I really need to work on my public meeting skills. The plan was to meet under the Wheel of Brisbane. Little did I realise just how many people there are gathered there on any given lunch hour. Thankfully, Nadine has a stronger sensibility that I and picked me out in an instant and we sat down in the lovely South Bank parklands to chat about her work and upcoming exhibition with RAW Brisbane.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your art practice?
My name is Nadine and I run a label called Spiritfire Designs. I make wearable art, like jewellery, handbags and also homewares, all using salvaged and up-cycled materials. I’m really, really passionate about reusing materials, so I spend a lot of time going to opshops, garage sales and markets to find all of my materials and then I try and turn them into something new and different.
Is it a side project for you or is it a full time gig?
I’m the workshop coordinator at Reverse Garbage, so Spiritfire is a side project for me. I do that in my free time, when I’ve got a day off or on the weekend.
It is a great fit though, I buy a lot of materials from Reverse Garbage and get a lot of inspiration from being surrounded by other creative, likeminded people. I’m really lucky that I have that as my other job. I get to go out to schools and teach kids how to make robots and spaceships and wearable art out of reused salvaged materials.
So at what point does that side project turn into the main gig for you?
I think I’m really happy with the way things are at the moment. I want to keep doing what I’m doing, so long as I enjoy it and I still love it, I think that is the main thing for me. Because a lot of the work that I do is one of a kind, it takes a lot of time to make as well. I think if I was doing it full time I would be tearing my hair out!
What are your favourite haunts for finding pieces to put together your creations?
I love going to the Chandler Markets. Not many people have heard about it, but it runs every Sunday. I bought some really great antique pocket watches and vintage buttons. They have some great stuff . I also head to Reverse Garage and do the rounds of all the op shops in Brisbane.
How do you find inspiration for how to put it all together, do you have a story that runs through the pieces?
Sometime I have a story, but really I get inspiration from the materials themselves. For example, I made a necklace from Dungeons and Dragons coins that my boyfriend used to have when he was into that kind of stuff. It does have a story and a history and I think for me the real challenge is trying to transform perceptions of what people see as garbage waste. All these things are things that people would usually throw away, because they don’t want them anymore and it’s trying to show that these things can still be beautiful. They can still take on a new life.
With the whole creative process I like it to be really organic and spontaneous. I might have a bit of an idea about a colour scheme and I’ll take a few bits and pieces from here and there and assemble it, see what it looks like. Sometimes I have to sleep on it if I’m not sure, but largely it’s intuitive decision making.
How did you get involved in RAW Brisbane?
One of my friends was part of the first showcase in Brisbane June. I went along and thought ‘Wow, this is so awesome. I really, really want to be involved‘ and that’s basically how it started.
What can people expect when they go to RAW?
People can expect a whole array of different creative people all showcasing what they do. Not just fashion and jewellery, it’s short films, live music, photography and visual art. That’s what so amazing about RAW, you’ve got all these creative people coming together under the one roof sharing their ideas, sharing their knowledge.
Do you think that kind of collaboration is important for a creative city?
I think that a lot of people look at Sydney and Melbourne and think they are a lot further ahead than we are, that Brisbane is a bit of a cultural backwater. But I think the handmade community and creative community here in Brisbane is strong and there are more creative opportunities for artists. We are so much stronger when we can join together and share ideas and opportunities together.
What are your picks of the Brisbane calendar over the next couple of months?
One that I can think of is the next Reverse Garbage exhibition in mid September at Woolloongabba. Brisbane Festival has heaps of stuff on, including the theatre performance Soap with circus performance in bath tubs.
Where can people find you and your designs?
In terms of selling I go to the Young Designers Markets on the first Sunday of the month, through my website, the GoMA store and online at Etsy. You can also find me on Facebook or Twitter.