Missing in action: Kate Henke
On my recent trip to Melbourne I was really excited when Emily Green, a prolific creator who I had followed for years, accepted my request to visit! I wasn’t however, at all prepared to find such an awesome studio set up, team of chatty helpers and the Emily’s amazing, magnetic personality. By the end of the interview I was tempted to bin my notebook and ask if I could join her merry crew indefinitely !
Emily Green was born in Sydney, grew up in Canberra and at 10 moved to Perth with her family. She was a major maker as a child, always drawing and a heavy user of fimo and plastacene which is telling! She focussed heavily on art during high school and then headed striaght into a Fine Arts Degree at the University of Western Australia. The course left her feeling a little lost and disillusioned at her career options, so she looked to speciliase and took up Fashion and Textiles at TAFE in Perth. Again, she felt a scary lack of direction in terms of work outcomes so, seeking something fresh, at 21 she left home and headed to Melbourne for what was meant to be a year.
Emily worked some basic jobs until she had firmed up on her next step which she decided would be a graduate diploma in teaching – something she felt could open doors to a “real” job. Taking up a role as a high school art teacher which she held for 4 years, she relayed how the work load was immense and guiding final year students through their VCE’s in her first year as a young graduate was incredibly demanding! Her dreams of her job being an extension of her identity were being rapidly smashed by the system, so she attempted to go part time to allow herself to study Textile Design. It almost came as a relief when that request was rejected and she gladly left that permanent role to become a substitute teacher and part time student.
It was around this time in 2010 when Emily started getting stopped in the street while wearing bright little brooches she had made for herself. This un canvassed public support gave her the momentum to start selling them at a few markets. Again, customers were super receptive, stockists came on board and she received some great press. After just 1 year of part time study she could no longer juggle this with her making and new role as an art technician at a high school 3 days a week. So study lost out, productivity grew and in another 6 months she had added, what are now – her iconic necklaces to her collection.
Fimo was and remains her chosen medium for her jewellery. She loves its hues, ability to mix colours like paint and to finish your work you simply need to bake it in an oven! The fact that there was no complex set up of specialist equipment with no crazy outlay was a major in her choice to use it. This accessibility is also perhaps the reason why she has been so widely “copied”. While most of us can claim to playing with Fimo once in our lives, Emily’s use of colour, her combinations and intricately handmade beads with pattern set her apart in her creativity and popularity. But the availability of the material has made her a bit of a target! When I asked her about this, an observation I had totally made on my own, she simply smiled her beautiful smiled and shrugged. This was a reaction of someone who has far more strings to her bow and she has been putting them to great use!
In 2012, after fielding so many requests about the watercoloured background she had made to photograph her necklaces on, she decided to offer the originals for sale then went on to produce print runs earlier this year. A collaboration with Melbourne based shoe brand; Hobes in early 2013 led to a mega three-way project combining with local digital printing company; Frankie and Swiss and the result were three different colourways of beautiful, water colour kicks!
Social media helped spread the Emily Green style far further than she had imagined when she was contacted by high end, New York based label; Isoude who had spotted her work via Pinterest. She was invited to come and meet them to discuss collaborating on their Spring/Summer’14 collection! Gladly Emily jumped on a plane – the result is her print being used in seven different garments soon to be released.
By March 2012 Emily was able to finish teaching completely. Demand for her necklaces had increased to such a level she was calling on friends and family to come and help on her mini production line! It was at Harvest Workroom where she had a studio that she met Lucy Hall who came on board as her first full time employee for the year. Alicia replaced Lucy who left to do some travel and Emily then employed Kate Henke part time to match the growth in her orders. Katherina Dams joined the team full time recently and everyone was stoked to see Lucy back in the lead up to Christmas. Emily was quick to recognise the talented makers she had on her team and making use of their skills and backgrounds in textiles she released a range of knitted scarves in Winter last year.
Collaboration and endless diversification seems to come so easily to Emily, but on meeting her its absolutley no surprise! This woman GLOWS! While I was visiting, the team of four barely took a break from their relentless and often intricate making, preparing stock for the usual Christmas flood of orders for wholesale, online and the upcoming markets (you can spot her water colour work on all The Big Design Market collateral…including trams!)
With her eye on more textile work and a departure from colour with an exclusive range of necklaces for Craft Victoria, I can safely say that the creative world of Emily Green and those in her orbit will remain exciting, inspiring and covetable!All photography by Julia Atkinson for Studio Home
WHAT I LEARNT FROM EMILY GREEN:
Don’t get distracted by those in your peripheral…know that no one can do what you do the way you do it! AND with that in mind always continue moving forward to meet new opportunities and bring ideas to life.