Handwoven Cult Bags From Canberra

Written for Broadsheet

The dance of a discarded plastic bag in the wind was the inspiration for Canberra-based designer Georgina Whigham’s accessories label, George. “I was interested in … drawing from an object that is mass-produced and disposable,” Whigham says of the silhouette of her handwoven utility totes, which resembles that of a plastic shopping bag.

George launched in May and the handcrafted bags debuted in-store and online at Melbourne boutique Monk House Design. The timing couldn’t be better; craft is making a comeback in the fashion world prompted by a growing demand by consumers for ethical production and natural fabrics. The trend was largely sparked by Spanish fashion label Loewe’s basket bag, which is handwoven from palm leaves and is available in mini, tote and large sizes.

George bags are made from cotton, linen and bamboo thread blends, which are from a small family-run mill in Canada: Maurice Brassard. Each bag is made in one continuous piece (with minimal waste) on a four-shaft floor loom in Whigham’s Canberra studio. Textile dimensions are calculated down to the width of the thread count. It takes around eight hours to weave and construct each bag.

Once off the loom, the woven material is folded into its final form. Finishing touches are done by hand or on the sewing machine, including sewing in the leather label, tying off every thread in the warp and stitching the sides of the bag together.

“By preserving the ancient craft of hand weaving and designing a well-considered product I hope to change people’s appreciation and perceptions around a product and its lifecycle,” says Whigham. “The bag is made to be cherished by its owner and have an extended life.”

Whigham studied industrial design before undertaking a short intensive course in traditional weaving and dying practices at Kawashima Textile School in Japan. It’s why George – which Whigham juggles with her full-time role as exhibitions designer at the National Gallery of Australia – is dedicated to craftsmanship principles and the handmade process. “It’s about a well-considered item that does not date, but rather ages with grace,” she says. “My aim is to change human perceptions and behaviour around a product, its craftsmanship and value.”

Due to the labour-intensive process, George bags are most often made to order or crafted in very small batches for stockists. One bag from the current collection measures 52 by 30 centimetres and costs $290 in-store or online via Monk House Design. Prices vary depending on the yarn used.

instagram.com/george_label

monkhousedesign.com/collections

ARTIST PROFILE: GEOFF TODD

Written for Art Edit

VICTORIAN-BORN ARTIST Geoff Todd’s father, a dairy farmer, would spend his morning tea break completing crosswords in the daily newspaper, sketching in the margins as a way to resist young Geoff’s chatter. It was from here that Geoff’s own artistic flare took flight.

His first solo exhibition was held in 1969 in Melbourne, when the artist was just 18 years of age. In 1984, he and his partner (artist, Janette Lucas) moved to Maningrida in Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory. They loved the land so much that they purchased a studio there, alongside one in Ararat, Victoria. “We work between the two cities,” he tells Art Edit of his current practice.

To this day, Geoff says he continues to find inspiration from the land, entering a meditative state while on the 4,000-kilometre drive between studios, which he prefers to do alone and in silence. He works in the same way. “When struggling with aesthetic decisions, emotions, conceptual reasoning and a host of other possible issues, the very last thing I need when working is noise or company.”

Many of the artist’s drawings, paintings and sculptures are inspired by literature. “I have always been fascinated with the idea [of]: ‘Is the image in my mind’s eye the same as [in the imagination of] another reader?’” he says.

Geoff works in a figurative style with mixed media (acrylic and charcoal, oil on canvas, and pastel) mostly from life and live models. “The model in the beginning is a stranger watching me work, which just adds to my anxiety,” he says. While Todd’s art reflects real life, he makes clear that the viewer is not to expect photo realism. “I am very conscious that worshipping objects is not enough if we are making art,” he explains.

Most recently, Geoff has been working on two series. The darker of the two series, Marathon Runners, is the product of working closely with two young women who have come through adversity with a strong and optimistic outlook on the world.

