I’ve been SO looking forward to sharing this with you and inviting you in to see what my studio looks like and where all the work happens.
A whole year of my life – spent working countless weekends and evenings with my father and husband Timothy O, transforming an empty concrete shell into a space that is so much more.
I picked up the keys in March last year and slowly started to get to work on the interior. I really wanted to create a space which nurtured creativity and had space for growth.
Before moving into the studio I was working out of a small room in a co-working space, which was above a French cafe and rambling antique store called Vieille Branche, in Brisbane. It was a bit mad, but lots of fun.
My small team and I, along with all our stock for the online shop, were crammed into a room the size of a bedroom. A small bedroom. We were completely working on top of each other, in amongst the frocks, smocks, baskets and more.
Looking back I miss the chaos of that small room and how social a co-working space can be when so many lovely people are drifting about, but hindsight makes certain things more sentimental. We were all looking forward to moving onto something new and spacious, and this was the answer.
Bringing the studio to life wasn’t always fun if I’m honest, sometimes it was difficult and stressful to run a business within an ever-changing worksite, and also travelling so extensively on photography jobs really stretched out the progress.
But, I would not have had it any other way. I thrive on and love creating spaces and spending time with my family working, when we are all on board to get it done. It was really lovely to be able to be working on a project like this, to be focused and feeling so very grateful and open hearted about the future, to be creating some permanence.
The aim from the very beginning was to create a beautiful space, which felt like a home. A space which nurtured and allowed for the creation of more beautiful work.
I love coming here each day. I usually arrive at about 7.30am, turn the music up loud and have some time to get ready for the day.
As I walk in, I always take the time to appreciate the floor tiles my father laid in the entrance. He is a tiler, so to have his trade which supported our family and provided everything we needed growing up in my own place of work means so much to me.
I really enjoyed bringing the pieces together, furniture found from all over. Especially the secondhand travertine coffee table found on Gumtree and the collection of antique woven baskets from Papua New Guinea and the indigenous pieces from the Northern Territory, all secondhand and from Gumtree.
Sometimes I’ll get up at sunrise and head to the flower market across town to buy flowers for the studio. I always keep an eye out for white garden Gladys, bunches of native flora, or anything else unusual and in season. When things are in season and local they are cheaper, so you can have big bunches.
Nature really softens the hardest of materials and finishes, so I always try to maintain an abundance of natural elements in and around the space… whether it’s in vases or any vessel that can hold water. If it holds water, it’s a vase :)
I had this chair frame underneath the house for years as a ‘project’, you know ‘those’ projects – I found the chair frame at an opshop but never got around to doing anything with it.
So I decided instead of buying a new chair, I would have the back of this one woven in cane and the base upholstered. I love this chair so much now, especially the woven cane element. Love texture.
From a young age, I have always collected magazines from around the globe. Some of my favourites are Cabana, The World of Interiors and French Vogue.
When I was studying photography in Toowoomba, I would airmail order in Vogue Italia from the newsagent in town – for about the same amount of money my weekly rent was, so… sometimes the rent wouldn’t get paid on time. eeek.
I can’t read Italian, but for me it was the photographs, the photographic briefs commissioned were like nothing else.
A morning ritual before heading upstairs is to head to the kitchen and make some herbal tea.
I brought in lots of favourite pieces from home for the kitchen to help it feel familiar. Ceramic plates and mugs from Australian potters such as Pan Pottery, dear friends Bridget Bodenham and Paper Boat Press. Thick old glass jam jars filled with vintage cutlery and stacks of bowls.
Objects which feel comforting and are made from traditional materials.
I really wanted to have a kitchen with a skirt! I love how charming, yet practical they are – hiding all the ugly pipes and bits under that linen skirt.
And my market baskets work perfectly for extra storage in the kitchen too.
I found the old antique sink at the Fryerstown Market in country Victoria a couple of years back. Sounds weird, but I collect old sinks, yep.
The shelves are super simple, wooden shelving from the hardware store, with cast-iron brackets from Sibella Court. Plus my KR wooden boards from a few years ago come in handy and looks so beautiful.
Then it’s upstairs to get things happening for the day ahead.
Upstairs there are two workrooms which are connected by a hallway; one being my editing room, the other, the design room.
