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Category Archives: art
The sweet line drawings of Laura Shallcrass will have most definitely crossed your path at sometime or another. As an illustrator, she has long held court with a successful print career and audience from around the world – but now, shes on a new path.
I love Laura’s answers to my questions below, particularly about her struggles to be brave enough to define herself as an artist. Self confidence is a fickle creature!!!
Laura’s new body of original paintings which you will see below are available on her website and will also show at this weekends NZ Art Show on in Wellington. I’d HIGHLY recommend checking this out if you are local!
In the mean time, enjoy getting to know this Queenstown based artist, her own favourite art heroes as well as an insiders guide for your next weekend in the Wakatipu!
Laura, can you share with us where your creative spark began? What have you done in your life to cultivate it and improve your practice?
I’ve always loved drawing, painting, any kind of creating really. But I didn’t start drawing seriously until late in high school, and even then it was only because I had decided I wanted to go to design school and I needed more creative subjects. Once I got there I was really drawn to illustration but I never thought I was good enough to actually focus on it. So I took graphics papers and computer graphics papers until I had a timetable clash and was forced into an Illustration paper by chance. In truth, the fear that I wasn’t good enough at art is why I didn’t focus on it earlier. It’s taken me a very long time to call myself an artist, and even now I feel like I need to add a disclaimer that I’m not a real artist, I’m an illustrator and I still do graphic design too, so I can’t really be an artist right?
In terms of my career I started out making prints of work which I did for fun, mostly for friends, (because what 20 something can afford original artworks!?) Which got picked up by a few galleries and gift stores and grew into the business I’m so lucky to have today.
After a really successful few years selling your print runs and products with your highly recognisable illustrations, you have now headed down a different road concentrating on painted originals.
Can you explain to us what has changed for you and the direction you want to continue your career?
The affordable art movement gave me a lot and I’m incredibly grateful for the humbling number of people who have paid hard earned money for my artwork. But I’ve been thinking a lot lately about art as an object, a finished article, with its own journey and mana. Some of which seems diluted by the act of replication. There seems, also, to have been a sort of natural progression for me in the last few years, as my work has evolved I’ve been seeing a slow decline in the number prints selling but a steady increase in the number of originals. This has led me to decide to move away from prints and focus more on my original artwork.
You live in one of my favourite parts of the world (somewhere I called home 10 years ago!). Imagine we are coming to stay for the weekend – what would the Laura Shallcrass Insiders Guide to Queenstown and the Wakatipu include?
Ok – let’s start with the important stuff. Breakfast and coffee at Bespoke Kitchen is the best start to any day, then we’d definitely have to hit up a scenic walk/swim if it’s summer. Bob’s Cove or Moke Lake probably.
If it’s winter let’s head up the The Remarkables for some snowboarding/skiing & hike up above Shadow Basin chairlift and look down the front face towards Queenstown. After these activities it’s time for more food obviously and you can’t miss The Empanada Kitchen. Then wander the streets a bit before heading out to The Sherwood for dinner and if we’re lucky an awesome music gig.
As someone with a significant art problem…I can only imagine the issues faced by an ACTUAL artist! I am surprised you can part with any work!!
Given that you probably won lotto last week …..which artists work do you covet the most?
Photography by Vaughan Brookfield
What I learnt from Laura:
There is a great beauty in being undefined.
Allow time, confidence and skill to dictate what you offer to the world instead of guessing what they will demand.
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.
Above: Virginia Woods-Jack
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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
Work available online at The Poi Room.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.”
‘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
Online store (any available originals and limited edition prints will be listed here next week!)
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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
Lola Wright is a young NZ photographer I have been gratuitously following on instagram for quite some time now. She takes me on her adventures around the country, across seas and on many occasions, “IN” seas!
As a total sucker for the romanticism of nature, I am an easy match for her art based and editorial work (she has a cool blog to explore too) which made sharing this preview of her exhibition a total no brainer.
