Christchurch Cottage Renovation: Vol. I

Christchurch Cottage Renovation #christchurchcottagerenovation - The Curtis's transform a workers cottage in New Zealand // as featured on Studio Home

It’s a great pleasure to introduce you all to something REALLY different for Studio Home, but a journey nonetheless that many of us dream of (and do!) undertake.

It was March 2015 when my sister and brother-in-law; Caroline and Simon Curtis, purchased this grungy, damp little cottage on a full size section in Christchurch. Part of me saw the charm, for sure, there were lovely original details and a sweet balance to its front facade. But, the sensible internal voice screamed “the inside is SO GROSS!” and “…how much work will this take??!!”.
Unlike me, they are outrageously hands on, practical people – a real team in that sense.
My sister is freakishly strong (true story!) and innately frugal. She would never buy anything without filtering through Trade Me first OR working out if she could make it herself.  Simon is one of those guys that likes to research, train up, gear up and get making. He is fastly becoming the “can do anything” man in our world, as I am sure, at some stage he has observed and learnt how. Anything! I tell you.

Early on in their relationship they converted a Ute into an amazing, ‘go anywhere’ travelling machine to circumnavigate Australia. They followed this up with the complete renovation and upgrade of a retro caravan which they shipped back to NZ with them in 2014. Before hooking into a full house, they were invited to design and construct something as part of the Rekindle “Whole House Reuse Project” – they chose to make a functioning glass house (which you will see below) .
So the little workers cottage in Addington, Christchurch really did seem like the right progression for them…..

I share this background information with a purpose – the resulting project has been incredibly D.I.Y and hands on. They have done a jaw dropping job on a budget (which you will witness the full outcome in posts to come), but it’s important for anyone considering a major renovation for profit to really digest the dirty, tough, uncomfortable stages and jobs you have to tick off getting there!!

The post below shares the beginning of their renovation, the upgrades they have completed and a pictorial summary of the chaos that ensues. Over the last few years, renovation has been undertaken amid full time jobs,  sports and biking injuries, operations, time on crutches, the homecoming of an old grumpy cat, the acquiring of 2 chooks, a pretty brutal pregnancy and the arrival of their daughter 9 weeks early!
Living in an active renovation wouldn’t be for everyone but Caroline and Simon are a shining example of how this can in fact work. From my point of view it’s down to their shared attitude of “it’s not where you are are, it’s who you’re with” and they most certainly are patient enough to play the long game.

Their story offers some really valuable realities about the whole ‘do-it-yourself’ renovation process in New Zealand. If you take your time to read, you will notice they purchased a whole ton of new, slightly damaged or barely used products from Trade Me. I have marveled at their finds – many of them brand new such as the woollen loop pile carpet and tiles.  It has really refocused me to research more carefully in the future!
While they have undertaken 90% of the work themselves and occasionally with some parents and friends thrown in, they DID call in experts when the job called for it. And these were all done on a referral basis – use your networks!

I hope you enjoy your introduction to this project and the information shared. Standby for more updates to come including their completed interior and then taking on the exterior and landscaping. And thanks to the Curtis’s for being such sharers!

Christchurch Cottage Renovation #christchurchcottagerenovation - The Curtis's transform a workers cottage in New Zealand // as featured on Studio Home
Caroline and Simon with their glasshouse made entirely from parts of a home dismantled following the Christchurch earthquake.
More on this at the Rekindle Whole House Reuse Project.
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Christchurch Cottage Renovation #christchurchcottagerenovation - The Curtis's transform a workers cottage in New Zealand // as featured on Studio Home
The “Before’s”: Addington Workers Cottage constructed between 1880-1890.
2 bedrooms, 1 bath plus sleep out. 80 sq m sitting on 511 sq m section.
North facing and distant view of the Port Hills over the back fence.

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What was it about this little workers cottage that attracted you?

Caroline: It was likely to be cheap as it looked like a wreck, in a location that we were not otherwise able to afford. We were also keen to save it from its inevitable “3 town house” planning consent demise!

Simon:  It felt and looked neglected but with good little spaces (inside & out) in a really convenient location. With no structural issues and mostly all cosmetic adjustments – this is the fun stuff and was appealing. The house being north facing and the fireplace are bonuses in the frigid South Island.

Christchurch Cottage Renovation #christchurchcottagerenovation - The Curtis's transform a workers cottage in New Zealand // as featured on Studio Home
Christchurch Cottage Renovation #christchurchcottagerenovation - The Curtis's transform a workers cottage in New Zealand // as featured on Studio Home
Christchurch Cottage Renovation #christchurchcottagerenovation - The Curtis's transform a workers cottage in New Zealand // as featured on Studio Home
Christchurch Cottage Renovation #christchurchcottagerenovation - The Curtis's transform a workers cottage in New Zealand // as featured on Studio Home
While a MASSIVE job – saving all the wood from the felled trees in the backyard ran the fire for more than a winter and the chip was used across the garden and to trade for plants from friends.
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What motivated you two to take on such a meaty project with the aim of undertaking so much of the work yourselves?

C+S:  We optimistically romanticized about what the house and garden would look like and couldn’t realistically see why it couldn’t be achieved.

Saving money and adding value to the property are our key motivators.

It’s also fun to reinvent the property on a shoestring, it’s a more of an organic process. So you have to be open to other ideas or products and be flexible with your timeline. Lucky for us we’re both problem solvers and enjoy the challenge of learning new skills and techniques.

Christchurch Cottage Renovation #christchurchcottagerenovation - The Curtis's transform a workers cottage in New Zealand // as featured on Studio Home
New back fence built with help of Father in Law
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Christchurch Cottage Renovation #christchurchcottagerenovation - The Curtis's transform a workers cottage in New Zealand // as featured on Studio HomeChristchurch Cottage Renovation #christchurchcottagerenovation - The Curtis's transform a workers cottage in New Zealand // as featured on Studio HomeChristchurch Cottage Renovation #christchurchcottagerenovation - The Curtis's transform a workers cottage in New Zealand // as featured on Studio HomeChristchurch Cottage Renovation #christchurchcottagerenovation - The Curtis's transform a workers cottage in New Zealand // as featured on Studio Home
New bi-fold window (found on Trade Me) going in as well as full re gib, re insulate and replacement of back wall weatherboards.
In laws on the job again!
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20160101_123827 Christchurch Cottage Renovation #christchurchcottagerenovation - The Curtis's transform a workers cottage in New Zealand // as featured on Studio HomeChristchurch Cottage Renovation #christchurchcottagerenovation - The Curtis's transform a workers cottage in New Zealand // as featured on Studio Home
New bath in (from Bunnings) and plumbed with help of Pete the Plumber!
Next was waterproofing…
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Christchurch Cottage Renovation #christchurchcottagerenovation - The Curtis's transform a workers cottage in New Zealand // as featured on Studio Home Christchurch Cottage Renovation #christchurchcottagerenovation - The Curtis's transform a workers cottage in New Zealand // as featured on Studio HomeChristchurch Cottage Renovation #christchurchcottagerenovation - The Curtis's transform a workers cottage in New Zealand // as featured on Studio HomeChristchurch Cottage Renovation #christchurchcottagerenovation - The Curtis's transform a workers cottage in New Zealand // as featured on Studio Home

Many an enthusiastic renovator would have been intimidated by this project!
What made you think that you were capable to take it on?

Simon:
  I’ve worked on large commercial and residential developments in Australia in different stages of my working life, so the scale of a two bedroom cottage with sleep out I was comfortable with.

Caroline: … and I love Trade Me.

C + S: Not having a fixed timeline takes the pressure off the budget, and our motivation keeps us ticking along. We can have multiple little jobs going on in different rooms or spaces. Finding materials that suit our style and budget, whenever!

