FABULOUS AT EVERY AGE
From the worlds of film, fashion, food, business and social justice, 2016’s line-up embodies both style and substance. In association with Georg Jensen, BAZAAR salutes the women making their years count
A portfolio of inspirational Australian women.
26, Port Adelaide Football Club director and businesswoman As a female director in a notoriously male-dominated industry, Ransom retains a sense of humour as she paints a picture of the gender disparity on the nation’s top boards. “Unfortunately, the numbers haven’t dramatically changed: there are more men called Peter on the ASX 200 boards than women,” she says. “but speaking from my own experience, I think there is a genuine belief in the business case [for having more women on boards] and the desire to make it happen is getting broader uptake.”
As the CEO of Emergent, a company focused on building intergenerational workforces, leadership and social outcomes, Ransom is leading the way and has squeezed more into her 26 years than most people do in a lifetime.at the age of 10 she pledged to spend her life assisting the underprivileged, and at 18 she was among the youngest delegates at the Australian Government’s 2020 Summit. Since then she’s worked with women in a slum in Kenya, become the world’s youngest Rotary president and represented 1.5 billion young people by leading the G20 Youth Summit. “i’m passionate about improving the lives of those less fortunate and giving a voice to people who don’t have one,” she says. “I love working out how systems can knit together to create more optimal outcomes.”
Ransom is focused on bringing the corporate, government and non-profit sectors together for common good and says the biggest life lesson she has learnt so far is to constantly challenge the status quo. “you always have an ability to choose your attitude and actions,” she says. “Whenever I’m challenged by a situation, I always encourage myself to think, ‘how could I make a different choice to improve the outcome?’”
DR LILA LANDOWSKI
28, neuroscientist and educator At just 28, Landowski has already made a major scientific breakthrough with her discovery that a certain natural molecule can assist nerve regeneration. The finding could revolutionise treatment for peripheral neuropathy, which affects nerves that send messages between the body and brain. “it is absolutely thrilling to find yourself looking down the microscope and in that moment be the first person in the world to see the results of that experiment,” says the University of Tasmania lecturer. “i’m inspired by results, I’m inspired by failure and I’m inspired by new challenges … Seeing others become captivated by science really validates what I do and keeps me feeling inspired every day.”
The 2015 Tasmanian Premier’s Young Achiever of the Year and state finalist in the 2016 Young Australian of theyear is a passionate advocate for involving young people in science. She works with students at the University of Tasmania and through its Wicking Dementia Research and Education Centre’s Understanding Dementia online course, which has more than 70,000 healthcare providers enrolled around the world. “i get an incredible sense of satisfaction when I’m teaching students or junior researchers and see them find passion in what they are doing. watching knowledge blossom in others is one of the greatest rewards.”
28, Code Like a Girl founder When Watson was growing up, she spent most of her time doing arts and crafts. Today, technology is her creative outlet. “I’ve always been a maker and that side of me has never stopped,” she says. “i now use technology as my tool, and creativity in my coding.”
As a coder working in a male-dominated industry, watson founded Code Like a Girl as a networking organisation for women in digital industries. The group of Australian female tech leaders aims to encourage more women into careers in IT and computing, and then to help those women move into leadership roles. watson believes the greatest impediment to success is the fear of failure, and encourages young women to take risks — regularly. “fail fast and fail often,” she says. “we teach girls to value perfection and not bravery, and this needs to change. We gravitate towards careers and professions we think we’ll do well in and avoid risk in order to play it safe. Coding is about problem solving, and the journey to the solution is littered with errors. We need to teach girls that failure is often the path to success.”
While Code Like a Girl is based in Melbourne, watson plans to expand nationwide and increase its connection with women new to the field, who she says can feel lonely when surrounded mostly by male technical leaders. “we want to make bigger inroads to reach a younger audience … but we’re taking it step by step.”