The hallway is where I have shelves of clipboards with the current jobs on the go, so at a glance I can see what’s happening. And again, more favourite ceramics to make it feel like home.
I’m still very much a paper and pen person when it comes to office life. Old school.
This is where I sit, down the furthest end, near the natural light of the window. Again, more secondhand finds. The mid century chair was found at an opshop in Childers in Queensland whilst I was photographing my book Shelter.
I had the linen curtains made for the space by local fabric merchants Calico House. They make the best curtains if you ever need custom made curtains and their linen is beautiful. Ask for Betty and tell her I sent you!
The curtains are lovely and heavy – perfect for framing the window when open, and blocking out light when I am editing a job.
Some desk details. A vase of gum, an old 70’s brass lamp, my antique necklace from Papua New Guinea, some lovely old coral.
I wanted to have something special on the wall near where I sit. Something rather sentimental, yet very simple and feminine. A piece that makes me feel happy and calm when I glance at it throughout the day whilst working.
I have been working on a new body of work lately, a still life study and this photographic print is the first release of this series. A seashell still life.
Sometimes I love to shoot a little detail for Instagram. Being able to so freely connect and share with like-minded people all over the world is pretty powerful and I love the visual nature of it.
Then, down the other end is the design room. This is where I work on the print collections, lifestyle objects and anything which requires spreading out and using space.
I worked with local furniture maker and craftsman Stuart Bywater to design and make the large workbench. You can sit at one side of the bench and the other side has 12 drawers which keep all the fabric and leather samples safe and organised.
I keep a quote written by anthropologist Dr. Jane Goodall out at all times, so it catches my eye as I’m walking up and down the hallway. It’s nice to be reminded to keep it real…
There is a floor to ceiling corkboard filled with all sorts of magazine rip outs, printed quotes and even pieces of falling apart cardboard in the perfect tan colour.
It’s not really an ‘inspirational moodboard’, rather a wall filled with favourite imagery which has meaning and memories.
The storyboard rails hold what’s happening right now. Lots of contact sheets of rolls of black and white 120mm film.
The rails are currently holding a personal weekend project that I’m really excited by. I find the rails help to edit material and find the layout flow.
Come next week they will be filled with different work. Told you, I’m old school. Paper forever.
I’m also working away on some new leather luggage pieces, so samples and swatches are up there too.
Sometimes a customer or an interior designer will email with a request for a bespoke print, or perhaps a different size or an image of mine that isn’t already in my shop. I am always open to these requests, in fact I really enjoy arranging them.
I always do a few test strips to ensure the quality. The Highland Cow is one of the test strips hanging here – testing for a customer who wants this print in a larger size.
Not everything works out, but I suppose that is the creative process. My travel notebook is filled with lots of concepts and ideas, successes and failures. It’s all part of the journey.
In my online print shop we have just launched a framing service for the photographic prints, which is very new and something I haven’t actually spoken about yet.
I still offer prints unframed, I always will, though now the work can be framed for collectors who would like a ready to hang piece in my signature framing style.
The framed work is delivered in a special handmade wooden travel box to keep it safe whilst travelling to its new home.
I love how the travel boxes feel like old-world tea chests, we even stamp them. The frames and travel boxes are handmade by my trusted local fine art framer, who does a beautiful job.
Print signing on the production tables is something I always look forward to. Signing, numbering and dating each work and also writing personal postcards to each customer, thanking them.
I always try to imagine where the pieces are going to end up, in which room, in which country.
The work goes all over the world, something I am always amazed by and so very grateful for, that someone wants to collect my work, how I see the world. It’s very emotional to think about.
Signing my latest work – Seashell Still Life, the first release from my visual study on Stradbroke Island.
I have been working away on a project over the past few weekends, studying and photographing natural forms and I have become obsessed with Australian seashells.
All the colours, shapes and patterns. So simple, yet so complex in their beauty.
And then, the day comes to a close. I draw the curtains, turn off the lights and the music and head home, looking forward to coming back the next day.
I have made a special playlist for you below of the music that’s currently on high rotation in the studio right now.
I hope you enjoyed having a look inside, let me know what you think and if you have any questions please ask me.
I always turn the music on as soon as I arrive. Here’s what I’m listening to at the moment.