Christchurch Cottage Renovation #christchurchcottagerenovation - The Curtis's transform a workers cottage in New Zealand // as featured on Studio HomeChristchurch Cottage Renovation #christchurchcottagerenovation - The Curtis's transform a workers cottage in New Zealand // as featured on Studio HomeChristchurch Cottage Renovation #christchurchcottagerenovation - The Curtis's transform a workers cottage in New Zealand // as featured on Studio Home Christchurch Cottage Renovation #christchurchcottagerenovation - The Curtis's transform a workers cottage in New Zealand // as featured on Studio Home Christchurch Cottage Renovation #christchurchcottagerenovation - The Curtis's transform a workers cottage in New Zealand // as featured on Studio HomeChristchurch Cottage Renovation #christchurchcottagerenovation - The Curtis's transform a workers cottage in New Zealand // as featured on Studio Home
Whipping up a new home (made from an old crate and cupboard door for the opening roof) for the arrival of the chooks; Lil and Riv from Little River.
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Christchurch Cottage Renovation #christchurchcottagerenovation - The Curtis's transform a workers cottage in New Zealand // as featured on Studio HomeChristchurch Cottage Renovation #christchurchcottagerenovation - The Curtis's transform a workers cottage in New Zealand // as featured on Studio Home Christchurch Cottage Renovation #christchurchcottagerenovation - The Curtis's transform a workers cottage in New Zealand // as featured on Studio Home
Anne was our Dulux Colour Consultant who we found hugely helpful!
She is an interior designer in her own right and having the chance for her to visit us at home for a consult was invaluable.
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Christchurch Cottage Renovation #christchurchcottagerenovation - The Curtis's transform a workers cottage in New Zealand // as featured on Studio HomeChristchurch Cottage Renovation #christchurchcottagerenovation - The Curtis's transform a workers cottage in New Zealand // as featured on Studio Home Christchurch Cottage Renovation #christchurchcottagerenovation - The Curtis's transform a workers cottage in New Zealand // as featured on Studio HomeChristchurch Cottage Renovation #christchurchcottagerenovation - The Curtis's transform a workers cottage in New Zealand // as featured on Studio Home
Carpet layed…….yes!
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Christchurch Cottage Renovation #christchurchcottagerenovation - The Curtis's transform a workers cottage in New Zealand // as featured on Studio HomeChristchurch Cottage Renovation #christchurchcottagerenovation - The Curtis's transform a workers cottage in New Zealand // as featured on Studio Home Christchurch Cottage Renovation #christchurchcottagerenovation - The Curtis's transform a workers cottage in New Zealand // as featured on Studio Home

What are some core lessons learnt so far that you could share with would be renovators?!

Simon: Research the hell out of everything before you start (e.g. services, products & suppliers). We’ve found that in some cases (e.g. plastering) it pays to get a skilled professional with all the right tools for the job. This has saved us so much time and money, and you can see the results in Jesse’s perfect finishing. Something I would not have been able to accomplish, my plastering looks like a cheap rendition of stucco.

Get at least three quotes from three different suppliers/installers or service providers. This then gives you a pretty good idea of a ball-park figure, as well as keeping the tradies competitive on pricing. For plumbing, tree removal and electrical work, the variation in pricing between businesses was astonishing and saved us close to $23,000.

Initially we thought selecting a colour palette for our house would be a breeze, strangely it was a lot harder than expected. We had to consider natural light coming into the rooms at different times of day, how they look all together (it’ a small 80 sqm cottage) & consistency of features (e.g. architraves throughout, linking to the period features on the external walls).
We engaged a Dulux Colour Consultant; Anne who helped us narrow down our ideas and what we liked into a collection of colours that suited the cottage’s feel, décor and eclectic knick-knacks we’ve collected on our travels.

Christchurch Cottage Renovation #christchurchcottagerenovation - The Curtis's transform a workers cottage in New Zealand // as featured on Studio HomeChristchurch Cottage Renovation #christchurchcottagerenovation - The Curtis's transform a workers cottage in New Zealand // as featured on Studio HomeChristchurch Cottage Renovation #christchurchcottagerenovation - The Curtis's transform a workers cottage in New Zealand // as featured on Studio Home Christchurch Cottage Renovation #christchurchcottagerenovation - The Curtis's transform a workers cottage in New Zealand // as featured on Studio HomeChristchurch Cottage Renovation #christchurchcottagerenovation - The Curtis's transform a workers cottage in New Zealand // as featured on Studio HomeChristchurch Cottage Renovation #christchurchcottagerenovation - The Curtis's transform a workers cottage in New Zealand // as featured on Studio Home

The cottage is packed with personality and is certainly transforming into a warm, inviting and lovely place to call home. Are you worried that your “investment property” might be turning into your dream home?! Leaving will be tough!

C + S: We have been discussing this recently as finding a slightly better property in a similar area is well and truly out of our current (and near future) financial reach. As the NZ property markets prices increase, it becomes less of a ‘win-win’ and more of a ‘win-lose’ situation. Our plan was to buy a house with fewer renovations, more bedrooms and bathrooms, climbing the property ladder so to speak. This is with the aim to eventually own our home outright, and then build a brand new ‘dream’ house.
We may just have to jump to building the ‘dream’ house next.

Personalising a house definitely turns it into a home, which pulls at the heart strings more than the purse strings. Especially when you’re looking at the work that you’ve put into it every day and can reminisce about the weird old times together as a growing family and with friends. Getting to know the families in the street, the local business owners and trouble makers adds to the nostalgia of the cottage.

We were looking at moving on from the cottage within approximately 3 years, but that only leaves just over 6 months to finish the rest of the renovations and then sell, without much time to enjoy the fruits of our labour. It is said by property investors that houses are a long term investment….

Ultimately the number of bedrooms will push us out, if we decide to further expand our family, which will make the decision easier when the time comes.

Christchurch Cottage Renovation #christchurchcottagerenovation - The Curtis's transform a workers cottage in New Zealand // as featured on Studio Home
The BIG push to complete painting the living room. Their daughter Ada has just been born at 31 weeks and was in residence (and doing very well) in the neo natal ward just down the road at Christchurch Womens. Caroline seen here helping between visits.
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Christchurch Cottage Renovation #christchurchcottagerenovation - The Curtis's transform a workers cottage in New Zealand // as featured on Studio Home Christchurch Cottage Renovation #christchurchcottagerenovation - The Curtis's transform a workers cottage in New Zealand // as featured on Studio HomeChristchurch Cottage Renovation #christchurchcottagerenovation - The Curtis's transform a workers cottage in New Zealand // as featured on Studio Home

The realities of “live in” renovations is that progress happens in surges. What were the spaces that you tackled first to get this cottage livable and what materials/projects were required in each?

Simon: We brought the house in March 2015 and it needed a lot of the initial work make the it weather tight prior to the onset of winter (enter the catch phase, spoken by John Snow: ‘Winter is Coming!)

Order of improvements we have undertaken to date:

Felling of trees and backyard clean up: We did this straight away as were concerned about access in the future. With a professional crew we felled 4 large trees which shaded the yard, took up a lot of space and were approaching the age when they could become a danger. But we kept ALL of them to slowly work through for fire wood and chip as garden mulch. We even traded this mulch with friends in exchange for plants. Big job but definitely worth it. During this time we also built a new back fence and a year into the project built new, secure front gates for the street access.

Full house re-wiring: for insurance requirements and resale.

Under-floor insulation and damp-proofing membrane: for warmth and preservation of timber flooring.

New Fireplace: for warmth and resale.

Bathroom : On moving in we were faced with very low water pressure, a hot water cylinder that needed to be removed from the kitchen for space (have upgraded to a new instant gas hot water system installed) and the shower head was so low that it just showered my belly button.
This was also our first serious interior upgrade. We installed almost everything ourselves as well as gleaning tiling advice from builder friends and learning as we went.
We did paint this space but have repainted after learning some valuable lessons on white paints not all being “white” (eg. purple tinge) !!

Products and Places : 
Replacement Shower & Floor Tiles: from Trade Me
Bath & Fittings (e.g. shower head and mixer tap for sink): from Bunnings
Floating Vanity & Sink: Trade Me (slightly damaged stock from earthquake )
Bathroom Vanity Bench Top: Custom made and built of recycled Rimu by us (from a demolished earthquake home)
Paint: Dulux Wash’n’Wear  – Colour: Mt Aspiring
Custom Mirror: Made by Commercial Mirror & Glass
Floor Tiles : Trade Me

Kitchen: As you can see we were dealing with a tiny bench space and no storage. We had a window of public holidays to get it done before the really beautiful sister-in-law can to house sit for us while and we went away on to my younger bro’s wedding in Bali.
Large bi fold window, cabinetry work, tiling, floor finishing and painting have now finally been completed!
We hardly know ourselves! We also knew when to call in the experts or ask advice from builder friends and this led us to use a pro tiler complete the floor and back wall tiles.

