enormous energy and expectation! My family is my core - I want to lead and teach and nurture my girls to become strong, kind and considerate human beings capable of making a difference in whatever field they choose. I am inspired and so proud of my husband - yes, he is definitely a passion. I am passionate about making beautiful objects with great integrity and authenticity. I am passionate about Australia and Australian agriculture - we are so lucky to live here and we need to celebrate our freedoms and the quality of our food, our air and our water which we have been gifted. I am passionate about small artisan businesses and keeping old skills alive in future generations. I am passionate about supporting local.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? My natural father, John Taylor who died at 28 from a heart attack - I would love to meet him as an adult and have a glass of wine together.

What dream do you still want to fulfil? I have many I still want to fulfil, and I hope there are some I have not even thought of! Right now, I would really like to spend three months travelling with my family through Scandinavia and then see the Northern lights. I would also like to one day live by the sea.

What are you reading? I have just started We are all completely beside ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler.

images courtesy of 1803 and belle magazine; image 2 natalie walton/daily imprint

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Tuesday, 24 March 2015


“Making art is the predominant way in which I make some sense of the world and my place in it,” says Sydney born and raised artist Emma Walker. “Being an artist was not really a choice for me. It was always there.” Painting has always given her an immense feeling of satisfaction, she says. It has also been her primary occupation since graduating from the National Art School in 2000 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts, after completing a Diploma of Fine Arts in 1993. At the end of last year Emma was named as a the winner of the Jacaranda Acquisitive Drawing Award, only the second female artist to win the JADA in 16 years. She is represented in Melbourne by Flinders Lane Gallery and Sydney by Arthouse Gallery, where she will exhibit Intimate Immensity from May 7.

Which five words best describe you? I don’t know if they best describe me but these would certainly be a start: tactless, tall, passionate, moody, loving.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? My career started when I held my first texta and made that blue/green painting that hung on the back of the kitchen door, with a potato stamp. But apart from that, I suppose that my career started after I finished art school. I was pretty cocky and certain of my prospects, so I marched into what was my favourite gallery - King On Burton - and left them with some examples of my work. Three days later, I disappeared overseas for six months after the sudden death of my father. When I returned, very chastened and in a completely different state of mind, and went to pick up my photos, the gallery offered me my first show. I have always felt enormously grateful that they saw something in my work even if it was rough and fairly undeveloped at the time. They gave me a great opportunity.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? To trust in the process and always keep experimenting, learning and being surprised. Trusting the process appears to be a lesson that I have to learn over and over. But I am pleased to report that each lesson does seem to get shorter as time and experience gradually accumulates.

What’s your proudest career achievement? Winning the JADA - Jacaranda Acquisitive Drawing Award, judged by John McDonald - was certainly a highlight. But the privilege of having exhibitions in beautiful galleries is always a source of pleasure and pride.

What’s been your best decision? To have children and to keep playing with paint.

Who inspires you? On a good day, everything inspires me. Being alive, the sound of my heartbeat, the scent of summer rain on dry soil, the ever-changing weather, the tides, the ocean, music, music, music, literature, my parents, my sisters, my children, my lovers, friends, poetry, love, loving, conversation, travel, being alone in foreign cities, learning, silence, sleep, art galleries, philosophy, science, cinema, teaching, nature, walking, singing, dancing, listening, day dreaming, writing, thinking, feeling, swimming, navel and star gazing, laughter, psychology, photography, words, drawing, dictionaries, art supply shops, stationery shops, hardware shops, beer, empty rooms, rain, sunset, meteor showers, quantum physics, colour, patterns, lines, shapes, bodies, relationships, gardening, dreams, memories, reading and lists like this.

