Monday, 31 August 2015


A decision to move to the US had a huge impact on the work of Melbourne born and raised artist and printmaker Sarah Amos. “I felt that there was no going backwards but only leaps and bounds in a forward direction,” she says. “Anything seemed possible to me in the early years when living in New York; it was viable to have a career as an artist who worked on paper. I was determined to make a go of it and not come home without some small success in hand, only problem was I never came home so strong was the pull of future personal career potential that I thought Australia could not offer me.” Sarah has now been based in the US for 24 years but admits that she is homesick for Australia. Each year she spends several months back in Melbourne, and shows her work locally every two years. Her latest exhibition Complex Geographies is at Flinders Lane Gallery until 19 September.

Which five words best describe you? Motivated, passionate, inquisitive, intuitive, dedicated.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? My career really took off when I attended Tamarind Institute of Lithography in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I then went on the heels of graduating from Tamarind to New York to work in lithography as a master collaborative printer. Collaborative printmaking then became my full-time profession, which took me on from New York after three years to the largest art colony in the US - The Vermont Studio Center in New England. I continued on for 10 years there as the master printer and worked with over 200 artists, helping them to make the very best prints they could. It was an incredible education and experience one that I value highly and was better than any MFA around. I then left over 10 years ago to concentrate on my own work fully and have never looked back.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? To trust my instincts, work hard and do not give any attention to what others think about your work.

What’s your proudest career achievement? Graduating from Tamarind Institute and being awarded the Joan Mitchell Painting Prize in 2014.

What’s been your best decision? To give up a steady paycheck and dedicate the rest of my working life to my work.

Who inspires you? My family, El Anatsui, Peter Doig, American Outsider Artists, Vermeer, and 300 more.

What are you passionate about? Textiles from around the world, soft sculpture and African masks and architecture.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? My maternal grandfather, who was a landscape water colourist and mural artist Len Annois.

What dream do you still want to fulfil? I would love to collaborate with the master weavers and make one of my pieces into a full size tapestry at the Australian Tapestry Workshop.

What are you reading? The autobiography of Sally Mann, the American photographer.

images courtesy of sarah amos and flinders lane gallery

Friday, 28 August 2015


Even though Chelsea Hing had worked at some of Australia’s most respected interiors firms, it was when she stepped out on her own in 2007 that she realised she would have to cultivate her own visual language. “I had to stand for something,” she says. “My work had to have a point of view. It took me a few years to really get a handle on those things but that early learning and level of thinking has formed the backbone of how I make decisions today.” This understanding was key to making her Melbourne-based business tick over and thrive. But there was never any real doubt that she should work in interior design. “I am able to mesh the two sides of myself together,” Chelsea says. “My artistic sensibility mixed with a bent for the technical, quite possibly inherited from my engineer father, sits really well with what an interior designer does.”

Which five words best describe you? Tenacious, honest, intuitive, curious, dreamer.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? Fresh out of design school and sporting a shaved head from a mid-year trip around Europe, I landed my first job with Nexus Designs. I had approached them through the mentor program at RMIT to gain some advice on which firms I might be suited for. I didn’t get very far and was offered the job on the spot. Right place, right time? I was probably lucky to get in when I did. I learnt everything an interior designer needs to know at Nexus under Janne Faulkner, Harley Anstee and Sonia Simpfendorfer. I ran all kinds of projects from demo to reno right through to furnishing and finishing. I loved all of it and really received the best experience I could hope for. But I wanted to go discover the world of design so I took a job at the big architecture firm Bates Smart. It was a totally different culture and it helped me focus on what I loved most about design. After a tough year of sharpening my tools I left. I launched my own studio, Chelsea Hing, soon after. 

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? There have been so many lessons. Not one single one jumps out as there are a handful that a really important. Number one is to keep trusting myself, keep taking risks, keep being courageous. Without that, everything remains stagnant. Number two is realising you can make it all up as you go. This was a revelation. When I first started, I thought there must be a right way to do certain things, until I had to raise my first invoice and I realised I had to just make one up. That was an important lesson as it taught me my business could be anything I wanted it to be. I realised it better reflect my values, it better reflect what I care about. For me, staying true to self, also means staying true to self in business. We don’t do anything we feel a bit “iffy” about. We do what feels right. Finally, if you want something, you need to create it.

