A VISUAL LIFE | Creative Direction + Design

Tag: illustration

DEAR DIARY // the big design market




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In perfect timing for Christmas, The Big Design Market was on at The Royal Hall of Industries over three days this weekend in Sydney (Melbourne is on 2-4 December). Starting in Melbourne in 2012, this is the first year it’s come to Sydney and I think it’s debut was a success. Showcasing the best of local and international art, craft and design with over 200 stands of unique, exclusive products. There’s an emphasis on ethical production, sustainability, quality, originality and good design. This shopping mecca caters to all ages with a huge choice of everything you could ever need – or just really, really want!

There’s also a limited number of showbags on offer with a selection of pieces from the designers involved. Another innovative extension to the stalls are the creative workshops hosted by stallholders and renowned designers such as Sibella Court, Beci Orpin and Home-Work. With free kids activities and areas to sit and relax, it’s an enjoyable day out for the whole family. You may need to refuel for energy, so there’s plenty of delicious food and drink from all your favourite local taste-makers.

MASTERSTROKE // frida loves diego








Frida Kahlo has been adored as an artist worldwide and as a national treasure in Mexico. Her work and life is celebrated in literature and film, and she is still influential as a feminist icon today. Suffering injuries from an accident she began to paint while recovering in hospital. Initially fame came to her when she married the acclaimed painter Diego Rivera, but her auto-biographical paintings eventually gained her the respect and recognition she deserved.

Frida’s art chronicled her physical hardships and relationship betrayals. In particular her self-portraits feel intimately real but as if she were hiding the secrets of her personal life, with Diego even nicknaming her ‘the great concealer’. Diego focussed on painting the serious problems of the world and they both became involved in politics and the issues facing their country. 

The exhibition at the Art Gallery of NSW was so popular that it was extended. The artworks are from the collection of Jacques and Natasha Gelman who were their friends, although this friendship was complicated with extramarital affairs. Photographs and letters were also on display, which gave an insight into the family dynamics and the problems they faced. The bond between these two colourful characters is undeniable when you watch them lovingly interact in the Super 8 film footage shown on screens at the end of the exhibit. The couple had an intriguing relationship but ultimately their artistic world endures as well as their revolutionary and modern views.

STYLE FILE // collette dinnigan






‘Collette Dinnigan: Unlaced’ at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney is the first exhibition to showcase the breadth of her work and design process. Featuring distinctive pieces from the archives grouped in a series of themes, the vignettes are offset by a video wall with continuous footage from catwalk shows. She is an internationally acclaimed Australian fashion designer with a career spanning more than 25 years and a celebrity following. Photographs from editorial spreads and campaigns reiterate the label’s feminine designs and romantic aesthetic.

The highlight for me was the vision and creativity behind the scenes which is on display with a variety of moodboards in different colourways. It was interesting to see how inspiration was born from artistic influences, cultural travel, vintage details and natural elements. At the end of the exhibit you get a chance to play and sketch your own designs on paper cutouts which are then displayed in an illustrated Parisian backdrop. Overall it was an escape into the fashion world and an insight into the stages of how ideas evolve and transform into a collection.

MASTERSTROKE // mural love




Melbourne is renowned for street art but Sydney is evolving and the artform is gaining momentum here too. I love making discoveries when I walk down an alleyway or drive through a side street (yes I am that person who stops to take a photo!).

Respected graffiti artist Phibs painted the facade of this warehouse in Stanmore. He is one of the city’s most prolific and established graffiti and street artists, also making a name for himself within the fine arts world. His strong, distinctive style suits this packaging service’s premises which is run by St Vincent de Paul Society and provides employment for people with a disability. The biggest surprise was in Potts Point with this striking black and white drawing of a woman in a room. The tiling angled to a vanishing point is perfect since it’s in an alley so the perspective works with the actual street location. Then there’s the charm of this abandoned corner shop in Botany which has had a simple revamp with a childlike painting of a tree landscape. I’m unsure whether this was done by the owners or locals, but it puts a smile on your face and cheers up an otherwise bland wall.

Large scale murals are commanding but sometimes it’s the mystery of the artist and the concept of the piece which is just as intriguing. A simple quote by Henri Matisse sums it up “creativity takes courage”.


DEAR DIARY // the finders keepers




The Finders Keepers markets just keep getting better and better every year. They started in 2008 and are now held in Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne and Adelaide. I went to the opening night in Sydney for the Autumn/Winter event, held in the historical Australian Technology Park in Eveleigh. The spirit behind the markets is to promote and support small, local businesses while endorsing conscious consumerism to the shoppers.

It has created a community that independent artists, makers and designers showcase their amazing pieces at individual stalls. With talent from all over Australia, it’s a great environment to discover talented artisans that you can meet in person. There is always a variety of homewares, fashion, lifestyle and food products to try and buy. It has a creative, festival atmosphere complete with live music, bars and food trucks – a fun day out and a great inspiration!

MASTERSTROKE // 20th biennale of sydney



Chiharu Shiota ‘Conscious Sleep’ (beds, thread, wool)


Emma McNally ‘Choral Field 2’ (graphite, carbon on paper)


Camille Henrot ‘Retreat From Investment’, ‘Personal Development 2’, ‘Dependent Personality Disorder 2’ (bronze)


William Forsythe ‘Nowhere and everywhere at the same time, No. 2’ (plumb bobs, string, compressed air cylinders, aluminium frames)

Cockatoo Island is a gorgeous spot on Sydney harbour with a historic and industrial feel due to it’s origin as a convict settlement and then a shipyard. Not only is it a great camping spot but it’s the perfect backdrop for art exhibitions like the 20th Biennale of Sydney. As Australia’s largest contemporary visual arts event with works from all around the world, the theme this year is ‘Embassy of the Real’. This concept represents the spaces between the virtual and physical worlds, as well as the physicality of the human body.

Chiharu Shiota has an intricate piece woven within the old prisoners barracks that feels like a surreal tangled web made of hundreds of metres of black thread. Atmospheric and otherworldly, this dreamlike scape with knotted threads symbolises the links between thought and memory. It also embodies how the nerves connect to the brain from the conscious mind to your dreams as well as the connections for how we exchange information digitally. 

Emma McNally’s large-scale cartographic drawings explore the space between the virtual and the real by mapping the world in multiple layers. Looking like detailed charts or diagrams, her meticulous drawings are like maps of a mindscape that transcends the body. 

Camille Henrot voluptuous bronze forms are set against the video ‘Grosse Fatigue’ to reflect how we are bombarded with endless images and data every day that we try to absorb and understand. The sculptures bring in the tactile element to counteract the digital with the physical.

William Forsythe’s installation of swinging metal weights was definitely the most interactive (and fun) installations. The concept is to weave around the strings as they move and with the accompanying music you can see the artist’s choreographic influence as you feel like you’re dancing with rhythmic movements.

What a combination: the world-heritage listed location, the intriguing artworks, the thought-provoking theme… overall the experience is magical!

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