Products and Places :
Kitchen Cabinetry & Pantry: Kaboodle Brand (Bunnings)
Cabinet Handles: re purposed and sanded from original cupboards.
Shelving (incl. hardware): Bunnings
New Fridge: Trade Me
Dishwasher & Oven: Second hand from Appliance Works
Rangehood: Bunnings
Kitchen Benchtop: Custom made and built of recycled Rimu by us (out of a family friend’s old roof)
Replacement Bi-Fold Double Glazed Window: Trade Me
Replacement Wall Tiles: Bunnings
New LED Light Fittings (over benchtop): Supplied & Installed by Christchurch Electrical
Plumbing: contracted professional
Paint: Dulux Wash’n’Wear – Colour: Mt Aspiring
Wall Tiles: The Flooring Centre
Tiling: contracted professional

Master Bedroom : Was the easiest room to complete, as it had the least amount of work required. I built a wall to wall bank of cabinetry and wardrobe space and we are now just about ready to complete it with doors and finish with a lick of paint.

Products and Places :
Built-in Wardrobe: Custom made and hand built by us, materials from Bunnings.
Wool Looped Pile Carpet: Brought off Trade Me
Curtains: Made by Caroline and her mother. Fabric brought at Femme de Brocante and sewn over top of heavy, lined, good quality second hand curtains found at an op shop in Ashburton.
Curtain Rails: Trade Me
Bed: The Warehouse
Paint: Dulux Wash’n’Wear Low Sheen – Colour: Puhoi

Second Bedroom (Ada’s / Spare room): with a baby on the way, it made sense to put it next on the list. We had to completely re-gib over the old lath and plaster walls before painting and finishing with carpet. We’ve also designed and built a floor to ceiling wardrobe with narrow bi-fold doors we found on Trade Me and adapted to fit.

Products and Places :
GIB: Placemakers and installed with bro-in-law
Plasterers: contracted professional
Timber Framing for custom built-in wardrobe & Skirting: Bunnings
Bi-fold Door for wardrobe: Trade Me – adapted
Paint: Dulux Wash’n’Wear – Colour: Kakahi
Curtains: Made by Caroline and her mother. Fabric brought at Femme de Brocante and sewn over top of heavy, lined, good quality second hand curtains found at an op shop in Ashburton.
Curtain Rails: Trade Me
Wool Looped Pile Carpet: Brought off Trade Me

Laundry: next busiest place for a new family member! It has been a relief to create a tidy space that we can close a door on! We built the shelving, framed up and hung bifold doors here – this also acts as a transitional space to our back door and toilet.

Products and Places :
Paint: Dulux Wash’n’Wear – Colour: Mt Aspiring
Timber framing for custom built-in wardrobe, Skirting & Bench: Bunnings
Bi-fold Internal Doors: Trade Me
Washing machine: Brought second hand from a friend
Plasterers: contracted professional
Taps and laundry sink: second hand items from Op Shop
Floor Tiles: Trade Me
Tiling : contracted professional

Toilet: We did this at the same time as the laundry. Moved and reduced the door frame to also create right space for a cavity slider. Replaced the existing vanity and sink with cool original from bathroom, plumbed into a re purposed chest of drawers. Also removed the old pink toilet for a new loo, much to the delight of Caroline.

Products and Places :
Toilet: Trade Me
Vanity: old solid wood chest of drawers found on Trade Me
Sink & Tapware: Re-purposed from the original bathroom
Sliding Rail Door: Trade Me
Plasterers: contracted professional
Paint: Dulux Wash’n’Wear – Colour Waitiki Landing
Floor Tiles: contracted professional

Lounge/Dining Room: We’d carpeted this room quite early on (once we found carpet we liked AND the right quantity) to increase the thermal qualities of this large space, as we spend most of our time here. Plastering (including skimming the ceiling) was completed by a great contractor who impressed us with his record breaking completion times!
Then, with the help of my mother in law we did a massive effort to get it sanded and painted before the arrival home of our tiny daughter Ada. Caroline was working with us post cesarean and daily visits to Ada who was still in hospital growing as she was born at 31 weeks!

Products and Places:
Wool Looped Pile Carpet: Brought off Trade Me
Paint: Dulux Wash’n’Wear – Colour: Mt Aspiring
Plasterers: contracted professional
Curtains: Made by Caroline and her mother. Fabric brought at Femme de Brocante and sewn over top of heavy, lined, good quality second hand curtains found at an op shop in Ashburton.
Paint: Dulux Wash’n’Wear Low Sheen – Colour Mt Aspiring. Door frames and window architraves in gloss, Mt Aspiring Quarter and accent above original wall panels in Pukaki Half.

What is next on the list to tackle and move toward a state of completion?

The outside! We are so lucky to have such a big section and want to do the house and space justice.

– External painting, including roof
– Lay and landscape front patio area for next summer’s entertaining.
– Restoring the sleep out to become a third bedroom with ensuite AND provide storage.
– Large rear back deck that will link the back door to the sleep out
– Landscaping around the old cattle trough raised vegetable garden beds
– Installing brick edging around garden beds and driveway, shingle the driveway
– Installing carport

Christchurch Cottage Renovation #christchurchcottagerenovation - The Curtis's transform a workers cottage in New Zealand // as featured on Studio HomeChristchurch Cottage Renovation #christchurchcottagerenovation - The Curtis's transform a workers cottage in New Zealand // as featured on Studio Home

Coming soon from Christchurch Cottage Renovation we will have Vol. II
“The Interior Completed!”
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You can follow Caroline and Simon’s progress in real time via Instagram
@binkerbinkerbinker
#christchurchcottagerenovation

 

 

*** The Curtis’s were also thrilled to work with Dulux NZ in the supply of their paint.
Rest assured their colour and product choices are very much their own ***

Posted in for the home, home making, new zealand, renovation, Studio Home Interview | 1 Comment

Virginia Woods-Jack: The New Botanicals

Work from "The New Botanicals" by Virginia Woods-Jack // New Zealand - available online at The Poi Room // interview by Studio Home

Virginia Woods-Jack walks a wonderful line of deeply thoughtful artist and internationally in-demand, commercial photographer.

Despite being listed with one of the country’s top agencies and working with a portfolio of clients all over the world, English born Virginia has made her home in Wellington, the place she has found best to connect with nature and indulge the visual projects she works on.

Below I took the chance to ask Virginia some questions as a way to better understand the mind of a professional indulging all facets of her chosen medium. I know there are so many other photographers out there who balance the same realities of art vs income, so I hope you enjoy the story of one of your comrades!

Mixed below you also have the chance to view some past work chosen by Virginia, PLUS a scattered peek at her WONDERFUL new collection; ‘The New Botanicals’. You can view it all here or pop in to the Poi Room galleries in Auckland.  Selected works and an installation will also be included in the Auckland Festival of Photography satellite group show; “To Shed Some Light” opening next Friday the 2nd of June at the Newmarket gallery. Aucklanders – I highly recommend you check it out you lucky people!

So enjoy a deeper look into the background, thoughts, inspiration and goals of this established artist who represents a very real career journey and structure that many of you out there could strive for.

Work from "The New Botanicals" by Virginia Woods-Jack // New Zealand - available online at The Poi Room // interview by Studio Home Work by Virginia Woods-Jack // New Zealand based artist and commercial photographer // interview by Studio Home
Above: Virginia Woods-Jack
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Virginia, you were born and raised in England. Can you pinpoint when and what it was about photography that captured you?

I was Julia, I was lucky enough to call the beautiful Lake District in the north of England home. I grew up in a large family surrounded by big landscapes, small town narratives and with a big imagination.
My parents owned a children’s bookshop which also sold art supplies and we lived above it. I was always playing in the woods, exploring the river banks and creating stories in my mind. My grandfather was very creative in many mediums and first introduced me to photography, from which point I was captivated and started recording my life and my surroundings in images.

I have always been an observer and a thinker and photography gave me a way to visualise these observations and thoughts. It wasn’t until my early 20’s when I was wondering what to make of myself, that a dear friend suggested that I study photography as I always had my camera with me. That first day in the dark room, watching one of my images come to life in front of my very eyes, I felt a spark of magic and that spark is still with me today.

