Creative collaborations: Natalie Hayllar and Lisa Madigan

By Christina Atherton KINFOLK_AVALON_0342

The power of collaboration is becoming more evident as creatives around Australia team up to produce unique and sometimes one off events and experiences. Joining forces with a fellow creative provides endless possibilities as well as a platform for bringing together ideas and utilising each one another’s skills.

Today we chat to two Sydney creatives, blogger Natalie Hayllar of eat, read, love and artist Lisa Madigan about their recent collaborations and why two heads are better than one...

What are your creative backgrounds?

Lisa: I've been working as a professional artist for over a decade but there are many more strings to my bow. Styling, floristry, food, entertaining, events, travel and interiors are all passions of mine andare a natural complement to working as a fine artist. I'm a beauty seeker, an atmosphere creator, an experience cultivator, with the eye, hand and heart of an artist.

We all know that as a creative, you need to be able to adapt whilst staying true to who you are and your own unique story. I think we're both very much about enhancing the experience of the good things in life and celebrating the things we love.

Natalie: I have no formal creative training. I always wanted to do graphic design but ended up studying Psychology and a Masters of Science in Nutrition at University. I went on to become a dietician and later studied marketing. A corporate communications and marketing career followed but Ihave always preferred the more creative aspects of marketing.

After I had my first son, I bought myself a digital camera and taught myself photography, at the same time starting my eat read love blog. Initially this was a creative outlet just for me, a stress reliever and a place for me and my friends to connect on simple pleasures. But then the inspiration I found online and the subsequent connections with wonderful creative people opened my eyes to a whole new world and Icontinued blogging and taking photos. For me it's great to have found 'my tribe' and to connect with people that have shared passions. Social media and attending creative courses has definitely helped build those lovely connections.

How did you meet?

Lisa: A couple of years ago I had a store and gallery in Berry which Natalie discovered thanks to her love of the South Coast. A few regular visits and great chats later, it was my delight to work on the branding of Natalie’s blog eat read love and watch it blossom. We struck up a friendship and the rest, as they say, is history.

Natalie: I spend a lot of time on the NSW South Coast and stumbled upon some of Lisa's work in a South Coast magazine. After popping into her gallery and store in Berry to say hi I just knew Lisa would be the right person to help me design my branding. Many champagnes and 'anchor' coffees later, a great friendship has formed.


How did your collaboration on the eat read love pop up dinner series and Kinfolk events come about?

Natalie: I wanted to try something new for eat read loveso started a series of intimate pop up dinners in Sydney last year. I asked Lisa to be my special guest artist and help me style the first pop up event. It was so much fun and we worked really well together as a team so I asked Lisa to co-host the launch of The Kinfolk Table cookbook with me late last year. The long table lunch in the country at Lisa's cottage worked really well, so when I was asked to be the Kinfolk Sydney representative, Lisa was one of the first people I called. I realise my creative and styling limits so it’s always great to bring in the experts and let people do what they do best rather than trying to do it all yourself. Lisa has done an amazing job with all of the event styling and the Kinfolk L'esprit de la Mer event in Lisa's home town was really special for both of us.


What roles do you each play in these collaborations?

Lisa: My role is the creative eye, the environment shaper, the stylist, the florist, the designer and occasional co-host.It's my delight to conceptualise, create and set the perfect scene. I make gorgeous early morning market trips and spend hours bundling up blooms. I create floor plans and source props, I work on little details and special touches, I design and produce printed materials then whip it all into beautiful shape for the event. For me, putting together aesthetic cohesion is so much more than just making things look good, it's about making things feel good and threading a story throughout the experiences we're creating, seamlessly and it's my role to make them shine.

We both wear a lot of hats, such is the nature of collaborating, there's fluidity and an enjoyment and flexibility in each of our skill sets.We both do whatever we need to do to ensure the magic happens.

Natalie: As a host I bring together the team of people, partners and sponsors, promotion of the events, managing the invitees and venue requirements, working to just make it happen and ensure everyone is having fun along the way. I am used to working on deadlines and just do what is needed to get it done. While I always have a vision for how I want the event to look, I realise my styling limitations and therefore trust Lisa wholeheartedly to work her magic with the table settings, flowers and design elements. We work really well as a team and it helps that we have a similar aesthetic. Regardless, Lisa will always surprise me with an amazing element of the styling that I just go wow, I would never have thought of that but it looks fabulous!

It’s now time to startplanning for our tropical pop up in Bali in August and the next Kinfolk event in October. I can't wait to do something completely different again in a new location and with a new theme.


What's the best thing about collaborating with each other?

Lisa: Trust, friendship, synergy and fun! We each know that we're both passionate about creating beautiful and memorable occasions in every way and trust each other completely to do what has to get done, there's a great synergy in the way we both work.

We both spend a lot of time in preparation and that process is always an exciting one where we both bring our ideas and prowess to the table, we're both quite detail oriented and organised, so there's an enjoyable ease to it all, we're also lucky to have one another to sound board off.When it comes to pulling it all together, everything flows so well, there's great respect for what we each do and we love what we do!

Natalie: Ditto. It is always great to have a sounding board and bounce ideas off each other too. I remember the night before the most recent Kinfolk dinner in Avalon neither of us had had much sleep the week prior: we were both exhausted and were ready to make it all happen. We just sat peacefully in a little wine bar and said ‘ok, let’s do this, we will sleep tomorrow!’ On the day we’re often just buzzing with adrenaline as its go, go, go but to sit and enjoy a meal once it’s all set up, and to see the end result in the photographs and video footage is always exciting.

What future collaborations do you have planned?

Lisa: I think we're both still swooning from our last Kinfolk dinner, but there's absolutely more to come! We’re excited to be heading to the beautiful Villa Sungaiin Bali this August for another eat read love pop up so stay tuned for the visual feast that is to come on that front. I’ve just had an exhibition in Adelaide collaborating with Poet's Ode and while I don't want to give too many secrets away there'll also be something exciting happening at my Kangaroo Valley cottage later in the year too.Always new and exciting things on the horizon so stay tuned!

Natalie: After many years attempting to juggle my career, motherhood and eat read love as well as all of the Kinfolk and pop up dinner events I realised I am no longer able to do it all and still sleep. So I have just taken the plunge and started a yearlong 'career break' so I now have time to focus on following my creative heart. I hope to sign up to some more courses, travel a lot more and learn some new photography skills along the way. I am also going to be writing a lot more for some new and exciting publications and planning an extra special milestone birthday to NYC. The eat read love pop up dinner series will continue this year with our first international pop up dinner in Bali in August. Who knows, it could be a Paris pop up next…!


On a quest to live a more creative life, Christina Atherton loves any type of crafty projects and has tried everything from watercolours and flower arranging to paper craft and calligraphy. She has an unhealthy obsession with Instagram and when not working in PR for one of Australia’s leading tourism organisations, spends her time as a mama, wannabe photographer and magazine junkie.