Wandering around London, UK and Europe really puts history in perspective. Yet no matter how much longer the buildings and art from centuries past have been around than European settlement in Australia, it doesn’t compare to the existence of the Australian Indigenous population whose rock art and bark painting has existed for more than 30,000 years.
Australia’s national day is a source of division. It commemorates the arrival of the First Fleet in 1788 and is also a reminder of the hugely detrimental effect this had on the Indigenous people inhabiting the land; one of the oldest continuous peoples on earth. For them, Australia Day is known as Survival Day or Invasion Day. Respected journalist Stan Grant, who is rightfully proud of his Indigenous ancestry, eloquently delivered a compelling speech at the IQ2 Racism Debate 2015 (available on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uEOssW1rw0I)
While I loathe the mistreatment – past and present – of the Indigenous people, Australia Day is a time to reflect on a country which has evolved into a truly multi-cultural nation, recognise the contributions and accomplishments made within such a short historical timeframe, and acknowledge a People’s determination to continually adapt to survive.
Since I’m based in the UK, it’s only fitting to commemorate Australia Day by highlighting a small number of great Australian companies who draw inspiration from Australia’s history and the natural environment, and who are making their mark in the UK and around the world.
Originality has distinguished Dinosaur Designs throughout it’s 30+ year history. Extraordinary colour, shape and texture have always been at the fore of Dinosaur Designs resin jewellery and homeware collections. The simplified organic forms capture the beauty found in nature we often take for granted, while the striking colour palette radiates the exuberant Australian way of life. Their tableware is incredibly tactile and invites year-round alfresco dining. Every piece in each collection is hand-crafted and it’s the nuances in the resin which enhance their uniqueness.
As fresh as the day its first collection launched onto the world stage all those decades ago, it is wonderful to see designers Louise Olsen and Stephen Ormandy continue to push the boundaries of design and experimentation using resin and other tactile materials.
Visit their UK location at 35 Great Windmill Street, London W1D 7DT.
dinosaurdesigns.co.uk, +44 (0)20 7287 2254
Images. Clockwise from top left: Earth Bowl, extra large; Boulder napkin; Cheese Knife; Liquid Moon Side Table, small; Candle, large; Earth Vase. © All images supplied, Dinosaur Designs.
Indigenous art has always held a fascination for me since learning about The Dreamtime in primary school growing up in Australia. About 10 years ago I discovered the ‘Bush Medicine Leaves’ series of paintings by Gloria Petyarre, that communicate wonderful movement using a colourful palette. ‘Saltwater country’ by the late Ginger Riley Munduwalawala is also a favourite work of art, and I’ve recently discovered abstract work of the late Mirdidingkingathi Juwarnda Sally Gabori. Then, as I wandered around Tent London 2016, I was stopped in my tracks by the Bay Gallery Home My Country wallpaper collection. Never before had I seen Australian Indigenous art taken into such an accessible area as wallpaper. The colours and botanical themes struck me as an Indigenous version of a William Morris design.
Bay Gallery Home has been working with artists from communities in Australia’s Northern Territory for eight years. They are committed to ensuring money from each sale is given to the artist and their community. Their venture into homewares provides opportunities to broaden the appeal of Indigenous art in the home and an additional income stream for the Indigenous artists they work with. Only recently have they begun collaborating with British manufacturers to broaden the appeal of Australian Indigenous art by creating an interiors collection which also includes tiles, rugs and fabrics. The My Country wallpaper collection comprises fresh and contemporary designs and colour palettes which easily bring the outdoors inside.
Visit their UK location at One Market Place, Tetbury, Gloucestershire GL8 8DA.
baygalleryhome.com, +44 (0)777 615 7066
Images. Feature image: My Country Pink Wallpaper detail. Top row: My Country Pink Wallpaper. Middle row: My Country Green Wallpaper. Bottom row: My Country Blue Wallpaper. © All images supplied, Bay Gallery Home.
Shelley Simpson is a self-trained ceramicist whose tableware and cookware range perfectly blends modern yet timeless design and functionality. Each piece is handmade in her Sydney studio by a team of in-house ceramicists using Limoges porcelain sourced directly from France.
I especially love the inspiring colour palette ranging from the palest pastels to the most vibrant tropical hues and their wonderful names such as Dust, Blossom, Milk, and Bottle. The depth of no less than 20 colours is achieved by taking the pigment through the porcelain. Each season sees the addition of new shapes and colours. With more than 85 pieces in the Mud Australia tableware and cookware range it’s extremely effortless to mix and match.
The pieces are wonderfully tactile, achieved through clear-glazing the interior and leaving the exterior with a matte surface. Designed for daily use, each piece is microwave, dishwasher, and oven-safe making it stress-free taking meals directly from the oven to the table.
With stores and stockists in Australia, London, New York, USA, Canada, and countries across Europe and Asia it’s easy to source a little Mud Australia for your home.
Visit their UK location at 11 Porchester Place, London W2 2BS.
mudaustralia.com, +44 (0)20 7706 4903
Images. Top row (left to right): Baker dish in Milk, medium; Candle Two in Dust; Flared Bowl in Bottle, large. Middle row (left to right): Hat Light in Pistachio; Jug in Citrus, medium; Nest Bowl in Mist, extra large. Bottom row (left to right): Round Tea Cup and Saucer in Orange; Tray Platter in Slate, large; Round Vase in Sand, large. © All images supplied, Copyright Mud Australia.
Claudio Alcorso is a fitting example of the tenacity and drive many European immigrants brought to Australia. His contribution to Australian society and culture is proof of a shared pioneering Australian spirit. Born in Rome, educated at the London School of Economics, Claudio emigrated to Sydney in 1938 when he was just 25 years old. Drawing on the knowledge gained from his family’s textile printing business he became a pioneer of the Australian textile design industry. He established Silk and Textile Printers Ltd, the company which in 1967 would become Sheridan.
Claudio also went on to pioneer the wine industry in Tasmania. His passion for conservation led to his speaking in support of Tasmanian Aborigines for their land rights claims over areas of special significance during the Franklin River Campaign. As patron for the Arts, he was founding chairperson of the Australian Opera.
Claudio’s vision to “introduce creative thought and beauty into everyday things of life” led him to work with leading artists including one of my all-time favourite Australian artists, Margaret Preston. Interestingly, his company pioneered the making of Australia’s first coloured bed sheets.
Today, the Sheridan Australia range also includes towels, table linen, loungewear, and home accessories. The company continues to work with its in-house creative team of artists and designers to develop ranges inspired by the great outdoors and down-to-earth Australian spirit.
Visit their UK location at 362-364 King’s Road, London SW3 5ET.
Sheridan Australia, +44 (0)20 7854 2001
Images. Top row (clockwise from left): Boardwalk Tide Quilt Cover; Lineham Dove Quilt Cover; Elken Jacaranda Quilt Cover. Second row (clockwise from top left): Beadmore Quilt Cover Set; Goddard Midnight Tailored Pillow Case; Abbotson Flax Quilt Cover. Third row (left to right): Lake Cave Breeze European Pillow; Stevie Towel range. Bottom image: Millennia Sheets. © All images supplied, Copyright Sheridan Australia.