Makers of Melbourne

Welcome to Makers Of Melbourne – the ‘go to’ guide for our technically integrated age.

Makers Of Melbourne has been created to consume and assimilate Melbourne culture. We're male focussed, but not male specific, sorting through the dross to weed out the creative stars, standout events and stylish folk that make this city unique. 

MOM aims to embrace all facets of what makes this city a creative hub. Our aim is to inform without condescending – to keep you abreast of what’s going on without regurgitating Press Releases & to seek out this city’s sub cultures to give our readers the inside scoop on what’s REALLY happening with the people who make Melbourne Melbourne.

Filtering by Category: Interview

Interview: Brian Nankervis

Brian Nankervis loves a yarn.

Even though I’d been previously advised of this fact, it comes as actual relief when we settle easily into our allotted phone interview.

It's Nankervis’s genuine openness and natural gift of the gab that has made him a stalwart on Australian TV, with appearances on Hey Hey it's Saturday, Jimeoin, and cult 90s sitcom Let The Blood Run Free, as well as warm up jobs for The Panel and Big Girls Blouse, not to mention his long running gig as MC on the SBS music quiz show RocKwiz.

Monday afternoon and the St Kilda resident has just finished up a relaxing coffee in a neighbouring café, taking brief respite from a busy day. He spent the morning performing at a local primary school before moving on to host an intimate lunch, raising awareness for people living with disabilities.

It's a rich and varied schedule and one that no doubt keeps this former teacher on his toes, however (and as much as we could chat for hours) it’s none of these things that have lead us to arrange today’s conversation, neither is it his annual hosting role for the Sacred Heart Mission's Heart of St Kilda variety show, nor his spell as a Triple R DJ in the 1970s and 80s.

We’ve been brought together to discuss a very special collaboration between the members of the RocKwiz orchestra and Melbourne institution Ding Dong Lounge; who are proudly presenting a night of soul food, music and entertainment inspired by the spellbinding history of New Orleans.

What initially started life as a side project between owner of Ding Dong, Bill Walsh, and Nankervis, rapidly progressed into a series of sold out dinner shows occurring in late 2014 – the two have once again joined forces to develop a brand new night of entertainment, set to make its debut this coming Sunday the 1st of March.

Nankervis: “Bill approached the [RocKwiz] office and suggested that we get RocKwiz involved with the club and put on a show based on New Orleans, as their kitchen has a New Orleans theme. I knew that the band were all mad fans of New Orleans music so I approached the orchestra and we hatched this plan to perform the Dr John album Gris-Gris from start to finish, followed up with a second set of live dance songs.”

For the Melbourne born showman, live performances like the Ding Dong theme nights offer great opportunity for audience interaction, “to get the band going and see the audience dancing.” He happily shares that last year’s shows were “fantastic, one of the real high points of my career” allowing Nankervis time to schmooze, mingle and host, “I’ve always fancied myself as a maitre d' so that was good fun.”

While Nankervis may proudly wear his self-appointed title of Maitre d’, it’s not the only new mantle that he’ll be awarded with this afternoon. As we begin to wind up our interview I casually enquire about his evening plans. “I’m off to supervise my son’s cricket practice.” He shares, and it seems to me that we can go ahead and add the word coach to that impressive resume of his.

 

Brian Nankervis and members of the RocKwiz Orchestra New Orleans dinner and show is on both Sunday the 1st and 15th of March from 6:30pm. Tickets available here

Interview: Amanda McCarthy, Leonard St.

Australian brand Leonard St. is the epitome of cool, with simple lines and sophisticated silhouettes. Leonard St. designer Amanda McCarthy loves print, colour and beautiful fabrics and these materials have formed the basis of her designs for over a decade. 

This Melbourne based label recently celebrated its 10th year of creating eclectic garments with a whimsical, urban style, inspired by bright happy colors and original prints of both a vintage and modern persuasion.

Leonard St. designer Amanda McCarthy

Leonard St. designer Amanda McCarthy

A self proclaimed fashion label born from doodles and experiments, McCarthy works on the ethos of understated chic and each piece is created to endure years of “frolicking and romance”. With a background in sculpture and fine arts, drape and line are the starting points of McCarthy’s design process, followed by fabrication for form and structure. 

The designer does most of her design work by hand in her recently acquired coastal studio.

McCarthy: “A view of the water is a new luxury and certainly helps me to get to that creative zone.”

Leonard St. Spring Summer 2015

Leonard St. Spring Summer 2015

Her techniques for designing prints can be anything from simple potato cuts (SS10), finger painting with her daughters (SS10), pencil drawings and floral or insect patterns (AW11).

McCarthy: “We have a lot of insects in the garden and my little daughter is fascinated by them. Print design often comes from real life experience, the swallow (SS10-11) started by trying to slow down my husband’s tattoo addiction by trying to get him to research the design more, the swallow is the traditional motif for sailor tattoos as it was the symbol of land close by, yearned for after months at sea. It is all done by hand.”

With the tradition of the ragtrade in her blood, McCarthy’s future was seemingly prewritten – Her grandfather was the first to import Liberty fabrics into Australia and fine linens from Ireland in the 1930s and had a showroom of his brand, Laurie McCarthy, in Flinders Lane for 50 years spanning 1930-1980. Amanda wanted a more ambiguous and nostalgic tone to her brand and named it after Leonard Street in East London where a wild sartorial scene inspired her own playful approach to fashion.

Leonard St. Spring Summer 2015

Leonard St. Spring Summer 2015

McCarthy worked in retail before moving into buying, visual merchandising and managing film wardrobe departments before turning her hand to design.

Since its inception in 2004 her brand has shown internationally in London and Beijing as well as being regularly shown at Melbourne’s annual Fashion Festival.  Leonard St. has also collaborated with Australian high street brand Sportsgirl, producing a capsule collection of playful summer pieces for their 30 stores across Australia during Summer 2013, and Porsche, for whom McCarthy recently designed a signature silk scarf.

Last month Amanda announced the launch of a new childrenswear line, Little Leonard St. The range designed in a selection of her favourite prints, its inception the perfect method for brightening up her own children’s wardrobes. The move into children’s clothing is a natural progression for the label and an excellent way for Amanda to expand herself creatively, giving Leonard St. a unique standing point in an increasingly oversaturated Melbourne fashion market. 

McCarthy: “Once I had kids myself a lot people asked me if I would go into kids wear. I didn’t plan to, but after buying product for own kids that stretched or shrunk or ran, and I stated to visualise my prints working on some cute kids pieces, I couldn’t resist!”

It is this creative vision and foresight that has helped sustain Leonard St. over the past decade and will see it through many seasons to come, as well as an excellent way of increasing the longevity of the range of seasonal prints.

McCarthy:  "Its sad for me when I put so much work into a print, and it is well received I would like to continue it, if I can increase its shelf life past 6 months, then I’m happy! But I'm careful. I think it’s important to keep fresh product and presence in the store. So with the kids it has allowed me to continue with some of the old favourites, like the Fox or the Deer. And once on the kidswear they work really well."

Amanda confides to Makers that she loves to see her own daughters dressed in Little Leonard St, and takes on board what they like to wear again and again. With the guidance of her children she's added a sunhat and a few more cute dress styles, as well as a boycut tshirt and a little panda print tee to the range, much to the pleasure of her clients.

McCarthy: "The Little Leonard St section does bring a real warm and fuzzy feeling to the store. It evokes lots of smiles and oohs and ahhs, so of course we love that."

Leonard St. and Little Leonard St. are currently available in store and online. Visit the website for all shop and stockist enquiries.     

 

 

 

 

Interview: Sarah Parkes, Smalltown

Macramé is having a serious resurgence in popularity thanks largely to artist Sarah Parkes.

Makers spies Parkes’ handiwork during visit to the Fitzroy design studio of Kloke, with whom the qualified graphic designer shares an open plan space. However this isn’t the first time that her intricate designs have caught our attention. With pieces hanging in various shops, cafes, bars and offices around town, it’s highly likely that you’ve seen her work too. She has truly modernized what was, until only recently, considered to be a very outdated craft.

Sarah Parkes work in Mr Banks, Melbourne 

Sarah Parkes work in Mr Banks, Melbourne 

Months later we return to the creative studio to meet with the softly spoken Parkes, where she’s deep in the thick of knotting a commission piece bound for Sweden, her first international job. The large rope sculpture fights for space alongside a sleekly designed wall hanging, several lights, pot holders and in the corner of the room, a baby’s crib, where daughter Blue is sound asleep, oblivious to the controlled chaos that surrounds her.

Parkes: “I’ve always looked at craft books and was looking at macramé. I remember that I thought it was time for a reinvention. At the start I thought, ‘I can’t believe people haven’t done it yet’, macramé was always around but nobody was really doing it and I’m still waiting for someone else to. My love is the big stuff and the big commission pieces and still no one is, thankfully, doing it at the scale that I’m doing it, but I was lucky."

