Tag Archives: Interview Me

Interview Me…Bettina Liano (fashion designer)

What was the inspiration behind your SS10 collection?
Creatures of Light, our theme this season is all about translucent layers in luxe fabrics and beautiful soft colours that evoke a sense of softness that creates an ethereal feeling.

How would you describe the look of the collection this season?
It is a collection that juxtaposes translucent layers with confidently structured pieces.

Fashion is in your family. Was becoming a fashion designer a considered thing or did it evolve over time?
Creativity runs in the family but it was not a considered pathway. It most certainly was a passion that evolved over time and something that is ingrained in everyday life.

You have a big celebrity following with visitors to Melbourne making the pilgrimage to your Chapel St store. Have you specifically targeted them?
Not at all, I think Chapel Street itself is an iconic street that many tourists and celebrities alike hear about – it’s natural for them to visit the area, and our store.

Have you found you have need to cater for a fuller figure as our waistlines expand and have you changed your fit over time to suit?
I think we’ve been able to successfully identify a gap in the market for jeans that cater to fuller figured women who love well fitting jeans. Our Curvy Fit range in particular, has been embraced wholeheartedly and comes in an array of styles and colours.

Outside fashion and design, what do you enjoy doing?
Art, music and interior design

What is your favourite local haunt? Cafe? Restaurant? Stores?
The Kanteen in South Yarra is great for brunch. French Fantasies on Toorak Rd for amazing French pastries. The cosiness and intimacy of La Lucciola is the perfect restaurant for home-style food. Chapel Street Bazaar is a great place for vintage finds.

What was your last exciting purchase?
My new Prada bag

For a fashion fix or a spot of inspiration, where do you turn?
Italian Vogue is a great publication for that.

Where to next for Bettina Liano?
Looking ahead to a great next season and hopefully several exciting collaborations in the works.

Take a look at Bettina Liano at 471 Chapel St, South Yarra.
Ph: 9827 0063


Interview Me: Jane Dodd (contemporary jeweller)

New Zealand contemporary jewellery artist, Jane Dodd’s work is characterised by gothic combinations of sculpted animal and human forms and heraldic devices. Jane is new to e.g.etal, so we were keen to talk in her Dunedin studio about her background, inspiration and her bass playing band days.

Tell me a little about your background – what path led you to what you’re doing now? I grew up in Dunedin, New Zealand and although I studied art at high school, I didn’t at the time consider it a potential path.  I completed a BA at the University of Otago, played in rock n roll bands, had a variety of jobs, did a bit of travel and generally misbehaved.  During some months in Mexico in 1989, I witnessed art and craft permeating life in a manner new to me and was encouraged to similarly engage with my own surroundings.  On my return to NZ, I applied to study for a Diploma in Craft Design at Unitec in Auckland, originally thinking that ceramics would be my discipline, but was soon seduced into the jewellery department.  I graduated in 1994.  Since then I have been a partner of Workshop 6, a shared jewellery workshop in Auckland, and exhibiting around NZ, Australia and occasionally further afield.  In 2009, I returned to live in Dunedin again and built a studio in my new home.

How would you describe your work? I work in a largely figurative style – negotiating a few separate but over-lapping lines of enquiry.  Often my work has a story telling aspect.  I consider myself a metal smith but have recently used wood, shell and stone to bring more scale, texture, colour and plasticity to my work.  My work, whilst I hope it is innovative and novel, would hardly be described as modern.

What common themes link each of your designs?
Memory and myth, history and culture, landscape and life forms, associations and emotions.  I like to make work that resonates in quite a personal but non-specific way with the audience.  I am pleased if pieces have a familiarity but also a strangeness.

Your work feels very natural yet mystical? Is your creative process ordered or organic? In recent work it is definitely organic.  I will usually have vague ideas about a new piece but know that specifics about it can’t be resolved until I see it emerging in the flesh before me.  Pieces can be constructed, only to be pulled apart, rearranged, added to others.  My gut increasingly makes the decisions – I trust it more than my head and it wastes a lot less time.  Earlier work was more planned, often sketched, but still a tendency to make spontaneous changes existed.

What have been some favourite special projects, exhibitions or collaborations you’ve been involved in? Some of the best fun I have had in terms of exhibitions and projects have been those done collaboratively with Workshop 6.  Our Tin Years (10 year anniversary) show was a very entertaining process and the results quite funny. We have always worked well as a group.