The lighter series is a study in black and white. “It began with a portrait I made of an Indonesian fashion designer, Nonita Respati, who came to stay with us,” Geoff says. From this the Black Dress series was born, comprising paintings of black and white dresses that will be printed on fabric and used by Nonita in her 2019 winter collection.

Geoff’s work has travelled far, to exhibitions in Indonesia, Singapore, Macau, Hong Kong, Italy, France, the United Kingdom, Austria and the United States. This far-flung success has given rise to a book about the artist entitled Looking North. The Art of Geoff Todd: Outsider, Maverick & Humanist.

ARTIST PROFILE: ANNETTE RAFF

Written for Art Edit

AS A CHILD, Gold Coast-based artist Annette Raff would draw to keep herself entertained, tossing each drawing aside as the fun was in the ‘doing’ rather than the finished piece. “My parents joke that I drew before I walked,” she says.

That said, Annette’s pathway to becoming an artist hasn’t been entirely streamlined. She began as a stenographer and secretary before studying and working as a graphic designer. It wasn’t until she started a family that she was able to spend time at home developing her fine art practice, at which point she began teaching regular art classes. She has since completed a Bachelor of Fine Art and intends to focus on developing her practice and exhibiting her work while continuing to tutor. Appropriately, this path mirrors Annette’s approach to artmaking. Her pieces come together as beautifully mismatched amalgams of her experiences and techniques.

“I use pretty much anything that makes a mark,” Annette explains, which includes acrylic, watercolour, ink, oil paint, collages and graphite on various papers, monotype, other hand printing techniques – sometimes even cut and paste techniques with Photoshop. “At first view, my two-dimensional mixed media paintings could be described as kinds of exploding organisms.”

The experiences that shape these exploding organisms come, quite simply, from the world at large – “the shapes and textures in my surroundings, and organic, plant and geomorphic fragments can be seen in my work.”

Annette’s process usually begins with research and sketching, which generally involves reading philosophical articles and biographies on other artists and their practices. The artist also observes and draws intricate organic matter and vegetation during these preliminary stages, and uses these prepared drawings, paintings and textures to produce layers within the finished pieces. After a process of deconstruction and reconstruction, Annette will sometimes scan her work and reassemble it using Photoshop.

Most recently, Raff has been working on a collection of pieces that she describes as “painted, collaged, explosive arrangements”.

“These works were born of frustration,” the artist explains. “I began cutting, tearing and piecing together from what I felt were my unsuccessful pieces, playing with new arrangements and seeing how I could push my paintings further.”

ARTIST PROFILE: DAVID PAVICH

Written for Art Edit

SYDNEY-BORN ARTIST David Pavich is drawn towards the vastness and variety of the Australian landscape. “There are the harsh, dry, arid regions of Australia, which provide an eerie atmosphere,” he says. “And other times lush regions, which generate certain feelings of paradise.”

His paintings are built up from layers of oil paint, but the road to get to the final piece differs depending on where he works. “I usually prefer to do acrylic studies on paper outdoors, mainly because of the ease of handling and fast drying speed,” the artist explains. “In the studio I usually begin on canvas with acrylic also until I’m definite about the composition and colour. After that I begin the layers of oil paint on top. I love the plasticity, vibrancy and freshness of the oil colour.”

It’s this medium that helps David capture the colours of his subjects. “If I am sketching outdoors, early morning is my favourite time,” he says. “I like to be there for sunrise and see the magical colour and light of a new day dawning.” The artist hopes his work evokes an emotional impact on the viewer, whether its calmness, excitement or joy.

David says his passion to draw and paint stems from his childhood. Majoring in art at HSC level, his resultant painting was a finalist within the touring HSC Art Exhibition in 1982 (now known as Art Express). He graduated from the National Art School in Sydney in 1985 with Honours before moving to live in Paris from 1988 to 1993, exhibiting his work in a number of local and international galleries including Musée Adzak in Paris, the Siena Art Institute in Italy and Camden Gallery in London.