Sarah Parkes work in Arrow Energy, Brisbane

Sarah Parkes work in Arrow Energy, Brisbane

It takes more than luck to run a successful business, especially one within such niche confines, but Sarah isn’t afraid to push artistic boundaries. What started off as a career in small run jewelry design progressed into large-scale macramé after her friend, Rob Maniscalco, founder of Claude Maus, asked her to design a 7-meter wall hanging for his CBD concept store in 2008. Parkes followed this up with a couple of two story pot hangings for Space Furniture and installations for FUR Hairdressing. A newly discovered passion was ignited.

Parkes: “As soon as I did it I was just, ‘this is exactly what I want to be doing.’ I’ve been lucky to get some good commissions along the way, I get to push my practice in different directions, that’s part of the reason that I love what I do, I’m not pigeonholed into one type of design, I don’t just make pot hangings. I get to work across different fields.”

Sarah’s design business, Smalltown, is divided into two sections – Challenging commission work balanced out by a more straightforward capsule collection (made up of smaller, more budget friendly lights, pods and pot hangings). The recent acquisition of two assistants, who help out with the knotting of the capsule range, has helped to free up Sarah's time so that she can focus on larger scale installations. “It’s amazing having people work for you”, she laughs, “I did it for so long by myself and it took me a long time to feel ready to teach people.”

Parkes: “I shouldn’t say this but I think it’s [macramé] deceptively simple, however I say that after doing it for however many years… But really you can just repeat one knot again and again, it’s all how you move the rope around. It’s been really interesting having people in and realizing what standard I want things to be made at, and how important it is for people to get a product that looks like what they’re expecting. I always want to exceed people’s expectations.”

Parkes’ work is impressive, as is her ability to reinvent a once tired craft. The skilled tradeswoman makes a firm point of not working with natural fibers, therefore avoiding the retro connotations. Instead she works with colourful polyester ropes (all lovingly made in Melbourne), experimenting with spray paints and enamel dipping, all new and successful methods for colouring and molding rope into harder to hold shapes.

Before we leave the studio Makers can’t help but ask for a better look around. A large knotted curtain awaits completion, although it may have to be put on hold until her Swedish job is finished. “I love to make things,” states Sarah, “It’s been a slow progression because I don’t do anything quickly [laughsand at the moment everything takes a lot longer because the baby needs a lot of attention. I never would have guessed that this is what I’d end up doing, but it just totally clicked with me.” We bid our goodbyes as baby Blue begins to stir in her crib. As much as Parkes adores her work she loves her family more, and right now the macrame might have to wait. 

 

Interview: David Vodicka, Rubber Records

Sometimes you need to celebrate an achievement.

In the case of Rubber Records, an indie label grown out of a bedroom in Melbourne in 1989, it was decided that this silver anniversary should take form in a months worth of specially curated shows featuring rare performances by some of the acts that the label has played host to over its life span.

Releasing over 250 titles in its 25 year history, Rubber Records has been home to artists including Even, JET, Cordrazine, Underground Lovers, Crooked Fingers, Icecream Hands, Liquor Giants, 1200 Techniques, Ricaine, The Affected, The Grapes, The Casanovas, bZARK and The Genes (to name just a few).

Says label founder David Vodicka, “I’ve always preferred being in the background and just releasing records by artists that I love working with. This series of shows is just as much a celebration of being around a long time and sticking with those artists, as it is an excuse to try and get some of them to play again!”

With the series of one-off shows by a range of artists from the label due to start at the Northcoate Social Club in December, Makers of Melbourne thought that now was the perfect time to sit down for a chat with label founder David Vodicka, whose own personal history is steeped in the Melbourne music industry; from hosting breakfast on Triple R, founding the label and establishing one of the country's most respected entertainment legal firms as well as sitting on the AIR board. 

Rubber Records founder David Vodicka

Rubber Records founder David Vodicka

Hi David, thanks for the chat - Could you please take us back to the beginnings of Rubber Records, what drove you to start your own record label?

Arguably a combination of stupidity and naiveté, but in truth a love of music, and the desire to work with artists whose work I loved.

Did you have a background in the music industry, how did you know what to do to get the label off the ground?

I learned on the job, and generally just did what needed to be done. At the start I was in 3RRR and a student, so blew the savings on putting out records. Luckily we made enough to keep going, though never quite enough for me to stop being a lawyer.

Was there a “tipping point” for the label, how did it grow in popularity over the years?

Tipping point was signing Even and then Cordrazine – we moved from indie distribution to a major, and major label funding. But that was also an education on the politics of big business. Arguably labels don’t grow in popularity, their acts do, and as such you live and die on the success of your artists. When our artists were more popular, so were we.

How do you choose the acts that you work with? 

I have to like the music, the artist and the work ethic. No rules as to genre or style, just has to be interesting art.

How has the Melbourne music scene changed since Rubber’s inception?

Better infrastructure to play live, perhaps more of a community (the advent of Music Victoria, government funding programs certainly assist), but its still essentially a great city that breeds great music and talent.

Has the music industry changed in general?

Arguably not much insofar as its still about talent connecting with people. What’s changed are the means of distributing that music and the methods of communicating with media and fans.

There are a series of Rubber Records concerts taking place over December to celebrate the anniversary, how did you choose the performers for the gigs?

They’re all great acts that I’m proud to have released, even if they aren’t all equally well known. It was partly availability and willingness – I would have loved to have had Icecream Hands, The Exploders, Ricaine, TSOMM, the Liquor Giants, etc play but with limited time, availability, and everyone’s commitments, I still think we put together a great program.

25-years in, what does the future hold for Rubber Records?

Continuing to release records we love, and keeping the flame alive for those artists we’ve released in the past.

 Is it hard to sustain a record label in the age of digital downloads and music piracy?

Of course, any business that doesn’t fit squarely in the mainstream is going to be tested by diminishing revenue streams from physical, digital, streaming. But at the same time, it is possible to create a community around your artists, and label, and provided you keep releasing material that keeps people interested, then it will remain possible.

Has hitting the 25-year mark made you feel sentimental towards the ‘good old days’?

I tend to be about looking forward and am not a fan of nostalgia, and whilst  there are certainly what in retrospect seems like a stack of great adventures had with many of our acts, I couldn’t do them justice. I’d prefer to share the present and future, and that for me will be the shows we do in December - Hope to see you there!

25years.jpg

The three-week Rubber Records residency starts at the Northcote Social Club on Wednesday 3rd December - Tickets on sale now.  

 

 

Interview: Chris Cowburn, The Smith Street Band

They say that the tipping point is the specific moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire. Just like a single infectious person can start an epidemic, so too can a small but precise push bring a new band into the wider public consciousness.

To the uninitiated, The Smith Street Band’s rapid ascension into the Oz music scene may appear to be a sudden onslaught, but in reality the band has been working on a steady burn for the past five years, cultivating a solid fan base since the release of their debut EP, South Facing Wall, in 2011. They’ve since followed it up with an intense touring schedule and a few more EPs and LPs thrown in for good measure; including the latest, Throw Me In The River, let loose to stellar reviews last month.

The Smith Street Band Photographed by Andrew Johnson

The Smith Street Band Photographed by Andrew Johnson

An afternoon of non-stop press sees Makers of Melbourne allotted a 20-minute phone slot with Smith Street drummer Chris Cowburn. There’s so much excitement surrounding the interview that I jump the gun and begin dialing his number a couple of minutes early. A voicemail message is left requesting a return call.

 Chris: “Something sort of snapped. We were touring more, and more opportunities began presenting themselves. We really all just started enjoying playing together and things just clicked. It’s grown from that. Once we released the first EP we were all really vested in it and it has certainly become my passion and it’s going pretty well so far.”

Cowburn has dialled back and we’re deep in the thick of discussing the groups “tipping point”. But playing music for a living wasn’t something that came naturally to the drummer. He openly admits that he wasn’t that phased about playing in a band for the first few months, although he enjoyed the camaraderie, it was lead singer Wil Wagner’s unique lyrics and vocal style that resonated and really got him taking the lifestyle seriously.

Chris: “The way he [Wagner] writes songs and in terms of his inspiration, he has a beautiful knack of being able to articulate himself really honestly, like no one I’ve ever met before. He maintains 100% honesty and integrity. Some people are still baffled that Wil sings in his own accent and I find it a bit perplexing that people would expect that he would change himself. With the lyrics that Wil writes, if he was trying to sing like someone else it wouldn’t work and the band would be terrible.”

Chris Cowburn Photographed by Zo Gay 

Chris Cowburn Photographed by Zo Gay 

 At times polarising, Wagner’s distinct vocals have been garnering attention since The Smith Street Band’s inception. Half spoken word, with an equally strong punk and hip-hop influence, the performer has been compared to Bruce Springsteen, Paul Kelly and Billy Bragg. As well as playing with the group, 2013 saw the prolific songwriter release a solo album, Laika, and tour nationally to support that effort.

 With focus back on the group and a national tour about to get underway to promote Throw Me In The River, I can’t help but ask the drummer about the recording of the album, which took place in the small Otways town of Forrest.

