Friday, January 30, 2009

Interview - Lisa Cooper

Posture - artwork by Lisa Cooper

The Butcher's Daughter jewellery - photos from Vogue Living May/June 2008

Lisa Cooper - portrait from Inside Out's Christmas Issue 2008, photographed by Sharyn Cairns

I first became aware of the work of Lisa Cooper after reading a Vogue Living feature about her beautiful jewellery in the May/June issue last year... but then when Inside Out featured Lisa's Christmas tea party, set in her gorgeous Sydney studio filled with lush green plants, sweet treats and sparkling trinkets, that's when I really decided I needed to hunt Ms Cooper down for an interview!

Much like last week's interviewee Ebony Bizys, Lisa Cooper has many strings to her bow! She's an exhibiting artist who creates paintings as well as video projection pieces, and she will soon receive her PhD from COFA in Sydney. Lisa also creates exquisite jewellery under the label The Butcher's Daughter, and was recently commissioned by the Sydney Theatre Company to create custom-designed crowns for their much publicised War of the Roses, starring Cate Blanchett. Inbetween all these various pursuits, she also works at Sydney's favourite florist - you guessed it - Grandiflora, creating floral masterpieces. I'm not kidding! (Sydney seems to be getting smaller and smaller with every Sydneysider I interview!)

Lisa has answered all my interview questions in such a graceful, poetic way... read on for an insight into her incredible blossoming creative career.

Tell me a little about your background - what did you study and what path led you to what you’re doing now?

I have an Honours Degree from the College of Fine Arts. My near complete PhD research represents the summit of my formal education. It is an enquiry into the motivations and impetus of my practice. It answers in many words ‘the path’— the dedicated approach to making concrete (imaging), what is abstract in the universal/individual experience (a life), is the short answer.

St. i and St.ii paintings by Lisa Cooper

You work is so varied and you seem so prolific! You are completing a PhD in video art at the College of Fine Arts in Sydney, your handmade jewellery label The Butcher’s Daughter is stocked at select boutiques in Sydney, and you’ve recently created custom ranges for Collette Dinnigan and for the Sydney Theatre Company’s upcoming production War of the Roses. OH and you manage to squeeze in floral arranging for Sydney’s famous florist Grandiflora! How do you manage your time in order to focus on such a variety of projects? Do you struggle to balance them all?

It is not difficult to focus on these strands of practice as they are the ‘stuff’ of my life. I am not prolific! Though if I were it would be (as is always the case) a product precisely of focus, immovable, complete focus (an aspiration). ‘Making’ constitutes the children, grandchildren and great grandchildren of my life. It is a selfish path.

I have indeed kept some glamorous company this past year— THE BUTCHER’S DAUGHTER has wings!

TBD is stocked at David Jones, Sydney City Store.

Ohhh GRANDIFLORA ! in the punctuating moments of our lives flowers bear witness (from tables and hall stands) and then they elegantly depart. Flowers are incredibly powerful metaphors and whimsical poets at once.

Lisa's crown for War of the Roses - incidentally, beautiful production design with all that foil confetti...

What have been some of your favourite creative projects / commissions?

-A video project at Cockatoo Island
-Two commissions for the Parisian cosmetics company SISLEY.
-I most love the private commissions for TBD, individuals who understand ‘Garden compositions in metal’.

Lisa's Video work. Above - Silence has Teeth. Below - Self Portrait with Onions.

How do your video pieces and works on canvas compare with the dainty style of your jewellery for The Butchers Daughter? Does your interest in floral imagery carry through in all areas of your work, or do you find yourself drawn to a different aesthetic when working in different mediums?

The grand poetic metaphor of flora is an important thread that runs through all of my work. Flora does feature in my video work and across the different mediums of my practice, though for TBD and of course Grandiflora they are used in a more material and literal sense, in other work it is for their poetical and conceptual meanings… from platitude to monolithic symbol.

Lisa's workspace - image from Vogue Living May/June 2008

Which designers, artists or creative people are you inspired by?

I am inspired by intelligence and lack of compromise but I think you want names… Simone Weil and Antonin Artaud, Susan Sontag, Samuel Beckett, Pipilotti Rist, Ezra Pound, St Therese of Lieux.

Where else do you find inspiration – ie books, magazines, your environment, travel, your family and friends?

Magazines are porn they make me feel dirty and good. Travel makes me feel like Alice in Wonderland, it makes you undulate and that is good. Inspiration is derived from experience I think, it is constant and also the past—memory, though it is a laboured concept.