From art school I worked in galleries and then for a creative talent agency in London working alongside some incredible talent like Greg Williams, Simon Roberts, Tom Craig and Olly & Suzi, helping to manage their careers and them, guiding me in mine. I attended amazing photography festivals, showing my work, garnering more commissions for terrific clients who believed in my vision and who I have continued to work with for a long time now.

“Even though it isn’t always easy, this is where my creative heart lies.”

Work from "The New Botanicals" by Virginia Woods-Jack // New Zealand - available online at The Poi Room // interview by Studio Home Work by Virginia Woods-Jack // New Zealand based artist and commercial photographer // interview by Studio Home Work by Virginia Woods-Jack // New Zealand based artist and commercial photographer // interview by Studio Home

I have explored a lot of your work and found that I really related to your beautiful, documentary style commercial photography nearly as much as your art based practice!
Tell us a little about your professional career and how creating collections of personal work are balanced by that?

My early years in photography were based purely on my life, my friends, my family, my environment, the beauty of natural light in all its renditions from sunrise to sunset.  This helped me develop a strong sense of how I like to work and the images that I respond to which are very observational and considered.

My early commissions were with the weekend broadsheet magazines in the UK like The Observer, The Guardian Magazine, Independent on Sunday etc and I was given the privilege of photographing real people who had stories that demanded an approach that was sensitive and dignified. I learned very quickly that all creative work is collaborative and I love that about the process, it is a coming together to create.

As I tend to work with “real people” I find that the more agency I give my subjects in how they are photographed the better, as then the images present themselves ten fold and all I have to do is capture them. I spend some time observing and then create the scaffold for these fabulous narratives to play out in front of me and my job is to position myself, observe the light and compose the images to tell the story.
Even when I am directing talent, the feeling is always about it being a collaboration. I carry this approach into all my commissioned work and I think it is the best way I can explain how I create real images from a situation that has been set up or staged.

The main difference between my art based practice and the commercial/editorial work, is that I chose my subject matter. Sometimes it feel like the project chooses me but regardless, it always starts with a question or a point of interest that I am drawn to explore!
I love to immerse myself in my projects, research is also a part of this and can come in many guises from film, reading (definitely lots of reading) and then responding. I would say, looking back, that notions of nature, time, place, and personal experience are recurring themes and my hope is that people always feel something when they view my work.

I don’t always limit presentation to a photographic print as sometimes it takes something more to tell the complete story and I love this – I don’t believe in limiting myself. My current works; ‘The New Botanicals’ are a document to the individual and acknowledging all the stages of the life within the natural world. My upcoming exhibition will include photographic prints and an installation of some of the botanical specimens I have worked with to create this series. They’re so beautiful they deserve to be shown and seen alongside their portraits.
Even in my commercial work, I am still a purest in that my images are all created in camera. I expand this to include film based processes in my art practice but I never know at the start of a project what that will be. There is a lot of experimentation and ultimately it is reflective of how I see, feel and respond to my subjects.

“I suppose I would say that mindfulness is key to my practice; I am an observer.”

In my observations I become very attuned to my surroundings, the light, the wind, the sounds and of course, everything I see. My work is a response to this process.

Work from "The New Botanicals" by Virginia Woods-Jack // New Zealand - available online at The Poi Room // interview by Studio Home Work from "The New Botanicals" by Virginia Woods-Jack // New Zealand - available online at The Poi Room // interview by Studio Home Work by Virginia Woods-Jack // New Zealand based artist and commercial photographer // interview by Studio Home

What catches your eye in every day life? If only our lids could be the shutter of a camera!

Golly that is a big question!
If you asked my family they would say everything!

I suppose I would say that mindfulness is a big part of how I observe things.
I should explain that really…. I find that when I slow down and become attuned to my surroundings so many things capture my eye. The shadows of the clouds chasing each other across the hills sweeping down to the sea and out to the horizon, the wind whipping across the breaking waves, light cascading through the canopy of the bush, people bathed in light drawn from the shadows and the small interactions between us all.
I am drawn to all of this – I think we ALL are to a greater or lesser degree.

The quality of light in relation to the environment is such a huge part of how we see things and experience them and it is always changing – so no view, however familiar we are with it, is ever the same and I never tire of this. The light here in NZ is very crisp and clean and then you go to somewhere like Bali and it is softer and richer creating beautiful dulcet tones.
It really is so different wherever you are, you just have to take the time to notice it.

I was recently commissioned to create a suite of images in Auckland and Wellington for the beautiful magazine Lodestar Anthology. I have lived in Wellington for 13 years now yet when I go into my camera and start looking for those images and started observing the way the light is playing with the locations, it is like I am discovering it all over again.

I love this about photography, no two experiences or images are ever the same.

Work from "The New Botanicals" by Virginia Woods-Jack // New Zealand - available online at The Poi Room // interview by Studio Home Work from "The New Botanicals" by Virginia Woods-Jack // New Zealand - available online at The Poi Room // interview by Studio Home Work by Virginia Woods-Jack // New Zealand based artist and commercial photographer // interview by Studio Home

What brands/people do you admire and enjoy following ?

I admire passion and dedication and when this is present it come across quite effortlessly.

I have a huge brand crush on Lonely label and Curio Noir at the moment. They are two NZ brands that are blazing the trail for following your passion and doing so with integrity and amazing attention to detail in everything that they do.
The lingerie campaign for Lonely shot by Harry Were is fabulous, natural and feels like a real collaboration between the brand, photographer and the models who are real women with beautiful bodies. It conveys the message so perfectly that there is no single definition of beauty and the fact that it is all shot on film is damn exciting!
Passion is also the corner stone for Curio Noir, there is nothing hurried or rushed about how their parfums are created, time and love are abound in these incredible scents! If you get the chance to go to their flagship store on Ponsonby Road please do, it is a divine experience and the perfect reflection of who they are.

Golly there really are so many amazing people doing amazing things out there!
Locals I really enjoy are the The Tailors Wife, Rusty Skillet and my recent discovery of Aggie + Au (AMAZING jewellery). Also Twenty Seven Names, Tailor Skincare and the work of TOMBOY! Its great to know that there are so many like minded creative people out there pursuing their passions.

I am also a big fan of beautiful independent magazines like Lodestar Anthology, Rakes Progress Magazine, In Clover, Ernest Journal, Dumbo Feather, Avaunt Magazine… the list goes on but what ties them all together is that you can see the passion behind the publication. They are all born out of a personal love of art, nature, travel, adventure and they draw together people from all over the world who share their passions. The paper stock is exquisite as are the layouts and talent that grace their pages.

I really could go on and on but I can’t not mention Greg Williams along with Olly & Suzi…Long time friends who I used to work with back in London and some of the most incredible creative minds and power houses that I know, yet they are still so generous and just damn lovely people. Have a look at their INCREDIBLE Instagram feeds, I challenge you not to be blown away!

Instagram is quite amazing for finding inspirational work from all around the world. Other feeds I love are Katrin Koenning as she is pushing both the medium of photography and instagram as a platform for sharing it. Nicholas Hughes work on the environment shows total dedication and passion for his subject and the images are always exquisite. And the fabulous work of Freya Najade – as I feel a real resonance with both her subject matter and approach. Very beautiful, uncomplicated and I always stop and look, as that’s what the work so gently ask for.

Work from "The New Botanicals" by Virginia Woods-Jack // New Zealand - available online at The Poi Room // interview by Studio Home Work from "The New Botanicals" by Virginia Woods-Jack // New Zealand - available online at The Poi Room // interview by Studio Home Work by Virginia Woods-Jack // New Zealand based artist and commercial photographer // interview by Studio Home

If you could be looking in the rear view mirror at the entire year of 2017, what do you hope you see?

There are so many fabulous things happening this year that I hope to look back with a big smile on my face with a feeling of excitement for things to come!

I would hope for a successful up coming exhibition at The Poi Room followed by at least one more this year but hopefully two!
I am collaborating on a number of projects with my ever loving partner James. We call ourselves Lightwood and have some exciting projects making beautiful spaces both inside and out for some lovely clients who want something special. I love working with botanicals but with James’ creative talents and outstanding ability to design and build, there is always a lot more than plants involved.