What’s your proudest career achievement? Being able to create beautiful houses for our clients that have made a difference to their lives. Through that, I have forged some fantastic personal relationships, clients become friends and I get to go back over and over to see how they live and grow in their houses. It’s fantastic. With that privilege has come the opportunity to create a portfolio of work I’m really proud of. As the studio has grown over the last few years my current proud achievement is assembling and inspiring my team on the things that are important to us as people and important to how we approach the work we do for our clients. 

What’s been your best decision? Residential interiors were always my first love and what I had the strongest passion for. So a few years in, against all advice, I started turning down any job offers that weren’t private homes. Eventually all the work the studio was doing was residential and suddenly everything made so much more sense. The flow of our work was more consistent because we could control it, the technical expertise we held was more intense and the problems we were solving over and over again honed my craft as a designer faster than I had experience in any other time in my creative life. I was onto something, and that decision came from the gut. I am reminded to trust it when making difficult decisions ever since.

Who inspires you? Masters and artists of every kind, people who produce beautiful work from their passion. Ilse Crawford for her incredible interiors that I would travel the world to be in, their call is that strong. Danielle LaPorte for her spiritual guidance and all-round amazing woman-ness. I pull a truthbomb card from her deck, daily. Brene Brown for her courage to say what we all were too afraid to say. Achille Castiglioni for the gift of producing - some of my favourite - furniture and lighting pieces right up until his death.

What are you passionate about? After nearly 10 years with my own studio, I’m still passionate about the work because I’m passionate about ideas. Imagining possibilities, framing spaces in my mind and dreaming up how to create something beautiful that has meaning is when it all clicks into place for me. Recently our team has been looking at the theme of empowerment in what we do and how we work together. This has had a ripple effect on all of us and I’m excited to see how we can weave that into our vision for the future and everything we do. 

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? They always change; currently I’d like to host a dinner party with Iris Apfel, Nelson Mandela, Andree Putman, Le Corbusier and Oprah

What dream do you still want to fulfill? To live in Morocco in an amazing riad, just for a short while. Back home, to do up a rambling old house and sit on my back porch in a swing looking out to my garden. 

What are you reading? I’m re-reading Daring Greatly by Brene Brown - her work on wholeheartedness is a balm for the soul. I’ve also just finished Not My Father’s Son by Alan Cumming, the actor.

images courtesy of chelsea hing 

Thursday, 27 August 2015



Sitting behind a computer all day didn’t suit Leah Rose Hudson-Smith. After moving to Melbourne eight years ago from Perth, where she grew up, and while working as an interior designer in a big corporate office, she decided that she wanted to get more hands-on with her work. Consequently, Leah enrolled in a woodworking night class at Pop and Scott in Northcote. “I fell in love with the material and the crew and here we are,” she says. “Who knows what’s next, but I hope to always continue to explore design and challenge my own design thinking - as well as collaborate with local creatives and contribute to Melbourne’s art and design culture.” In 2014 Leah started Pono - the Maori word for “be true” - making furniture and objects from recycled materials. 

Which five words best describe you? Adventurous, determined, stubborn, imaginative, dependable. Did I say stubborn?

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I went to art school on the west coast and studied print media, after graduating I went to Paris and studied fashion. When I got back to Australia I moved to Melbourne and started in interior architecture. Last year I started woodwork whilst working in architecture. Basically I’m just creatively curious. I hope to always be able to explore new mediums and creative practices.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? To trust yourself - you got this.

What’s your proudest career achievement? I’d like to think it’s still to come, and that it will always be, still to come.

What’s been your best decision? I've been living in Melbourne for eight years now. Moving here from sleepy ol' Perth was a great decision for me.

Who inspires you? My parents, my partner, my friends. I’m interested in interesting people, and they are the people I know. 

What are you passionate about? I’m a passionate person, got a bit of fire in me so to speak. I’m passionate about everything I like and dislike, art and design, travel, milkshakes, waterfalls, boats, exploring new places, wondering, wondering.

