Monday, 21 March 2016


“After several trips to Japan I fell in love with the uniqueness of handmade ceramics - I have a deep respect for highly-skilled craftsmanship and seeing and touching a beautifully made ceramic object is such a joy,” says Mandy Simpson, the founder of design studio Esko. When the graphic designer was renovating her home last year she felt compelled to design her own products after not being able to find what she was looking for. The first product as part of Esko, which launched earlier this month, is designed in Sydney and made in the mountains of Ubud, Indonesia. Mandy was born in Singapore and lived in Kulala Lumpur until age seven, when her family moved to Sydney. She has studied digital media and interior design, and worked for many years as a graphic designer.

Which five words best describe you? Hmm… I’m terrible at describing myself! 

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I studied a Bachelor of Digital Media at COFA (UNSW) then worked as a graphic designer in various design agencies over the next 10 years working on some of Australia’s largest corporate brands. I also completed a Diploma in Interior Design while working as a graphic designer.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Always trust your intuition.

What’s your proudest career achievement? Hopefully it will be launching Esko.

What’s been your best decision? Starting a family - I have learnt so much from my four year old, and she regularly keeps me on my toes.

Who inspires you? Carlo Scarpa whose work I saw in Italy late last year - amazing. My husband whose eternal drive, passion and adventurous spirit always makes me want to do better. Other designers who make a living out of what they love doing. Mothers who manage to balance children and a rewarding career.

What are you passionate about? Travel, family, love, design in all its forms and disciplines.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? I’d love to meet Ilse Crawford - I have a bit of a crush on her, but I would probably be awkward and totally lost for words if I met her.

What dream do you still want to fulfil? I’d love to design a small cabin in the woods on the edge of a lake.

What are you reading? I’m currently on the hunt for my next book to read… does reading A Lion in Paris to my daughter count?

images courtesy of esko; photography maree homer

Monday, 14 March 2016


The women in Jinari Mountain’s family have been making and exhibiting art for at least four generations, she says. “I feel incredibly lucky that I got to learn so much from them and their very multi-medium practices, including ceramics, bronze casting, painting, wood carving, textiles and installation,” Jinari says. Born in Melbourne, she has moved and travelled many times over her life. “I have always mixed with a great variety of unusual people in my life,” she says. “This has also dearly influenced how I view the world, and what I want to express.” 

While Jinari focused on photography early on - and was awarded state prizes during her schooling, she studied at Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science at Monash University. Later she gained a Diploma in Holistic Counselling at the Phoenix Institute. “Having attained several academic awards while at university, including Fellow of the Dean of Science, I still feel that the best thing higher education taught me to do was think!”

Currently based on a 300-acre property near Castlemaine in central Victoria, she has turned to art, and exhibits regularly. Her latest show Terrain, alongside photographer Helene Athanasiadis, runs until March 20 at The Digger’s Store in Campbells Creek, Victoria.

\\ Note: Exciting changes are on the way - a new site with new features. Until then the interview series will run weekly - every Monday morning. Follow and for news and updates on previous features. \\

Which five words best describe you? Archaic, analytical, poetic, untamed, stardust.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? Moving into a studio at Lot 19 Art Space was a great boost to my professional practice. It helped to cement a disciplined practice, gain exposure and a platform, and build confidence. From there I have exhibited as often as possible.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Just keep going. Perfection is not a destination that is attainable, so it is better to let things find an end point trusting that the next time there will be improvements. 

What’s your proudest career achievement? Curating and producing the art festival Moolana Yakama and the exhibition Land-e-scapes.

What’s been your best decision? Having children.

Who inspires you? Mostly it is the people in my life, the ones who are creative and make things happen without the permission of others and without expectation of personal reward. And the ones who have overcome great obstacles and shine. The ones who are motivated by something beyond the material world. Some of my local heroes and dear friends are Yorta Yorta Elder and artist Aunty Rochelle Patten, artist and poet Allison Hamilton (AKA Allis Maun), artist and writer Abbie Heathcote, my friend Carmela Leone. Further afield I have always loved the work of Frida Kahlo, Georgia O’Keeffe, Hundertwasser, Andy Goldsworthy, Stephen Hawking, Bob Brown, David Suzuki, Clarissa Pinkola Estes.

What are you passionate about? Soil, wild places, love, truth, growth, compassion, living softly on the Earth, biological systems, beauty, my children, creating.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Mary Magdalene. And I would like to go stay with some Siberian reindeer herders.

What dream do you still want to fulfil? I would like to learn to play the guitar, or just befriend someone who can play so I can sing along.

What are you reading? Letters and poetry from my pen pal, and Jeannette Winterson's Sexing the Cherry.

images courtesy of jinari mountain; portrait fiona kennaugh


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