On the subject of plants and all things beautiful Yvette Edwards and I are working more and more together both as a photographer/stylist and photographer/writer duo. She is a dream to collaborate with and we really play to each others strengths.  The combination is brilliant and I can see a lot more happening there together.
I also have some workshop ideas in the pipeline with the oh-so-lovely and creative Cathy from Pause Yoga in Days Bay.

I am heading back home to England and via the States with my daughters to see family and friends so I will enjoy that re connection with both people and place as well as meeting some of my lovely new editorial clients face to face!

Lastly, just hanging out with my gorgeous family, hitting the road in our old campervan; Bluebell which we renovated and camping under the stars. Nothing fancy, just simple times doing the things that we love.
There are so many exciting projects being nurtured at the moment and of course there will be those yet to present themselves or be discovered. The best thing is that there really is no rush, this is something I have learned over the years – all these fabulous things happen exactly as they should and when they are ready.

“So here’s to the creative path with all its twists and turns, there is much to be learned from every experience both personal and professional and hopefully I will get to rub shoulders with some of you along the way.”

Work from "The New Botanicals" by Virginia Woods-Jack // New Zealand - available online at The Poi Room // interview by Studio Home Work from "The New Botanicals" by Virginia Woods-Jack // New Zealand - available online at The Poi Room // interview by Studio Home Work by Virginia Woods-Jack // New Zealand based artist and commercial photographer // interview by Studio Home Work by Virginia Woods-Jack // New Zealand based artist and commercial photographer // interview by Studio Home

What I learnt from Virginia:
Take. More. Time.
When looking around at nature, art, light, people, the place you are right now….
far more beauty and magic exists in the places we have become most familiar.
……………………………………….

Connect with Virginia Woods-Jack
Website
Commercial Work
Instagram
Facebook
Work available online at The Poi Room.

Posted in art, new zealand, photography | Leave a comment

Nina Gordon of FLASH Jewellery

FLASH Jewellery // By designer Nina Gordan // NZ/AUS available online // interview with Studio Home

I am really pleased to bring you this bright light from the jewellery corner of our down under industry!
To me, Nina Gordon gleams with that kiwi girl, can-do attitude, which, I like to think sets us apart a little on the world stage. Her love of jewellery is founded in a love of working with her hands, something that was fostered by time spent with her Dad in his car wrecking yard….I’m not kidding. She is as gritty and cool as she sounds, and I think her shiny, strong aesthetic flows easily through every range she produces for her brand; FLASH . 

As wearer of a FLASH ring myself, I can vouch for the everyday ease that comes with Nina’s style. My only problem is how long my wish list is!

I hope you all enjoy the interview below !

FLASH Jewellery // By designer Nina Gordan // NZ/AUS available online // interview with Studio Home
Nina Gordon
…………

Nina, you share on your site that you began working with metal with your Dad at just 15. 
What was it that appealed to you and what has been your path to end up designing for your own brand?

I’m really close with my family and they have had a massive influence on me being creative. I use to do metal work with my dad at a young age as he had a car wrecking yard. My after school job was pulling switches and gauges out of old cars on stacks – we have even built a car together (it’s my pride and joy #bogan). I wanted to become a mechanic like my Dad but my Mum got me into jewellery instead – she has the best collection and has always inspired me.

We both enrolled in jewellery night courses and my interest bloomed. Nelson is like a mecca for amazing jewellers and I have had many amazing teachers, I then became the regular at the studio enrolling in the course just to use the equipment. The thing I love about working with metal is you get instant results (lol It’s safe to say I have little patience!).

It wasn’t until I was in Wellington and was over my job as a coffee roaster, that I decided to follow my creative side and randomly applied for a job at a metal design firm. Working in the metal industry was interesting…hahaha.

I was the only female and all the men were 20 – 30 years my senior, the technology was all from the 70s (and the safety standards lol).  I was just insanly lucky that the GM really liked me and I became his sidekick, he taight me so much about casting, plating and metal….. I don’t think I would ever do it again, but I’m so happy I did, as this is how Flash started.

Flash was a bit an accident, one day when on the factory floor I had brought along some of my silver rings as there were a few spaces available in a mould, so we casted them, plated them and Bam. Flash was born.

I gave these rings to all of my friends and word spread, so I decided to create a whole collection and the rest is history. It’s been a really organic, fun journey.

FLASH Jewellery // By designer Nina Gordan // NZ/AUS available online // interview with Studio Home FLASH Jewellery // By designer Nina Gordan // NZ/AUS available online // interview with Studio Home FLASH Jewellery // By designer Nina Gordan // NZ/AUS available online // interview with Studio Home

Given the chance to hang out with any of your design and style heroes – who would be on your list to invite to drinks?

Wow great question, I have a large verity of design /style heroes that I love. From the costume jewellery era Paloma Picasso and Yves Saint Laurent  – I’m obsessed with the design from the 80s!

Style wise, Carmen Hamilton from Chronicles of Her and Yasmin Suteja are at the top of my list. Also, I would invite some of my Wellington and Melbourne girlfriends, they are all very independent about there style and fashion- I love that they give zero f*cks.
That’s the most inspiring thing to me.

FLASH Jewellery // By designer Nina Gordan // NZ/AUS available online // interview with Studio Home FLASH Jewellery // By designer Nina Gordan // NZ/AUS available online // interview with Studio Home

You’ve recently relocated from Wellington to Byron Bay via Melbourne? What was behind your move and how is it all going?!

Yes that’s right – we’ve been moving around a bit, I left Wellington for Melbourne and spend a few years in the city and now we have relocated to Byron – It was just such a great opportunity as my partner Rich received a job transfer.
I am really enjoying it here, it reminds me of where I grew up and being beside the beach and outdoors is more ‘me’. I am more inspired, productive and just have more headspace which is amazing!

FLASH Jewellery // By designer Nina Gordan // NZ/AUS available online // interview with Studio Home

I personally know the exhilarating ride that is self employment – the unrivalled satisfaction in a WIN and the tired feeling of another wall being put up. What advice or wisdom could you share with us that you have learnt to be true on your own ride?

Hahah being self employed definitely has its highs and lows. (Especially when you are bank rolling it yourself lol).
I think the thing I could share, is to make decisions and take calculated risks. For a period I stalled because the ‘conditions’ were not right.. I was like waiting.. but for what, I was unsure. Making decisions is hard, But opportunities don’t wait – I’ve definitely learnt this the hard way.

Also, do things for yourself, it feels really good and people can see thought things that aren’t genuine.

FLASH Jewellery // By designer Nina Gordan // NZ/AUS available online // interview with Studio Home

What I learnt from Nina:
Perhaps it IS this simple?
That love of a material or process might actually
be the pathway to a career with passion.
…………………………..

Explore more of the FLASH world here:
Online store
Facebook 
Instagram

Posted in australia, emerging designer, fashion, new zealand, Studio Home Interview | Leave a comment

Getting to know Kip + Co.

Kip & Co AW'17 // Australia to the world - available online // interview by Studio Home

I loved looking through the campaign imagery for Kip & Co’s AW’17 collection – as it, once again, reminded me that this is a brand to be bent around any personality.

Below you will see some disco-ey glitz followed by some decadent “at home time” (if only all our homes were as gorgeous…) plus kids of all ages mingling with popcorn duvets and
crazy donut sheets. My head would have blown off had I been able to snuggle into something so vibrant and cool in my youth!
Their designs can explode in vibrancy as they are layered, or when singled out, can seamlessly slide into any type of home. Seriously – it’s actually a bit of a wonder?

The Kip Queens – Hayley Pannekoeke, Kate Heppell and Alex van der Sluys have been at this game for a while now. They entered a market bare of personality and have reigned from above, even during some years where it felt like everyone was jumping on their bandwagon. And what they HAVE proven is that there is one mighty big well of ideas that together they have fed, and season after season of fresh products, pattern and design proves that.
With one eye on the USA and the other on their families and homes, this team continue to be an inspiring brand and business growing from our own corner of the world.

Hayley, Kate and Alex took time to answer some nosy questions I had for them. Its a great read!

Kip & Co AW'17 // Australia to the world - available online // interview by Studio HomeFrom left: Alex van der Sluys, Kate Heppell  and Hayley Pannekoecke.
…………

Sometimes I try to remember what homes were like pre the Kip + Co led revolution of attitude packed bedlinen. There was nothing…. then there was YOU!

