Artist In Residency with Jessie Pittard

IMG_0866 2 copy.jpg

Artist In Residency with Forging Ahead

How do you describe your Art?

I make custom artworks out of hundreds of hand cut, hand bent pieces of mild steel.  A sculpture puzzle.

How/When did you first become interested in your type of work?

I became interested in welding when I worked in the film industry in Special Effects in films in 1997. I initially wanted to become a mechanic as I loved working with my hands.


When did you first start creating your art? Did you study? Or were you mentored? Did it happen by chance?

I started creating my artworks in 2003.  I went back to TAFE to hone my welding skills and then it went on from there.  I started making mirrors as none were available in the style I wanted in the shops. Then people asked me to make mirrors for them.  I then started making wall arts, 3D wall arts and garden sculpture.


When did you first start making a career/profession from your Art?

I set up the business in 2013 and have continued from there.

Where do you find your inspiration? People, Places, events in your life?

I travelled to Cambodia in 2010 to see the wonderful craftman in Siem Reap and Phnom Penh.

They make gates and other steel arts out of hundreds and thousands of individual pieces. 

I’m inspired by the natural way of the word.  Recreating feathers that are made to look light but are really large heavy steel pieces.  I like to make branches and leaves, and flowers that move naturally in the wind.


What are your favorite colors to work with? What type of materials and textures do you love to use?

I work mostly in mild steel.  I use some recycled materials but most of my steel is new.  I occasionally add stainless steel features to my pieces. I like natural finishes like raw steel, which is oiled to keep its gray colour.  I also like to leave the metal to rust naturally over time.


What are some of the processes of your work?

I cut the pieces I want to use out of larger sheets or lengths of metal.  I then bend them into shape and weld them together.  Much of my work is like a giant puzzle.  1000’s of pieces that join to make large scale artworks.


Where/How do you sell your work? Do you have exhibitions or expos?

I sell my work through galleries and garden centres.  

I show my work at exhibitions like, the Melbourne International Flower and Garden show, and the Tesselaar Sculpture Prize. I do this through the Association of Sculptors Victoria of which I am a member.


I have a home studio which is open 7 days by appointment. 

I promote myself through Facebook and Instagram under the name of Forging Ahead Metal Art.

 I am also a member of Nillumbik Artists Open Studios and have my studio open for 2 weekends in November and one in May.  People can come and visit, and watch me work.  They can also see many sculptures available for sale on display.


How long have you had your studio for? Any wonderful details about your house/studio?!

I have had my studio for 5 years. My studio is my double garage.  Its contains a blacksmith forge, a leg vice and anvil. 

It also contains modern equipment for cutting metal, a welder and plasma cutter.

Do not be put off that your studio is not big enough.  I have a large bench on wheels that can be moved around as required, or outside if necessary. 

My tip would be…visit as many other peoples studios as possible and find out how they make it work, and just begin.  

Happy sculpting

forging ahead-64 copy.jpg
forging ahead-24 copy.jpg

Artist In Residency with State Of Permance

How long have you been an artist for?  When did you start and why?

I discovered clay in August 2014 when I attended pottery classes at Studio Artemis with my kindergarten mothers group (a lovely, wild group of endlessly talented friends). We’d tried numerous other creative endeavours but none really resonated with me as clay did.  From the first time I touched clay I found a visceral connection. An internal dialogue occurred between myself and every touch of the clay.  I still have that feeling whenever I touch clay and sometimes wish that I’d discovered this amazing material earlier (but with everything in life, it comes when you are ready).


Did you study?  Or were you mentored?

My clay journey actually began before I even really realised it, in a series of serendipitous moments which led me to Studio Artemis run by Kristin Miller in a very nurturing environment. I quickly acquired an insatiable appetite to know more.  I spent a year experimenting and playing in my own studio producing oh so many mistakes, but always learning throughout this process.  I luckily acquired my own little kiln which was invaluable during that year.  This led me to take further intensive workshops, amongst which Master Potter Alistair Whyte was instrumental, along with Glenn England.  This only increased my appetite to improve and learn even more, so I studied and completed my Diploma of Ceramics at Holmesglen which had amazing teachers.