 With a population of just 170 people, The Smith Street Band formed some solid bonds with the small community. They were treated like neighbours, given beer and baked goods and thrown parties, like the infamous bonfire that ended up being the cover art for the album. Having a big city band in town became somewhat of a talking point with locals, “We made the Forrest Post, which is the monthly newsletter,” Chris says, “The lady from the Forrest Post was very excited to talk to us, I think we even made the front page.” 

And it’s not just the Forrest Post that’s paying attention. With our 20 minutes almost over Chris has several more interviews scheduled before his afternoon is up. “Things are so wild, it’s a pretty fun time right now,” he tells me before we exchange our goodbyes, “I never really had any expectations about the band but things have just grown and grown. The more gigs we play, the more people come out to our shows and to get to where we are today, I’m feel super grateful and super lucky.”  

The Smith Street Band Photographed by Andrew Johnson

The Smith Street Band Photographed by Andrew Johnson


The Smith Street Band play The Corner Hotel, Richmond from Wednesday 26th November - Friday 28th November.

Throw Me In The River is out through Poison City Records now

Interview: Mel Macklin

Mel Macklin inhabits a magical world.

Tucked away in a studio in Montmorency, this graduate of the visual arts creates a style of dreamy illustrations that wouldn’t look out of place inside the pages of a children’s book – It’s a land full of pastel-hued girls with big hair and even bigger eyes.

Mel Macklin Photograhed by David Heath

Mel Macklin Photograhed by David Heath

The talented artist has been creative since she was a small child and credits her family with encouraging and discovering her talent. “I was very fortunate to know that I was always going to be an artist and no one ever said that I couldn’t, or that I shouldn’t.”
But it was only while she was attending art school that she discovered the work of Mark Ryden and a signature style blossomed.

 Macklin:  “You grow up thinking that you can’t play with dolls forever or that you can’t have your head buried in a book of myths forever, but it was almost like, ‘well this guy is’. He made the impossible seem possible.”

There’s an effervescence to Macklin’s tone that sits perfectly alongside her 'Blyth'-esque illustrations. When she confides that she’s not long since finished tidying her studio, her uplifting lilt is enough to inspire Makers to wish that we could have mucked in and helped clean the workspace, certain that we would only stumble upon hidden treasures, like a grown up Easter egg hunt.

After a childhood spent in Gipsland and teenage years whiled away in the Northern Territory (where the self proclaimed ‘petulant brat’ attended art school), Macklin moved to the U.K and began work as an arts and humanities teacher at an all girl’s school in London. While she may have only recently resettled back into the outskirts of Melbourne, it’s immediately evident that Britain still holds a special place in her heart, “I miss it everyday,” she confides, “I feel like when I left, I left a little part of me behind.” Beatrix Potter country has left its indelible mark on her work.

Salty Tears and Shipwrecks by Mel Macklin

Salty Tears and Shipwrecks by Mel Macklin

Macklin: “When you grow up reading fairytales full of pine forests, it [Europe] feels like all of your favourite stories are stepping off the page; it was quite magical to me. I feel like it’s not necessarily the country that you’re born in is the one that you have a natural kin-ship with. And I think it can be quite difficult when you have experienced other places, not to feel like Voldemort and his Horcruxes, (laughs) to give you a really bad analogy.”

Macklin speaks in sweeping illustrative terms. Her time abroad is liked to visiting Narnia, her itinerant lifestyle is that of a snail - “I felt like I was carrying around all my worldly possessions on my back, but as long as I had my paints and my pencils I’d be ok.” And when it slips that this creative once toyed with the idea of becoming a children’s book author and illustrator, we’re not left feeling surprised.

After a return to Oz in 2009, Mel and her husband David set up home in the Northern Territory where she began selling her wares at a local market. Although the tightly knit creative community in Darwin warmly welcomed her return, it wasn’t long before the couple decided it was time to set up a more permanent base in Victoria.

Mel has settled easily into Melbourne life and for the moment her days are spent sketching - With work sold in various markets around the city, walking her dogs and building up her Etsy store. There was a recent collaboration with local lipstick brand Shanghai Suzy and many other fantastical endeavors in the pipeline.

 Macklin: “I was 17 when I started art school and had a really set idea of what art should be. It was all a very idealistic way of thinking; I was inspired by the Pre-Raphaelites and all of those very romantic painters and didn’t really pay a whole lot of attention to the practical side of stuff. I wish I did but I was probably quite young and it was hard for me to grasp the idea of, ‘in order to do this you need to grow up and practice the fundamentals of things'."

With her childlike imagination and beautiful illustrations, Makers hopes that Mel Macklin never really “grows up.”

Of Fir Trees and Little Queens by Mel Macklin

Of Fir Trees and Little Queens by Mel Macklin

Interview: Joanna Wheaton

It was a passion for makeup and a history in product marketing for some of Australia’s largest cosmetics brands that lead Joanna Wheaton to launch Shanghai Suzy lipstick in August last year.

Like a majority of women, the former model turned entrepreneur was tired of paying copious amounts of money for lip products that she would wear a few times before moving on to explore the next beauty trend or formula. Joanna felt that there was a gap in the market for affordable, on-trend lip colours that delivered in terms of pigment, formula and packaging, and so, after several years of careful planning, her Melbourne based company was born.

Joanna: “I love lipstick of course and was always searching high and low for the perfect seasonal shades. I was spending $30 or more on lipsticks that I would never ever finish.  With that insight I thought that it would be great if there was a brand that would release a ‘wardrobe’ of the ‘in’ colours each season at a reasonable price point. That way I could buy them all, and my lips would be sorted for the season.”

A self confessed social media addict, Wheaton’s range of limited run lipsticks are influenced by current fashion collections, bloggers and makeup artists. With the brand still in its infant stages (Shanghai Suzy’s third season launched in September 2014), the niche makeup company, which takes its moniker from a childhood friend, has already built up a cult like following.  Shanghai Suzy is currently stocked in over 300 boutiques and salons across Australia, but despite the small businesses’ rapid expansion Wheaton proudly states that her initial philosophy remains steadfastly the same.

Joanna: “The initial ethos was to create salon quality lipsticks with fashion forward colours at a pharmacy price point. They had a few bells and whistles too of course, they’re grape bubblegum fragranced, beautifully packaged, they’re cruelty-free. I’m really proud that we’re delivering a product that was lacking in the market before.”

Creating seasonal collections has given the marketing maestro the opportunity to collaborate with local creatives. A ‘Gossling’ shade, inspired by performer Helen Croome, made up part of the autumn/winter 2014 collection and the current spring/summer season features illustrations by Gipsland born artist Mel Macklin, whose fantastical drawings are the perfect accompaniment to Wheaton’s aesthetic. “It was a perfect storm really,” says Macklin, after the artist met the burgeoning lipstick queen at The Rose Street Artist Markets. “It’s quite wonderful and rare to meet someone with such a strong vision. She really knows what she wants and she’s really good at verbalizing quite specifically what she thinks Shanghai Suzy should be.”

With plans to expand into New Zealand and the competitive American market next year, as well as developing a range of lip balms and exfoliators, the future looks candy hued for Suzy’s blonde powerhouse.

As for her upcoming new season of shades, Wheaton suggests that the current 90’s influence will continue, with  dark bold shimmery lips worn during the day.  She lovingly refers to the trend as ‘Gothic Chic’ and tells Makers that the movement toward “dark forest green lips, as well as grey, black and gold lips” is sure to continue into the winter.

Joanna: “We have many customers that buy the whole range each season and look forward to buying the range as soon as it’s released.  Many people are scared of colour or to try certain colours even though they are drawn to them - I say give it a go and experiment! Makeup to me is all about having fun. I think that’s the most important thing.” 

Interview: Rob Mason

There was a time when barbershops were ubiquitous, functioning not only as a place for a man to get his haircut, but as a community touchstone for men to meet up, catch up on the news and possibly get a stiff drink. But then the good old barbershop ceded to the ‘Salon’ and the barber gave way to the stylist, with not a straight razor or bottle of whisky in sight.

Thankfully, the traditional barbershop has undergone a serious reimagining in recent years. There seems to be no stopping the resurgence in this good old fashioned service, and a new generation of Melbourne Barbershops has given local guys the opportunity to enjoy a similar experience to those of previous generations.

Even artists like Kanye West are now employing a full-time travelling barber and although he may not (yet) be employed by Yeezy, local barber Rob Mason recently trimmed the mane of international style icon Nick Wooster while he was in the country filming a Woolmark campaign.

Rob: “I used to do a lot of work with GQ and while he was in town Nick needed a haircut. Wayne Gross (from GQ) had seen the space and the haircuts and it was totally up Nick’s alley so he just brought him down. Nick Wooster seems to want to seek out a ‘hidden gem’ as opposed to a chain. There was a film crew here and probably about four photographers and a whole heap of people just following him around for the Woolmark documentary. We had music pumping so no-one could talk to him and he slept throughout the whole thing.” 