Lisa's beautiful Christmas tea-party, featured in Inside Out Christmas issue 2008. Notice her intricate silver creations on the table... photography - Sharyn Cairns

What's the best thing about your job?

I’m not sure which you are referring to, I guess that’s the best thing about it.

And the worst?


What would be your dream project?

To answer that would be too limiting

What are you looking forward to?

Having a Doctorate
Berlin in September

Sydney Questions –

Best gallery to see the work of artists like yourself in Sydney?

Roslyn Oxley 9
Sarah Cottier Gallery

Where do you shop for the tools of your trade in Sydney? (ie jewellery supplies, art supplies etc).

That’s a secret

More from Inside Out's feature - love her beautiful jewels strewn throughout the studio... photography - Sharyn Cairns

What/where was the last great meal you ate in Sydney?

Fratelli Fresh
Billy Kwong
It’s a tie.

Where would we find you on a typical Saturday morning?

At Grandiflora - knee deep

Sydney’s best kept secret?

Its kindness

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Lightly installation at Craft Victoria

Cindy-Lee Davies of Melbourne design company Lightly has an installation up at Craft Victoria at the moment... The 'Chrysalis' installation comprises a collection of these delightful wall-mounted butterflies - each cut from a recycled vintage saucer. The natural curve of the saucer delicately lifts the butterfly wings from the wall, creating an ever-so-slight shadow beneath...

It's so nice to see something new from Lightly, and especially a move towards recycled materials. It gives each of these delicate forms a real feeling of unique-ness....

The Chrysalis installation with be on show (and pieces for sale) at Craft Victoria until February 8th.

Craft Victoria
31 Flinders Lane
Melbourne VIC 3000

9650 7775

Open Tuesday to Saturday 10am — 5pm

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Melbourne Homes!

A collection of 200 shell necklaces line the walls of Victoria's gorgeous apartment in Elwood.

The lounge area - featuring mainly retro furniture finds, including that stunning bamboo coffee table which came from the set of Australian TV series MDA.

Soooo I decided that The Design Files could do with a 'Melbourne Homes' section. I would love your feedback on this dear readers! What do you think? You see, photographing people's houses takes quite a lot of organising and time etc, so you have to convince me that you would love to see more Melbourne homes, so that I muster up enough time and energy to keep it up!

Anyway, without further ado, read on for a peek into The Design Files' inaugural 'Melbourne home' - the gorgeous apartment of my friend and fellow props buyer Victoria McKenzie!

A 1950's apartment with art deco detailing, Victoria's place truly sets the standard for rental decorating! Set in a beautiful leafy st in Melbourne's bayside suburb of Elwood, this large 2-bedroom apartment has great bones - high ceilings, timber floors, huge windows, and a fantastic layout in which both the loungeroom and the master bedroom both open out onto the garden. Lovely!

Vic's unique sense of style and meticulous attention to detail shines through in every aspect of her beautiful home - from the incredible collection of shell necklaces hanging side-by-side along the dining room walls, to the colour co-ordinated kitchen implements(!), and of course that beautiful lush garden which Vic looks after so well!

Originally from New Zealand, Victoria describes her style as 'Pacificana' - that is, influenced by the aesthetic of the Pacific Islands surrounding NZ (such as Samoa and Rarotonga). This is where the shell necklaces, handwoven basket collection and hula girls come in! She also loves her collection of vintage / retro furniture - many pieces were snaffled from TV productions and films she's worked on. (I've got to get better at that!)

Oh and she loves orange. Can you tell?

Loungeroom and balcony. Victoria's cute collection of hear-shaped pebbles!

View out to the garden

Dining area - framed by that incredible collection of shell necklaces

V for Victoria!

Isn't the kitchen beautiful!? Love the mix of new and vintage kitchen cabinets and furniture. Also love Victoria's policy when it comes to kitchen implements - only orange will do!

Washing up would be so much more fun if everyone had a beautiful big window like this above their sink! Also love those little glass jars... Industria, I think?

Victoria's little tiki man on the wall protects the kitchen.... love the turquoise blue front door and vintage map in the hallway (just visible).

More of the lovely sink area. Vic's tropical plants outside the window make such a difference!

A little Australiana just to balance things out!

Victoria's bedroom, adjoining the balcony and garden - love the deep red walls and soft green bedlinen... what a great combo!

The Pacificana room - aka second bedroom! The handwoven basket collection is so beautifully displayed.... and how about those hula girls...? Cute!

