Monday, 9 May 2016


“When you start any business it’s 50 per cent gut instinct and 50 per cent free fall,” says Kieran Birchall, the florist and creative director behind MyFlowerMan. “You can crunch numbers for days but until you’re up and running and reacting to your customers whilst still being true to your creative vision then you can’t get a true sense of feeling like you’re on the right path.”

After working as a real estate agent for many years, a trip to the flower markets in Flemington, Sydney sparked an idea to consider a career in floristry. “But the whole idea was that I wanted to offer a different style and option compared with the more traditional concepts of a florist,” he says. MyFlowerMan, with a focus on native and natural arrangements, started as a side business about 18 months ago but has recently opened a physical store in Sydney’s Paddington.

“The support we have received from the beginning is something I get blown away by,” says Kieran, who grew up in Yamba, a town in Northern NSW. As well as selling flowers, and creating arrangements for clients such as fashion brands Bassike and Tigerlily, he sells floral-inspired artworks in his shop, such as the artwork by Vicki Lee and Ted O’Donnell, pictured above. 

Which five words best describe you? This is tough!

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I really took a leap starting MyFlowerMan and thankfully it’s paying off.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Try to work with those who share the same ethos as you. It makes for a much more constructive, interesting and satisfying outcome. 

What’s your proudest career achievement? Honestly opening our store in Paddington. It’s amazing how seeing something so tangible with your brand on it makes everything seem real and allows you to reflect on how cool it is to create something from nothing or a very simple idea at least.

What’s been your best decision? Taking a risk to do something I really enjoy.

Who inspires you? Every small business owner. Since launching I have a new-found appreciation for all business owners or anyone how has taken the plunge. Let’s just say I’m shop locally kinda guy.

What are you passionate about? The ocean.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Michael Jordan – to shoot some hoops. 

What dream do you still want to fulfil? Buying a house or a farm or just somewhere I can tinker and potter around when I’m old. Maybe that’s a country thing?

What are you reading? Sadly nothing at the moment, mostly just reading emails.

images courtesy of kieran birchall; photography elise hassey

Monday, 2 May 2016


“I feel that painting is an aid to living,” says artist Robert Malherbe. “Drawing and painting intensifies the way we see the world.” Born in Mauritius, he moved to Australia as a young boy and after travelling and living in Europe, is based in Blackheath, NSW. Robert has just opened his first exhibition at a public gallery - a survey show of his work at the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre - which will run until 5 June.

“I’ve always had faith in my work but things began to change for me when my paintings were hung in major art prizes and drew positive notices from respected art critics,” he says. “We’d like to pretend that these things don’t matter but they do.” He has been a regular finalist in the Wynne Prize and in 2011 was awarded the AGNSW residency at Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris. In 2015 he won the Manning Art Prize, judged by art critic John McDonald. “I felt I knew where to go with my practice when I realised that my subject matter was right in front of me,” Robert says. “This was when I was around 19 or 20. That’s why I paint directly from life.” Already is he is focussed on his next commercial exhibition - at the Jan Murphy Gallery in Brisbane, from 14 June to 9 July. “I’d like to see my work getting more intense, clearer, brighter and better,” he says.

Which five words best describe you? I love what I’m doing.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I really didn’t have and I still don’t have a game plan. Libby Knott, who was a curator at a small Paddington gallery, saw the work I was doing and gave me my first solo show. It sold very well and drew the attention of a major Sydney dealer who then exhibited me in the following years. After that I began to show in other states as well. I suppose it all followed from there.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Keep doing what you like but get better at it. Also, if the work doesn’t surprise you then don’t show it.

What’s your proudest career achievement? Being able to paint on a daily basis while maintaining a loving relationship.

What’s been your best decision? Not to put too much importance on money even when there wasn’t any.

Who inspires you? Anyone who has painted a good painting. I also love reading the great poets.

What are you passionate about? I’m passionate about many things but mostly painting and drawing. I’m not a very sporty person.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Living - I’d love to chat with Frank Auerbach again. Dead - I would love to have a drink with Rembrandt and stroll along the beach at night with Wallace Stevens.

What dream do you still want to fulfil? My dream is to make it past 85 years of age and quietly go while squeezing a tube of paint.

What are you reading? Two books: Paris Nocturne by Patrick Modiano and Autobiography of Red by Anne Carson.

images courtesy of robert malherbe


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