Three days ago I was mid-way through emailing an artist whose work I came across on The Design Files, Australia’s emerging equivalent of the ever-enlivening apartmenttherapy - in my books that is. I was writing to ask if I could feature the Melbourne-based company on getinmyhome. While typing away, I realised I wanted to know more about Lumiere Art + Co. The 33-year old owner/maker/designer kindly agreed to an interview, and this morning I asked questions of the lovely Emma Cleine. The result is getinmyhome’s first artist interview.
I am also excited to be the first to announce Lumiere Art + Co’s upcoming launch night of Deco – a limited edition of printed art blocks which can hang as artwork or shelves. Melbournites, head along to Hut 13 in Armadile on September 6th for an evening of music, food, and beautiful art, plus exclusive discounts.
[Me, Emily] How, when and why did you launch Lumiere Art + Co?
[Emma] I started Lumiere Art + Co a year ago. Before I had my son Lenny, I was teaching art full-time. After nearly ten years of teaching and doing the whole exam thing, when I had time off I realised I was sick of talking about [art]. Having students feed off me and giving and giving was draining. I needed to make. I started making things with vintage paper and selling them at markets. It was heartbreaking – I didn’t sell anything! Then I met Julia [surname Green, Director/Stylish of the appropriately named Greenhouse Interiors].
Julia used my work for shoots and the more commercial work I was doing for her, the more excited I got. Three weeks ago I took the plunge to give up teaching part-time and committed full-time to Lumiere Art + Co. It wasn’t actually that much of a risk – I’m really happy and feel good about how my work is going. It helps if you change what you produce every six months or so and are thinking about markets and trends. [Emma releases a new series of work every six months and works collaboratively with retailers and stylists to provide what is wanted in shops – I see her very much as a perceptive and outward-looking artist].
What you are working on now?
Deco is a purely decorative collection strongly influenced by linear symmetry and resolved forms. I like to have meaning behind my work. This collection is a reference to the Art Deco period and represents elegance, glamour, functionality and modernity. The look of this collection is created using Shibori - a traditional Japanese dyeing technique, relief printing and hand-folded paper. Each piece is individually dyed, printed by hand or produced through the use of a traditional printing press. Deco is the binding of all these ideas. I’m also in the process of printing a brightly coloured series of pillowcases.
What do you think the appeal is of Lumiere Art + Co?
I like to create pieces directly from the source rather than creating a representation. I use a printing press which has a massive steering wheel and looks like something from the seventies! It’s more labour-intensive than screen-printing but it creates an individual product that you can tell is hand-done. We’re so saturated with photography at the moment, and instant art, it’s nice to creative something that takes a bit of time.
My work is also very commercial. Julia [from Greenhouse Interiors] is really good at knowing the world of retail. The colour pallete I use, the easy-to-frame size and the white background of the Mandala pieces [from the Sanskrit world meaning 'circle'] are appealing to the eye and easy to look at. The circles are also resolved and centered. People like that. It’s decorative rather than having an art context. People can interpret it in all different ways.
You focus on using reclaimed materials. Why is that important to you?
There are two layers to this answer. First, as an art student and then an art teacher, you learn to be savvy with materials and respect them rather than wasting them. Second, I am drawn to things people discard. It breaks my heart to see beautiful, handmade items that are no longer considered fashionable being thrown out. I like to transform things using fun and colour, like the doilies and lace that I used for printing my Mandala series.
Where do you go for inspiration?
I went to the Venice Biennale last year which gave me a kick in the bum and opened my eyes that art doesn’t have to be localised.
I also went to the Milan Design Expo which was incredible. It pushed me to use colour in my work. The Italians are very good with colour!
And locally, Hut 13 is a confetti whirlwind of colour! [Owner] Luce Mora is a huge support to emerging local designers. [The shop is often a first step for local artists to get their work noticed commercially].
When are you at your creative best?
All day [I know, I was also taken-aback to hear that someone who is switched on ALL the time actually exists. Emma soon revealed her secret: smart time-management]. My day is based around Lenny so I work madly for the two hours that he sleeps during the day, as well as at night and on weekends when my partner is home. Lenny also joins me when I potter round with deliveries, which is most days.
What are your favourite artistic pieces in your home?
I also love these two wooden, bright blue chairs that I found in a market in Rome. They are only 20cms tall and must be 50 or 60 years old. I love the change in scale they give.
Lastly, describe your style in three words.
Eclectic, meaningful and fun.