The artist is currently working on a continuation of The Sydney Harbour series that he exhibited in September 2017 at Gallery Lane Cove as part of a studio residency. It’s a striking contrast to his previous subject matter of more isolated surroundings.

“After the exhibition, I still felt there was more to expand on in this series,” he says of its continuation.

You can view this collection and others at the artist’s studio shop in Petersham, Sydney on Saturdays between 10am and 5pm, Sundays between 12pm and 4pm, or on Monday to Friday by appointment.

ARTIST PROFILE: ANGUS MARTIN

Written for Art Edit

“I FIND BEING an artist is like having a diary for the world to view,” says South Australian artist Angus Martin. The painter – whose practice revolves around fluid figures and lines strong enough to move Matisse himself – uses his craft to capture the feelings that arise from love and relationships. The deep emotional resonance of these works belies a simple approach to figurative art, with Angus relying on fragmented shapes to piece together cohesive forms.

“I struggle with letting people know the true insight into the meanings behind pieces,” he admits. “But I find when I do open up and tell people the meanings, the reactions have been so positive.”

With a focus on the psychology behind colours, Angus balances dark and bright shades to strengthen the impact of his work and evoke emotions from his audience. In a recent piece for a newlywed couple, Angus worked with golden hues and seas of green to symbolise harmony, emotional healing and protection. Artworks that are equal in presence and emotional response are well within the artist’s wheelhouse.

State of mind is an important factor in Angus’ process. The artist says his studio needs to be completely tidy before he begins to lay down paint on paper. “Clear space, clear mind,” he says. “I regularly burn Palo Santo to cleanse my space. I’m also surrounded by plants, lots of natural light and music, always.”

Angus doesn’t just let this music drift around his studio; he also channels it into his work. Many of his pieces are named after songs that have had a profound influence. “Music can resurface a lot of memories and if I am drawn to a specific lyric or tune, I’m transported to a particular time or place,” he says. To further convey this meaning to his viewers, the artist dabbles in multi-sensual surfaces, infusing his acrylic paints with essential oils that bring a third dimension to his work.

As Angus reminisces on a high school teacher who told him that he was always daydreaming and disconnected from the real world, it becomes clear that this preoccupation with the emotional realm was present from a young age. “It’s only in the past few years that I actually started to realise that my daydream state is where my creativity is fuelled,” he muses. “It’s a place where ideas come to life.”

This year, Angus will take his daydreaming around the world. His work will be on display at Affordable Art Fair New York 2019, Affordable Art Fair Hong Kong 2019, and this year’s The Other Art Fair Sydney.

Mediterranean Dreaming: A Local Linen-and-Ceramics Label Collaborates With Dinosaur Designs Co-Founder Louise Olsen

It was the rugged beauty of Puglia, Italy, that drove Sydney’s Alexandra Heard and Heleena Trahanas to found fashion-and-lifestyle label Alex and Trahanas, which specialises in breezy linen and one-of-a-kind ceramics. The friends and designers use premium garza linen from one of the oldest mills in Italy for the label’s summer dresses, and artisans in Puglia handcraft vases, and dinner and aperitivo plates. The designs are then manufactured in Australia.

This year the duo has added gold and silver jewellery to their Mediterranean-inspired label. The idea came from time spent in the Apulia region, an area in the heel of Italy’s “boot” known for its whitewashed hill towns, centuries-old farmland and close to 60 million olive trees.

“It was their natural beauty and form that inspired the design of our olive-leaf earrings and bangle,” says Trahanas. The organic, curved olive-leaf form is reflected in the way the drop earrings hang from the ear and in the way the bangle wraps gently around the wrist.

And after working with Dinosaur Designs’ co-founder and creative director Louise Olsen for more than six years in her role as PR and marketing manager, Trahanas asked her to help co-design the line.