What dream do you still want to fulfil? I’ve had some incredible opportunities in my life, and done things I could never have dreamed of, so fingers crossed, I continue on that trajectory and the dreams I want to fulfil I can’t possibly imagine yet.

What are you reading? I love reading, but I struggle to make the time for it. I’m a hard worker and forget how important it is to chill out and relax or read. Next year’s resolution!

images courtesy of pono design

Wednesday, 26 August 2015


“I’m not sure that you ever know if you’re on the right path with your career,” says Jan Howlin. “I only know that I have endless motivation for pursuing ceramics, and apparently endless patience - when things don’t work out as I’d like, and this is very often, I keep going anyway.” Originally trained in graphic design, Jan also studied interior design. The two fields have merged to some extent through her work in ceramics. “It was only when I picked up a lump of clay about 10 years ago that I was completely taken with making things in three dimensions,” she says. Jan formalised her interest, studying ceramics at the Sydney College of the Arts - completing a Bachelor of Visual Art in 2006 and a Master of Fine Arts degree in 2010. She is exhibiting as part of the joint show Black Line Boogie with Mary van de Wiel [interview] at Saint Cloche Gallery until 1 September.

Which five words best describe you? Short, small, diminutive, vertically challenged.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? After training in design, and copywriting, I worked in advertising, then in corporate communications as a writer, before I went on to write editorial about people and design. Then ceramics happened.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Do what you love.

Whats your proudest achievement? I hope it is yet to come.

What’s been your best decision? Going along with a friend to a night class to learn to make a pinch pot. She made a dog bowl and I changed my life.

Who inspires you? People who imagine things that are genuinely surprising.

What are you passionate about? Life. It’s the best. And the worst.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? I would have liked to have been present when Martin Luther King made his “I have a dream” speech.

What dream do you still want to fulfil? Every work I make now seems to suggest another few more things to try so I just want to keep going.

What are you reading? Just finished A tale for the time being, Ruth Ozeki. About to start To Kill a Mockingbird and Go set a Watchman.

images courtesy of jan howlin and saint cloche gallery

Tuesday, 25 August 2015


“I am painting my way into being,” says Mary van de Wiel. Three years ago the brand strategist took a trip to Mexico and reconceived her lifelong doodling habit. She upsized it, and turned her drawings into large-scale artworks. Now she is exhibiting her first show at Saint Cloche in Sydney’s Paddington, alongside ceramicist Jan Howlin, called Blackline Boogie. Mary was born Venezuela and lived in Canada, The Netherlands and Sydney - all before finishing school. She graduated from the University of NSW with a Bachelor of Arts in Drama and English and Diploma in Education, and later gained a Communcation Design degree from the School of Visual Art in Sydney. For the past 30 years she has worked in branding and during that time launched Time Inc’s Who Weekly - the first the American company had published a title offshore. Other clients have included Sony, The Museum of Modern Art, Conde Nast and SBS Television. Mary's Zing Your Brand will travel to LA in October to offer training workshops.

Which five words best describe you? Energetic, not risk adverse, square peg, inventive, inexplicably optimistic.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? Well, like most of us, I wear many hats. On the business side - I've felt particularly lucky because I love the work I do in the brand intelligence space. Dubbed a brand psychologist in the USA, I work behind the scenes, so to speak, with innovators, entrepreneurs and change agents, helping them articulate who they are, why they do what they do, why it matters and why anyone should give a damn

I’ve been running my own branding and design agency with offices in Sydney and New York. Also: radio show host, speaker, brand consultant, facilitator and founder of The NY Brand Lab - a series of business training workshops that I take on the road from New York and Washington, DC to Mexico City and more recently Australia. In October, we hit the road for LA!

On the other hand, as an incurable doodler all my life, I have stacks of sketchbooks with black ink drawings, marks, notes and doodles. It was only three years ago when I went to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico that I had this desire to dramatically change the scale of the drawings. As in, climb a ladder and paint floor to ceiling. In Sydney working on projects for the last 18 months, I rented a studio eight months ago, and that’s when Black Line Crazy really started to come into being. 

