Collaboration is an important part of arts based projects and this week we’d like to highlight The Coven project. The Coven project was a creative collaboration between maker Kirri-mae Sampson, fashion designer Ellie Meyer, photographer Noel Smyth, makeup and FX Artist Liz Jenkinson, stylist Bonnie Knoop and Model Katarina Karadimas. The concept was proposed by Liz who wanted to experiment with mood and character. The outcome of the project was a beautiful photo series showcasing the work of the contributors.We caught up with Kirri-mae Sampson (who is facilitating an Upcycled Macramé Necklace workshop on Thurs 16 April in the CBD) and fashion designer Ellie Meyer to find out more about The Coven project.
• Tell us a bit about yourself – how did you come to your creative practice? What drives you?
K: I am fortunate to have had the opportunity to gather experiences and inspiration from many different avenues over the last ten years. My background was in teaching Drama and Visual Art in primary and secondary schools. I think these experiences have guided my tendency toward dramatic feature pieces, as well as my focus on creating pieces by hand.
When I came to Melbourne I went back to uni to funnel my efforts into the TCF (textile, clothing and footwear) Industry. During this time I developed my interest and knowledge around ethical and sustainable development in the industry and this certainly underpins and drives any creative decisions I make for my own practice.
E: My background is in Fashion and Textile design and I’m currently studying my Masters in Fashion and Textile Entrepreneurship at RMIT.
I like to play with textures in my work, which has included sculptured garments, textile pieces and illustrations. Past pieces have incorporated hair, latex and intricately layered sheer fabric. I feel like my creative practice is always developing and changing. My most recent works have been macrame pieces with Kirri-Mae and illustrations of sleepy characters wrapped in blankets.
• How do you know each other and how did the idea to collaborate come about?
E: Kirri-Mae and I met at uni and have been talking about creating something together for quite some time. We identified some similar ideas for future projects and ways our approach to textile pieces could work well together. Her work is amazing, so I was keen to get crafting when the opportunity came around for us to create some pieces for the coven concept.
K: Yep, pretty much any excuse to collaborate with someone creatively and I’m into it. Ellie’s work is so beautiful. She has a lot more technical skill in garment development where I’m still learning, and so I think in this instance (and no doubt more to come) we were really able to complement each others’ skill set.
• Tell us about your collaborative project.
K: The concept for the project came from another amazing creative I’ve had the pleasure of working with before, Liz Jenkinson, make up and special effects extraordinaire. She had the idea to create a series of ongoing themed shoots based around particular character archetypes. This was just the first and it circled a Coven type theme.
Liz enlisted me to create a garment for the concept and I put it to Ellie that we should work together. It also included a series of Ellie’s garments from a previous collection she’d created that happened to fit the theme pretty perfectly.
In the end the concept brought together quite a bundle of great people. Liz was on make up and creative direction, Ellie and I on garments and accessories with Bonnie Knoop styling, Noel Smyth was behind the camera and Katerina Karadimas was our glorious model for the day.
• What was the most rewarding thing about collaborating together?
E: Kirri-mae is very patient! She taught me some mean knot tying skills. Seeing the final product and being able to identify both of our individual styles coming together in the one piece was a great feeling.
K: Agreed. Also, Ellie is a perfectionist, which is great. Her ideas are brilliant and delicate and I think we both put a fair bit of pressure on ourselves to develop high quality pieces of work. It’s great to have someone to bounce ideas with and share the creative load. I think we learned that we’re pretty compatible in our processes (so many cups of tea) so fingers crossed there’s more to come from the two of us!
• Have you collaborated with others in the past – what are the benefits of collaborating and how does it help to develop your creative practice?
E: I think collaborations are a great way to challenge and extend your own creative process. It opens you up to experimenting with new concepts and ways of approaching things that aren’t always apparent on your own. Discovering new mediums to play with is always fun and adding another person to the mix leaves less room to procrastinate. Past collaborations of mine have included fashion film pieces with another friend, Phoebe Bennett.
K: I feel like being open to collaborative work is the BEST way to operate. Like Ellie said, it gives you new perspectives on your approach and builds your practice. But also, it can be a bit isolating at times working on your lonesome, so it’s almost a beautiful push to keep you moving forward when you get to work with others. It’s also a great way for creatives to support and appreciate each other by bringing together complimentary talents and gaining outcomes that wouldn’t have been possible by yourself.
Check out Ellie’s greatness – www.elliemeyer.blogspot.com.au
My Etsy is on hiatus while I build a website and refine my offering a wee bit 😉
The Coven collaboration:
Images courtesy of the artists: Photography – Noel Smyth, Hair and Makeup – Liz Jenkinson, Garments and Accessories – Ellie Meyer and Kirri-Mae, Stylist – Bonnie Knoop, Model – Katarina Karadimas.
COMING UP with Kirri-mae Sampson: T-shirt to Treasure – Upcycled Macrame Necklace workshop on THURSDAY 16 April from 6:30pm at Artisan Textiles Australia in Collins St, Melbourne. For more details: click here.