By Roslyn Russell Today's featured member is Jenny Pemberton-Webb who is the creative force behind boutique homewares label Ivy and Lil (Diane visited her studio a few months ago!). With a work history rich in creative endeavours, Jenny's passion for art and making has led to her establishing Ivy & Lil in 2010.
What do you create? I have established a boutique home wares label and hand screen print and hand make a selected range of products including tea-towels, cushions, greeting and decorative artworks. I love the rustic look and feel of linen so use this as my base and add a blast of colour through my designs. This is my recent passion but builds on more than 25 years of being an artist and printmaker.
Have you done training in your creative field or has it come about informally? I went to Melbourne University and studied to be a secondary school art teacher, majoring in printmaking and sculpture. I was always good on the administrative and organising side of this too so was a natural at arranging exhibitions.
My first job after uni was at Sothebys fine art auctioneers in Armadale working alongside Lesley Always (who went onto Artbank, Arts Victoria and AsiaLink) and from there I was offered a job as the co-ordinator of the Walker Street Gallery in Dandenong. I gained an amazing amount of experience working on exhibitions, public art programs and events and moved through a variety of roles as arts officer and cultural planner to what I’m doing now which is working as a place manager for a major revitalisation project.
A few years back I did a Masters of Art of Public Spaces at RMIT and put this to good practice working with some amazing artists like Robbie Rowlands, Rowena Martinich, Cameron Robbins and design and fabrication company Big Fish.
I’ve always continued painting and working in my studio predominantly for my own pleasure. In 2010 my hubby and I took a 6 month break and hit the road to travel around Australia. It was during this time I realised I needed to put art making at the centre of my life and decided to establish Ivy & Lil.
How do you balance your creative projects with the administration aspect of creative work? I make sure that all my studio work happens in the daylight when I have natural light and I can see the impact of light on my colour combinations and for mixing inks. I’m very lucky to have the ideal studio space at the rear of our house and it’s a space my hubby renovated for me in an old 1940’s era barn. I’m always reading about how people are trying to squeeze their lives in and around all the competing tasks. What works for me is doing administrative work, manage my on line stores, update my blog and face book in the evenings during the week. I have some basic but sound systems in place so I’m tracking sales, enquiries and building mail lists week to week. I read blogs and google topics of interest at random times during the day when I have a spare moment and on my lunch breaks.
Keeping up with social media is a big challenge I am constantly trying to embrace, it seems just as I master one new platform another one appears!
What do you do when you experience a creative block? Well luckily it’s not something that happens too often as I usually have more ideas and plans than there are days in the week to realise them! But I certainly don’t beat myself up. Instead I’ll clean up the studio and get organised again or take time to reflect on what I’ve recently achieved. I also love to go out and see what other artists and designers are doing and making.
I find that I get inspired by all sorts of things like looking at furniture and salvaged industrial items or checking out second hand shop, galleries and reading magazines and blogs. Everywhere you go there are patterns and colour so I’m constantly looking at this every day. A bit of gardening is always a great circuit breaker too! What future goals do you have for your creative pursuits? I’m really keen to get my current range of work into as many places as possible and am constantly seeking out the places and ways to do this. I enjoy the all forms of contact with people who make and love hand made products so I’m learning all the time about the industry, trends and what others are doing. I’m totally enjoying the range I am working on at the moment and plan to continue developing new designs, colours and products. I’d also like to spend some time on my one of pieces and keep connected to painting as this is what has sustained me over the years. I guess its really about planning to a certain extent but also being ready to get swept up in the journey and see where things might lead.
Roslyn Russell is a sewist, blogger and teacher. Her blog, Sew Delicious, is where she showcases her latest projects, designs and sewing tutorials. Roslyn also enjoys cake baking and decorating, exploring Melbourne cafes and restaurants, and hunting through op-shops for vintage sewing and kitchen treasures.