The classically trained Mason opened his new barbershop Morris Motley, within a modern warehouse in Cremorne earlier this year. Having his own space has given Rob a newfound sense of freedom and the end result is a relaxed masculine environment.

Rob: “We’ve been open around two months, and it took about six months to put together. I used to manage a salon so I already had a clientele. It happened quite instantly when we did kick off. The business looks like a start-up but because I had that clientele and I’d been working with these products for so long it all came together really quickly.”

The Nik Bouras designed space is slick with a classic twist.

Rob: “I said, please make it look like New York.”

Clients can relax in deep leather armchairs whilst they wait for Rob to work his magic. There’s also an open lab space, where the enthusiastic hairdresser has been working on his own range of grooming products, which are due for release before the end of 2014. What originally started out as a hobby for Rob has turned into a full-blown obsession and the chance to create a legacy, doing something he loves and filling what he sees as a  substantial gap in the men’s grooming market.

Rob: “I knew that I could make a difference. Guy’s products are so primitive compared to women’s. I started getting focused on the chemistry and dermatology around two and a half years ago. I started by taking a graph of all my clientele that seemed to have dermatitis or little red marks on the skin and it was around 70%. I started studying and I realised that the ingredients in men’s products that are so bad and so cheap that they just make it worse. It seemed like a problem that was so easily fixed. When I’m not cutting hair I’m in the lab tinkering about.”

The native Tasmanian, who has called Melbourne home for the past four years, credits the burgeoning success of Motley to his years of practical experience, not to mention the credit of a very strong team behind him.

Rob: “I went to Uni and didn’t really enjoy it and the only other thing that interested me was hairdressing. I liked the idea of working by myself or one on one with a client. My girlfriend at the time used to model for salons and I would go and pick her up and see the stylists working with hair and it looked like fun. It’s been a huge slog but worth it - Like anything, you become obsessed with what you do and try to become the best at it.” 

As men pay an increasing amount of attention to their grooming routines, there’s no doubt that this men’s only hair salon will continue to evolve to serve the ever changing needs of the client.

Rob: “It [the return of the barbershop] has reintroduced guys to masculine haircuts and they need to be cut well and tailored to the head. A man is always going to feel good if he looks handsome, it’s a no-brainer.” 

Interview: Giuseppe Santamaria

With images shot for Mr Porter, GQ Australia and Harper’s Bazaar, a recently released photographic book and the much loved website ‘Men in this Town’ under his belt, Giuseppe Santamaria is a street fashion blogger paving the way for Aussie style snappers.

With Giuseppe’s images now appearing in numerous campaigns around the world and the launch of a sister website ‘Women in this Town’ a little over a year ago, Santamaria has certainly established himself as a true triple threat in the online world.

Last week, Makers of Melbourne met up with the Canadian born, Sydney based lensman, as he celebrated the Melbourne launch of his style bible ‘Men in this Town’ at Henry Bucks’ flagship Collins street store.

According to Santamaria, ‘Men in this Town’ was originally inspired by a personal need to develop his skills behind the camera. The softly spoken Giuseppe made the clever decision to start a blog in his adopted hometown of Sydney, a city lacking in sartorial snappers.

Santamaria: “There were older photographers like Saul Leiter, who had always inspired me and I loved seeing the romance in his shots. I always wanted to get into photography, although I wanted something solid to focus on. Menswear was something that I was interested in and street style was just starting to emerge and become popular in 2010, so I decided to go with that. It made sense to start in a city that didn’t have much of that going on. It was probably something that was unique at the time, and very niche focussing on men. It just took on a life of its own.”

With a background in Graphic Design, and (until recently) a full-time gig working as the deputy art director for Good Weekend Magazine, Santamaria immediately saw the value in creating his own “personal style column” and although there were many days spent out on the streets only to return home without shooting a single frame, he found the thrill of the chase was motivation enough to keep going. 

Santamaria: “It was the challenge that I liked about it. I could walk the streets for a whole day and not get a single image. But it was nice to have the chase to go along with it. I did Sydney for the first 2 years solid and I managed to get a lot, it was about being persistent and as the menswear scene has grown there’s been a lot more to photograph.”

Once ‘Men in this Town’ began to attract serious attention, Santamaria made the tough decision to quit his day job and focus on building a personal brand. There was a book deal pitched to publishing house Hardie Grant and only 2 weeks before he was due to leave his job at Fairfax, he was advised that his work would be printed in hardcover.

Santamaria: “I just needed to take that leap. There were more opportunities coming in and it seemed like the best time to do it. It was hard to choose the images for the book. There are a lot of old pictures in there that I wanted for sentimental value, but at the same time there’s only so much that you can print. I don’t think a lot of photographers necessarily know how to edit, but being from a design and editorial background I know how to kill a photo.”

With a second book, ‘Women in this Town’ due for release in mid 2015, Giuseppe is about to jet off on a whirlwind trip around the globe to find and shoot subjects for the new tome. Although ‘Women in this Town’ initially started life as a side project, the astute snapper can see the value in putting his own unique spin on women’s street style.

Santamaria: “When I’m looking for women [to photograph], it’s the same as when I’m looking for men. It’s a confidence and an almost masculine energy. It’s a bit of a challenge, because of my natural instinct, so it’ll be interesting to see what shots I come away with, and if they [his subjects] are more masculine or feminine.“

Starting in March and with only a month and a half to shoot, Giuseppe will be covering six cities including London, Paris, New York, L.A and, Makers is pleased to hear, Melbourne.

Santamaria:  “What’s great about Melbourne is that it’s more expressive, more creative. There’s a bigger artistic community and it’s more, for lack of a better term, New York like, where Sydney is more L.A. The cultures are very different, and there’s more of a buzz, more experimentation here, whereas Sydney is more laid back.” 

Santamaria: “It’s an intense schedule, but I work best under pressure. You know, at first I was scared about trying to make a living from my passion, trying not to loose the shine of the task, but if you do it your own way and be true to yourself it can work. I don’t have ambitions to create something massive, I’m happy for it to be a nice small project. I get to travel and money’s not an issue - not that it’s something that was a great concern for me - As long as I can make a living and I get to travel too, what else do you want? Money can’t buy happiness. Be surrounded by good people, be a good person, that’s what I care about.” 

Interview: Owner of The St. Hotel, Paul Nguyen

St Kilda’s Fitzroy Street has long been a place where reputations are made or lost. This iconic seaside strip has seen businesses come and go, trying to harness a notoriously fussy consumer market.

Located at number 54, on the corner of Canterbury Road, The Saint Hotel closed its doors in mid 2012. Since that time, owners Paul Nguyen and Simon Blacher (of Saigon Sally and Hanoi Hannah fame) have been busy renovating the former bar and nightclub. Their aim, to reopen as The St. Hotel, a relaxed and affordable restaurant come supper club offering signature cocktails and authentic Thai food, designed by Head Chef Sean Judd, whose own background includes residencies at Melbourne stalwarts Chin Chin and Longrain.

   Chef Sean Judd 

 

Chef Sean Judd 

In the early 1950’s the Saint Hotel was a communal St Kilda bank and it was only after Nguyen purchased the building in 1999 that it became the central hub of an already bustling entertainment district. The former DJ saw a gap in a rapidly broadening market for a venue that offered a large-scale club environment with a bar atmosphere. The result was legendary and once again the owner hopes to tap into a cultural zeitgeist. Something that he, along with business partner Blacher, have managed to do successfully for over a decade.


Nguyen: “I started Hanoi Hannah and Saigon Sally around 3 years ago, with the explosion in fun, chic food with a focus on healthy cuisine. I’ve seen the success in that and wanted to bring that back to St Kilda because, until now, Fitzroy Street has catered mainly toward backpackers and fast food. I thought that it would be good to bring quality back to the area but without the price tag, so it’s accessible to both local people as well as out-of-towners. People can come in to eat some food and then kick on late with a drink. There was a definite change in the market and I saw that as a strategy to reopen The St.”

   The St. Hotel under construction

 

The St. Hotel under construction

 

Nguyen classifies the reopening of the hotel as a rebirth, a chance for him to revisit and perfect his first-born venue. The word “excitement” is mentioned and a palpable energy is evident as he describes the newly remodelled space. “I’ve been working on this project for nearly 3 years now and in the last 6 months I’ve taken on more of a project management role. I’ve had a lot of input into the interior, design and the aesthetic of it. It’s nice to be able to create something that I know that people will love and enjoy. I know that it will be functional, in the sense that it will have great food and a great atmosphere, it’s going to be huge and offer something that not many venues in Melbourne have been able to offer before.”

It’s a surefire recipe for success and Paul promises that the new and improved St. Hotel, its recently redeveloped neighbour The George (along with several high quality restaurants opening up on the busy street) will help define the renaissance of St Kilda.

Nguyen: “I think Fitzroy Street was just tired, it just didn’t have an element of quality food. Not only do we want to be successful in what we do but we also want success for the businesses surrounding us. We realise that the more businesses that are doing well, the better Fitzroy Street will become. Ideally we’d like to be known as a local hangout, not just for St Kilda residents, but also for people who might be coming in from the surrounding suburbs. I’m hoping that the next few years will be fantastic.”

