It’s been a very wet winter down here in Denmark. In an effort to be free of my gumboot/uggboot/workboot roundabout, I’m heading to Malaysia for a family holiday (cue Birkenstocks!). Before I go, I wanted to share a story that I think exemplifies regional Australian creativity and community. I had originally travelled to Casltemaine to shoot LiFEHOUSE Design, founded in 1997 by Paul Hassall and Robyn Gibson after a tip off from a friend in Melbourne. LiFEHOUSE has a localised business and design philosophy that really resonated with me – and others it seems, as I was inundated with emails afterwards and have finally found a fantastic example of a similar business in country WA, so stay tuned, Sandgropers.
When I arrived at LiFEHOUSE Design headquarters, one half of the team, Robyn Gibson, wasn’t in the office. It turned out she was in an old church with her printmaking group, which is run by the respected printmaker Diana Orinda Burns. This, of course, piqued my interest! A quick phone call and directions, “Not sure of the address but the church has a blue door -you’ll see it” and I was off. As I’d already been photographing (not snooping, it’s work!) at Robyn’s house while she wasn’t there and had seen her awesome boot collection, I just knew we would get along. Gibson’s prints, unsurprisingly given her design background, have a strongly refined and distilled sensibility. A format so very different from the work of designing homes, her prints are still a deeply thoughtful practice, despite the obvious difference in scale and medium. It feels like a wonderfully balancing activity and made me think about the many people I know who find balance from their design or art practice in something that feels complimentary, but doesn’t have the pressure of turning that creativity into a business or an income base. It’s all very liberating really – however seeing more of Robyn’s work, I wonder whether this might just tip over into a bigger part of her life as time goes on. I’m interested to know what my readers do to balance their practice?
Groups of like minded people, getting together in country areas to create and make, sharing resources and skills. It’s happening all over Australia, in old butter factories, churches, backyard studios and farm sheds. Here’s a peek inside just one with the lovely Robyn Gibson.
That’s why I made the decision to leave the city and, as my daughter says, get the country air in us. Design Satellite’s original mission statement of a weekly story from regional and remote Australia may have been *slightly overzealous. A weekly deadline to write, travel, work, renovate, parent – all whilst trying to remember to do an Instagram post and occasionally brush my hair (I thought my days of dreadlocks were over!) could not include my important weekly dose of mind wandering and navel gazing. So Design Satellite continues in a sporadic and random, albeit joyful, way. In between all of this recent pondering and wandering, some interesting things have been happening.
BOWONG.COM.AU I’ve been busily beavering away with the good folks at A Door Ajar on my brand spankin’ new website – featuring art and design projects I have known and loved (and photographed). It looks like this:
STACKWOOD One of my dearest friends, Sarah Bell, has opened a new concept store in Fremantle. There’s maker studios, an events space, workshops and a green planterley friend to be made for everyone who enters. I expect to be living in a self made jungle in a matter of weeks. Check out their Instagram feed and get your plant on.
OVER HERE I’ve been shooting for a wonderful crew of Albany(ish) artists, whose work in textiles is both beautiful and thoughtful, for the Over Here exhibition, curated by Anna Sabadini and hopefully touring soon to a gallery near you.
REVEALED One of my favourite events of the year, showcasing emerging Aboriginal artists from all over Western Australia, this exhibition is on at the Fremantle Arts Centre until the 29th May. Everything is for sale at very reasonable prices.
TR+ AS+ JW On now at the Art Gallery of WA, this WA Focus show of the work of Trevor Richards, Alex Spremberg + Jurek Wybrianiec is an absolute ripper. It’s got it all! Intrigue! Idiosyncrasies! Initials! There’s less than a fortnight left before it closes on the 18th May, otherwise you can check out the online catalogue.
PETER ADAMS // WINDGROVE My Design Satellite article about the Tasmanian artist, Peter Adams who lives on an incredible property called Windgrove on the Tasman Peninsula, has been published in full by Earthlines Magazine in the UK, a magazine about the culture of nature. Read from the archives here.
YUN NIE CHONG + PATRICK KOSKY // FREMANTLE This wonderful project I photographed for the architects and homeowners, Yun Nie Chong and Patrick Kosky, has recently been featured in Green Magazine. Read from the archive here.