by Wendy Johnson
It’s not every day you get to pop into the studio of an artist and absorb how they think, design and work. But DESIGN Canberra is your chance to connect, create and collaborate with some of the capital’s best artists, designers and craft practitioners. DESIGN Canberra is the capital’s most significant design event. The festival starts in just a few weeks, offering close to 70 activities involving more than 750 participants (21 to 29 November).
This year you have a rare opportunity to visit no fewer than 17 Living Artists open studios and workshops, and meet talented designers who work in fashion, jewellery, textiles, glass, furniture, sculpture, wood working, functional objects and architecture. Some studios are owned and operated by one artist or design firm. Others, like ANCA, M16 Artspace, Canberra Glassworks, Six Wiluna and Workshop Level, house up to 35 artists in a collective of sorts.
You can visit all studios and working spaces for free. Most are open for one day during the festival, during set times. Some welcome drop-ins and others require bookings so it’s wise to check out the website to map out what you don’t want to miss. In the meantime, here are some teasers to tickle your fancy.
Take a short jaunt to leafy Pialligo. The Hayshed is throwing open its doors to visitors and hosting informal floor talks by its three professional artists—Lisa Cahill, Kirstie Rea and Julie Ryder (22 November). Lisa and Kirstie use glass as their primary medium, and Julie has been a professional artist for more than 25 years and exhibits nationally and internationally (some of her work is also available through Agency in Braddon).
F!NK + Co’s workshop tour (21 November) will showcase intriguing demonstrations on how artists and designers form unique and distinctive products. F!NK is one of a handful of design companies that solely manufactures in Australia. First recognised for its distinctive Water Jug, which is now a true Aussie design icon, the company also produces high-quality homewares, lighting and jewellery.
Workshop Level is glass artist Jeremy Lepisto’s professional studio, which he operates with his partner in life Mel George (who also curates the exhibitions at Craft ACT). On 21 November you’ll get a behind-the-scenes look at the methods and materials these two reputable glass artists use to create custom glass projects for art and architecture, as well as their personal artwork.
In the mood to indulge in a bit of fabulous fashion? The Australian National Capital Artists (ANCA) will host an open day on 22 November at both campuses, home to 35 visual artist studios covering all genres, including jewellery and clothing. At Leafy Studios and Heavy Duty Studios, you can watch artists create work, discuss pieces and even try new techniques yourself.
At ANCA, fashion designer Alice Sutton, of the independent label Edition, will be on hand with pieces from her stylish collections, each exploring the meaning of place. Award-winning contemporary jeweller, Phoebe Porter, will also be on site. Phoebe hand makes earrings, necklaces, bracelets and rings primarily with titanium, stainless steel and aluminium. These are refined, elegant pieces, and each a work of art.
On 27 November, you can drop by Cox Architecture for a chat and learn about the firm’s projects and the daily practice of architecture and design. This is one of Canberra’s most awarded architectural practices. Its 45 hugely talented staff—who all believe that nothing beats a great idea, even if it’s just a sketch on the back of a coaster—work from Kingston Foreshore.
Staying in the world of architecture, you can take one of two tours on 27 November of the offices of Guida Moseley Brown Architects, a multi-award winning architectural, interior and urban design firm carrying out an international practice from the capital. You’ll be guided through a display of building and urban design and master planning projects and talk to the design team about significant projects like the Canberra Airport and amazing structures overseas, including in Botswana, Singapore and Hong Kong.
Other studios sharing their world in the Living Artists segment of DESIGN Canberra are Six Wiluna (furniture, gold and silversmithing and sculpture), Alison Jackson (jewellery and tableware), Matthew Curtis and Harriet Schwarzrock (sculptural work and functional objects), Canberra Glassworks (featuring the work of eight glass artists), M16 Artspace (jewellery, textile design and mixed media), Harris Hobbs (award-winning landscape architecture projects), Myles Gostelow (furniture), Rob Henry Architects and De Rome Architects) and Studio 103 (architecture).
DESIGN Canberra is an initiative of Craft ACT: Craft and Design Centre. The 2015 Festival is bigger and better; running across nine days (including two weekends), and has something for everyone—young and old alike.