The bathroom - beautiful mint green / black deco tiling... more shell/seed-pod necklaces, and more tropical plants outside the window for that real 'island living' feel! Also love Victoria's collection of green glass containers on the window ledge. Perfect.

Victoria's balcony looks into the shared garden. Look at that lovely colourful vintage bench!

A HUGE thanks to Vic for sharing her home with us! - and for feeding me fresh Lemon Verbena tea and Tim Tams during the photoshoot ;)

ps) Victoria has just started her own photo blog (with a friend) entitled Light and Victory - still early days, but I'm sure she would love you to visit!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

more from Gemma Comas

More shots from the online portfolio of Gemma Comas... so sweet! (Ms Comas also has a blog of more recent work here).

I only wish she would credit the stylist.... such a gorgeous collection of props/dressings...

*update - thanks to eagle-eye readers Nicole and Polka Dot Bride for pointing out that this delectable food styling is by NYC dessert-guru Amy Atlas! Jeepers... check out the eye candy on her website!

via SusyJack*

Monday, January 26, 2009

We buy your kids

We buy your kids is a Sydney-based creative team who make incredible illustrations, then put them on things like band posters, websites, walls, and more recently, a JEEP. Apparently the WBYK team is made up of 2 people called Sonny Day and Biddy Maroney. I am not sure if I believe this, as they both sound like cartoon character names to me....

Band posters by WBKY - more here

Anyway, I liiiiiike their stuff a lot. I also like their very entertaining musings which can be read in the 'news' section of their website. For instance, I learnt that in a recent review in Computer Arts China magazine, their work was described as 'harsh majical' and 'fresh as fish in restaurant'. Nice!

Wall art for the Beach Road Hotel in NSW - a collaboration with Ben Frost and On The Fly.

Artwork by Biddy Maroney, which formed the basis of some pretty wicked window installations for Mecca Cosmetica at Myer in Melbourne and Sydney.

cutest wedding invite ever.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Interview - Ebony Bizys

Tanabata’ festival inspired installation by Ebony Bizys at ‘Kawaii Pop’, Kudos Gallery, Paddington, Sydney, June 2008.

More pieces from Ebony's 'Kawaii Pop' show in Sydney last year - 3D 'pop-up book' style paper sculptures (spot mini-Ebony in the yellow jumper - so cute!)

Ebony Bizys - love this shot! Don't you just wanna give her a hug?

I think it is possible that Ebony Bizys and I were separated at birth. Too many similarities to mention. A passion for design and visual gorgeous-ness in all its forms, an infectious love for all things Japanese, and an obsessive hoarding of reference images in categories such as 'type', 'layout', 'home decorating' and even... *shudder* - 'weddings'! (It's only 'cos I love flowers!)

Ebony also seems to have about 12 side-projects on the go at any given time - just like me! In addition to her day-job as Senior Designer for Vogue Living, she's also an exhibiting artist, and is currently completing her Masters in Fine Art at COFA. In the last few years she's also squeezed in the odd installation at Sydney's favourite florist - Grandiflora, a custom-designed Zaishu stool, trips to Japan (for work) and Beijing (for study), and more recently, Japanese language study at TAFE and her first solo exhibition entitled 'Kawaii Pop'! Phew!

Anyway, freaky co-incidences aside, I am so glad the lovely Ms Bizys agreed to an interview, because I have been so excited to learn a little more about her! Having worked her way up the ranks of Vogue Living in the last few years, we've all come to know her name... but there's so much more to learn!

Read on for a window into the frivolous, fun and super-kawaii world of Ebony Bizys!

ps) Also, if you're in Sydney next month, look out for Ebony's upcoming show 'Kawaii Pop 2' at the Ivan Dougherty Gallery in Paddington - details at the bottom of the post.

Ebony's gorgeous Kawaii Pop video, created for her solo exhibition last year

Tell me a little about your background - what did you study and what path led you to what you’re doing now?

I studied Fine Arts at COFA, UNSW and majored in Painting and Drawing. At the same time I began working on reception at Vogue. I would go to uni in the morning dressed as a – well let’s say ‘experimental’ art school style person and then transform into a corporate woman to work at the Vogue offices in the afternoon. Back then, I was working one or two afternoons a week and from there I moved into different departments within the company. Before I knew it, I had a full time job. I started on Vogue Living as Editorial Coordinator and just over a year ago, I moved into the role of Senior Designer. Currently I am finishing my Masters in Fine Art at COFA and studying Japanese language at TAFE.

Working as a designer for Vogue Living seems to be what many people would consider a ‘dream job’! Was it what you always wanted to do? Does it live up to the ‘dream job’ expectation?