“WE TEACH GIRLS TO VALUE PERFECTION AND NOT BRAVERY, AND THIS NEEDS TO CHANGE.” – Ally Watson
“When I started House of Riot I was living in Newyork and I was really fed up with the political climate in Australia. when I came back to Australia for fashion week that year , I painted 100 shirts with political slogans to give to friends and colleagues to wear during the event. I wanted to open up the political discussion to people who aren’t interested in the dry version of politics, to give them an alternative. It was far more successful than I anticipated, and after the event I was contacted by individuals and stores wanting to purchase the T-shirts.
“House of Riot has been constantly evolving since then, and there was never a plan to it, so it’s been very much me making it up as I go along — but that’s what keeps it exciting.at the beginning we only hadt-shirts, but now we do other pieces of clothing and run events to raise political awareness, and we also collaborate with local artists. I see running events through our organisation, On the Floor, as another way of achieving the same goal of involving more young people in politics.
“When I started House of Riot, I noticed a change in my modelling client base and my agency discussed this with me. As a model, your personal brand becomes something that is aligned with a client’s brand when you are used for a campaign. My agency advised me to be cautious, and I did lose some clients, but I also gained more clients that are affiliated with my views. Running House of Riot has made me a lot more accountable for my views, so in some ways it’s made me more cautious about what I go yelling about, but at the same time I’m much more informed about what I talk about when I do talk.”
“I passionately hate cruelty, injustice, humiliation. I passionately love kindness. Kindness, even when people may not deserve it — perhaps especially when people may not deserve it — is the hardest and most important thing any of us can do to improve society and improve ourselves. I’m inspired by people who do important work with no thanks or recognition. I look to them constantly when I’m tired or over everything and want to give up, and just knowing they are there, beavering away, gives me a second wind. In all my work — academic, community, media — I love it when I feel I have managed to distill and transmit an idea successfully, especially an idea or way of looking at things that people haven’t considered before. In the long term, I always ask myself, ‘What greater good is this serving? How is this work improving society, expanding minds, humbling me or adding light to darkness?’
“The older I get, the less I’m concerned with what other people think of me. I’ve learnt that the idea that you are only acceptable if everyone likes or agrees with you is not just a pointless errand, it’s also misplaced.why did universal approval become a goal? If I’m wrong about something, I trust the people around me who I respect to tell me so. Strangers on Twitter with fake names? Not so much. I’m madly turning my PHD thesis into a book and will hopefully continue my academic work at Monash University, but beyond that I have no idea. I have no specific plans, and just try to take opportunities as they come my way.”
ANNA PLUNKETT 33, Romance Was Born co-founder Plunkett believes in the power of imagination. “I’m extremely passionate about creating and I love the freedom of ideas and the potentiality of life,” she says. “for me, inspiration is everywhere.”
For the Romance Was Born show at this year’s Mercedes-benz Fashion Week Australia, inspiration began with a book of Liberace’s costumes and swelled into a visual extravaganza including a clacking dress made of Perspex piano keys, a cape emblazoned with gold angel wings and a dress encrusted with bejewelled budgies — an ode to the love of Australiana Plunkett shares with her co-designer, Luke Sales.
The theatrical show at the historic house Carthona on Sydney Harbour marked the 10th anniversary of Romance Was Born, which in the past year experienced a remarkable 400 per cent growth in response to demand for its designs.the Sydney-based label began after Plunkett and Sales met while studying fashion design at East Sydney technical College and then famously turned down an internship with John Galliano in Paris. Instead they decided to concentrate on Romance Was Born, which today is stocked in David Jones and top Australian boutiques, and whose fan base includes Cate Blanchett, Deborah Harry, M.I.A. and Karen O.
A love of collaboration remains at the core of the brand, which has worked with artists such as Del Kathryn Barton, Patrick Doherty and Esme Timbery; designed costumes for Sydney Theatre Company; and joined forces with fellow designers Jenny Kee and Linda Jackson. “i love working with people and sharing ideas,” Plunkett says. “I love seeing things come to life. It’s probably the most rewarding part of what I do.”