“[Olsen] is inspired by nature and art, which was a perfect fit for the jewellery we had dreamed of,” says Heard, noting that Dinosaur Designs’ signature sculptural and contemporary aesthetic complements Alex and Trahanas’s classic silhouettes.

How did the creative process work between the trio? First Heard and Trahanas collected and presented Olsen with a range of photos of the ancient olive trees, Mediterranean coastline and vine-laden terraces before they all got to work formulating the designs.

The Louise Olsen x Alex and Trahanas Olive Leaf collection consists of four pieces, available in high-polished brass or silver plate, designed to be worn with and to enhance the label’s linen dresses. “Sun-drenched, golden and silver tones reminded us of a perfect summer’s day in the Mediterranean,” says Heard.

The collection lookbook was photographed in a white-stone farmhouse, Masseria Moroseta, by Florence-based photographer Marina Denisova.

The pair envisages women wearing the collection over a long, rolling summer lunch, dressing effortlessly in Alex and Trahanas’s classic Italian linen garments – “Always with a delicious glass of wine in hand,” says Trahanas.

The Louise Olsen x Alex and Trahanas Olive Leaf collection is available online to pre-order at louise-olsen.comalexandtrahanas.com and is stocked in Dinosaur Designs stores.

alexandtrahanas.com

Melbourne Sales Wrap: Best of the Week, October 11, 2018

Online
Luxe seaside label The Beach People continues to celebrate its birthday with 50 per cent off round beach towels, travel towels, leather carriers and beach cushions. Load up on beachy essentials in preparation for the warmer weather.

While stocks last.

Matteau Swim
Online
Designed between Sydney and New York by sisters Ilona Hamer and Peta Heinsen, Matteau Swim is built on creating refined and classic swimwear. Known for comfort and aesthetics, get up to 30 per cent off its resort ’18 collection. This seamless finish, triangle bikini top is a summer staple. Use code “RESORT30” at checkout.

Until Sun Oct 14.

Saturdays NYC
In-store
New York-based menswear label Saturdays NYC is having a surplus sale in Fitzroy right now. Get up to 70 per cent off previous collections including T-shirts, jackets, footwear, eyewear, wetsuits and surf accessories. Top up that summer wardrobe today.

Thu Oct 11, 9am–6pm
Fri Oct 13, 9am–6pm
Sat Oct 13, 9am–6pm
Sun Oct 14, 11am–3pm

Greener House
In-store
Collingwood’s Greener House Nursery is back with another huge sale this weekend. Choose from hundreds of devil’s ivy baskets at $25 each, with some large baskets at $40. Plus, get your green thumbs on the usual range of philodendrons, palms, ferns, little desk plants, and more. Did we mention the sale is dog friendly?

Sat Oct 13, 10am–4pm

Luna Gallery, WS Workshop & The Mod Collective
In-store
This massive group warehouse sale in Richmond is offering blankets, throws, furniture and homewares – including handmade porcelain pieces, ceramics and lighting – as well as beautiful artworks. All products are Australian made.

Fri Oct 12, 10am–6pm
Sat Oct 13, 10am–5pm
Sun Oct 14, 10am–5pm
Mon Oct 15, 10am–3pm

The New Trend
In-store and online
International boutique The New Trend is celebrating its first birthday with 20 per cent off sale items in-store and online. Get your hands on garments by Jonathan Simkhai, Alexis, Alexander Wang, ALC, 3.1 Phillip Lim, Cult Gaia, Nicholas Kirkwood, Nili Lotan, Veronica Beard, Caroline Constas, Grlfrnd, and more. Use code 1STBDAY at checkout.

Until Sun Oct 14.

The Collective Boutique
In-store
Shop pre-loved designer winter stock at bargain prices at The Collective Boutique’s first ever warehouse sale. Dresses, coats, shirts, pants, skirts, footwear, bags and accessories will range from $10 to $60. Search through the racks for items from Scanlan Theodore, Manning Cartell, Marni and more. Sizes 6 to 14 available.

