2 FEBRUARY 2019
I love Mayfield for its village feel. Everywhere you go, there is a surprise. It’s a cute cottage garden that grabs your attention when walking the dog. It’s the stranger that gives you’re a genuine ‘hello’ as you pass one another. It’s catching a glimpse of a small business you didn’t know existed while passing through.
I drive through George Street in Mayfield on a regular basis and this is how I first came across helloHOLT. Beautiful period building. Cute even. Your eyes drawn to take attention to the simple display of artwork. I first remember seeing the walking cows. A wine glass. Then a beautiful simple profile of a woman whose eyes expressed so much emotion. All this in the milliseconds as I drove by. The shopfront become a curious adventure every time I skimmed through, “What will I see today?”
Kristy’s artwork is inspiring. Her work conveys immediate emotion. You don’t need to search for a meaning or a story. See it and it strikes a chord with you straight away.
Meet Kirsty Elley from helloHOLT
Tell us about your studio and the work that you create there?
The studio, originally a barbershop, is located in George Street Mayfield East. It’s a cute, light-filled space that I’ve just finished refurbishing. It’s the perfect place for me to create in, and positioned so curious passers-by can peer in, or drop by for a chat (or purchase!)
My artwork is broad in style and subject. Most recently, I’ve been exploring contemporary female portraiture, but with a raw, almost street art, edge. The works are highly textured, using acrylic, ink and charcoal, and use only limited colours. I also do some illustration, and will soon be releasing limited edition prints of my favourite pieces.
What drew you to this space and how long have you been creating here now?
The street frontage and the possibilities in such a progressive suburb were impossible to overlook. It’s rare to find a studio space that has a display window, and is super cute too, so I had to have this place! I’ve always loved Mayfield, and have lived in the suburb on and off my whole life, but moved into the studio five years ago.
Surrounding spaces play such a big part in one’s creativity. What does this space mean to you and how does it influence your creativity?
The high ceilings and spacious feel of the studio, combined with the light that streams in the shop front window really make it a joy to be in there, and allow for perfect flow with the huge number of tools and materials I need to access. Because of the studio’s street presence, I get to meet a lot of people, and can see that appreciation of one-of-a-kind ‘handmade’ objects is on the rise. Passers-by get to ‘meet the maker’, because my creative studio doubles as a shop, which is not only special for customers, but also acts as a motivator for me! I love meeting people of a like mind! It really gives me that external boost to just keep it flowing!
Have you always been an artist or was there a moment in life that triggered your inspiration?
From a young age, I was always a favourite in art class, and recall as far back as Year 3 my teacher suggesting that I go to art school. Art school wasn’t something my parents encouraged, but despite that, I have never stopped creating in some form. Full-time art practice started for me in 2009 when I had a freak accident, but walked away with minor scratches (meanwhile my poor car got pulled out of a dam!) This was the trigger for me to use the talent I’d been gifted with instead of spending my life rushing around in jobs that didn’t make me happy on that deeper level.
Do you have a favourite artist?
A favourite is tough….But I have to say Brett Whitley’s practice and style I truly admire. He was totally immersed in his talent. His intelligence and articulate manner, despite being so off the wall, were impressive…..and I love how fluid his practice was.
I wish I’d mentioned a female artist here! But Brett just takes the cake!
Do you just work with paints or do you enjoy exploring with different mediums?
I love exploring and combining different mediums. Charcoal often features in my work to create a grittiness and to add tone. I love how charcoal can be manipulated. My most recent works are a great combo of acrylic (paint), ink, and charcoal, but I also play with chalk and collage.
Your space has great energy. It feels like the artwork is happening all around you from the moment you walk in. The painted floorboards. The textured wall. The cool black/white/grey palette with pops of green from plants and tan from your sausage dog. It feels great. I’ve also noticed your eye for detail in your other creative venture, Muster Point, in Mayfield. Can you tell us more about your design signature, how you go about planning a space, and how your design continues to evolve?
Muster Point is a joint project with my wife Tanille. We started the design planning by envisioning our dream home, which would be an edgy warehouse conversion. In all projects we work on, we first start with the flow of a space – above all, it has to be highly functional for everyone who uses it…. or what’s the point?
Our signature style is definitely a limited palette with high contrast. Tanille would say I have a talent with placement of the finishing touches….I love balance without symmetry, even in my artwork. It’s rare to see any colour other than what nature provides in our spaces…except for pops of colour from artwork (giving the artwork even more impact!). This approach makes it so much easier to keep a space looking fresh and sharp…timeless really.
My design evolves through travel, and making an effort to always search for the progressive suburbs of cities we visit, where the creative people muster together and bounce off each other. We love to see people trying new things… it’s so inspiring. I’m an avid learner, so studied colour & design at a North Sydney design college. It gave me the principals and elements of design I need to start any design or styling job, as seen at Muster Point & helloHOLT.
I’ve dabbled in a few careers in my lifetime. How about you? Are there other ventures that you have worked with that have influenced where you are today?
I’ve worked in so many roles across the hospitality, retail and fashion industries, but have somehow always found a creative niche in all of my jobs…even if it meant writing the chalkboard menus!
I’m probably most well-known for owning and operating a café in Darby Street. This was probably the hardest I’ve ever worked, but I learned a lot and started to value myself more as I realised what I was capable of. The downside was how all-consuming it was – I put down the brushes for a long time, which never makes a creative happy.
You and your partner Tanille are a mighty duo both in life and business. Have you always worked together?
We do life together very well, and bring totally different skillsets to the table. Our working backgrounds couldn’t be more opposite, but they complement each other.
Running your own business takes endurance, risk, and organisation. Between the two of us, these three things are totally covered, so as soon as we met little projects started to bubble away. We’ve learnt to ‘stay in our own lanes’ and let each other take over in the areas they know best. This has served us very well with Muster Point and helloHOLT.
Do you have a favourite song that sparks your creativity?
Micky J! Can’t get enough of Michael Jackson in the studio any time of the day or night!
Favourite spot to chill in Mayfield?
We’re so homely, that I’m tempted to say our backyard….but Mayfield has so much to offer! We’re regularly spotted at Side Pocket and Equium Social (now we finally have something on the East side!)….We like to share our business around, but keep our money in our postcode to support local business. Of course, this is when we’re not at the Muster Point Collective!
I love Mayfield because of the…?
Progressiveness…. Times are changing, and the change is more than welcomed! I also love how colourful it is!
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