“Aqua Frizzante” opens at Allpress Studio in Auckland this coming Monday – all details here – and runs until May 5. Pop in and meet the artist and view this work in person!
I feel like Lola’s photography very much engages us in “the moment”.
You know…lying on your back in the ocean at sunset looking past your own hand, peaking half out of water at your friends and the world on shore… it offers a very unique chance to “be” there. The tone and style of her imagery delivers the “magic” of that moment that I imagine to feel as if experiencing it myself.
So with this in mind I decided to ask our artist the thoughts that spring to mind when very simply posed with each sense…
Read on below.
Pictured above: Lola Wright
“Deep saturated golden light falling upon layers of sand dunes on Auckland’s West Coast. My favourite memories have come from running up & down sand dunes and along mirrored shorelines bathed in golden light. It never gets old standing on top of a dune with awesome people, in a huge vast space with no one in sight. Just watching that big ball of fire sink into the wild sea.”
“That almost quiet half hour before the sun is about to rise with the slight hum of the earth accompanied by Tui and cicada song. Sunrise is always a time of solitude for me. My mind is quiet and everything I see and hear is all that exists in that moment.”
“Neoprene, surf wax and salt air! Haha!
It always reminds me of summer, the ocean and my dude Jordan. Which are 3 of my favourite things. (#4 would be hot chips.)”
“That slight charcoal taste of fresh fish that’s been cooked on an open fire. It’s that satisfying bite into a piece of fish that you caught earlier that day, fried over an open fire, surrounded by my people (coupled with an ice cold Steinlager of course !).
Never quite complete without a little bit of accidental crunchy sand for extra flavour.”
“The deep, refreshing, silky sensation of the ocean as I tread water between shots. I love the feel of water and the visual textures it creates. Mum used to call me a little seal because I would spend hours swimming around as a kid. Not much has changed except now I do it with camera in hand!”
A journey expressing a love of water, light, movement & texture.
Allow yourself to sink into Lola’s Aqua Frizzante world.
At Allpress Studio, Auckland
O P E N I N G N I G H T
Monday 24th April 2017
6pm – 8pm
Some drinks & nibbles provided
Last year I slotted in on the judging panel for the annual Bolt of Cloth Textile Design Award. Just like the year before, it was thrilling to see the short lists and degree of talent in the locally submitted work (bodes well New Zealand!!). While Bolt of Cloth provide a version of heaven for fabric loving makers and decorators; I tip my hat to their committed effort at spotlighting domestic design talent with this ongoing project.
The resulting collection between Nellie and Bolt of Cloth is both bold and fluid. The colourways and playful graphics would slide into a really broad spectrum of homes of different aesthetics and its damn exciting that you can also buy this quality fabric by the meter!
These images are part of a terrific feature on the collection in the latest Homestyle magazine and you can explore the winning range in its total here online or at any of the Bolt of Cloth stores.
I thought I would take the opportunity to learn more about Nellie in her own right as a very experienced and diverse creative professional. We talked about inspiration, working from home and her personal direction when decorating her own spaces.
Working from home can be a double edged sword when it comes to productivity! What is your experience with this and how do you combat the distractions?
Time restraints with deadlines means I can’t always wait until I’m ‘feeling creative’. Sometimes I just have to turn it on and make it happen. Trying to stay focused at the job at hand can be really hard at times when working from home… I’m terrible at getting sidetracked checking out social media, the ‘just for 5 mins’ usually turns into half an hour, down the instagram rabbit hole. I have to remind myself when I’m looking at gorgeous images I’m not actually creating anything myself (that’s usually enough to snap me out of my trance).
Generally when I’m procrastinating my house looks a lot tidier, which is one bonus! You’ll find me sorting or organising things, I think by doing that it relaxes part of my brain and gives me time to think about the job I’m about to start working on. Once I’ve been briefed on a new job I try to start on it soon after the briefing, as that’s when the ideas are most fresh and I’m feeling most enthusiastic about it, really good to get pen on paper then, rather than wait a week, and come back to it. When that happens I can lose the momentum. Also I break the job down into bite size chunks, so it’s less overwhelming and feels more do-able.