Until Sun Oct 14.

Aletheia & Phos
Online
Melbourne-based jewellery designer Alicia Millan handcrafts pieces with gold, silver, stones and diamonds for her label Aletheia & Phos. Her pieces are certified by the Responsible Jewellery Council, and right now there’s 20 per cent off storewide to make way for a new collection. Use code “SPRINGLOVE20” at checkout.

Until Fri Oct 12.

Cable
In-store
This premium Australian knitwear label is offering up to 80 per cent off across its winter ’18 women’s knitwear collection, and has reductions on Cable Baby, Ivylee Copenhagen, Alias Mae and Rollie Nation shoes. Score samples and one-off pieces. If you can’t make it to the sale, a 72-hour online sale starts at 9am on Thursday October 18.

Thu 11, 10am–6pm
Fri 12, 10am–5pm
Sat 13 & Sun 14, 10–2pm
Mon 15 & Tue 16, 10am–5pm

Alice McCall
In-store and online
Australian label Alice McCall is known for its floral and feminine designs and silhouettes and is offering up to 60 per cent off right now. Pastels, gold embellishments and denim are on offer. This embroidered floral playsuit is great as the weather warms up.

While stocks last.

Leophil
Online
Luxury womenswear label Leophil designs ethical and sustainable knitwear and accessories, and is currently offering 40 per cent off its Edition01 collection. Pick up basics with sophisticated detailing, a Crepe de Chine silk scarf, or this black, lightweight, cotton hat.

While stocks last.

ARTIST PROFILE: HANNAH FOX

Written for Art Edit Magazine

ARTIST HANNAH FOX MIGHT BE MOTIVATED BY SIMPLE AESTHETICS, BUT HER DAPPLED WORKS RECREATE THE DELICATE LIGHTWORK OF DUSK IN FINE DETAIL. SHE TALKS TO WRITER STEPHANIE VIGILANTE ABOUT CREATING VISUAL EXPERIENCES.

Hannah Fox is inspired by the allure of nature – both the tangible and the intangible. “Rather than depicting the physical truth of a landscape, I aim to express its essence,” the Melbourne-based artist explains. Her work is a compilation of varied textures and dappled rhythms, suggestive of scattered leaves, peeling bark on tree trunks and the expressive configuration of sun-light and shadows. Hannah aims to represent the landscape as a sensory experience, inviting viewers to see things in a new light – “to sense it, to feel it and to be immersed”.

ARTIST PROFILE: EUGENE RUBULS

Written for Art Edit Magazine

EUGENE RUBULS IS ADDRESSING CLIMATE CHANGE STROKE BY DELICATE STROKE. HE TALKS TO WRITER STEPHANIE VIGILANTE ABOUT HIS LIFELONG AFFINITY FOR NATURE.

ART IS THE medium through which Eugene Rubuls hopes to raise awareness of the beauty and fragility of marine wildlife. His mission is to highlight the pressing issues associated with climate change. “When you love something you naturally want to protect it,” he says. “I want to capture and preserve unique habitats and scenes.”

His work is a visual depiction of the natural world – “an endangered world which sadly may not be here in the future”. The artist describes his paintings as a way to capture moments of transition and tranquillity in the scenery. “Nature is the source of my inspiration. Everything I render is focused on harmony within her laws,” he says. He uses vivid colours “to convey beauty and life as opposed to destruction, by rendering a full spectrum of colours against bleaching and decolouration”.

With family roots planted firmly in the art world, Eugene believes much of his artistic ability comes from his father – a sculptor. “Pencils and water- colour were my favourite toys as a child,” he reminisces. Eugene studied art

in Russia before moving to England, where he spent 10 years building his career as a tattoo artist. It was at the point where he started to gain international recognition for his artistic practice that he decided to shift the focus of his work. “I decided to move on and focus on something more meaningful, as I felt that as a human being I should somehow contribute to the planet,” he says.