I also especially enjoyed making the exhibition Straw into Gold in 2002, and publishing the accompanying book of fairy tales illustrated by jewellery.  This was a Creative New Zealand funded project.

Do you work alone or share your creative space? I work alone at the moment.  I am enjoying it – quite a change from the 16 years of cacophony at Workshop 6.  But I find I need to temper it with plenty of extra-mural activities; coffee with friends, scouting the auction houses, hardware stores and demo yards, yoga, expeditions to wildernesses, museums, galleries etc.  With the help of such distractions I hope to keep loneliness and madness at bay.

How do you stay connected to the wider creative community in New Zealand and internationally?
I don’t make a lot of effort to be connected beyond my own immediate community.  I occasionally look at a few websites, some magazines and keep in touch with colleagues in the usual manners but I wouldn’t say I pursued it.  Kind people keep me posted on news and events even though I don’t really deserve it. I don’t mind being in a bit of a vacuum – too much information can sometimes stifle my activity.

Where do you find your creative inspiration? Is this ever a formal process?
The whole wide world!  I enjoy the chase of an idea and tend to do quite a bit of formative research.  I look at a lot of books (not especially jewellery but art, architecture, science, history, botany, zoology….), I take photos and somehow filter the visual stimulus.  I gather images that interest and attract me.  I doodle.  But it’s not a formal process – more a roller-coaster ride.

Which designers, artists or creative people do you admire?
I admire a lot of jewellers – my old workshop mates Octavia Cook (hilarious and astonishing pieces) and Anna Wallis (clever technique and sharp eye) have inspired me greatly.  Robert Baines makes me cry, David Bielander makes me laugh. Carl Faberge, Daniel Kruger, Helen Britton, Karl Fritsch, Sandra Bushby, Warwick Freeman.  I know its old-school but I really love painting, especially landscapes; Corot, Friedlander, Constable’s cloud and Turner’s seas, Manet, Degas, Hopper but could also mention local contemporary painters Gerda Leenards, John Walsh and Bill Hammond.  I was blown away by Fiona Hall’s grand show Force Field.  Her virtuosity and inventiveness is gob-smacking. I also really go for folk art and outsider art and draw much strength from how pleasing and compelling things can be even when they are loose and not quite “right”.

What would be your dream project?
Truthfully, to be given a big wad of money to spend on my own house and garden. How selfish is that?!

Jane Dodd’s new range is available now at e.g.etal.

Interview Me: Matthew Jukes (wine writer)

International wine writer for London’s Daily Mail, Matthew Jukes, was in Melbourne this week conducting a tasting at Jimmy Watson’s for the upcoming homeless fundraiser, Wine Rules, raising money for St Mary’s House of Welcome in Fitzroy.

You would not have been directly exposed to homelessness through your enviable job as wine writer for The Daily Mail. Where did the concept for Wine Rules come from?
While visiting Adelaide a few years ago I was walking through the city parklands and along the River. I was astounded at the number of people sleeping rough. I thought such a prosperous place as Australia should be doing more to sort this problem out and wondered how I could help. I got in touch with the Hutt Street Centre and suggested that the Australian wine industry get behind an event to raise some money to help with the problem. And Touch Wine was born! It has now expanded to Melbourne under the name Wine Rules to raise money for Melbourne’s St Mary’s House of Welcome in Fitzroy.

How does Wine Rules work?
Wine Rules brings together some of the best wineries in Victoria to what they do best, provide wine for the public while they play touch football against other Victorian wineries. The day is about enjoying wine, enjoying music, and most of all having fun to raise awareness and funds for the homeless and disadvantaged of Melbourne.

There will be 3 great Melbourne bands, 48 different wines for you to enjoy on the day, 36 games of touch rugby between wineries, 12 celebrities playing throughout the day and 1 massive celebrity touch rugby finale.

In the lead up to the day, all the participating wineries were asked to submit two wines for tasting. I spent a morning tasting the wines and providing notes. I hope you will enjoy my notes and learn more about these wonderful Victorian wines when you taste them on the day.

Do you find the level of homelessness more confronting here when you visit Australia as opposed to home?
Yes I do. The problem seems more visible here – people sleeping out in cosmopolitan areas. I am shocked to see the level of homelessness. And it is so easy to slip into homelessness – two or three things go wrong in your life and the next thing you are homeless. It happens here a lot.