Who do you get inspiration from?  People or Things?

I am by nature a visual person and very good at observing the little things in life.  The play of light on my window curtains, or the growing tendrils of the wisteria in my garden, will spark a hint of an idea for my ceramics.  Years of playing with my home’s interior has also been an influence, and you will see themes I use in my home appear within my pottery.  

I design mostly for myself and what I would want to surround myself with and just hope that there are other like-minded people out there (as they say we all have a tribe out there).


What is your favourite colour and textures to work with?

I love clay as a material both in its raw state and after it’s been fired, and I dislike covering it completely with glaze.  My natural tendencies are towards very neutral and earthy palettes.  I pretty much live the aesthetic I’ve created in my home.  Lots of natural materials playing off against each other with layers of the same colour in different textures; shiny against matte, rough against smooth. It all gives me immense pleasure.


Where/How do you sell your work? 

I find handmade pottery to be quite a tactile material, which needs to be held, touched and handled to be fully appreciated. For this reason, I’ve started selling my pottery at inner-suburban markets so people can really experience the look and feel of my work. 

Social media is very important and I enjoy posting images of my work on Instagram. I’ll normally pop a notification on Instagram the week preceding a market. We’ve recently linked our Facebook page to the Instagram posts too.

We also have a website which currently sells our Jewellery range. Launching in early June 2017 we’ll also have our pottery available online at  Our goal is to make beautiful, modern and original pieces at a price that is still reasonable, as I enjoy the idea of giving access to good design and functionality to everyone.


Do you have exhibitions/expos?

Even though I appreciate art for art’s sake, for me the material I have chosen demands to be both functional as well as beautiful.  I find it quite difficult to create when the intention is purely for sculptural pieces. 

Saying this, I do have an exhibition coming up with all my fellow graduates from the Diploma of Ceramics. This will be held at the Malvern Arts Centre in Malvern, from the 7th- 16thJuly 2017.  


What are some of the processes of your work?

As long as I’m working with clay my methods vary depending on what I want to produce.  I love all aspects of making whether it be hand building (which includes pinching), slab building, coiling or wheel throwing.  As long as I can touch clay I’ll try it.  I don’t tend to plan or design in any detail before making as I find this stifles my creativity.  I will however sketch some ideas of particular inspirations in a visual diary that I keep.  


What type of materials do you love to use and why?

Currently it’s all about clay for me.  The possibilities of this material are only hindered by your own imagination.  It is essentially limitless as far as I am concerned. I often wish that everyone could experience the calming and grounding nature of this material.  At the same time, it can be humbling and teach you some life lessons. For example, you will try to make and shape something as you picture it, but it doesn’t always turn out that way. You will learn from mistakes and unexpected results; you will feel loss and then learn to let go for the pieces that didn’t make it through the process; you will feel joy and pride in successes.  Sometimes the clay won’t turn out anything like you thought, and you know what – that’s alright because sometimes it turns out better and you grow again in your art.

As I love playing with textures, the potential of partnering this amazing material with other earthly materials peak my interest immensely.  Watch this space as the ideas keep brewing constantly!


How long have you had your studio for? Any wonderful details about your house?!

Luckily, I’ve had access to a home studio from the beginning.  It started with just a little space, but as the clay fever took over my studio has expanded substantially, with my ever patient husband adding shelves and necessities as required.  The convenience of having it at home is immeasurable as I have three pre-teen kids that still need me around.

I love the light in both my home and studio.  It’s what initially attracted me to this house as it has huge windows, but is quite traditional with beautiful cornicing, original Tassie oak flooring and many other little details which would take too long to mention.  To me it’s my sanctuary and where I share many lovely moments with my family and friends.

Finally, and importantly, without the support of my hugely encouraging husband I would never be in this particular situation of working at something that I absolutely love.  I am a lucky woman.

