All posts filed under: The Creative Types

Vlad Kolas | Artist

Prize-winning painter, Vlad Kolas, is moving about his studio, brush in hand, music blaring, when I appear at the door one hot afternoon. Startled, he turns and jumps off the ground and walks over, wiping his hands with a rag. Music is a crucial element to Vlad’s artistic practice, giving him energy and inspiration. Today, as with other days, Led Zeppelin and David Bowie are on high rotation. “You know how you dance when no-one’s looking? I’m doing that with the paintbrush. Then you stand back and assess what you did, and make some adjustments. It’s a balance between those critical decisions and the intuition,” he says. Vlad’s white-walled studio is a relatively new addition on his Clunes property, where he lives with his partner, Jessica, and their four boys aged from 3 to 15. There’s not a clean surface in sight, with couches and office chairs spattered with paint, and entire tables serving as mixing palettes, covered in oils blended together in endless colour combinations. Growing up in Bondi Beach, Vlad loved surfing and …

The Buckleys | Musicians

Musical talent runs deep in the Buckley family. Mick, Sharon and their four youngest children have recently returned from the USA, where their family band, The Buckleys, played shows in Nashville, wrote songs with Grammy-nominated country music songwriters, and met with record labels. They played at the famous Bluebird Café, on the same stage where Bob Dylan and Taylor Swift have trodden. “For them to get invited to play there, that was cool, man,” says Mick. Sisters Sarah and Molly are out in front on guitar, mandolin, ganjo and vocals, while brother, Lachlan, plays bass and dad, Mick, keeps time on the kit. “We’ve been around instruments our whole life,” says Molly. “We’ve always been writing songs,” ads Sarah. The US trip was a dream come true for the girls, who love country music. “When I was 12 years old, I was going to get to Nashville by the time I was 16,” says Sarah. “So everything in the last 4 years has been leading up to that.” Lachlan prefers ‘70s and ‘80s rock and …

Nikky Morgan-Smith | Artist

Nikky Morgan-Smith lives in Eureka in a house tucked away on the side of an overgrown gully. It’s the house she grew up in, where her parents still lived, until Nikky and her then six-month old daughter, Morgan, moved back from Melbourne about 9 years ago. “We moved in and when it was apparent that we weren’t going to move back out, they moved out”, Nikky says, smiling.  Her parents now live in another house on the family’s 50-acre property, while Nikky and Morgan share the old house with their menagerie of dogs, cats and birds. Both Nikky’s parents are artists, and as a kid being dragged around to gallery openings, she wasn’t keen to follow in their footsteps. By the end of school, though, Nikky enjoyed art enough to enrol in a Visual Arts degree at age 18. “In a way I didn’t really have a choice because it was the one thing that I knew how to do the best.” Nikky transferred her studies to Melbourne and became involved in art therapy, volunteering …

Lauren Campbell | Potter

In a weathered, open-sided shed behind an old house in the middle of Clunes, Lauren Campbell is in her favourite place. A mud-strewn pottery wheel sits at one end, at the other are shelves laden with vessels in various states of undress. Finished mugs, bowls and platters glisten in the afternoon light, brightly coloured glazes dripping sea blues, lilacs and speckled creams over their earthy bodies. “Getting my hands dirty, sitting on the wheel, it’s just a place of calm,” says Lauren. Lauren discovered pottery about 5 years ago after being captivated by some beautiful ceramics while on a work experience placement with furniture designer, Mark Tuckey, in Sydney. “He had a big shop and had this ceramicist’s products in there and I fell in love with them”, she says.  Now in her second year of TAFE, studying the Advanced Diploma in Visual Arts, majoring in Ceramics, Lauren divides her time between classes, throwing clay on her wheel, teaching pottery workshops and taking care of the hidden necessities of being a self-employed businesswoman, under the …