I know some people may find using wine and wineries in a fundraising drive for homelessness an unusual link, given the prevalence of alcoholism amongst the homeless. What do you think?
We are not talking beer and spirits here – we are about fine wines and food – I am an advocate of elegant dining! The wine industry wants to put something back into the community just like other industries – so why not?

What is your personal background in the wine industry?

Twenty three years as a wine buyer, ten years as a journalist, I have written 13 books. My column in the Daily Mail in London has about 9 million readers a week, I also write a weekly piece for MoneyWeek and occasional features for Decanter.  I was lucky enough to win the International Wine and Spirit Competition’s Trophy for Wine Communicator of the Year.

Have there been any stand out wines from your tasting today?
Many of these wines will be just right for the day in November – very suitable for a sip after a game of touch footy.

Are there any particular wineries that you are looking forward to seeing battle it out on the touch football field in November?
Yabby Lakes will field a strong team, and the team from Take Care Garnier apparently have already started training. The Rathbone Wine Group have put in two teams which will be very competitive. I’m looking forward to seeing them battle it out on the day.

How can wineries get involved?
Get on to www.winerules.com.au and get your entry in. Its not too late! And no touch football experience is necessary.

Interview Me: Alessandro Cellai (winemaker)

I met Italian winemaker Alessandro Cellai at Cafe di Stasio on a cold, wintery Melbourne day. Coming in from the cold, I was welcomed with a glass of his Classico Riserva Il Poggiale 2006, the perfect way to learn more about this up and coming hero of the Italian wine industry and get an afternoon of food, wine and an enjoyable interview underway. You can read more about lunch over here.

Alessandro is the general manager of two wineries and has also started his own project producing his great love, Pinot Nero. Nothing short of an overachiever, Alessandro also likes to race vintage cars, run the odd marathon and produce some of the most exciting wine from the Chianti region in years.

The Italian tradition is for families to operate a winery over many generations. Is winemaking in your DNA?
It wasn’t in my family, it is my own passion. My uncle was a priest in his first church. I was very young, so 4 or 5 years old, and he introduced me to the vineyard world. I think my passion is connected with him.

I studied at winemaker school first and then chemistry at university. I had my first experience in the wine world at Rocca Della Macie for 6 years then in 1996 I became winemaker and general manager of Castellare di Castellina. In 1999 I was brought in at Rocca di Frassinello as winemaker and general manager there too.

I have had a wonderful experience with Castellare, since the beginning they have been extremely connected with the respect for tradition. No blend between indigenous and international grape varietal and we are very focused on Sangioveto grapes. That is an amazing experience because the Sangioveto is one of the top grape varietals of the world.

Castellare di Castellina vineyard in Chianti country

Beautiful stonework at Castellare

The 'terroir' at Castellare

How did it feel to be recognised as one of the Decanter Magazine’s Italian ‘Stars of Tomorrow’? Has it changed how your wine is perceived?
That article was, for me, a surprise. Early in 2009 I was interviewed by one of the sub-editors of Decanter, based in Italy. She asked many questions about my philosophy of production, the property, my story. At the end of the interview she told me ‘you are nominated from a panel of historical and great winemakers from around the world as the new, greatest winemaker.” I was very embarrassed. And then on 1st April the magazine appeared and I was extremely happy. For me it was the high point of my experience because, of course, I have a lot of experience but I am not at the end, many steps to do, so that for me was like a push to be better.

Has the nomination increased your profile as a winemaker?
Yes. It was incredible advertising about myself around the world. I got many phone calls from friends around the world from this article. But for me it is very important to keep the attention on the quality and to my philosophy – to do better and better and better. As soon as you have an award like this you have to maintain the outstanding standard. The risk is to go down very fast. I know that I have to do better.

Is your approach to winemaking traditional or progressive?
If for you, traditional means old, no. If traditional means respecting the traditions, yes. I think the life of winemakers is the total respect of the grape varietal and the total respect of the terroir for that grape variety. Take Sangioveto, for example, in Chianti you have to respect the synergy of the Sangioveto grape and the terroir of Chianti. For this reason, in this situation, to work in the sense of tradition is correct, because the tradition means no blend between indigenous and international grape varietals and for me that sense is there to preserve the terrior of the Chianti. That is the work, for me, of any winemaker around the world, they have to preserve and protect the relationship from grape varietal and terroir.