BIANCA MONLEY 36, Eat Fit Food founder Monley founded gourmet home-delivery service Eat Fit Food in 2002, well before the current boom in the health and wellness industries. then just 22, she started creating meals for time-poor families, operating alone from her tiny apartment kitchen in Bondi. It was one of the first companies of its kind in Australia, offering fresh meals made with sustainably grown, ethically farmed and locally sourced ingredients. “everything I do in my life is surrounded by eating well and living a fulfilled life,” Monley says. “My aim is to make a difference in people’s lives by delivering fresh farm-to-fork meals to them.”
Fourteen years on, Eat Fit Food has evolved into a business with a team of chefs, nutritionists and health experts working in Sydney and Melbourne, with plans to expand nationwide. But it hasn’t been all apples and watermelons — in 2004, authorities came to repossess kitchen equipment during tough times before Monley successfully turned the business around in 2006.“The harder you fall, the higher you bounce,” she says. “no matter how hard it may seem, you can always get through. The more challenging times I have been through have taught me so much and made me who I am today.you can always dig a little deeper to find that inner strength to stay strong and remain positive.”
Today, Eat Fit Foot’s customer base includes Miranda Kerr, Hugh Jackman, Lara Worthington and Jesinta Campbell, but Monley’s ambition remains constant: to help all Australians live a healthy and wholesome life. “my passion is everything that involves fresh, wholesome food,” she says.
After recently buying land in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales, Monley founded Eat Fit Farm, a 40-hectare property growing produce for Eat Fit Food meals. “it has allowed me to take my passions to a whole new level, as I can now use this incredible place to host farm-to-fork wellbeing workshops and classes,” she says.and the brand is waging war on office junk food through its new vending machines, rolling out to workplaces this year and stocked with popular Eat Fit Food dishes including vegetarian and gluten- and dairy-free options, all heated up in 80 seconds and yours for $10 — cutlery included.
JESS SCULLY 35, Vivid Ideas founding director & curator, Tedxsydney curator Through her work with cultural events Vivid Ideas and Tedxsydney, Scully is constantly unearthing new talent. “there’s so much creative work being made and shared every day, I feel like I’m always discovering new movements and styles of expression,” she says.
Scully is most inspired by “creativity with purpose” — design, invention or storytelling driven by a desire for social change. She enjoys working with practitioners and thinkers whose work can make a tangible impact on people’s lives by expanding the scope of what is possible in education, healthcare, social inclusion, environmental protection and human rights.
She began her career as a journalist and editor. In 2010 and 2011 she served as policy advisor to the NSW Minister of the Arts after a stint from 2007–10 as director of the Qantas Spirit of youth Awards (SOYA), a national mentorship and grant program for emerging artists, musicians, filmmakers and designers. Today she works as an independent curator across a range of disciplines and is currently a member of the Barangaroo Arts and Culture Panel and a board member of Music NSW. “I love the freedom I have to develop conversations with fascinating people,” she says.
Scully is perhaps best known for vivid Ideas, a program that brings together close to 40,000 participants to explore their roles in the future knowledge economy. The Guardian UK named it one of the top 10 ideas festivals in the world. “I’m driven by the idea that our imagination, creativity and capacity for connection can be the basis of our knowledge economy,” she says.
“THE OLDER I GET, THE LESS I’M CONCERNED WITH WHAT OTHER PEOPLE THINK OF ME.”
– Dr Susan Carland
– Laura Brown
ANNABEL CRABB 43, political journalist & author Crabb jokes that she is driven by her inner sloth. “i have a fear that my inner lazy person, who never wants to work another day in her life, will one day triumph and I’ll be sofa bound forever,” she says with a laugh. “i work best when I’m slightly overloaded — I’ve always been that way.”