 

 

 

 

Interview: Kate Rohde

If a picture equals one thousand words, then the first photograph that Makers of Melbourne snaps of sculptor Kate Rohde has this piece written. Looking down to admire the resin-stained floor of her Northcote studio, we spy feet encased in clog-like shoes so spattered with the detritus of her creative expression that they camouflage almost completely. It’s as if there is this person that has sprouted out of two seeds planted in the very concrete upon which we stand.

The urge to use this image to create the connection between the artist and her work – fantastical sculptures and vessels made with a psychedelic eye for colour and form – is irresistible, not least because of the obvious reversal: her zoomorphic sculptures balanced upon small paws serving as expression of her fascination with the natural world, while she herself stands upon feet given the appearance of art.

Kate: “I guess I kind of put all my energy in to making the work. It’s pretty consuming, in a way: I get a bit antsy if I don’t get something done, some way, in each day. At the end of the day, if I hadn’t ended up being an artist then I would still make work in some capacity.”

That she ended up an artist at all owes more to serendipity than concentrated intent. Raised in a “very un-arty, tradie family” in the Dandenongs, the young Kate segued a passion for arts and craft projects in to art school.

Kate: “I never had a strong direction. I was always open to opportunity and things that came up. So I just keep going, really: I still sometimes think about getting a real career, something that’s in the drop down menu that’s in the bank. I just imagined art school would be the hold music in my life until I did something else.”

Happily for lovers of her work, that “something else” never materialised. Instead, Kate has spent more than a decade perfecting an approach to expression that first manifested with her intense love for dramatically decorative arts inspired by her passion for Rococo sculpture – an era that still deeply informs her practice.

It has been, she admits, an obsession: that mix of animal imagery, the natural world and an unapologetic flamboyance lighting in her the fire of imagination that has given rise to Kate’s own unique signature.

What is intriguing in all of this is the apparent contradiction present between the basis of Kate’s art work and the element of control (self-expressed) that impacts upon her own nature. On the one hand there is Kate the sculptor daubing her vessels with ad hoc lumps of un-worked clay and dripping resin, on the other is Kate the facilitator expressing concern at the “clutter” of her highly organised studio space.

Not so much a conflict as a paradox, and one of which Kate is very much aware. It serves as the basis for the dramatic push and pull that engenders so much of the artistic tension that draws observers in to her creations.

Kate: “Deep down I always want to be more crazy and more out of control, but deep down there is a part of me that can’t. Stephen Bush, locally, is one of my favourite artists and, the way he paints… He lets these areas be completely random and other areas that are controlled and structured and I guess that’s what I do in my work: let some areas go unconscious – dumping clay and not doing too much to it, and then the other areas that you really work it up, getting that really fine detail and finish.”

Her unique approach has garnered plenty of fans, resulting in an inspired exhibition of flora with designer florist, Cecilia Fox, as well as ongoing projects with fashion designer, Alexi Freeman and fashion super duo Luke Sales and Anna Plunkett of Romance Was Born (Kate’s work is currently for view as part of the ‘Express Yourself: Romance Was Born’ exhibition at the NGV).

Along with her ongoing relationships with Pieces of Eight Gallery and Karen Woodbury Gallery, and her three-day-per-week art technician role at a Melbourne private school, these are all relationships that keep Kate's work rate at a constant high hum. It is a productivity she enjoys, though focus is maintained on keeping some free space should an unexpected proposal stoke her creative will.

It’s a well-maintained balance – chaos and structure poised in life as it is in her art. Requiring constant recalibration, Kate nonetheless appears as someone for whom predictability could breed a feeling of malcontent.

Kate: “It’s always a learning process and that’s what keeps me interested – that ongoing acquiring of skills and learning of new processes. Everything I make I want to live with and I would want to have around me, and then it’s a benefit if someone else would like to have that in their lives as well.”

Interview: Talia Daroesman, Lovers Court

“Hoop dreams echoing off hot bitumen” is how designer Talia Daroesman sums up the aesthetic of her Lovers Court debut leisurewear collection.

Talia: “It [Lovers Court] came about just over a year ago. Since I was little I’d always wanted to have a clothing brand, that’s been my goal forever. It took me a while to know what I wanted it to be, how I wanted it to be, and it was almost a year and a half ago that I finally got the idea and name together. I always just wanted to have it as something I could be creative with, have fun with, and, at the end of the day enjoy it.”

Lovers Court has taken a contemporary attitude toward establishing itself as a brand, with the creation of non-seasonal collections and a strong emphasis on unisex prints and design. As Daroesman explained to Makers of Melbourne when we sat down over drinks “I don’t want to have the pressure of having to put together a winter range and then a summer range. I want to have fun with it and more flexibility.”

Flexibility describes this new label well. Lovers Court draws its inspiration from an undeniably urban influence, though with a modern approach that encompasses inspiration from equal parts hip-hop and traditional American street wear as much as it does the dizzying hyper-density of Asian megapolises.

After graduating from RMIT in textile design in 2008 there was time spent abroad, harvesting inspiration in Hong Kong, working part-time and developing a business plan, that inadvertently “killed” her creativity. “I think that’s why it took me so long to get started but now I’m glad that I didn’t do anything earlier.”

LoversCourtLaunchParty_Heather Lighton043.jpg

Talia: “There were a few instances of starting something but not really getting into it, starting something else but not feeling it, and knowing that it wasn’t the right time. Knowing that I needed more time to figure out what I wanted to do to get some inspiration back.”

For Daroseman, the decision to focus her energy on street wear was a no-brainer. It’s a culture that she connects with, and with her baby bangs and large hoop earrings, it’s immediately obvious that she lives and breathes the lifestyle. 

For now Lovers Court consists of a unisex range of cotton and silk scarves, bucket hats, 5-panel caps and printed t-shirts. Featured throughout the collection are three recurring digital and screen print designs - a monochrome colour palette struck through with flashes of pink. The prints take cues from typography saturated street wear combined with the grid and pixel aesthetic of early computer-generated graphics. As Talia explains, these versatile pieces and patterns are designed to be built up to clash and vibrate against each other or alternatively to be worn as standalone statement pieces.

Beyond the debut collection, Daroesman hopes to expand into cut & sew garments in early 2015, starting with a range of women’s down-tempo, sport luxe sweats, with plans to then expand into menswear, staying true to the brand’s unisex vision.

Talia expresses a strong desire to keep her production local, as long as the label can continue to afford the growing cost of manufacturing in Melbourne (Her printed cut & sew pieces are to be produced in Abbotsford, while the debut collection t-shirts have been screen printed in Fitzroy).

Until she can afford to work on the label full-time she continues to design her collection around her job in a busy Melbourne café, her free time devoted to building a solid online presence. There’s brief mention of a potential Pozible campaign, after watching several other designers take the crowd-funding route and finding success. “I think it’s awesome. People get something in return so it’s not like they’re giving away to charity. Melbournians like to support their local fashion scene.”

Photos – Heather Lighton

Interview: Robert Muinos

Perhaps better known in Melbourne music circles as the guitarist in Melbourne’s 9 piece soul-rock group Saskwatch, Robert Muinos also performs with garage rock collective Dorsal Fins and now to top that off, the seemingly tireless Muinos has just released his first solo single, showcasing his own talents as a singer-songwriter.

Press Shot 1.jpg

Earlier this year and in the midst of a busy tour, Muinos persuaded a few of his Saskwatch bandmates to forgo a highly anticipated week long break to head back into the studio to help record his forthcoming debut EP.

Having done the hard yards touring both nationally and internationally, Robert felt that the time was right for greater introspection and his single, I Was Dreaming, captures the sound of a musician forged, not depleted by time on the road.            

It’s been an exhausting schedule and it comes as no great surprise when Muinos mentions that he has just spent a whole weekend in bed recovering, during our recent phone conversation. Having just returned from Big Sound, where both Saskwatch and Dorsal Fins performed, the performer is understandably enjoying some downtime before turning his focus to a run of solo shows.

Robert: “I’ve tried to write music for both Saskwatch and Dorsal Fins before and it always comes out really shit (laughs). I love the music that I play with them [Saskwatch, Dorsal Fins], but whenever I’ve had those great moments where a song comes out of me it’s always been a folk thing. I never made a conscious decision to write music like this, it just happened and it got to the point where I just thought, if this is what’s going to happen every time I write a song it must be for a reason so I should just go with it and see what happens."

With a strong alt-country feel, you can almost hear the kilometers rolling by in the drums and bass line that accompany I Was Dreaming. Late nights and hangovers run deep in a yearning harmonica while the Rob’s vocal melody seems to search for something naively optimistic. It’s a change of direction for the performer, but not completely out of left field.