Oh… I just realised that you asked “who”… 
In no particular order:
Louise Bourgeois, Pablo Neruda, Jorges Luis Borges, The Necks, Terry Winters, Anish Kapoor, John Peart, Elizabeth Cummings, Ann Thompson, Brice Marden, Bob Dylan, Nick Cave, Michel Gondry, Wim Wenders, Oliver Sacks, Tom Waits,  Bjork, Meryl Streep, Bill Murray, The Rolling Stones, Bill Callahan, Jill Bolte Taylor, Guru Nitya Chaitanya Yati, Bonnie Prince Billie, Prince, Siri Hustveldt, my parents: Edda and Jimmy Walker, Tim Winton, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Masao Yamamoto, Mark Rothko, Vincent Van Gogh, Peter Doig, Richard Diebenkorn, Jo Bertini, Jospeh Beuys, David Nash, Fred Williams, Cy Twombly, Gerhard Richter, Frank Auerbach, Frida Kahlo, Roni Horn, Sigmar Polke, Georgio Morandi, Willem De Kooning, John Olsen, Paul Kelly, Eva Hesse, Henri Matisse, Rickie Lee Jones, Ildiko Kovaks, Gustav Klimt, Pierre Bonnard, Auguste Rodin, Brett Whitely, Rembrandt van Rijn, Johanne Sebastian Bach, Richard Serra, Christine Willcocks, Chuck Close, Mimmo Palladino, Francesco Clemente, James Turrell, Karl Blossfeldt, Ben Nicholson, Milton Avery, Ian Fairweather, Anselm kiefer, James Guppy, Agnes Martin, Olafur Eliasson, Andrei Tarkovsky, Leonrardo Da Vinci, Amy Sillman, Alberto Burri, Helen Frankenthaler, Dan Flavin, Antoni Tapies, Antoni Gromley, Pablo Picasso, Michelangelo Buonerotti, Maya Lin, Ai Weiwei, Jean Dubuffet, Andy Goldsworthy, Gustave Courbet, Peter Sharp, Ross Bleckner, Kiki Smith, Martin Sharp,  Michael Cusack, Brett Macmahon, Robert Ryman, William Scott, Robert Rauschenberg,  Pina Bausch, John Baldessari, Emily Kame Kngwarreye, Robert Hirschman, Bill Traylor, Marcel Duchamp, Lloyd Rees, Euan Macleod, Jenny Sages, Alfred Wallis, Micael Borremans, Richard Tuttle, Franz Kline, Joan Mitchell, Frank Lloyd Wright, Frank Ghery, Rhys lee, Alan Jones, Wolfgang Laib, Robert Motherwell, Bill Hensen, Marlene Dumas, Banksy, Wendy Sharpe, Chiharu Shiota, Meredith Crowe, Philip Guston, John Cage, Marina Abramovic,  Ann Lewis…

I am going to have to stop. But this list could go on a lot further. It would contain many more writers, musicians, actors and film makers.

What are you passionate about? All of the above.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Louise Bourgeois.

What dream do you still want to fulfill? I would like to live a long life that allows me to realise my full potential and witness the same in my children. I would like to love without boundaries. I would like to die at peace after reflecting on a life that was crammed full of experience, love, learning, pain and joy.

What are you reading? I am reading many things. Some I will finish, others I will skim. Here is a selection:
Junkie By William Burroughs
Under Wildwood (to my son) by Colin Meloy
Brainstorm by Daniel J Siegel
The Blazing World by Siri Hustveld
The Honeymoon Effect by Bruce Lipton

images courtesy of emma walker and arthouse gallery; portrait buzz walker

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Monday, 23 March 2015


Creating pieces that are both aesthetically pleasing, as well as functional is very satisfying,” says Catherine Johnston, a woodworker based in Glasgow, Scotland. “I am drawn to the traditional skill, which still translates well in our fast-moving world and the natural affinity people have towards wooden items.” After gaining a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Painting at the Edinburgh College of Art, Catherine found her calling when she visited a small wood shop, Reid Timber, and bought some cherry, plum, apple and pear wood. “The experience of choosing the wood alone was so enjoyable and impulsive that I was hooked,” she says. The first spoon that Catherine made was from a piece of cherry tree, sourced in East Kilbride. “The sense of place, knowledge of the origins, and satisfaction from creating something practical, was gratifying in a way I had not experienced before,” she says. Since October 2014 she has been focussed on her business Object Company, featuring her handmade wooden lifestyle wares. 

Which five words best describe you? Ambitious, calm, strong, sensitive, motivated.

How did you get your career started and what path have you taken since?
I quit my job and took financial and emotional risks. The pressure and adrenaline I experience each day keeps me from stalling and allows me to appreciate the positive aspects of this new, more positive lifestyle.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way?
I’ve learnt to focus on my strengths and uniqueness. I now appreciate that collaboration is important, and a way to grow, through new experiences and learning how to understand others. 

What’s your proudest career achievement? I am proud of the stable growth my business has experienced over the past five months and I feel empowered by the support I have received from both friends and family.

What’s been your best decision? Although working for myself is unpredictable: it is self-affirming and creative in ways I couldn’t have guessed. 

Who inspires you? Each week I meet new people who inspire me. This has been one of the most gratifying parts of self-employment. I have begun swapping pieces with other artists/makers and hope to place more focus on collaborations throughout the rest of this year.

What are you passionate about?
I’m passionate about the houseplants that I tend to each day, many grown from seed or through propagation. I feel strongly towards the wood that I work with. Its character and figure, sense of place and the knowledge that it has not been cut down without good reason are integral to my choices. I’m drawn to natural materials with strong form, as well as function. I appreciate simplicity and space and hope to emulate this through my work.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet?
Roger Deakin. His expertise concerning the natural world altered my perceptions of the importance of woodland. His subtle focus upon “local distinctiveness” has allowed me to appreciate my own surroundings more effectively. He worked towards the preservation of woodland and ancient rights of way, in a hugely challenging environment of change.

What dream do you still want to fulfill? I long for a space in which to create work and to live: a place connected to the outdoors but still firmly within a cityscape. 

What are you reading?
The Living Mountain by Nan Shepherd and Wildwood: A Journey Through Trees by Roger Deakin.

images courtesy of object company; photography greig jackson

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