That is an understatement. One of Australia’s foremost political journalists and commentators, and the ABC’S chief online political writer, Crabb has authored two books covering events within the Australian Labor Party, and in 2014 wrote The Wife Drought, a book about the relationship between women, men and work. “i look at my life and the way it works and I feel so fortunate, because I think there is no way I could have juggled this work with three children if I’d been doing it a decade ago.the fact that I can time-shift work and still be around for my children is the greatest privilege, and I treasure it.”
Crabb also fronts the TV program Kitchen Cabinet, in which she informally interviews politicians over a meal they cook together. “the fact that I can incorporate my recreational love of cooking into my actual job — it’s a scandal, really,” she says, laughing.
A constant source of inspiration is the women around her, including fellow journalist Leigh Sales, with whom she produces cultural podcast Chat 10 Looks 3.“I’ve never had that thing I read about all the time where women are supposed to be each other’s worst enemies,” she says. “I cannot recall ever resenting the success of another woman. It’s one of the joys of my job to work with powerful, smart women who also look after each other, like Leigh, Julia Baird and countless others at the ABC.”
JENNIFER PEEDOM 40, film director Peedom makes extraordinary documentaries about people in extraordinary circumstances, whether it’s an avalanche on Mount Everest (Sherpa), people preparing to die( Living the End) or a tragic transtasman kayaking mission( Solo ).“there is a beautiful power in vulnerability ,” she says .“defensiveness is a waste of time. I am inspired by acts of selflessness, creativity, even just good old common sense. If I ever run out of inspiration, I know I can always find it in the natural world.”
But Mother Nature can be cruel, as Peedom discovered when she went to Nepal to make a documentary about the Sherpas who act as mountain guides. A devastating avalanche forced her to change her focus, as she learnt four people had already been confirmed dead. Peedom pulled on her boots, woke her crew and started filming those affected by the avalanche as it unfolded in real time. “One of the greatest skills in life is the ability to listen,” she says. “i’m driven by the desire to create bold, meaningful and honest work.”
Sherpa premiered to rave reviews at the 2015 Sydney Film Festival before going on the international festival circuit, receiving a BAFTA nomination and winning the prestigious Grierson Award for the best documentary at the BFI London Film Festival. Next up is an adventure of a different kind: a collaboration with Australian Chamber Orchestra artistic director Richard Tognetti, exploring our fascination with mountains.the film will play as part of a live performance at Sydney Opera House during next year’s Sydney Film Festival, as well as being released as a standalone project. “It’s a cinematic, poetic and musical odyssey, so different to Sherpa, but very visual,” she says. “A KEY PIECE OF ADVICE: UNDERTHINK IT. IT’S COMPLETELY BECOME MY MANTRA.” LAURA BROWN 42, executive editor/special projects director, Harper’s BAZAAR US There is no such thing as a typical day for Laura Brown. “Living in New York and travelling so much, I never know how the week will end. I always seem to have the most epic experiences on a … Tuesday,” she says with a laugh.
Brown’s role is to create the most talked-about covers and shoots for Harper’s BAZAAR, which she joined in 2005.That can range from collaborations with film directors such as Martin Scorsese, Pedro Almodóvar and Tim Burton, to profiling influential women including Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama. When she’s not in negotiations with Hollywood’s and Washington’s A-lists, Brown is an ambassador for the title she moved to after working for Harper’s BAZAAR Australia as features editor.to clear her head after a particularly frantic week, Brown finds respite with Mother Nature.
“Nature and animals — be it in shoots for the magazine or just a walk on a Sunday,” she says. “The more time I’ve spent in New York, the more time I need air. a particular interest is mentoring the next generation. I’m passionate about mentoring young women — I have to have something useful to tell them after all this time. And a key piece of advice is not to overcomplicate things. Underthink it. It’s completely become my mantra — I even do speeches about it. Overthinking anything leads to self-doubt and disaster. I’ve learnt to surf — not literally; God, no — through wherever life takes me.”