State of Permanence-9 copy.jpg

Artist In Residency with Nerina Necellese

How long have you been an artist for? When did you start and why? 

 I have been drawing and painting since the day I was able to hold a crayon. I was one of those children who were completely obsessed with art, often found to be drawing all day and filling countless sketch books over the years.

I have always dreamed of being an artist. When I was around 6 or 7 years old I went to a “What do I want to be when I grow up?” fancy dress party wearing an art smock & beret, clutching brushes & old wooden palette from my grandfather – who was also an artist.


Did you study? Or were you mentored?

On an educational level, Art was my very favourite class at school and even during the lunch break, I could be found in the art room. 

I went on to complete a visual arts focused year 12 equivalent at RMIT, followed by a Bachelor of Arts and Graduate Diploma in Art at Ballarat University.


Who do get inspiration from? People or Things?

My post Graduate thesis was titled, “The Spiritual in Art”.  In this paper, I researched the philosophy and art of artists from both the East and the West who were interested in painting the spiritual dimension or ‘vibration’ beyond form. Western artists included Kandinsky, Klee & Kupka.

It wasn’t until after this ‘formal’ education that I began to develop my own style as an artist. After completing university, I commenced a 15 year period of travel to and a study of the art and culture of a number of Asian Countries includingIndonesia, Tibet, India, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Japan.

Personally and through my artistic practice, I have been inspired by the ‘sacred’ and ‘holy’ of Asian cultures as a tool to re-ignite a sense of the sacred my current life and those I come in touch with. My work has been greatly inspired by the art and culture of Tibetan Buddhism, Zen Buddhism and Hinduism. Even though I am not a ‘religious’ person as such, there are sacred teachings in each of these ancient doctrines which can be applied to the current age. 

In addition, the overwhelming sense of awe and compassion one experiences when gazing up at a 4 story high Buddha in Tibet or Japan seems to override all small mental problems or ego, leaving one in a state of peace and a connection to a sense of ‘oneness’ - which I feel is our true identity.  Even though this sacred object is a ‘form’, it also acts as a signpost beyond form, so a deeper place of stillness within.


What is your favorite colour and textures to work with?

My work comprises of a multitude of different colours – dependent on how I’m feeling in the moment. Some paintings contain rich and intense reds and gold, while some contain cooler pastel blues and silver. 

With regards to texture, I attempt to create an ‘aged’ patina to the paintings – as to mirror some of the ancient objects that initially inspired them.

Visually, I create a sense of texture through repeated pattern.Through pattern am contemplating both the pattern of the life cycle and seasons, pattern within sound, music and the written language, patterns in nature (honeycomb, petals of a blossom, waves etc) and the deeper, more geometric patterns that man has recognized in nature including the Fibonacci sequence, Mandelbrot set and Golden Mean.

Where/How do you sell your work?

Most of my work is sold at exhibitions and galleries, however the local ‘Artist’s Open Studios’ program also gives interested collectors the opportunity to buy directly from my studio.


Do you have exhibitions/expos?


What are some of the processes of your work?

Each painting combines a variety of processes including painting, collage, guilding, encaustic wax and screen printing.

What type of materials do you love to use and why?

Materials used in my paintings incorporate a collection of vintage Japanese fabrics, wallpapers and metallic leaf and foil; combined onto the canvas with screen printed patterns, paint and encaustic wax.  As when Japanese golden screens first appeared in the fourteenth century they functioned as a background on which to paste painted fans or square poem cards. Similarly, my paintings are a combination of both paper and material collage and painted areas.


How long have you had your studio for? Any wonderful details about your house/studio?!

My current studio was inspire by a circular ferrocement ‘potting shed’ on my parent’s property.  One evening I was dining with my family at a local restaurant and began brainstorming with my father (who thankfully happens to be an architect!) The initial design for the studio was scrawled onto a serviette and pictured a large circle – to be used as a painting space, and an adjoining smaller circle for storage.

My father, so local tradesmen and I began building this studio when I left my residency at Dunmoochin in 2012.