Earlier this year, I was introduced to Kitty Wong, gallery owner of Saint Cloche. Kitty was interested in my work, and asked where I’d exhibited? I gasped. I’d never been asked that question before! Needless to say, I’m delighted to be showing with Jan Howlin, ceramist and longtime friend and creative collaborator. We came up with Black Line Boogie, which is our invitation to play. This is my first exhibition.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? I hate having to be patient. But I have to say, learning to be patient – and trusting yourself along the way – is major stuff.

What’s your proudest career achievement? In my business career? Launching my own branding and design agency with offices in Sydney and New York. In my artistic career? Having my first exhibition at Saint Cloche. I call it, painting myself into being.

What’s been your best decision? Going to Mexico in 2012. It was the first time I felt compelled to climb a ladder and paint floor to ceiling. It was really a matter of changing the scale of the work. Dramatically.

Who inspires you? The kind of human who is courageous, willing to have brave conversations and shows real indications of a pumping heart. A twinkle in the eye sure goes a long way.

What are you passionate about? Making dreams come true, moonscapes, creative expression, tango and salty cashews.

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

What dream do you still want to fulfil? Just always in pursuit. Keen, willing and poised to take on new adventures, opportunities, the lot.

What are you reading? Just finished re-reading Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning. Just started Richard McHugh’s Charlie Anderson’s General Theory of Lying.

images courtesy of mary van de wiel and saint cloche gallery

Monday, 24 August 2015


“My background in film has shown me how to frame views and how to draw focus and create emotion within that frame,” says interior designer Carole Whiting. “Interior design is not just about a visual execution, it should create an emotional response.” The Melbourne-based designer, who worked for many years in advertising as well as film, is gaining a great deal of interest from Australia and overseas for her work in conjunction with architect husband Steven Whiting as part of Whiting Architects. Carole studied fashion at what is now known as Sydney Art College and, has recently graduated with a Masters in Design (digital media design). In 2015 Whiting Architects won the Interior Design Awards for Best Interior Decoration and Best of State Interior Design.

Which five words best describe you? Visual, Impatient, insomniac, inquisitive, iconoclastic.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? My background is advertising. I had a film company for many years and specialised in high-end automotive commercials. However, I was always involved in Steven’s architectural practice behind the scenes and about four years ago crossed over into interiors full time. 

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Trust your instinct. Be confident in your choices and stand by them.

What’s your proudest career achievement? Winning the Interior Design Awards for Best interior Decoration and Best of State Interior Design 2015.

What’s been your best decision? I was invited to go to Ghana last year for a month to teach design research and concept generation to some young designers. It was overwhelming going to such a foreign country where I knew no one, leaving my family behind and pushing myself way beyond my comfort zone. It completely refreshed my outlook and reminded me that you can continue to explore career and personal opportunities at any time of your life.

Who inspires you? Anyone and everyone - I love Instagram and Pinterest. Inspiration can come from anywhere.

What are you passionate about? Tea, spelling, texture, travel. Did I say tea?

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Gertrude Bell.

What dream do you still want to fulfil? I have a book that has been sitting with a publisher for over a year. I would love to see it in print finally.

What are you reading? World of Interiors, tea leaves.

images courtesy of whiting architects; photography sharyn cairns [interview]  

Thursday, 20 August 2015


It was during Matthew Allen’s fourth year at art school that he started to make a shift with his work. “I felt it expressed what I wanted it to and could be linked to a history of making that had gone before,” he says. “There was a feeling of belonging and contentment with the work, following that feeling is how I navigate my art practice and career.” After graduating with a Master of Visual Arts degree in 2006 from the University of Sydney, his name soon started appearing in finalist lists for awards and on international residency rolls. Then he was offered a place within the roster of artists at Sullivan and Strumpf. “Gaining gallery representation is a major step for an artist, having this happen moves your practice to a more career-orientated zone and allows you to reach a greater audience with your work,” Matthew says. Born in New Zealand, he now lives and works in Amsterdam. “Pursuing and engaging with our creativity, whatever form it may take, I consider to be a fundamental part of being an engaged Human,” Matthew says. He is exhibiting Continue Repeat? at Sullivan and Strumpf until August 22.