Haha. Well yes, for me, it really is a dream job! Ever since I started working on Vogue Living I wanted to be in the Art department. Corny as it sounds, it has lived up to the ‘dream job’ expectation! It’s funny, when I was at high school and putting in my applications for uni, my parents encouraged me to put ‘design’ as my first choice, but I was adamant that I wanted to go to Art school, and now here I am doing Design. When I started at Vogue I couldn’t even scan!

a recent Vogue Living layout created by Ebony - love the Alice in Wonderland feel!

What is the best thing about your job?

The best thing about my job is being able to do what I love and be creative all day long. It’s a blessing to be surround by creative people. My Art Director is just wonderful and encourages me to be free and creative with my design and work outside the ‘template’. It’s such a fantastic mentorship, I couldn’t have asked for a better start to my graphic design career. In fact, the entire Vogue Living team are great people to work with and create a fun work environment.

More of Ebony's work for Vogue Living

I’m lucky to be working with a beautiful product and one that features inspirational and eclectic interiors. The artists, designers and creative people we feature in the magazine never cease to inspire me and it’s exciting to work with some of the world’s most talented photographers. One day I would love to do a job with Todd Selby and Tim Walker.

Vogue Living has a small team and therefore I have involvement in various production aspects outside my regular role. For example I was recently in Tokyo for Tokyo Design Week and produced a two-page report on the event. It was exciting to see those pages from start to finish, from producing, designing, writing and then colour correcting the page at the printers. It’s a really fun process.

Ebony's round-up of Tokyo Design week in the current Jan/Feb issue of Vogue Living (I actually posted the second page of this story recently here).

And the worst?

Hmmm the worst thing is probably the deadlines. Say no more!

You are also an exhibiting artist and manage to successfully juggle your work at Vogue Living with your own creative projects... how important is it for you to dedicate time to these independent art projects outside of your working life? Do you have trouble striking a balance between the two?

It’s really important for me to dedicate time to my own creative projects because it’s so energising and nourishing. I think I would go crazy if I couldn’t express myself creatively through my own art. You can express yourself as a designer of course, but there are certain rules and formulas to follow when doing a layout, so when I make my art, I enjoy being as free and offbeat as I like.

Yes, its very tricky striking a balance. Deep breaths help. Outsourcing works too! Haha! For my last solo show I had my boyfriend and my dad helping to cut out giant timber ice creams. Poor them! I work best if I set myself deadlines and make artwork for a specific show or installation.

Matsudo Sandwich Mountain, mixed media on paper, 30 x 20cm, 2008

How would you describe your artistic style?

Cute, quirky, fun, silly, sensitive, pretty, Japanese flavoured.

Still frames from Ebony's Kawaii Pop video of 2008

What are you most proud of professionally and/or creatively?

I was pleased with my first solo show ‘Kawaii Pop’. It was fantastic to get all of my work up in one space and see it come together.

Flyers for the 2008 Kawaii Pop show

In 2007 I was one of four postgraduate COFA students selected to travel to Beijing to give a presentation about my artwork at a drawing symposium held at the Beijing Central Academy of Fine Arts. It’s always nice to think that they still remember me at COFA, even though I can’t spend much time on campus anymore.

I am also proud of my collaborations with florist Saskia Havekes of Sydney’s Grandiflora. My artwork was used on the cover and endpapers of their latest book, and I recently completed an installation in her Potts Point store.

Installation for Sydney’s Grandiflora florist, December 2007

Where do you find creative inspiration? (ie books, magazines, travel, the internet…)

Absolutely everywhere! Books, websites, magazines, people, stylists, friends, colours, flowers, tacky hologram patterns on cheap gift wrapping in 2 dollar stores, street signs in Tokyo, bento boxes, an odd looking garden gnome, a Campana brothers soft toy chair
Anything fun, unexpected and a little offbeat is inspiring to me.

Actually, it’s a bit embarrassing, but I’m kind of known for my extensive collection of ‘inspiration’ books. Just call me the ‘indie-pop’ Martha Stewart. I have one for almost everything. One for typography, one for layouts, one for home decorating ideas, one for weddings (one day), one for…well, you get the idea. People may tease away, but the truth is I cannot live without them and I refer to them almost everyday for ideas and inspiration.

Spreads from Ebony's inspiration scrapbooks

In addition to the scrap-booking madness, I am also a bit of a hoarder. I have piles and piles of ‘potential craft and collage’ materials including a metallic Easter egg wrapper, a piece of fluro-coral ribbon, a fifth-colour pantone chip and an envelope with a special font on gorgeous stock. Inspiration can come from anywhere, and at any time.