But what about in new areas with no immediate history?
Of course if you are working in a new area without any tradition of grape varietal you can do anything you want, you can experiment. But if you are in a very strong terroir like Chianti Classico, like Barolo, like Brunello di Montalcino, like Brunello di Montalpuciano, you have to respect the connection between grape and soil.

How does what you do at Castellare di Castellina differ from what you do at Rocca di Frassinello?
Of course another good skill of a winemaker must be the ability to work at the same time in different realities and with a different approach. At Castellare we have an approach of tradition, at Rocca di Frassinello we have a modern approach because there is no historical relation between terrior and grape varietals. Now, there, I think we are in the right place to blend part of our great experience of Castellare with Sangioveto and part of the experience of international varietal like cabernet merlot and cabernet franc, some Bordeaux blends. I think that is also a wonderful experience for me as I have an experience to work in both sides. With the opportunity to try something new at Rocco di Frassinello and to maintain and consolidate the experience at Castellare.

Has working with Christian le Sommer enhanced your winemaking? Have you been influenced by French techniques?
Christian is the winemaker at Rothschild. They are not participating during the fermentation but of course the experience that I have in staying close to them was great because they are probably considered one of the best in the world and I had the opportunity to have several visits to Chateau Lafite and Chateau Rieussec, spending several times in Bordeaux. Of course it was a nice improvement of my experience but, talking about Sangioveto, they have no experience with that. I am more connected with that grape varietal. I get from them, international grape varietal experience.

The Renzo Piano designed Rocca di Frassinello

Sunlight streaming through the Renzo Piano designed windows

The hallowed ground of the cellar

The perfect barrel

How do you remain passionate? What keeps you going?
My philosophy is that to make wine it is always a challenge, always is a trial to do the best in comparison to last year. But every vintage is different, every year you have a different microclimate, different weather, in the different seasons. You try to control some elements, but some are outside of your control. For that reason, it stimulates me to work better and better and improve upon vintage and vintage.

Sometimes your effort is not the only things you can put on the table, you also need good weather, wonderful season, temperature, several other things. You need luck. It’s a small component but it’s there. Always, I say to my uncle (the priest), I command myself to the Gods.

Do you have many interests outside winemaking? What do you do for fun?
My hobbies first is vintage car racing. I only do one or two races per year, because I have no time. I have a Fiat 128 and I am very excited about that. I’m very, very excited about that. As soon as I am in the car I try to de-charge all my stress and tensions. The adrenaline is amazing. That is my first hobby.

I like to play soccer and do marathons and to ski. I was a ski instructor when I was young, I had the licence to teach kids. So I love to ski too.

What inspires you? Who do you look to for inspiration?
My inspiration is always from one man, Giacomo Tachis. For me he is the best winemaker in the world. He has now retired but he was the winemaker of the Antinori family. He also is the father of Sassicia, the father of Tingerello, the father of all top wines from Italy.

I had the opportunity before I finished university to listen to him speak. For many years I was a teacher at the university. Since my first words with him, I felt a connection from my mind to his works. So after that seminar I had to ask him something, in fact, at the end of the seminar I went up to him and said ‘Mr Tachis, I am at the end of university and my idea is to start to work in the wine business. I know something about you, it was wonderful, your words, I appreciate a lot your philosophy and I agree totally with you. I would like the experience to taste some wines with you.’ And he said ‘Come to my house next week, Wednesday 3pm.’ I was so emotional.

So from that day till now I establish with him a very, very strong relationship. He is not only a great winemaker, but he is a philosopher. He touched the wine, looking for something different. Not only the grape. He is extremely connected with the Galileo Galilei philosophy, for example, the interference of the light in the maturation of the grape.

That is my inspiration as soon as I am in front of a new wine or new vintage. He has a great appreciation of my wine, but he respects my work and tastes my wines when they are bottled, at the end of my work.

What is your favourite wine to drink?
Pinot nero is the great varietal of my life. When choosing a bottle of wine in a restaurant I go straight to pinot nero. I think the expression of pinot nero is like a gentleman with a jacket and tie. It’s muscle but it’s extremely elegant, extremely soft, able to age for a long time, able to be drunk for year and year and year, but the elegance is the main character of the wine. The pinot nero has velvety character in the mouth is extremely round, is never heavy. That is my idea of wine. To make wine with good body but extremely elegant, that is my approach to wine.

