Tell us a bit about yourself.
I was born in Hong Kong but moved to Sydney, Australia when I was 4 years old. I’ve had a strong case of wanderlust since I was a little girl and have lived in some pretty random places: Lewiston, Maine; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Montreux, Switzerland; and Tokyo, Japan.
After university, I worked as a stylist and journalist for a national newspaper, but when I hit 27 I decided to give it all up and travel again. I somehow ended up in London, where I met my husband and began studying for a diploma in shoemaking at Cordwainers. After graduation, I worked in a fashion job, but in a back office role, and was actually quite relieved when I went on maternity leave! It probably sounds a bit silly, but I couldn’t find any clothes I liked to wear when I was pregnant (and pretty much the only thing that wasn’t growing was my head), so I started making my own hair accessories, then jewellery grew from there.
Apart from creating things, what do you do?
I’m a mother to a 2-year-old girl, so when she’s not at nursery, I’m entertaining her! We like to visit museums, galleries, stately homes and our local playground. We also love picking dandelions in our garden. You’ll also find me drinking way too many cups of coffee, car booting in the summer, traveling to foreign climates, eating fine and not-so-fine foods and daydreaming.
What would be the title of your memoir? Why?
At the moment, probably Running On Empty. I’ve been launching the new collection whilst moving twice in the space of three months, preparing our new house for a major refurb, redesigning my (soon-to-be relaunched) site and dealing with my daughter’s terrible twos.
Where does your inspiration come from?
Everywhere — books, art, film, blogs, travel. It only takes a tiny detail or a random image to inspire me to spin off on a new tangent.
What does handmade mean to you?
Handmade means loving attention to detail. It means care, thoughtfulness, craft and patience.
Who has been most influential in your craft?
That changes from day to day; my influences are usually more about someone’s worldview and attitude rather than their technique or aesthetic. My most recent collection, “Tissage,” was heavily influenced by Louise Bourgoise, an incredibly inspirational (and uncompromising!) artist and founder of the confessional art movement. I went to an exhibition of hers at the Hauser & Wirth gallery in London and saw some lattice work fabric pieces she did. It triggered something off in my head. The end results might not look exactly like her work, but she was absolutely the inspiration behind them.
When did you know you were an artist/maker?
After a decade of working in various aspects of the fashion business, it was only when I finally gave design and making a go that everything really clicked into place. I always loved dealing with creative people, designers and craftsmen, but it took a long time to build up the confidence in myself to realise it was something that I could do for a living. I still feel incredibly blessed, and I genuinely love every single minute that I spend in my studio.
How would you describe your creative process?
Once I have a theme in mind, I usually start playing around with materials, then move on to illustrating ideas on my computer. Then it’s back to the materials again. It changes a lot from point A to the final destination.
If you could peek inside the studio of any artist, designer or craftsman (dead or alive), who would it be?
Yayoi Kusama. I love the crazy, obsessive, repetitive nature of her work, and the polka dots — I love a good polka dot! On a more personal level, I’d love to visit my friend, textile designer Joanna Fowles. She just moved back from London to Australia, so I’d like to see what her new studio near Bondi Beach is like.
What handmade possession do you most cherish?
A pair of beautiful hand-cut, hand-formed and painted paper hung pheasants from the 1920s that my husband and I found at an op shop. We made the mistake of gawking over them and, when we came back, they’d already been sold to another dealer. In the end, we paid double to get a hold of the pheasants, but it was definitely worth it.
How do you get out of your creative ruts?
I think I have the opposite problem — I usually have too many ideas! I have to learn how to cull, discard and focus on the project in hand instead.
Where would you like to be in ten years?
Doing what I’m doing, but on a larger scale, surrounded by family and friends, and feeling happy, healthy and loved. Oh, and also living in a Huf house, in a secluded spot by the sea. Not asking for much, am I?