Can you share with use what each of you were doing prior to the 2012 launch?

HAYLEY : Prior to our launch in 2012 … (apart from drinking cups of tea and plotting to role out colourful bedding world wide), I was busy having babies (3) and running an organic grocery store and cafe outside of Melbourne with my sister Kate.   I studied as a Naturopath during University and had spent many hours working in-store, helping people with their health needs. I loved it so much I opened my own store (with Kate).  This was our first business together!
In my spare time (huh!) my husband (James a builder) and I were busy building and renovating our first few homes on the Victorian coast.  I have always loved interior design, colour, home bits and fashion so enjoyed every minute decking out our own places.

KATE: For the 2 years prior to Kip & Co, I worked as the business manager of Melbourne fashion label Obus. For the 5 years before that, I owned a health food store and yoga studio with Hayley. Both feel like a lifetime ago, as since starting Kip&Co I have also had 2 bugs and another on the way.

ALEX: In 2012 I was busily working away in communications in Melbourne, having recently had a career change after slogging it out as a lawyer for a while.
I was keen for a creative outlet from corporate life, and the idea of starting a business with two of your best mates seemed like the most sensible plan in the world!

Kip & Co AW'17 // Australia to the world - available online // interview by Studio Home Kip & Co AW'17 // Australia to the world - available online // interview by Studio Home Kip & Co AW'17 // Australia to the world - available online // interview by Studio Home

For those out there keen to live beyond a white duvet, your collections offer the chance to reflect our personalities in our own spaces.
Aside from Kip + Co. product; what are your most treasured items at home that really ping your heart strings!

HAYLEY: James and I recently completed another home on the coast, in which we plan to stay! We have gathered bits and pieces over the years and really created a place we can live amongst our favourite things.
My bathroom has pink and lilac sandstone, pink Moroccan floor tiles and French gold taps… I love it! A couple of my favourite things include a quirky painting of a bird I purchased in Williamsburg a couple of years back. I carried it back, frame and all in my cabin luggage and it looks even more vintage now than it did before…
I have a bit of a thing for Morocco and the treasures I bought home many years ago – they are dotted around our home and draw me back to some really amazing times in my 20’s with friends and family.

KATE: I have a bunch of art that my husband and I purchased together in the first 5 years of our relationship.  It was all we wanted to spend our money on.  We got a Minnie Pwerle, which will forever be one of our most prized possessions and two Rhys Lee paintings which I will never ever get tired of.
Hayley and I also own matching Buddha lamps that were our parents and even though mine was completely smashed accidentally by one of our kids and has now been painstakingly re-glued together (badly), it will forever sit in our home as one of my most unique and cool treasures.

ALEX: I’ve just been moving into my place post renovations this weekend and it has been so fun to unwrap all these little treasures from different periods in my life.
We commissioned a huge Fred Fowler painting for our living room that makes me swoon. I’ve also got a bunch of paper mache painted pots that my boyfriend and I found in India last year in the huge ramshackle shop in Jodhpur that I love. And there is a sweet little initial chest that was my great grandfather’s medicine box when he was a doctor.

Honestly I could go on forever!
What I love is that everything has a memory, its pretty much all pieces we’ve collected on beautiful holidays or gifts from great friends and family.

Kip & Co AW'17 // Australia to the world - available online // interview by Studio Home Kip & Co AW'17 // Australia to the world - available online // interview by Studio Home Kip & Co AW'17 // Australia to the world - available online // interview by Studio Home Kip & Co AW'17 // Australia to the world - available online // interview by Studio Home

Who or what is popping up on your radar at the moment?

HAYLEY: Ok! A random bunch of my loves at the moment and things that are always on my radar …

We have been busy planning our launch in the US so my radar has been way over the Atlantic for the past 6 months.  Some cool US brands and designers have come our way and one of those I am loving is The Jungalow … the creative outlet for plant loving interior designer Justina Blakeney.  This woman is a style powerhouse and has an aesthetic that Aussies adore.

Also in love with boutique Aussie sunglass label; Pared.  My eyes have been shaded in their original cool colours and designs for the past couple of Summers.  I love the cool simplicity of the brand but also their lack of fear around using colour… right up our alley! I love throwing on a pair of sunnies to suit the way I am feeling or what I am wearing.

I love vintage clothes markets and finding sparkly treasures and cool old jackets

I am also a real foodie in a simple, nonchalant kind of way.  I was in Mykonos last year and my absolute favourite restaurant had no electricity and cooked everything on the fire … no fuss and real tastes are my thing.
I love getting out and about on my days in Melbourne and finding new places to eat and drink.  I am a huge oyster fan so always looking for the freshest shucked plate of oysters too!

Kip & Co AW'17 // Australia to the world - available online // interview by Studio Home Kip & Co AW'17 // Australia to the world - available online // interview by Studio Home

KATE: I’m always loving Gucci! Haaa! But closer to home I love Lucy Folk for jewels and sunnies, Third Drawer Down and Takeawei for ceramics and cool homewares and Obus for clothing – always. And I am taking a breather from art, so nothing even on my radar there.

ALEX: I am a huge fan of Mignon Steele, a very talented artist from New South Wales.
I am reading Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey which is keeping my up late at night!

I’m planning a trip to Europe in July, my first time in many many moons, am thinking of exploring Mallorca (hoping to stay at Cap Rocat) and Corsica which sound very exotic and the perfect break from Melbourne’s brutal winter. I am also chatting with my architect; McManus Lew and builders Ardlie Projects about another exciting build hopefully in the next year down on the Mornington Peninsula.

Kip & Co AW'17 // Australia to the world - available online // interview by Studio Home Kip & Co AW'17 // Australia to the world - available online // interview by Studio Home Kip & Co AW'17 // Australia to the world - available online // interview by Studio Home Kip & Co AW'17 // Australia to the world - available online // interview by Studio Home Kip & Co AW'17 // Australia to the world - available online // interview by Studio Home

So many designers choose to work alone (and prefer it that way!)
What is it about the dynamic between the three of you that is rewarding and are there ever times when it gets difficult/awkward/tricky?

HAYLEY: Never! We are really great mates and each bring something different to the table in terms of design but also skills in managing a business and keeping things fresh and exciting at Kip.  We all really love what we do and enjoy our time together, especially when we get to travel together.

KATE: In a surprising way, this trio never gets old for us. I think it is because we all have such respect for each others style, experience and work ethic – so even though we don’t always agree with one another on every design or project, I know “if she likes it, even though I don’t, it must be cool/smart/a good idea”.
I’m kinda laughing at this comment, but I think it really is what keeps us all pretty mellow on everything we do. We intrinsically trust each other. And the most rewarding bit about this trio (and in fact the web of amazing people around us) is that we have our best friends alongside to enjoy this adventure with us.

ALEX: It’s really worked amazing well, we all bring different skills and experience but our common bond is that we are all creative souls and respect and love each other.
Plus we are all very hilarious so end up in hysterics most of the time.

Kip & Co AW'17 // Australia to the world - available online // interview by Studio Home Kip & Co AW'17 // Australia to the world - available online // interview by Studio Home Kip & Co AW'17 // Australia to the world - available online // interview by Studio Home

What I learnt from Hayley, Kate and Alex: 
“There is an unrivaled power in a cohesive team. It is something to strive for!
And just as I suspected – humour is the best glue”

………………………………………………….

Drop further into the Kip + Co world via:
Website
Blog
Instagram
Facebook
Pinterest

Posted in australia, creative business, for the home, product design, Studio Home Interview | Leave a comment

Alice Berry in ‘Wonderland’

A piece from 'Wonderland' - a collection of paintings by Alice Berry // New Zealand - available online // Interview by Studio Home

Alice Berry’s invitation to her exhibition ‘Wonderland’ really made me sit up and pay attention!
Over the years I have watched as Alice grew a wholesale print empire that got the nod from many as a shining example of a young creative “doin it for herself”!
Her work was fun, graphic and light hearted – a total winner for the card and print shelves of boutique design stores across the country. (You may have seen or even own an Alice Berry Llama?)

So when the beautiful painted abstract invitation arrived I did a massive double take!!! It was unrecognisable to me as her work – and on further investigation, I had missed a lot more than a progression in style when it came to this savvy young woman.

