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.