Which five words best describe you? A man of few words.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? After graduating from Sydney College of the Arts I began exhibiting in artist-run initiatives in Sydney and later joined Sullivan and Strumpf gallery. Around that same time I was awarded the Cite des Arts residency in Paris and was able to spend time in Europe and get a feel for the art scene there. A year ago I relocated to Amsterdam and have been continuing to push my practice and establish my career in Europe.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Remain interested in what’s happening around you, on all levels.

What’s your proudest career achievement? Being selected for the Mark Rothko residency in Latvia and participating in the associated symposium that was held at the end of the residency. There were many great artists and writers invited and it was interesting to hear many different responses to Rothko’s work, which was a major influence early on in my practice.

What’s been your best decision? To continue and to evolve my practice.

Who inspires you? It’s always great to go to the museums and see the big names, but what I find the most inspiring is to see my peers making great work. It’s more relatable and fosters a great sense of community.

What are you passionate about? A deep interest in and questioning of the ontological nature of visuality and the poetics of repetition are what drives me to make visual objects. Along the lines of Warhol’s question: Isn't life a series of images that change as they repeat themselves?

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? I’d have tea with Aldous Huxley.

What dream do you still want to fulfil? To make something I can’t stop looking at.

What are you reading? Currently working my way through the Dark Mountain journals. These are produced by a group of writers, philosophers and artists and deal with the notion of the myth of human centrality in our current age of ecocide.

images courtesy of matthew allen and sullivan and strumpf

Tuesday, 18 August 2015


Not long after Canadian couple Juli Daoust and John Baker met, they went on a three-week trip to Scandinavia to explore the idea of opening a store. Six months afterwards they opened Mjölk, translated as “milk” - something that is “pure, honest and essential”. They wanted to create a different type of experience to the usual interior stores you might find, though. Based in Toronto, and housed in a Victorian building reconfigured by local architect firm Studio Junction, Juli says, “Mjölk offers a unique and personal perspective.” They exhibit the work of artist and artisans from Scandinavia and Japan, and stock lifestyle goods too - always with one eye towards simplicity and the other beauty. They have been in business for five years now, an achievement in the current retail environment. One of the highlights has been collaborating with other companies to create products that celebrate daily rituals. One such product was an award-winning milk and sugar set called Ceremony, developed with Swedish architecture and product design firm Claesson Koivisto Rune. Their wares have been exhibited at design fairs around the world, and won several awards.

Which five words best describe you? I’d say these apply to all areas of our life: classic, minimal… actually, it seems all the words I can come up with are synonyms.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I worked in children’s publishing, then went back to school for art curation and photography. I was going to become a freelance photographer for interiors, but then decided to leave school and join John with opening the shop. John started in advertising, and then became a salesperson at a local furniture maker and retailer, in preparation for opening a shop of his own.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? We’re still learning, always. I guess the best is to be flexible and open to change. Things happen on a regular basis where you have to temper automatic rigid responses and instead figure out how to learn from the experience.

What’s your proudest career achievement? Our shop is over five years old, which is an accomplishment in the realm of retail. There are a lot of things that we can be proud of. We have built some incredible relationships with artisans and designers that are personal and always growing. We have created special projects such as our books, and collaborations with CKR, Luca Nichetto and Anderssen & Voll, which help to keep things fresh and interesting. We are honoured to have worked with such internationally recognised designers.

What’s been your best decision? Buying a building to live and work in. It affords us control and proximity and allows us to connect with our children throughout the day.

Who inspires you? Masanobu Ando, Claesson Koivisto Rune, Ingegerd Råman, Børge Mogensen, Sori Yanagi… this is just a sampling!

What are you passionate about? John is into studying the Japanese tea ceremony, and enjoys collecting beautiful everyday objects. I am in between, where my focus on the kids has distracted me from personal passions. I am hoping as they get older, I will be able to make more time to explore.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Alvar Aalto is a natural choice for us. John is also throwing in Sen No Rikyu, the pioneer tea master.

What dream do you still want to fulfil? There are always dreams, but they are best kept to ourselves, or they have trouble coming to fruition.

What are you reading? John reads a lot of Japanese literature. Essays in Idleness is his current bedside read. I’m currently reading a book by my friend Andi Teran, called Ana of California, a modern take on Anne of Green Gables. I like coming of age novels in general.

images courtesy of juli baker and mjölk


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