The Domini Castellare wines are available nationally from Arquilla Wines. To locate your nearest stockist, please contact Arquilla Wine – www.arquilla-wine.com or phone 03 9387 1040

Interview Me: Alexandra Anson (accessories designer)

I had the pleasure of sitting with accessories designer Alexandra Anson recently to discuss her emerging label Alexandra Blak. She is just gorgeous and has an innate sense of aesthetic and style, nurtured and developed over years of experimentation and self-learning.

Alexandra’s work crosses genres, some of it hard edged and futuristic, other pieces classic and tactile. I spent some time talking with Alexandra about her life, her work and her new direction.

Alexandra Anson

The lovely Alexandra Anson, I want her neckpiece!


Alexandra Blak lucite cuff

Alexandra Blak clear lucite cuff

What path led you to starting Alexandra Blak?
I like to think of my work as wearable art. I’ve been making pieces since I was twelve. My dad was an antiques dealer and he would have boxes and boxes of stuff lying around that I would use. I began to use pieces of furniture like latches and handles that developed into an obsession with saddlery gear, so I would buy accessories from the saddlery and off I’d go to make something! 

When I was a little girl I would sit in the driveway and thread seedpods onto fabric. We had to go to church and Mum would say “you’re not wearing that are you”. I would wear it anyway! People would tell me to take them off cause they were dirty. 
I’ve got a thing for architecture and  studied interior design but felt very frustrated. I worked for an architect but was bored just choosing chairs, it didn’t feel creative enough. I also had a clothing store for seven years called Page One. It was like a curatorship. I would change the whole space every three months. A customer could walk in one day and the whole thing could be black – ceiling, floors, everything. 
My interests have evolved into accessories, I’m not afraid to do what I want to do anymore. I’m no longer afraid of what my mind wants to create. 
Alexandra Black rope neckpiece

Alexandra Blak rope neckpiece

Have you had any formal training?
No but I read a lot. If I see something and I want to make it, I teach myself how, through trial and error. I taught myself to silversmith so I could make the silver bangles. I like them because they are strong and plain. I feel my work translates across age brackets. 
Does your creativity manifest itself in other mediums?
I make a lot of installation art for my home and have sold a few pieces. Big canvasses, bold and graphic. I love anything sculptural, tactile, three-dimensional. I like a piece that makes you ask ‘what is it, I don’t know what it is?’. 
Where do you turn for inspiration?
I love going to the gardens, plants and nature. I draw so much from nature particularly colour. I reward my soul with art and love a solo trip to the NGV when I can. 
Abstract art is interesting to me because it’s so open to interpretation. I recently saw the Dali exhibitionand loved hearing about his life and how he met his wife. I love knowing about people and the way they think to produce the work they do. I have to know the story behind them. The Royal Heart was my favourite piece, amazing! I didn’t know it was going to be so intense. 
The city on a Sunday is also inspirational for me and I enjoy spending the day at the City Library and Journal.
I notice you are stocked at Alice Euphemia. Do you have other stockists in Melbourne?
That’s what I am trying to work on. I’m excited because I have recently appeared in Vogue and Grazia, which should help get my work out there.  
I love what I am doing now more than anything I have done. I was more commercial back then, I was doing it for the money.  But then I would make things for me in my own time. I came to a crossroad – if I did it to sell I wouldn’t wear it but if I did it for me, then people would buy it off my body. 
Your own sense of style is quite striking. 
(Alexandra is wearing all black and an amazing yellow, knotted leather neckpiece).
I admire those Italian women with the short, cropped hair with layers and layers of silver on. And I love skin, it’s the best canvas but it’s too obvious. Showing skin is not thought provoking by any means. 
What does the picture look like in twelve months time?
I would love to get more stockists then I would like someone to have a crack at me, put some money behind me and take me for a little ride. If it doesn’t pay off in two years or so that’s fine. Oh and I’d love a flagship store, who wouldn’t!
What do you love most about your work?
I love that all my materials are Australian made. My silver is from Western Australia, the leather is kangaroo, and my rope is especially woven for me. 
Everything I do is hand sculpted. The lucite starts off in a block that I drill and shape. I just worked out how to do it myself by buying a sander and experimenting. Resin becomes so organic in shape and loses that edge so I like the way I can give the lucite a definite edge. It takes on the features of a diamond through the facets. 
View the Alexandra Blak range on her website or call into Alice Euphemia at Shop 6, Cathedral Arcade (cnr Flinders Lane) 37 Swanston Street, Melbourne.