The interview below has been done quickly to make sure we can get the word up and out about her show open for just TWO days this weekend! But Alice has undertaken it with such raw honesty that I highly urge you to share this among any friends who have experienced a struggle against anxiety. As someone who has been there myself – I found Alice’s story and words below to be enlightening and reassuring.

Wondering what I am on about?? Read on!

A piece from 'Wonderland' - a collection of paintings by Alice Berry // New Zealand - available online // Interview by Studio Home A piece from 'Wonderland' - a collection of paintings by Alice Berry // New Zealand - available online // Interview by Studio Home

I am always struck with a smile when I see an Alice Berry “llama” series print on the wall. I mean they are seriously everywhere!
That very clean, light hearted style has been very much an identifying factor in your public work to date…which is why I got such a delighted surprise to see this amazing, painted abstract work from you with the launch of Wonderland!

It would be great to learn a little about your artistic pathway to date?

Haha thanks! Those llamas are a good time. #SpiritAnimalOnLand.

I’ve actually always painted throughout my life so far. I used to take lessons with another NZ artist; Hayley Brown when I was a kid and she took me under her wing a little in my primary years. I didn’t do art or design at high school as my intention was to become a town planner!! I did my first abstract when I was 12 that was in a shared exhibition. One more when I was 16, then 22. So it’s been a bit sporadic!!

After a year at Uni,  in the first stages of a town planning career,  I though “F**k this, I’m out”. So I quit Uni and had no idea what I was doing. I applied for a Graphic Design course 3 weeks before it started and got in (thank goodness) which is how I became a designer. It’s also where my love of vector became apparent and I developed my illustration style.

After that I tried finding a design job which took 18 months and moving to Auckland without a job or flat! That’s when Alice Berry Design began and my own creative outlet got its groove on! I’ve focused a lot on illustration over the past 5 or 6 years which is cool but got back into painting last year as a way of relaxing. Abstract just seemed to come naturally to me. I love the mixing of colours and not having the pressure to make something look exact. Painting this way allows me to express myself and still have a design eye on for the overall look.

A piece from 'Wonderland' - a collection of paintings by Alice Berry // New Zealand - available online // Interview by Studio Home A piece from 'Wonderland' - a collection of paintings by Alice Berry // New Zealand - available online // Interview by Studio Home A piece from 'Wonderland' - a collection of paintings by Alice Berry // New Zealand - available online // Interview by Studio Home

In the release supporting your exhibition “Wonderland”, you very openly spoke of your personal experience with anxiety.

“After struggling through a solid year or two of intense anxiety, Alice has come through the other side and decided to put herself out there with a collection of her abstract paintings – WONDERLAND.
This collection expresses Alice’s feelings and experiences. Some have been painted over up to 6 times until the feeling is right. This collection celebrates individuality and colourfulness within ourselves. You will see paint on the frames. This represents being outside the box.”


Can you share with us how the process of painting, forming a collection and then putting it all out there in the public eye has helped you ?

Yeah, so, basically anxiety has been a thing for me for a long, long time without really realising it. I faced a lot of bullying in my school years and had no confidence to stand up against that. Losing special people over the years and doing things alone all freaked me out but I didn’t know why and maybe thought it was normal. Then at 20 I had my first full-on anxiety attack. I had no idea what was happening to me and I felt like I was never going to recover and that this was how I was going to die. To put it plainly, it was fucking scary.

Then the same thing happened again the next year, and the next year and then I realised I probably needed some help… after which I found out I was experiencing extreme anxiety. Although I got help and felt fine, it would still come back from time to time.

About 18 months ago I basically had an emotional breakdown and just could not go on like this any longer. It’s a pretty hard time to look back on really. It was about a year or two in the making and just hit me like a ton of bricks – I felt stopped in my tracks with no escape. Luckily I have great family, friends and doctor that all supported me through those times when I couldn’t be alone, stop crying, too scared to drive or too tired to stay awake for a whole day from the exhaustion of anxiety.

I kept being asked ‘Why haven’t you got any new work out yet ?’ and ‘What’s taking so long?’
My feeling was, “I can barely make it through a day right now, so the idea of being creative is really not happening” – obviously I didn’t say that though.. haha. I think people need to understand that we can’t always be ‘on’ and creating non-stop. It definitely can’t be forced or it just ends up crap.

First up, I did the 100 Days Project and started small by just drawing one thing a day. That got me slowly back in the mood for creating which led me to play with abstract patterns and design a sock for release later this year.
Then it just felt like it was time to hit the paints again. Got paints. Got brushes. Got an easel and away I went. I was playing and experimenting with colour and texture while trying to communicate a feeling at the same time. It wanted it to feel positive but real. You will see there is always a hint of a darker colour in the paintings which represents the realness of feeling low, but it is being taken over by light, colour and fun.

The reality is, you will always have ups and downs, just hopefully in less extreme way.

As the paintings were happening I just decided that it was time to put it out there. Share the anxiety and the creative in me. It’s the real me and I want to try and embrace it. A few of my family and friends are going through similar times, so I also felt stronger to let it out. The process of painting also helps me to be calm and not overthink life! They come together with lots of layers and textures created with the paints. A lot of these have about 4 paintings layered underneath as I would keep painting over until I felt it looked like the feeling I had – if that makes any sense.

I called the collection WONDERLAND as a play on Alice in Wonderland. I feel like her falling down the rabbit hole is my experience with anxiety- falling into what seems like an unexplained world, then turning that around into something positive. It’s pretty nerve-wracking but I’m proud of myself for making it happen and most people are really supportive. Some have definitely called it bull shit but I am stronger now to push forward against the haters. Haters gon’ hate after all.

Hopefully you guys will enjoy my artwork and have a good time if you come along! And to be real, anxiety is still part of my life, probably always will be, but you just gotta keep working on it and look after yourself.

A shout out to John Kirwan and his work for mental illness. I met him at a rowing regatta about a year ago he was so kind and inspiring. What he does is pretty amazing.

A piece from 'Wonderland' - a collection of paintings by Alice Berry // New Zealand - available online // Interview by Studio HomeA piece from 'Wonderland' - a collection of paintings by Alice Berry // New Zealand - available online // Interview by Studio Home A piece from 'Wonderland' - a collection of paintings by Alice Berry // New Zealand - available online // Interview by Studio Home

Who out there do you hold a creative flame for? Share with us some of your favourite people/brands who inspire you in their work, attitudes or practice.

Citta – I also worked here for a bit and the girls are the best.

Gorman – the BEST prints ever.

Margaret Petchell – I love a good bird painting and hers are the brilliant!

Jen Sievers – the way she creates is pretty amazing and I love all the colour and the vibes

Timo Design – from my home town and his work is fun, quirky and awesome.

A piece from 'Wonderland' - a collection of paintings by Alice Berry // New Zealand - available online // Interview by Studio HomeA piece from 'Wonderland' - a collection of paintings by Alice Berry // New Zealand - available online // Interview by Studio Home A piece from 'Wonderland' - a collection of paintings by Alice Berry // New Zealand - available online // Interview by Studio HomeArtist Alice Berry // New Zealand - available online // Interview by Studio Home. Photo by Will Morgan
Alice Berry – Photo by Will Morgan
………….

What I learnt from Alice Berry: 
“Outlets (whether they be creative or not) are important for
distraction, building courage, value, purpose and confidence.
Sharing, while scary, creates perspective and
everytime will show you that you are not alone in your experience.”

…………

AUCKLANDERS:
‘WONDERLAND’ – ALICE BERRY IN ABSTRACT
Friday 12 May 2017 – 6-8pm drinks + nibbles
Saturday 13 May 2017 – 10am-3pm
@ Thievery Studio – Level 2, 203 K’rd, Auckland

EVERYONE ELSE!
Website
Online store (any available originals and limited edition prints will be listed here next week!)
Etsy Store
Instagram
Facebook 

Posted in art, new zealand, Studio Home Interview | 1 Comment

Billie Culy : ‘Gild’

Pink From "Gild" - an exhibition by Billie Culy // New Zealand - available via Parlour Projects, Napier // as interviewed

I first got to know Billie Culy when she was helping with her parents Homebase Collections pop up in Auckland in 2013. I was captured by the close, creative aesthetic shared by the family as a whole, so often with the nature at its root. To this very day I am inspired to indulge the very fluid, beautiful way that they celebrate it – not only their art but their homes!

