Gracia Haby & Louise Jennison
Nice music to tame paper
Nice music to encounter wildness
Nice music to polish metal
Nice music to build dreams
Collages on cabinet cards with pencil additions
A quartet of collages created especially for Milly Sleeping's exhibition Nice Work
As part of The L'Oréal Melbourne Fashion Festival's Cultural Program, 2012
Thursday 9th of February – Sunday 18th of March, 2012
Milly Sleeping, 157 Elgin Street, Carlton
Milly Sleeping in Interview with Gracia & Louise for Nice Work
As an extension of the exhibition, Milly Sleeping has arranged a series of interviews with some of the contributors. We are very happy to present the first of these, written by Gracia Haby of Gracia & Louise. Thank you very much to Gracia for her time and thoughts:
What do you think of the lifestyle that is created by having your own business?
For us, it is hard to imagine one any other way. It suits us perfectly. It is that well-worn glove, that comfortable shoe to slide the foot into. It suits our way of working, thinking, doing, and we love those flexible hours you can dance to. With its highs and lows, its frantic days and quieter ones, it is little short of great.
Would you ever say that your work is your life?
Pretty much. No, make that, utterly. It is not something ever far from mind, what with those ideas that beg to be caught.
Do you think there are characteristics/personality traits that independent designers/artists share?
A little madness surely must sit on the shoulder, and an adventurous and resourceful spirit is required.
Can you describe how you feel when you are working in your studio?
Focused. In a vacuum seal. Sometimes it is a world through which music filters from classical to Hank Williams. Sometimes it is quiet, but for the sound of pets sleeping atop cushions nearby. Working in the studio, you are made aware of the time only by the changing light that enters the room. And lo! it is dusk! Where did the day escape to?
As far as 'favourite places to be' go, how does your studio rate?
Our studio is at home. It is a domestic space that fits the late nights and early starts. It is comfortable, adaptable, and perfectly suited, at present, to working with paper. Yes, this would make it a favourite space.
Do you find your work solitary?
When working you are only aware of the drawing before you or the paper character you are seeking to place onto suitable stage. It is beautifully solitary. But nearby, there are always friends and pleasing diversions.
Have you developed any unexpected habits as a result of your work (eg. become an early riser when you would naturally sleep in if you could)?
Not really. The path is a familiar one.
Is there something that’s part of your routine or lifestyle - that you consider to be integral to your work (and your sanity) – that is not actually a part of your work (eg. morning coffee, regular massage, bad television etc.)
Quiet times, reading, caffeine, foolishness, and films, all of these things are essential to a happy work outcome.
What captures your imagination about drawing/collage, making things?
Everything, but most of all time to sit back and watch, and time to read. Colours and shapes sighted, too, they are important for getting the imagination machine to roar. Small things relegated to the sidelines often take our fancy, something just out of frame or focus, perhaps it is the underdog we all champion.
You both blog… Do you find the proliferation of blogging to be a strange phenomenon, and/or how has it influenced your 'process'/practice?
We each began blogging in January 2006, as it seemed a good space in which to share new works we were making. Working from home, it felt a good way to open the door to a little friendship and to see what people thought of the things we enjoyed and enjoy making. Now, several years later, blogging is still something we enjoy for its friendship. We could not have foreseen that so many various postcards would be sent in the mail to us for use in collage as a result of having read High Up in the Trees. It is something, blogging, which inspires us to keep working. It is a place to show what we make, and those behind-the-scenes peeps of exhibition installations are something we greatly enjoy sharing with all who read our blogs regularly or otherwise.
Do you think that there are artistic trends? (Do you think that these are very eclectic in Melbourne at the moment or do you feel that there are (perhaps subtle) trends?)
We've not really paid much mind to trends namely because when we do, we feel we don’t really fit in anywhere. We make what we love and find that comes best if not hindered by too much knowledge of what is happening in those circles and on gallery walls. Ignorance proving blissful after all.
Can you think of something that most people wouldn’t know about the process of your work?
It takes a long time, and then some more. It takes a very long time, and we are very particular, though both of us in different ways.
What do your family and friends think of what you do?
Our family and close friends, they are all so very supportive of what we do that it is encouraging beyond words. As we wrote recently in the thank-you section of our catalogue for By This Unwinking Night, they are "the post of which to lean" and we thank them for their ears and hearts lent so freely.
Do you feel like you have time to stop and reflect upon what it is that you are doing, and the direction you are heading in?
There is often time to step back and assess the path you are heading down, particularly at the end of having set up an exhibition. Seeing your work installed on the gallery wall is great for showing you this. It is written in a bold typeface. It yodels. It sings out.
What role does time have in your work? Do you always have deadlines? How do you motivate yourselves to work so consistently as you appear to?
We love deadlines, one of us more than the other does. The tighter the deadline, the giddy high is multiplied. We are also motivated to keep working perhaps because we enjoy it so very much. That said, not everyday is a creative one. Not everyday is a successful one or a productive one. Some days you want only to work on your own project but other things crop up. Other days, the time is yours but the feeling is decidedly ho-hum and unenthused.
Are there parts of your work that you like to complain about?
Not really. However, the hot weather makes gluing an animal in place on a paper stage very tricky and it dries before landing. The usual grumbles, really. Sometimes it is nice to think what you would do if you had money to publish or print something on a grand scale, or to leave your work out as opposed to always packing it away and storing it, but then from these restrictions come other things we like. It pushes you to think about what you really want to make and how to make it possible with what you have, be it money, materials, space/room, or time.
Do you like to dress up, and/or do you feel any pressure to?
If the mood strikes, yes, though we rarely either of us do. Watching old black and white movies makes us want to dress up.
(Your natural inclination is towards…)
Summer or Winter? Autumn or Spring? Summer is great for its extended daylight hours when it comes to drawing, and winter makes the home studio all the cosier, but it is late autumn when the layers can be pulled on or lush spring when promise taps at the shoulder that we each of us prefer.
Drape or tailoring? Tailoring.
Knit or woven? Knit.
Mini or maxi? Somewhere in between.
Heels or flats? Flats.
Jeans or never jeans? Jeans.
Tracksuit pants or never tracksuit pants? As we always work on the floor, something akin to a tracksuit pant is great. What we wear to yoga is similar to what we wear at home working. That way the legs can be folded up or stretched out, and the body can fold over the paper. The work looks better, we hope, than we do, and remains the focus.
Inside or outside? Inside for work, outside to mull over ideas and to take a break watering the garden and removing dead leaves.
Tram or walk? Both, we are equally happy people-watching and garden-peeking as one strolls.
Coffee or tea? Coffee! Roughly four per day, if you please.
Newspaper or magazine? Can we make it both and pretty much any.
Do you ever catch yourself thinking, I can't believe I’m doing this?
Is there anything that you wish someone would ask you?
Would you like two tickets to this performance/film/festival/dance?
Following simple interviews with all kinds of creative people, Milly Sleeping brings together a collection of stories, ideas, facts and photographs, to present an unorthodox view of 'life' as an independent designer/maker in Australia today.