Despite your huge body of illustrative work for books, brands and commissioned jobs – it’s obvious you are concentrating on more and more textiles and products aimed squarely at the “home”.
How would you describe your personal interior style and aesthetic when it comes to your home spaces?
I’ve always been bit obsessed with interiors and have a passion designing textiles for the home. My personal style is relaxed, yet I like to think it’s little sophisticated with some quirky touches.
I love having lots of books and art around me and live in a light filled house. There’s a blend of old and new pieces together, mixing midcentury lamps and sideboard with cleanline modern pieces. Most of the objects I surround myself with were collected from my travels or from vintage markets and carboot sales. I’m attracted to slightly offbeat or beautiful objects and always love finding out the back story of where these pieces came from. Though I don’t like unnecessary clutter and do love to edit my space from time to time.
My style now is more about simplicity, natural fabrics, texture and interesting print combinations. The older I get I really appreciate quality and design longevity over the ‘sugar rush’ of cheap, fast, mass produced fashion looks which require people to buy and dispose of pieces seasonally which is unsustainable and generally doesn’t inspire the same sentimentality and nostalgia as a good quality piece does. I always try and carry that through into my own designs, as it’s important for me that my designs stand the test of time.
Your career has exposed you to some major local and international names in design (Kate Sylvester and Jasper Conran to name just a few!)
Who out there in the creative world provides you with inspiration?
Currently I’m listening to some great podcasts and reading about some really inspiring females, their extraordinary stories and their ability to sustain successful careers over their lifetime. I’m resonating more with hearing stories of artists who have faced challenges or just hearing about their creative evolution over time.
One of my favourite artists is Louise Bourgeois. Her career peaked at 70, which is wonderful to think maybe the best is still to come. I’m really inspired by designers Elsa Shaperelli, Celia Birtwell, Barbara Hepworth, Bridget Riley, Florence Broadhurst, Corita Ken ( an amazing graphic designing Nun!), Lucienne Day ( so many more!) and what they were able to achieve.
I am also constantly inspired by my creative friends who take risks to be doing what they doing and always give great advice. I listen to Kathryn Ryan, on the RNZ Morning Show and BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour online, both radio show have a wonderful line up of interesting guests. Great books I’d mention would be Elsa Schiaparelli ‘Shocking Life’ and Peggy Guggenheim, ‘Out of this century’.
You had 10 amazing years based in London before returning back to the homeland. Do you think being based back in New Zealand has influenced your work?
The pace of life and laid back, ‘can do’ attitude of New Zealanders has influenced me by finding more life/work balance and helped me nurture my creative side a bit more.
If you were only allowed to hang the work of ONE artist on your walls….who would it be?
Hard question! Hmm I’m going to say David Hockey, I’ve loved his work and it’s so diverse from his pool scenes in LA from the 1960’s through to his most recent oversized hyper colour paintings of the Yorkshire landscape.
Where are your favourite haunts in Auckland ?
I spend a lot of time with my partner and son locally around Point Chevalier, where we live. It has a great community vibe, lovely beach, lots of parks and a few interesting places to eat. I also love a good forage in charity shops, looking at old books and hunting for treasures to then sneak back into the house. And always love popping into beautifully curated shops, like Flotsam and Jetsam, Tessuti and Simon James plus some of the wonderful independent books shops like the Women’s Book Shop and Novel Bookstore. Browsing art galleries on K Road happens too!
Our favourite dinner haunt would be Coco’s Cantina on K Road. Damaris and Renee are so hospitable and it always has a great atmosphere. A Friday night drink or two at Golden Dawn is always fun (especially as I’m out less these days), I can usually bump into a few old friends.
Photography by Wendy Fenwick for Homestyle
Learn more here:
*Bolt of Cloth x Nellie Ryan Collection*