Next up for her is a manuscript, followed by more collaborations with the people who inspire her. “i’m writing a book proposal — or trying to, with the crazy demands of this job — and working on more mobility,” she says. “i love to collaborate with people everywhere, but I always bring it back to BAZAAR.” KATE JENKINS 48, sex discrimination commissioner “My role is to ensure in both word and in spirit that the laws prohibiting sex discrimination are applied across the country. I have three immediate priorities and they are: to resist violence against women and their children; to improve economic security for women — who on average retire with half the retirement savings of men; and to look at increasing roles for women in decision-making and leadership. In Australia, women are underrepresented in many areas of leadership, including the working world, politics and in community roles. these are three areas where we know on a global stage we are a long way from gender equality. I am also engaging widely to see what other areas need attention. I rely on an evidence base to identify what the priorities are and what action needs to be taken, by looking at the facts and listening to the stories and being clear about what the challenges are.
“I work with others to solve the problem, not just talking to one group of women but also transgender women, aboriginal women and men who experience discrimination. I want to get more members of the community to step up to help with equality. Gender inequality exists in so many parts of our community — sport, work and home — so we need more than just the passionate people involved, we need a wider community to take part.
“I’m driven by a passion for justice and fairness and I have a very strong belief that working together achieves powerful outcomes.the thing I most enjoy is engaging with people in all walks of life, the idea I can learn about and help people with different experiences to mine and the sense that I can make changes for the better.”
“MY ENTIRE LIFE, I HAVE BEEN ASKED TO TAKE A STEP FURTHER THAN I THOUGHT WAS POSSIBLE.” – Leanne Benjamin
58, chief commissioner, Greater Sydney Commission In her role with the Greater Sydney Commission, a body with significant powers to shape Sydney’s growth, turnbull holds the keys to the city. She told Fairfax Media she aims to ensure the GSC “plays a very effective role in making sure Sydney’s planning future is as good as it can be so we are a liveable, prosperous, sustainable and productive city”. Tasked with planning developments including public spaces, turnbull’s remit is to create more liveable, sustainable communities and help deliver the homes and jobs Sydney needs. Her ‘city of cities’ model intends to retain the unique flavour of particular areas while uniting Sydney on overarching concerns. As the wife of Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, she is emphatic no conflict will arise between her job and her husband’s, and told Fairfax Media that if it ever does, “i’m a woman ... I can make my own mind up.”
Turnbull has also thrown her considerable influence behind the cause to stop family violence. In May, she was named an ambassador for Our Watch, a national organisation aiming to end violence against women and children. “victims of domestic violence have suffered in silence for too long,” she told The Australian after the announcement. “don’t date a boy who doesn’t respect you.”
AM, OBE, 51, motivational speaker, retired Royal Ballet star Benjamin began ballet lessons at age four in Rockhampton, Queensland, the foundation for a career that would take her around the globe and to the pinnacle of classical ballet.at 16 she was accepted into The Royal Ballet School in London, where she won the Adeline Genée gold medal and the Prix de Lausanne, before joining the company in 1992. She was made a principal the same year — a remarkable achievement — and was also a principal at the English National Ballet and Berlin’s Deutsche Oper Ballet, retiring from The Royal Ballet in 2013 after two decades with them. “I have gone from a profession that required me to give 100 per cent of my time and concentration into a time of my life when I have the freedom to choose what I want to do and how I spend my time,” she says. “It has given me the chance to expand my possibilities in a way I never thought possible. I have projects and ideas that will take me in new directions and that is both a bit scary and hugely exciting.” Benjamin, who was the longest-serving principal dancer in The Royal Ballet’s history and has danced every lead role in the company’s repertoire, now spends her time coaching others and giving lectures. “I’m passionate about people overcoming their limitations, going beyond what they think they can do,” she says. “my entire life, I have been asked to take a step further than I thought was possible and now I’m in a position to help others exceed their expectations by coaching or with inspirational speaking.” When asked what her greatest life lesson has been, Benjamin replies with a quote from Goethe: “the person born with a talent they are meant to use will find their greatest happiness in using it.”