Robert: “For me this is my chance to be the boss, which is nice. The single and the EP were recorded with Ed, the drummer from Saskwatch, but as far as the live band goes its Jim Lawrie on drums. I wanted him because we’d just done a tour together and we get along really well. We used to go to each other’s gigs all the time and became really good friends. You want to make music with people that you love.”

The theme of love plays a prevalent role in the film clip for I Was Dreaming and Makers is happy to hear the young singer speak highly of his fellow musicians. There’s praise for drummer Lawrie, who also sidelines in Dorsal Fins, as well as mates in Eagle and The Worm and The Bamboos. Muinos assures us that the Melbourne music scene is for the main part a nurturing and supportive industry.

 Robert: “We’re all just putting music out there for people to hear and for the public to decide whether they like it. I think that there are lots of people out there that have a kind of, competitive vibe when it comes to playing music. I just find it fucking weird. What’s the point in being competitive about it? Just be supportive of the whole scene.”

While he may be proudly supporting his fellow bandmates, Makers can’t help but wonder how accommodating the mainstream music industry is when it comes to up and coming musicians like Rob. With record contracts now few and far between, more and more artists are independently releasing albums, paying for production and studio sessions out of their own pockets.

It’s a hard slog, but for Robert the rewards are paying off ten fold. “It feels good. I think some people like it [the single] and some people think it’s ok. It was pretty scary before but now that it’s released I’m just letting it do its own thing. I did my best to raise the kid and now it’s going to have to look after itself, I’m letting him be free.”

Robert Muinos launches his debut single I Was Dreaming on Thursday October 16th at The Old Bar in Fitzroy.

Interview: Kloke Designers, Amy and Adam Coombes

There’s a warmth to Amy and Adam Coombes that resonates through their designs. An initial phone conversation with Adam and a visit to meet Amy at the Kloke boutique culminates in a sunny Saturday morning meeting where the Makers team is welcomed into the couple’s Fitzro studio.

Launching their Kloke label in 2011, both Amy and Adam have a deep connection to the Melbourne fashion scene. Between the pair, the Coombes’ have worked with some of this city’s most lauded designers. An important pedigree when it came to establishing their own range of men’s and women’s clothing.

Kloke: “The initial intent of the brand was to produce considered products that are loved season after season. Over the years we have been able to combine our differing ideas and bring together what is now Kloke. The brand continues to evolve and being able to work together to create something that is a part of who we both are is a continuous motivation.”

We’re sitting around a wooden worktable in the centre of the Kloke studio. It’s a small space, shared with a local artist, whose stunning macramé wall hangings fight for attention next to bulging racks of Japanese fabric, sewing patterns and current season samples. With son Remi sitting happily nearby, soft music playing and dappled sunlight falling through a nearby window, the open plan room is comfortable with an air of creative energy.

Sipping takeaway coffee from a nearby deli, the Coombes' begin explaining the ethos behind their growing brand. There’s talk of fluidity, not only in shape and fit, but also a growing sense of ease in their design aesthetic. Over the past few seasons they have taken the steps to develop their range with experimentation in both pattern, fabrications and knitwear, which has been added to both winter and summer collections.  

Kloke: “Our intention is to create strong lines and classic silhouettes that have an effortless feel but considered approach. The longevity of a piece starts from the initial idea, the fabric choice and the shape of the garment, we ask ourselves how each piece will wear and make sure it fits with Kloke.

We have been really driven to create collections that work back with each season, in some ways it is like building on a wardrobe. The collections evolve but previous pieces still remain relevant and each collection does still see us standing true [to] who we are and what we believe and want the business to be.”

With business sustainability at the forefront of their minds, the design duo has been careful to build the brand at their own pace. Although they launched three years ago and have been stocked in numerous high-end stores around Melbourne, it wasn’t until late last year that the couple opened their own retail space on Fitzroy’s bustling Brunswick street. Although they casually mention plans to expand at some point in the future, at this stage the busy pair is more than comfortable managing one boutique and a successful online store.

It’s a business plan that works well around their frequent trips to Japan, where they source fabric and sell their designs. The Japanese market has been very receptive to the Kloke brand, not surprising when you consider the clean lines and effortless sophistication Amy and Adam produce season after season.

Kloke: “The conceptual influence comes from our lives and the things we do each day, from all the things around us. This does change seasonally and also depends on life, where we’ve been, what we’ve been listening to, watching looking at and the things we find. From a garment  perspective, we’re generally into designers who’ve altered the way we look at cut  or have changed our perception of design. From the method of how Cristobel Balenciaga cut a sleeve to the way Rei Kawakubo alters the design process. We hope that by looking wide the outcome is something new.”

Although there are rumblings of further international interest, the couple is quick to point out the limitations of Aussie labels selling into larger overseas markets. The difference in season may cause issue, as well as a lack of understanding as to how a smaller brand may fit into a larger fashion spectrum.

With so much to look forward to, Makers can’t help but ask for a sneak peak into the forthcoming summer collection. There’s excitement and a mention of “so much goodness” as we are taken through the new season garments.

Kloke: “We have expanded on our knitwear collection and have some great colours in the range. We have also expanded the dress offering in our women’s range using a Japanese viscose that has a beautiful drape.

The snake in the grass print has been used across men’s and women’s, in denim and cotton shirting. A firm fabric favorite and standout in the collection is the double mesh nylon used in the women’s range. We have also introduced some new trouser shapes for men.”

The future looks bright and Makers can’t help but think that this brand has been built to go the distance. Kloke is a Melbourne label that we predict will be going strong for many years to come.

Kloke: “ Sustaining the business long term is really important to us, and this comes from many aspects, not just the design of the garment. We plan on Kloke being around for a long time and to help ensure this we have been developing and growing at our own pace."

Interview: Lucia Mocnay

photos by:  aglaia-b.com

photos by: aglaia-b.com

Although it may sound strange, the turn of events that lead artist Lucia Mocnay to create her first piece of anthropomorphic taxidermy wasn’t that unusual.

Having completed her Bachelor of Fine Art at Monash University in 2001, the Slovakian born, Melbourne raised Mocnay began working with mixed media and found objects before taking her first step into this slightly macabre world by collecting and framing insects.

Lucia: “I’d been working with natural objects for ages and one day I found a grasshopper and thought it’d be cool to try and mount it. My uncle had preserved insects all around his house and I figured that I could teach myself how to do it.”

As a child young Lucia would scour the ground looking for interesting rocks and bones, which she would then take home and turn into art. One hobby lead to another and when Lucia’s boyfriend Justin, a trained tattooist, began looking into buying a piece of taxidermy to use as illustrative inspiration she jumped at the opportunity to add a fox to their burgeoning collection of curios. The couple bought a piece that in retrospect she states was badly made and the young creative made the instant decision to teach herself the art of taxidermy.

 Lucia: “I went from not liking the sensation of touching meat to working with the skins of animals. I remember the first time I unveiled a fox skin it was very strange. Once you start thinking about the creative process, and start to imagine the piece that you’re creating, you forget about what’s in your hands.”

With her mind filled with inspiration, Mocnay began to feel the magic of creating
a piece of art from what had once been a living creature. It’s an experience she describes to Makers as being “magical and inspiring” and it seems that for Lucia there’s no turning back. Her current work is based on children’s fairy tales and universal creation myths, historical eras and beloved characters. She creates one off pieces from ethically sourced furs, put together with conscious and curious involvement. 

Lucia: “I don’t want my animals to look like Frankenstein’s monster. I try to keep a healthy respect for the animal and its spirit. My partner, being an illustrator and tattooist had gotten me to dress up over the years and pose for drawings that he then used for sleeves and backdrops. I’d dress up and pretend to be say, a gypsy, zombie or bride so he could take photographs. I ended up with a wardrobe full of costumes and after we bought that original fox I started dressing it up. I had so many ideas for different characters and that was about the same time that I thought I’d teach myself how to taxidermy.”

It’s interesting how all of the elements of Lucia’s life have come together. For the artist it seems the decision was more organic than a conscious choice. Things evolved and she continues to be inspired by both her animals and the art her partner creates.

Over the past few years the popularity of taxidermy has surged in Melbourne. Lucia credits the rise to several factors including the steady increase in the number of consumers wanting to fill their homes with unusual antiques & a newfound appreciation from the general public for old artisan skills. The taboo of working with dead animals is also slowly lifting as artists such as Lucia have made the conscious choice to work with ethically sourced animals.  

Lucia currently works on a commission basis as she explores the option of gallery representation. With her first exhibition in the planning stage, she is keen to “clear her studio” of the pieces she has been working on over the past few years. In the meantime she continues to build up her skill set, working alongside her partner and two children in their home studio.

conjuredcreations.com

Interview: Eliza Hull

It’s been a little over a year since Makers last caught up with Musician Eliza Hull, not surprising when you consider how busy she’s been over the past twelve months.

In 2013 the talented singer/songwriter released her sophomore EP The Ghosts You Never Catch and spent time touring in both Europe and the USA, not to mention performances with Owl Eyes and SAFIA.