A delicate application of mixed media, Eugene’s distinct style bridges the gap between the traditional academic approach and modern abstract art. For the artist, painting is a meditative process. “I get lost in reliving the experience and watching it come to life on canvas,” he explains. “I would like my art to be a window into a world not everyone has the opportunity to see.”

Eugene has successfully exhibited in art shows and galleries around Europe, Russia and Australia. Commissioned artwork can be found in private collections in the USA, Japan, Australia and Europe. His artwork can be purchased online via his online store.

Melbourne Sales Wrap: Best of the Week, July 26, 2018

Written for Broadsheet Melbourne

Somedays
In store
Men’s and women’s fashion house Somedays is moving out of its Royal Arcade store, so everything onsite is reduced to clear. Grab bargains across brands such as Dr Denim, Kowtow, Wood Wood, Baserange, Gitman, Royal Republiq and more. Expect 50 to 70 per cent off storewide. Get it before it’s gone.

While stock lasts.

Dinosaur Designs
Online only
This is the last weekend to score discounted items from iconic Australian accessories brand Dinosaur Designs’s month-long sale. There’ll be up to 80 per cent off colourful modern jewellery and homewares – handmade from resin and precious metals – on offer. Items from the Foliage, ColourBlock and Rainforest collections will feature. Jump online for bangles, earrings, vases, kitchenware and more.

July 2 to July 31, or while stock lasts.

The LOFFT Agency
In store
Melbourne-based fashion agency and showroom The LOFFT Agency is opening its doors this weekend for a massive warehouse sale. Expect previous season’s pieces and samples from Elka Collective, Hael & Jax, Zulu & Zephyr, Acler, Viktoria & Woods, Kittë, Primness, Carver, Steele, Dylan Kain, Rama Voyage and Bykane. Doors open Friday at 7.30am, and new styles will be added throughout the weekend.

Fri July 27, 7.30am–7.30pm
Sat July 28, 9am–5pm

Penguin Random House
Collins Square, Melbourne
Collins Square will host the annual Penguin Random House charity book sale this Tuesday with all proceeds going to The Indigenous Literacy Foundation. Books will start from just $5, with a gold coin donation entry fee. Last year, the sale raised more than $18,000, so do your bit for charity and score a great book in return.

Tue July 31, 8am–3pm or until sold out.

Nakedvice and LTL PPL
287 Johnston Street, Abbotsford
Two Melbourne-based labels are joining forces for this huge warehouse sale. Known for its raw, minimalist and classic pieces, leather accessories brand Nakedvice is offering up to 70 per cent off samples, and leather shoes will start from just $50. Childrenswear brand LTL PPL specialises in denim and organic cotton for babies, and will be slinging last season’s stock from just $10.

Sat July 28, 8am–2pm
Sun July 29, 9am–1pm or until sold out

Greener House Nursery
In store
Collingwood’s Greener House Nursery is hosting a sale to fill that plant-sized hole in your life. Receive a 25 per cent discount on an accompanying plant when you buy any new pot. The offer includes monstera, devil’s ivy, bird of paradise, sansevieria and fiddles lines. There’s also more than 20 new pot designs including neutrals, bright bold colours and terrazzo patterns. Don’t forget to bring bags and boxes to help transport your new plants home.

Sat July 28, 10am–3pm or while stock lasts.

Wilson and Frenchy
Online
More babywear, this time from Melbourne brand Wilson and Frenchy, hosting its first online sale for 2018. Discounts include 30 per cent off full price items, a further 10 per cent off sale items and a special offer: buy two, get the third muslin wrap free. There’ll be winter and summer clothing for newborns to children aged seven, including this adorable onesie. Prices on bedding are also reduced.

Until July 31, or while stock lasts.