LAURA ANDERSON 56, chair of VAMFF Through her work for virgin Australia Melbourne Festival, anderson has been instrumental in supporting and growing the Australian fashion industry, yet she is equally passionate about rockets and technology. when asked who inspires her, anderson volunteers Elon Musk, the Canadian-american business magnate and technology buff who plans to set up a colony on Mars as part of his goal to change the world and advance humanity. “Next on my horizon is the mission to Mars,” she says, and while others may make such statements idly or in jest, with Anderson it is very possible she will go there.
Anderson also chairs SVI Global, a private-investment company focused on philanthropic ventures and capability development across governments and industries, and a technology entrepreneur who was previously the national partner in charge of strategy and development for KPMG. She is driven by “making a difference in this world in some small way [and] maximising the potential of people, communities, government and myself.”
Under her stewardship, vamff has grown into the largest consumer fashion festival in the world. Its move this year to Melbourne’s Museum Precinct, with its World Heritage-listed Royal Exhibition Building, cemented its pre-eminence.
Anderson is also a board member of the Australian Grand Prix Corporation, and approaches both fashion and fast cars with an attitude of benevolent leadership rather than dictatorship. “to lead with an attitude of abundance versus an attitude of scarcity, to lead with your heart, then your head, then your hands,” she says of her approach. when all else fails, she employs a philosophy of “Just do it.” The job is always done.
CHRISTINE HOLGATE 52, Blackmores CEO “I’m very purpose-driven in all of the areas I’m involved in — my role at Blackmores, leading the Australia-asean Council, initiatives for homeless people and women in leadership, and my position on the board of Collingwood Football Club — they’re all things I’m passionate about, so I’m motivated by their progress. we’ve had record sales coming from all brands and regions across our business, which is up over 70 per cent and operates in 15 countries. this has supported the creation of hundreds of new jobs in Australia.we have been particularly pleased to have been able to give our staff, whether they work on the production line or in the offices, approximately eight weeks’ extra pay through a profit-share scheme.
“I truly believe leadership is a privilege, given to a few, and when we have it we should use it to support the greater community. I’ve been blessed to have strong mentors in my life whose support and guidance gave me the confidence to step up to bigger things. So I take seriously my responsibility to be generous with my own time to others. I do know that the three qualities I think you need the most to succeed are determination, resilience and always being open to learning new things.
“I’m passionate about Australia securing a strong future for our children by investing in growth in Asia. It presents Australian companies with a huge opportunity to leverage our beautiful natural resources and our high standards, which are valued and appreciated abroad. I am also passionate about causes, especially those close to my heart. Raising funds to research cures for cancer; supporting the equality of women — particularly in leadership — and, not least, the homeless.and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t passionate about Collingwood Football Club!”
DEBORAH THOMAS 60, Ardent Leisure CEO “If I am to be really honest, I would say I’m driven by a fear of failure. Seriously, it’s the desire to see how far I can push myself to realise my full potential professionally, by achieving my career goals, and personally, through wonderful relationships with trusted longtime friends and a close-knit, loving family. I was born in the mid-’50s, at a time when girls were not encouraged to excel in their chosen career. However, I was lucky I had parents who taught my sister, my brother and me that as long as we got a good education and worked hard we could do and be anything we wanted.we learnt that earning and managing your own money was the key to freedom — to choose your own path, partner and friends.
“I’m inspired by the qualities of integrity, honesty and respect for yourself and others. Some people lead by intimidation. I try to lead by example. If I do my best, hopefully the people around me will do the same. It has to be collaborative.