Nerina-8 copy.jpg

Artist In Residency with Red Door Studio

Red Door-1 copy.jpg

Artist in Residency with Tracey Muirhead

How long have you been an artist for? When did you start and why!? 

Eek - I don’t usually use the term artist for myself – to me an artist is someone who earns that title and since I’m a newbie, I have a way to go.  I started selling my pots in 2012 and have been lucky to have amazing support for my obsession!!  I love clay. I love shapes, and I love the relationship between form, colour and texture.

Did you study? Or Were you mentored?

I started potting when my second child went to school and I had a bit of time (actually – “Arrrgghh what am I going to do with myself???!!!!”). I found a great class at the Wyreena Community Centre – the loveliest people, and then went on to study part-time for 4 years at Box Hill Tafe, graduating in 2010 – more lovely people!! 


Who do get inspiration from? People or Things ?!

I’m most inspired by objects – buildings, interiors, patterns, and mostly shapes/forms. However, people’s stories are really inspirational too – I listen to heaps of inspirational people on YouTube while I work.

I’m inspired by nature, but am in no way able to imitate it – those first “birds” prove my point!!!


What is your favorite colour\texture to work with?

 I love working with naked clay (unglazed) which allows the clay to be the star – especially black clay from the UK.  

Where/How do you sell your work? I supply a few retailers – 

Zabecca Living, Tunstall Square, Doncaster 

Lily and the Weasel, Swan Street, Richmond

Crafter Interiors, Bridge Road, Richmond

Kristina Brenke Studio, Palm Beach, NSW

I’ve also done a few markets –Melbourne Design Market, Finders Keepers, Makers Market at Heide and The Warrandyte Pottery Expo.   


Do you have exhibitions/expos?

I have exhibited since 2010 - - images on my website


What are some of the processes of your work?

I hand build using really simple techniques and basic tools – a giant rolling pin, a knife and a sponge are my best tools, oh an my hands!!

I love experimenting with how clay reacts in an electric kiln versus a gas kiln – the results are dramatically different – always such a thrill to open a kiln after a firing – like going to a lolly shop as a kid!!!

Most of my work is build using slabs of really thin clay and forming in or on a form – often a rock or ball of hard clay.  The challenge is to get the clay to be a thin as possible without it cracking and or distorting in the high temperatures (1280 degrees Celsius) of the glaze firing. 

I love the way that clay can surprise you and how shapes can just materialize if you let them and are not too prescriptive about what you’re trying to make – then the challenge is to try and replicate the shape or effect.  Often, the “mistakes” become the most unusual and desirable pieces.


What type of materials do you love to use and why?

 I love a variety of clays and will have at least 6 or 7 different types in my studio at all times – shock horror!!!!  Don’t tell my accountant!  

I also love using dried grasses or airplants and succulents, porcupine quills and African Slate or Spotted Gum and simple Aussie Pine to complete the setting of the piece.


 How long have you had your studio for? any wonderful details about your house?!

My studio has evolved from a small space in what was the Granny flat, to a beautiful (but too cluttered) space with a stunning view of the greenery and trees outside.  The light can be spectacular as the seasons change and it’s the coolest part of my house – so great to be there in summer!!!


Tracy M-22 copy.jpg

Artist in Residency with Jodie Stewart

Jodie Stewart-14 copy.jpg

Artist Residency with Tog and Pini

How would you describe your Art? 

I see my work as gentle, whimsical, and ‘story telling’. I hope it shows my love for animals and celebrates the innocence childhood. 

How/When did you first become interested in your type of work?

My passion started with beautiful books. I have always loved pouring over the pages of books by Beatrix Potter, Jill Barklem, Edward Ardizzone, and many others. I loved these books as a child and was drawn to the beautiful artworks used to enhance the stories and truly bring them to life. Despite this passion, I had never even thought of pursuing illustration myself until I was an adult. 

When did you first start creating your art? 

Did you study? Or were you mentored? Did it happen by chance?