This Saturday the 20th of September will see Eliza launching her brand new single at The Toff In Town. Produced by Hayden Calnin, Caught is the first track lifted off the forthcoming The Bones Of Us (due for release in early 2015).

 On the eve of her launch night at The Toff, Makers took 5 minutes with Eliza Hull to catch up on what’s been happening since we last spoke in 2013.

Hey Eliza, it’s been a while since we caught up with you and it sounds like a lot has been happening! What have been the biggest changes and challenges over the past year?

I put out my sophomore EP The Ghosts You Never Catch late last year, toured a little with that and also had a couple of American TV syncs for my song ‘Echoes’ which was a dream come true. Mostly this year I have been working on my debut album The Bones Of Us.  Every spare moment was spent at my producer’s (Hayden Calnin) home studio, it is finally finished which is exciting.

Last year I also travelled overseas where I performed in Europe and The U.S. and that was extremely surreal.  It’s funny because I almost forgot what the last year has included; it’s been a good year!

Please tell us about the writing and recording process behind your debut album, The Bones Of Us.

A lot of the songs I wrote on my own just with my keyboard. The inspiration was sparked really quickly. I began writing as soon as I finished the EP. Some of them I co-write with other artists including Ainslie Wills, Texture Like Sun and UK songwriter Tim Gordine.

The title comes from the exposure I feel the album projects; it’s the bones of us, the showing of everything. From stories of love, relationships, and about learning to accept myself, one song in particular is titled ‘Army’ and talks about how sometimes we can be our own worst critic, we can be a war against ourselves and sometimes in order to let someone else in we must first let ourselves in.

I worked with local producer Hayden Calnin on all of the songs. That was an easy process; we work really well together and bounce off each other.

You just mentioned that you’ve spent time playing in both Europe and the USA, How did foreign audiences react to your music and were there any standout gigs from your time abroad? 

I loved performing overseas. Two shows that stand out were actually unexpected gigs, the first one was at The London History Museum, and I won a competition to perform there for their opening night. It was a real shock, very surreal to be at the top of the stairs in this amazing historical London building singing to five hundred people! Another, I performed in Central Park in New York; this was an improvised gig as I found a piano and decided to do a set. I had a huge crowd and lots of tourists taking photos thinking it was a real live performance!

You’ll be launching your new single Caught, at The Toff this coming Saturday night. What can we expect from the show?

New songs, as well as special guests live on stage with me. It is going to be a very special show and I have supports from two of my favourite Melbourne artists Texture Like Sun and Lanks.

Finally, what does Eliza Hull get up to when she’s not writing, recording or performing, how do you spend your free time?

I work in a juvenile detention centre teaching music, and work with homeless youth in St Kilda teaching music and English. I’m currently studying and… I’m also pregnant! I am having a baby due in February 2015, so at the moment I ‘m pretty occupied.

I also love writing poetry and catching up with friends at cafes. I could spend everyday at my local Melbourne café writing and drinking coffee.  

 

Eliza Hull launches the single, ‘Caught’ at The Toff In Town this Saturday 20th September, supported by Texture Like Sun and Lanks.Tickets are available through: The Toff In Town .

Interview: Boy & Bear guitarist Killian Gavin

There were high expectations before the release of Sydney-based alternative folk-rock band Boy & Bear’s second album, Harlequin Dream. That’s no surprise considering the group’s 2011 debut, Moonfire, garnered five ARIA awards and achieved a platinum status on the Australian album charts. The band, riding high on that success, hit the road for 18 months of solid touring both home and abroad, playing extensively throughout America and Europe.

Boy & Bear on stage at the Palais Theatre last Friday

Boy & Bear on stage at the Palais Theatre last Friday

Although they’ve built up a healthy amount of frequent flyer points, the band has never been one to neglect their loyal Australian fans. Boy & Bear have ensured they return to their motherland for not one, but two national tours in 2014, with a massive 30-date regional tour taking place earlier this year, and a national tour currently underway. It’s been a hard slog for the boys, but it’s a journey that lead guitarist Killian Gavin describes as a good and incredibly rewarding ride.

In the lead up to their two shows at The Palais Theatre last week, Makers spent a late afternoon in the company of guitarist Killian who, along with singer David Hosking, Timothy Hart (drums and vocals), Jonathan Hart (vocals, banjo, mandolin and keyboards) and bassist David Symes, formed the group in 2009.

Boy & Bear lead guitarist Killian Gavin

Boy & Bear lead guitarist Killian Gavin

Killian: “I’m sure that a lot of people find themselves in a similar situation when they’re busy like this and time flies, but I’ve found this year in particular to have gone remarkably quick. We started touring last year just after the record came out then we had a little bit of time off in January, then we left in the beginning of Feb and we haven’t stopped since. Now here we are in… what month is it?”

 There’s good-natured laughter: while most travellers would be in the midst of a heavy jet lag, the performer is in fine spirits, obviously happy to be back on home turf.

 Of course there’s no getting around his memory lapse is the ultimate rock cliché; a young band hits the road and loses track of time, dates and names of cities. For Boy & Bear, the recent American tour also included travel in a deluxe tour bus – the vehicle serving as the backdrop to a series of shots posted on social media.

For the group, the vehicle itself proved something of a significant milestone: it was the band’s “first bus”, indication in concrete form that Boy & Bear has reached a certain level of success.

Killian: “We haven’t been doing this for a long time, but long enough to gain an understanding of how things work. We’ve always wanted to be in a band that builds slowly with touring and I think that’s how you build up a credible fan base. Fans that like every song on the album, not just the one song that they’ve heard on the radio.”

Tune in to most Aussie radio stations and it’s near impossible to not hear either Southern Sun or Three Headed Woman, the first two singles lifted off Harlequin Dream. The album was recorded in Sydney, which allowed the band to stay close to friends and family. As a result, it reflects a far different personality to the debut album recorded in Nashville.

Killian: “Fortunately we were off to a great start with the first record but this record has been better in many ways. It has helped build a stronger audience for us overseas and that’s why we’ve been busy touring nonstop, to make the most of it while there’s so much momentum.”

And the momentum doesn’t seem set to stop anytime soon. Not only are there more dates booked in Canada and America (the band’s fame boosted by a recent appearance on Late Night With Conan O’Brien) there’s also a slew of Australian dates to fill up their September and October schedules, including a sold-out show at The Opera House.

Killian: “Sydney shows are probably always a bit more nerve-wracking because your family and friends are in the crowd. Just to make it a little bit more intimidating you’re also playing at the Opera House. To be completely honest I’m super excited to be playing it, it’s going to be a fun night.”

The future is sure to hold plenty more fun for Boy & Bear but near the top of the guitarist’s priority list is some more time off.

Killian: “We’ll finish up in December and after that I’m going to take about four weeks off and do nothing. I’m really going to make the most of it.”

He laughs, but we can’t help but think the summer break won’t last long.

Interview: Lucy Hardie

An artist is quickly identified by the way that they present themselves to the world and how they interact with their surroundings.

This is definitely the case with fine artist Lucy Hardie, who Makers had the pleasure of meeting recently for coffee at the Black Cat café; where the bohemian interior was a perfect match for Hardie's delicate aesthetic.

Immaculate Heart 2014 -  Ink and metal leaf on cotton paper   by Lucy Hardie

Immaculate Heart 2014 - Ink and metal leaf on cotton paper by Lucy Hardie

Based in Melbourne, Hardie tells us that she’s only recently returned to the city after time spent in nearby Ocean Grove. Although not such a long distance to travel, Ocean Grove and Brunswick Street couldn’t be further apart in terms of creative output and she confides that she’s happy to have settled into a more artistic neighbourhood.

Lucy: “When I was little I was inspired by the black and white line drawings that accompanied my favourite fairy tales.” 

We’ve ordered drinks and Lucy has begun to explain her art: incredibly detailed compositions of light and dark texture created with layers of fine lines and dots, carefully drawn onto cotton-based paper. The resulting work is romantic and dreamy, with a strong emphasis on the female figure. 

Lucy: “I was really inspired by the illustrative style of Vali Myers, who created the most finely detailed drawings. I taught myself to draw by looking at her work.”

Myer’s influence on Hardie’s work is striking, with both women working with pen, ink and gold leaf.

Salom é  2013 -  Ink on cotton paper  by Lucy Hardie

Salomé 2013 - Ink on cotton paper by Lucy Hardie

Although she has spent most of her life drawing, Lucy only started to seriously consider art as a career once she was in her early twenties

 Lucy: “I always thought of myself as artistic but never thought of myself as creative, but I think that’s only because I never saw art as a realistic option to pursue while I was growing up. I think that’s because people say, ‘Artists don’t make money, what are you going to do with your life?’ I always thought, ‘why the hell am I good at drawing, why can’t I be good at maths’. I didn’t really see the point of it, it was always more of a hobby.”

It was around the age of 22 that the artist decided to make the push. It was her sister that called her out, questioning as to why someone with such a beautiful body of work hadn’t thought about exhibiting.