*Note from Lucy - OMG! - me too with the inspiration books! Except mine are ring binders with hundreds of clear plastic pockets in them... I can't throw a magazine in the recycling without slicing out every possible reference image first!

Which designers, artists or creative people do you look up to or are you in
spired by?

In my art making I am inspired by the new group of Japanese micropop artists in particular Hiroshi Sugito, Shintaro Miyake and Chinatsu Ban. Each time I travel to Tokyo I visit Tomio Koyama gallery to see their work. It is my dream to be Hiroshi Sugito’s artist’s assistant. I’m in love with Japanese fashion designer Tsumori Chisato who turns her own delicate illustrations into divine fabrics.

It’s inspiring to see the work of fellow COFA students. There is a girl working there at the moment who makes these super-cute paper cut-outs of owls and windowsills. So sweet! I have a big art crush on her! Cy Twombly, David Hockney and Yayoi Kusama are some old time favourites and I love art brut.

Design wise I am inspired by Art Directors such as Kazunari Hattori from Ryuko Tsushin and M/M (Paris). I also love the design of Korean Vogue Girl and Spanish AD.

Other creative types that I like to keep up to date with are my friend Shojo no Tomo, Designers ‘Pixelgarten’, The Narrows, Artists Gerda Steiner and Jorg Lenzlinger, Japanese band Kiiiiiii (with seven i’s in case you were wondering) (They are so cool – the drummer, Reiko Tada is also a designer and an illustrator. This is the cutest video clip). I also really love Dutch stylist Frank Visser of IJM.

Ebony's layout for Vogue Living feature on the London apartment of Australian fashionista Pippa Holt in March/April 2008 (remember I posted some of these shots way back here? Love this apartment!)

I find it exciting to stay in touch with projects by all passionate creative professionals such as Anna Plunkett from ‘Romance was born’, the lovely Dinosaur Designs team who are gorgeous people that produce wonderful, eco-friendly products, and the Ortolan girls who are just too clever for words.

What are you looking forward to?

I can’t wait to teach myself video editing software such as ‘Final cut’ and ‘After effects’ so I can make more super cute animations from my drawings. After that I’ll learn ‘Pro tools’ so I can make the music to go with it.

I’m really looking forward to starting a new series of artworks based on Japanese ‘purikura’ sticker club booths. Another project I am really excited about is to create a Tokyo city scene made out of timber and board.

Shimokita, mixed media on paper, 25 x 23cm, 2008

Sydney Questions –

What/where was the last great meal you ate in Sydney?

Bento set C from recently opened organic Japanese cafĂ© Wafu. Teriyaki salmon on brown rice, tuna sushi (complete with handmade ginger), ohitashi spinach and snow pea salad, Prawn katsu with homemade mayonnaise on western style salad. The owner is just divine and now speaks to me in mostly Japanese. I don’t have the heart to tell her that I don’t understand a lot of it! Gluten-free, wheat-free, dairy-free, no refined sugar, organic Japanese. Yum!

Your favourite bookshop in Sydney?

Kinokuniya – I love flicking through the imported Japanese books. They have a great design and art section and a fantastic Asian literature section. Oh and cute stationery too – now who doesn’t love a good fluro coral ball-point pen? And when you are done you can pop outside and have some Miso ramen at Ichi-ban boshi.

Where would we find you on a typical Saturday morning?

Studying Japanese at TAFE in Ultimo or at the gym trying to work off that yummy ramen! [Sigh]

Sydney’s best kept secret?

Is it too cheeky to say my mums vintage shop? Mum is a milliner and has the cutest little hats and vintage clothing boutique called 'Sandie Bizys Hats’. It’s in Annandale. Please visit! I am forever ‘borrowing’ (okay, stealing) pretty 1950s dresses and lacy aprons. Like mother like daughter as they say!

Zaishu stool commissioned by David Clark, Editor, Vogue Living for SPACE Furniture 2004

Thanks so much for your time, and all the inspiring links and images Ebony!

Ebony's 'Kawaii Pop 2' exhibition will be a reprise her acclaimed 'Kawaii Pop' show of 2008, and forms part of her final assessment for her MFA. Do pop in if you get a chance!

18-21 February
Ivan Dougherty Gallery
Selwyn st, Paddington

Opening Wednesday 18th Feb
5.30pm - 7.30pm

Gallery opening hours
Mon-Sat 10.00am - 5.00pm
Closed Sundays and public holidays