The work shared below is a continuation of Billie’s exploration of using flowers, foliage, sets, vessels and a painters eye to capture the essence of a person, a place or a moment in time. ‘Gild’ is showing now at Hawkes Bay’s; Parlour Projects until the 20th of May but for those that can’t make it I took some time to quiz this young artist on her inspirations, her process, her love of living away from the big smoke plus some Hawkes Bay highlights for weekend interlopers!

New Zealand artist; Billie Culy // New Zealand - available via Parlour Projects, Napier // as interviewed

As a young creative you chose to swim against the flow of many, and moved from the city back to the regions. What was the pull to return home and share a little about your life in Hawkes Bay.

I think my main motivation to leave Auckland was just to give myself room to breath, I only lived up there for four years but I think it’s easy to get stuck in a space you feel comfortable and in a job you don’t mind but that stagnant feeling creeps in – you feel like you aren’t going anywhere, and maybe the urge to create is fading. So a complete change of environment was what we decided was needed!
Strangely enough, we actually had an opportunity to learn beekeeping with a local keeper in Hawke’s Bay so that was all we needed to motivate us to pack up and head back down there to live the dream.

It was a complete contrast to what we were doing in Auckland, study, work, city life. Literally the day after we arrived in Napier we were in a honey processing room, scraping the wax off honey frames and spinning it out, then out to help tend to Beagle’s hives. It was so fascinating – I can’t remember learning so much in such a short period of time in my whole life.
I’m obviously now not a beekeeper but I think it was something that really shocked me back into the creative zone. For some reason – it sparked something in me! Learning about bees and how their life cycle works and how they play such a huge role in the survival of our environment, it gives you a completely different perspective on life and I found it really inspiring.
It made me fall in love with Hawkes Bay again.

It’s so beautiful here, the landscape is so diverse. I live in Haumoana, a little community by a wild stony beach. It’s a quiet place but that’s what I love about it here, you can escape.
Having the space to make work and make a mess is so important so I’m lucky to have a great studio at home. It’s also so great to be near my parents, we have been able to help out a lot with things they work on at Balquhidder and it’s just really fun to bounce ideas of them in a way I could never do when I was living in Auckland.

Hydrangeas of Clive From "Gild" - an exhibition by Billie Culy // New Zealand - available via Parlour Projects, Napier // as interviewed Dahlias From "Gild" - an exhibition by Billie Culy // New Zealand - available via Parlour Projects, Napier // as interviewed

Flowers and foliage are enjoying a well deserved time in the limelight at the moment with artists, gardeners and stylists  a like! This is something that makes me VERY happy! 
However your work has always stood out and above for me – the sets, the light, the vessels and the super layered and interesting combinations you put together are captivating.

Can you share with us your thoughts and process behind your photographic work?

I think it all starts with my complete admiration for the beauty of plants and flowers. Firstly, I wanted to capture their form at a certain time of the year, almost freezing a moment in time. I have always loved to collect foliage growing around me – I find certain plants remind me so much of a particular time or place. For example, Haumoana has such distinctive plants that grow along it’s coastline and I love the idea of capturing the essence of this our community in a single flower arrangement.
I use plants that evoke a feeling of nostalgia, sometimes it will be that they remind me of a favourite painting, my mum or town or someone’s garden I have a connection to. My arrangements are always a little playful and I like to let them do their thing. Sometimes something will droop, or fall off but these are the little moments I love to capture.
The vessels I use have such an importance too. I like that each one comes from a different era and this plays a role in how you view the work. I want people to have a moment where the image feels as though it’s from another time.
Colour is a huge part of my work. I think I see colour before any thing else, its very intuitive for me and I feel that’s why I see my works more as a painting. With my current exhibition I really played with the idea of my process being similar to the way you would put together a painting, using layers of texture in my backdrops and combining the two mediums of photography and painting. This time I also shot with medium format film for my current exhibition at Parlour (Projects), which was a completely different process for me.

Hibiscus From "Gild" - an exhibition by Billie Culy // New Zealand - available via Parlour Projects, Napier // as interviewed "Gild" - an exhibition by Billie Culy // New Zealand - available via Parlour Projects, Napier // as interviewed

You have been bought up in a family of prolific artists – some of my all time favourites actually!

What values, advice, work ethic and processes can you pin point specifically learning from them and how does this affect your own creative work?

I have had such an interesting life growing up with my parents doing what they do**, they are so diverse in their talents, and I think that taught me that creativity doesn’t just come in one form, you can express it in any form you feel like in any part of your life.

Everything they do has an element of creative expression and it’s something I so admire and really believe it can make you a better artist. The more you do the better you become. Being around them my whole life while they work – whether that be directing, photographing, painting or cooking even, I have learnt and still do learn so much. They have definitely shown me that an artists life is not always easy. I think to being creative can also mean you are quite sensitive (well for me anyway) so it’s a constant learning curve! Even just learning to believe in what you are doing, and to actually trust yourself, is a process I’m still getting my head around!
I consider myself so lucky to have mum and dad – my life mentors!

** Brian and Leanne Culy are well respected creative professionals across art direction, production, photography, film, design and painting/drawing. Their design, art and photography work falls under Homebase Collections. You can read more of their story in a previous interview of ours at their BEAUTIFUL Napier Home; Balquhidder House.

From "Gild" - an exhibition by Billie Culy // New Zealand - available via Parlour Projects, Napier // as interviewed on Studio Home

We all have those people that we love to check in with for inspiration and motivation!! Whose work do you follow and what attracts you to them?

For floral inspiration  I always check in with Doctor Lisa Cooper on insta.
Her arrangements are so strong and so powerful! Flowers don’t always have to be pretty.

Food is life and my favourite food people at the moment are Organic Ash and The Next Meal. They are just always doing something different and interesting AND they share things that I actually want to make!

I follow so many galleries and artists on Instagram – it’s so great because living in Hawkes Bay you can easily feel a little out of touch from the art world, that’s something I miss the most about Auckland. It’s not quite the same as seeing in person but it’s better than nothing!
Michael Lett is always a good time! One of my favourite NZ artists; Gavin Hurley has the best gram! Also loving Kirstin Carlin’s paintings at the moment. I could just keep going…..

Sometimes the radio is my best friend and is constantly on in my house. I actually find it really inspiring and motivating! I always check in every week with Kim Hill, Arts On Sunday and Music 101 – the best of Radio NZ!

Sarah's Flower Garden From "Gild" - an exhibition by Billie Culy // New Zealand - available via Parlour Projects, Napier // as interviewed From "Gild" - an exhibition by Billie Culy // New Zealand - available via Parlour Projects, Napier // as interviewed on Studio Home

We have ONE weekend to spend in Hawkes Bay.
Where and what would be on your hitlist?!

Wow where to begin!
Ok – Saturday we would go to the crazy markets on the Napier waterfront. I like this market because it’s a little bit of second hand, bit of tacky crafty stuff, food and veg. There are always interesting people there andit’s a little different from the classic Farmers Market in Hawkes Bay.
Then we would have to go to Hapi for food, can’t put in words how good the food makes you feel!
Would have to go for a walk up through the Redwoods to Te Mata peak, the BEST way to see Hawkes Bay.
Possibly dinner at Bistronomy, very special food!
Maybe a bit of shopping in Hastings. The Little Red Book Shop is a real gem, and then La Petite chocolate shop is amazing, they make everything there – it’s so beautiful!
The Hastings City Gallery is really great, always something really good on. We would also  stop in at Parlour Projects across the road!
We’d end the weekend with fish and chips on Ocean Beach.

That was basically a food tour of HB!

A River Walk From "Gild" - an exhibition by Billie Culy // New Zealand - available via Parlour Projects, Napier // as interviewed on Studio Home Acorn Squash From "Gild" - an exhibition by Billie Culy // New Zealand - available via Parlour Projects, Napier // as interviewed on Studio Home "Gild" - an exhibition by Billie Culy // New Zealand - available via Parlour Projects, Napier // as interviewed

What I learnt from Billie Culy: 
Romance, beauty and nostalgia live in the smallest of details.
Take the time to recognise the little things that you attach memories, people and happiness to.
……………………………………………

 

 

You can connect more closely with Billie Culy by:

Viewing her show here at Parlour Projects 
Following her on Instagram

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