Kylie Bridges | Artist and Collaborator

“We were all set up in Sydney,” says Kylie Bridges, shaking her head in slight disbelief at what she’s about to say. “I really didn’t think he’d walk away from it all, but he did and we’re here and we love it”, she says, referring to her husband, Mark, a self-employed bathroom renovator and musician, and their decision to move to Clunes 13 years ago. “I still actually go ‘wow, we really did it’, because we were in a really nice situation, in a little house, great friends, great street”, Kylie explains. A chance encounter between their son Josh, a toddler at the time, and a stranger’s playful dog on a Byron Bay beach changed their lives. The dog’s owner told them how he’d lived all over the world but had now settled in Clunes. “‘It was God’s country’, he said, and he told us to ‘do yourselves a favour and just go out into the hinterland while you’re up here’”, Kylie recounts. She never did learn his name. Now primarily a self-employed graphic designer, …

Micheal Connor | Woodworker, Luthier, Toolmaker

Micheal Connor doesn’t do things half-heartedly. “If you want to build a bit of furniture you want to make sure it’s going to be here in 100 years”, he says. A part-time woodworker, toolmaker and luthier, Micheal is fastidious about getting his designs right, spending time testing out his prototypes and making sure every component meets his high standards. Consequently, some of his projects have taken him a long time. “It’s the anti-Ikea furniture”, he says proudly. Micheal and his wife, Sue, live on 7.5 acres in Corndale, and their home boasts the fruits of Micheal’s carpentry skills. The dining tables, dining chairs, sofa, raised flowerbeds, pitched roof of the patio are all carefully designed and made. Even the outdoor chairs we are sitting in are thoughtfully crafted prototypes, made with hinged backrests which adjust to whether you are sitting straight up eating lunch or leaning back loosening your belt buckle afterwards.  I notice there are only two of this kind, though. “One of these days I’ll make some more”, he says, “but I’ve got …

Julie Casey | Milliner

The idea of leaving her career in banking had been floating around in Julie Casey’s head for some time. More time with her only son, Ben, and a change of direction were top of her list. Looking for something to do from home, Julie began testing the waters with a few millinery courses in Melbourne, the epicentre of the trade in Australia. She had begun to enjoy her new creative outlet, but it was a family accident eight years ago that finally forced her hand and cemented her decision. Aged seven and a half, Ben’s right foot got run over by the family’s ride on mower. It had to be amputated, and a prosthetic limb put in its place. Julie took three months’ leave to care for Ben and her mind was made up. “I said, ‘yep, that’s it.’ I wanted to be at home. It’s only a short time that your kids are with you, and I’ve only got one.” Growing up in Byron Bay, Julie and her husband, Paul, met at high school …

John Stewart and Leonie Lane | Creatives

When government arts funding was slashed and courses cut from TAFE campuses two years ago, ceramicist John Stewart went back to his first love. At the time he was head teacher of Creative Industries at Lismore TAFE, and he left a long and successful teaching career to get back to his workshop outside Clunes. John discovered ceramics as a teenager, teaching himself the techniques from books. When he chose it for his Higher School Certificate his teachers were surprisingly supportive. “Everyone was so relieved because I was a dreadful painter!” he says. John and his father made his first pottery wheel, and with books and practice, John honed his skills at ‘throwing’ (working clay on a potter’s wheel). “They say it takes seven years to get good at throwing”, he says, but these days his work uses other techniques, and throwing is more of a love. John’s partner, Leonie Lane, also recently left a teaching career to pursue her own art full time. Until January this year, Leonie taught Digital Art and Design at Southern …

Katka Adams | Artist

When Katka Adams and her mother arrived in Australia as refugees they didn’t speak a word of English. It was 1969 and Katka was seven years old. Escaping the political repression of communism in Prague, Katka and her mother moved through several migrant hostels, including Bonegilla near Albury-Wodonga, before settling in Melbourne. “They just stuck me in a class of regular kids. I had to relearn my whole way of writing, and I didn’t understand what the words meant”, says Katka, in her now strong, easy Australian accent. The language barrier meant Katka spent a lot of time alone drawing, even as a young child, and developed a fondness for art that never wavered. Finishing high school in Sydney, Katka had her heart set on going to art school. “The career adviser said, ‘You’ve really got to look at your other options’, and I said, ‘what other options, there are no other options!’” It is now 20 years since Katka and her husband, Russell, bought their small settler’s cottage on the eastern edge of Clunes. …