I spent a lot of my childhood ‘making things’, I loved my dollhouse and would make miniature food and dolls’ clothes. I modelled animals and made jewellery. I didn't paint or draw much at all until I was an adult. My mum is also an artist and I was always surrounded by her beautiful creations. Mum’s work was a broad mix, ranging from lead lighting to oil painting, and dressmaking and was yet another inspiration.

I then went on to study Gold and Silver Smithing and Product Design. It was the Illustration classes that were taught by an extremely talented women that inspired me to move in this direction. I had a lot of self-doubt about my abilities but with her encouragement, I began to think I could really ‘do this!’

I believe artists always doubt their talent or their worth, perhaps because there is a never ending amount of skills to be learnt, or perhaps because there is a never ending amount of other artists out there. However, once you recognise and accept this, then you can embrace the challenge, and enjoy the process. 

When did you first start making a career/profession from your Art?
I actually started selling handmade toys and jewellery when I was 13! I think the entrepreneurial spirit was strong in me! 

I did pursue my gold and silversmithing after my studies but once I had kids I struggled to continue, the space in my mind was so divided; I even caught the desk on fire in my studio space (read ‘kitchen’). I realised I needed to refocus and in a less dangerous direction, at least while my kids were small. I then started Tog & Pini, it looked very different back then! I was making toys out of vintage fabrics and selling them at local markets, along with a small range of greeting cards. Tog & Pini has evolved so much!

Where do you find your inspiration? People, Places, events in your life?

I definitely look to the animal kingdom for inspiration, my own pets inspire me greatly, as do my kids. The interaction between different animal species and people has always fascinated me, and you can find that in my work. I particularly like to represent unusual friendships and to bring to light the hidden lives and secret fantasies that I know my animals have, such as being an aristocratic rabbit or a meerkat exploring the world with a friendly hippo. 

What are your favourite colours to work with? What type of materials and textures do you love to use?

I could never choose a favourite colour, I think my friends found me quite annoying, I took to saying my favourite colour was Mauve, but it really wasn’t, I just liked the sound of the word! 

I love fabric, I love the variety of textures and colours. I could happily sift through piles of fabrics sorting and imagining various uses for hours on end. 

At the moment my favourite mediums to work with are watercolours and all the various items that go into my animal sculptures/dolls. I use sculpting polymer for the head arms and legs, and make soft fabric bodies. I then use mostly recycled materials for the clothing; I like to give old things new life, especially when they have been beautifully and time consumingly made; things like old lace and embroidery.

What are some of the processes of your work?
I find it hard to pin point a process, I think I work a little differently every day, I’m a bit of a scatter brain. I guess though, it almost always starts with an idea. I often think my ideas are fully formed in my mind, and then find that they change according to what I have available to work with. Though sometimes it can be the reverse, I find a piece of fabric, or see an animal that inspires me and an idea forms from that. 

Where/How do you sell your work?Do you have exhibitions or expos?

I love meeting my customers and getting out to markets. Seeing people face-to-face is such an encouragement, and motivates me to continue. 

I do exhibit a few times a year at various local art shows and exhibitions and you can find Tog & Pini in a few retails stores around the country. 

My main method of selling is via Etsy and social media. My Facebook page and Etsy store have been hugely positive factors in my journey. 

How long have you had your studio for? Any wonderful details about your house/studio?!
My studio is brand spanking new! I’m so thrilled to have it. In fact I can still hardly believe it! My studio was renovated from a shed that was on the property and was home to a couple of possums and a micro bat (all safely re-housed). After a few months thanks primarily to my Mum and Dad, it was made over into a gorgeous, well lit studio just in time for my first Nillumbik Open Studios weekend in November 2017. You can arrange to visit me anytime!

Do you have any inspirational words for those that might be starting in the Art Industry or would inspire to be an Artist one day? Just like you : )

Just start! Start small if you have to and work on what you love, gain skills and invest in your passion. Surround yourself with other passionate people and explore different avenues for your work. :)


Artist In Residency With Whistling Duck

Whistling Duck-1 copy.jpg