Knocked back by a few galleries, the self-taught artist found her work accepted in to an artist-run space, staged the exhibition and was astounded to sell out on opening night. It was all the reinforcement she needed that this could in fact be a viable career pathway – that hers was not a talent that ought be taken for granted.

In 2010 at the age of 26, Lucy returned to school to complete a Bachelor of illustration. Although there had been previous attempts to enroll in other courses, she states frankly that she “never really followed through”. The decision to return to University came about after a brief period spent in Austria under the tutelage of US artist, Philip Rubinov Jacobson.

Mary 2012 -  Ink on cotton paper   by Lucy Hardie

Mary 2012 - Ink on cotton paper by Lucy Hardie

Lucy: “We connected online because I’d asked him if he could recommend any courses to me, since I’m really interested in artistic technique, and that’s not really focussed on at Fine Art school, where it’s more about concept and philosophy. He suggested his course and I said, ‘done’. I was there for four weeks; it was an intense course and we were painting everyday. It was amazing to be surrounded only by artists, only talking about art. Before that I had always loved art, but it was only after I arrived in Austria that I realised that this is what I’ve been looking for my whole life.”

With study well and truly behind her and the recent move back to Melbourne, Makers is intrigued to know what possible influence this may have on her future creative output.

Lucy: “I’m starting to bring in more structure with [pictures of] buildings and things like that. But I think my work will always have a feminine feel to it. On my trips to Melbourne I would go past these factories that just seemed like they were in a different world, areas with no roads around them that only the train goes past. You can see these tiny little buildings with ladders going up them and smoke coming out of turrets - I felt so inspired and took many photographs, they’re like world unto themselves."

It seems the fairy tale influence hasn’t left her completely.

You are Here 2014 -   Ink on cotton paper   by Lucy Hardie 

You are Here 2014 - Ink on cotton paper by Lucy Hardie 

Interview: Patrick Pearse, Documentary Director

The concept of a feature length fashion documentary is certainly nothing new. Needless to say it takes both a subject and a director to raise one out of copycat territory and into a space of creative clear air. In this case it is the involvement of director, Patrick Pearse, and young Australian designer, Kym Ellery, which sets the insightful Ellery in Paris a sophisticated side step apart. 

Premiering this Saturday, August 30, as part of the annual ACMI presents Fashion on Film season, Ellery in Paris chronicles the journey of the Sydney-based designer as she makes her fashion debut on the Paris runway: the home grown talent with the unique eye who launched her brand in 2007 establishing her entrée on to the international fashion stage.

Yet much of the film’s appeal is due to Patrick’s handling. The fellow Australian sets the cameras firmly on Kym in the lead up to the eponymous label’s first Parisian show; the Spring Summer 2014 collection.

One could suggest it is his perspective and ease in film that has lent the documentary its backbone: Patrick, who says that he enjoys a shallow depth of field and abstract composition, has created a surprisingly relaxed look at what could have possibly been the most stressful period in the Perth-born designers life. Not that he will claim any of it. 

Patrick: “I think that all comes down to Kym. I barely knew her before I made the film and it blew me away how relaxed she was in such a stressed environment, all while the pinnacle of her career was happening right there and then. It was very tranquil.” 

Patrick, who got his start in short form documentaries and television commercials and has made Paris his base for the past 12 months, met Kym Ellery through her boyfriend, pro surfer Luke Stedman. The two formed an instant bond and, when Ellery was invited by the Fédération Français de la Couture du Prêt-à-Porter des Couturiers et des Créateurs de Mode, to show as part of the official off-schedule for newcomers in Paris, the film maker jumped at the opportunity to accompany her.

Pearse: “I originally met Kym to discuss the possibility of her contributing some costumes for a fictional piece that I’m working on. That was in Sydney last year and she happened to mention that she was about to go to Paris. We just connected and got along really well. In conversation the idea for a documentary arose, I had no idea that it was going to be a feature length at that stage and I gathered a small crew together. The next time I saw her was when she came out of the arrival terminal at Charles De Gaulle airport and we started filming. It was very organic.”

With filming taking place over a week-long period in Paris, followed by time spent in New York, Sydney and Perth, the production took “three or four weeks in total” to be completed.

Patrick: “It was really quick, but then it took me three months to edit.” 

Though he laughs as he says it and our phone conversation is lighthearted, it’s hard to not appreciate the gravitas behind the film and Kym’s position as one of only three Australian designers (joining the ranks of Collette Dinnigan and Paris-based Martin Grant) to show in the City of Light.  

Patrick: “You could feel the emotion coming through the camera when we were watching the rushes back at night. Within the first few hours of shooting we knew that we were making something really special. There was a great sense of achievement. I knew very little about the fashion industry at the time but even I realized how big of a thing this really was. The moment that sung out to me was probably when the last few models had walked out onto the runway and you could see Kym’s emotions, it was very inspiring to capture. She had tears in her eyes and I think a few of us did as well, it was like reality had just hit us and we began to realise what had just happened.”

There’s a moment during Ellery in Paris when the designer refers to Paris Fashion Week as the “Olympic games of fashion”. And while the director states that it was “amazing to see a young Australian achieve that on a world stage”, Patrick has also scored his own major accomplishment – creating Australia’s first fashion documentary.

Patrick: “I had no idea [that was the case] to be honest. Not being from the fashion industry, I couldn’t believe it at all when I was told that.” 

Although he may be downplaying his own success, it’s great to hear Patrick praise Ellery’s dedication to her craft. During our chat it becomes even more apparent to just how strong of a bond has been formed between the director and his subject.

Patrick: “She [Kym] was so patient with it all. Kym really held it together and so did her team. I think that the cameras may have provided a distraction and a barrier so that the situation didn’t get the better of her, but that’s exactly how it was. What you see is exactly what it was. Even though we had absolutely no production schedule (Kym arrived into Paris a week late) and it was literally 20-hour days filming with no schedule or idea of what would happen next.”

He speaks highly of the team effort – of camera crew taping the showroom so that boyfriend Luke could paint it, of mixing paint and carrying buckets. It was tremendous effort made for a designer whose supporters cannot help but respect.

Patrick: “Kym has a really great team who she’s worked with since she started and they continue to work together on everything. From photographers to stylists through to the interns that she had, everyone would do anything for her, and we got totally swept up in the experience. Not just in making the film, but it was inspiring to be part of something so big."

 

 

Interview: Wona Bae

If Melbourne has become fertile ground for the creative set, then it makes sense that Wona Bae has found almost instant growth for the seed of an idea that took root – almost unbeknownst to her – during a childhood in Korea that saw flowers become an intrinsic part of the person she was to become.

Wona: “My father had decided on three names for his children before he got married, and he went on to have three kids: my sister is the third and she is ‘best fruit’, my brother is the second and he means ‘best growth’ and I’m the first kid and Wona means ‘the best seedling’.”

Indeed it takes a special sort of person to mastermind the transformation of space that the highly qualified florist has achieved alongside her husband, permaculture expert and business partner, Charlie Lawler: in a back street behind a distinctly un-glamorous section of Johnstone Street, Wona’s nursery-cum-studio, Loose Leaf, sprouts as a breath of green among a sea of garage workshops.

The girl that grew up hating flowers after spending her youthful spare time “making chrysanthemums” eventually found her own kind of heaven right there in Collingwood, this version a white-walled, warehouse space alive with ferns, cacti, twisting hoya vines and arcing indoor palms.

Like any great love affair, it was one that developed over time: having grown up around flowers with her florist farm-owning father in Korea, Wona is very much a woman shaped by her lifelong exposure to all things flora.

But there is more to the elfin florist than a green thumb, and more to the store than its position as ground zero for healthy plant life. With the one-time fashion student qualified in Japanese Ikebana, its Korean equivalent, Kokozi, as well as picking up a Masters in German floristry, Wona has an artist’s spirit and the talent to match: her unique insights into culture and country are as compelling as her graceful sculptures – fluid twists of wood and sticks that work to form nest-like geometries that are intricate in appearance and incredible in scale.

Wona: “Floristry is different in every country, it is related to culture. Australian’s just do, they are very relaxed and their country is so big and likes the natural style of floristry. In Korea everything grows more slowly, Asian people are very cautious, they want to learn everything properly before they experiment and the floristry – it is very delicate.”

That mix of East and West finds itself in her sculptural works. The most striking example? Her three-metre tall spherical sculpture of sticks that graces the gardens of Victoria’s stunning Heide Museum of Modern Art, its hypnotic circular form embracing the idea of restraint while throwing open its form to the breadth of the surrounding space through its scale.

Unfortunately for Makers, as compelling as Wona’s story is, it’s not long before we wind it up: the business woman is a little under the weather, having taught her in-house floristry classes two nights running before backing it up with 4am trips to the market. The schedule is hectic, but one gets the feeling she wouldn’t be anywhere else.

Wona: “This is my passion. I love flowers and I love making sculptures and I love teaching. The retail part of it is not a natural fit, but it is what I have to do to bring people to me and let them know what I do.”

Loose Leaf

31 Sackville Street, Collingwood