“The way women are portrayed in the media in Australia depends on what you do and what media you are portrayed in. television is getting much better at featuring fabulous women in their forties, fifties and sixties-plus, such as my great friend Lisa Wilkinson, and others including Georgie Gardner, Sandra Sully, Lee Lin Chin and Ita Buttrose lending their grace, experience and intellect to change the status quo. Not that there is anything wrong with beautiful young women on television, as they too are carving out their careers, it’s just that we need a cross-section of ages, cultures and experience to truly represent all the women of Australia and inspire our young girls. That said, there are still pockets in our society who do not like women putting their heads above the parapet and set out to cut them down. If this happens, you just have to rise above it and prove to the naysayers you can do the job.the best way to do that is to work hard and succeed. Success is the best measure. Life’s too short to have regrets — you have to seize every opportunity and make the most of it.”
MERIVALE HEMMES 85, fashion designer & hospitality-group matriarch Some mothers will have a granddaughter named after them. Merivale Hemmes also has a multimillion-dollar empire as her namesake. Justin Hemmes last year revealed his newborn daughter, alexa Merivale Hemmes, was named after his milliner mother, who also inspired the brand name for his portfolio of more than 40 restaurants, bars and pubs and a hotel in Sydney. “in the beginning the business was very small, but as the years went by it grew and grew,” Merivale says. “i went through a period when I didn’t want the name, but I’m used to it now and I don’t mind because I’m not in the limelight at all.” She may play a supporting role today as the matriarch of one of Australia’s eminent hospitality families, but in the ’60s Merivale was a star player in her own right with the House of Merivale boutiques in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra, which she ran with her husband, John Hemmes. Modelled on hip London stores of the ’60s, House of Merivale introduced a new concept for fashion retail in Australia. “it was a very exciting time because everything was new, from miniskirts to The Rolling Stones,” Merivale says. Mick Jagger, Cher and Liza Minnelli were customers of the store, which became a cultural phenomenon. As the fashion side of the business began to wane, it shifted to hospitality with the opening of Merivale restaurant in Sydney’s Potts Point in the ’90s. John and Merivale focused on growing that side of Merivale group with Justin, and their daughter, Bettina, who run it today. “i still voice my opinion, and they can take it or leave it,” Merivale says.
STEPHANIE ALEXANDER AO, 75, cook, restaurateur & food writer With a new book, The Cook’s Table, out in November, a new homewares and garden range in stores now and an expanded tableware and kitchen line in October, there is no slowing down for Australian culinary icon Stephanie Alexander. “I also have a holiday in Italy and France with fellow food lovers in a few weeks, and hopefully quite a few more years of good times around tables with family and friends,” she says.
A champion of Australian produce and farm-to-table eating, alexander is best known for her landmark title The Cook’s Companion, an A to Z of ingredients and how to cook them. “Putting all that I learnt in more than 30 years at my mother’s knee and in my own restaurants into one massive volume was a great thing to have done, despite the dark days when I was stuck in the letter ‘C’ and thought it would never, ever be finished,” she says with a laugh. Since the publication of Companion in 1996, Alexander has become a passionate advocate for improving children’s nutrition through the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden program, currently in action in more than 800 schools nationwide. “I believe it is possible to positively influence the way young children make food choices by offering positive role models and an educational program the children actually enjoy,” she says.
There is nothing she adores more than “a visit to a fresh food market [and] watching my eightmonth-old granddaughter tuck into a varied diet.”
FIONA HALL AO, 62, artist Hall once said that looking at art is hard work. Making it can be challenging, too, especially for Hall, who, in an age when artists delegate to assistants or use digital technology to produce pieces, makes all of her artworks herself entirely by hand. In the case of her work Wrong Way Time for the 56th Venice Biennale, she created more than 800 objects for the world’s most prestigious art event.
Hall used the Biennale stage — she was the first artist to show work in the new Australian Pavilion there — to make a statement about global politics, military conflict and the environment.the show was the culmination of a lifetime of making and collecting that began when Hall emerged in the 1970s as a photographer, before moving into a diverse repertoire including sculpture, painting, garden design, installation and video. The Biennale exhibition included customised sardine cans, knitted masks, painted clocks, collages of banknotes and dozens of small animals produced in collaboration with the Tjanpi weavers of central Australia. It was a tough and thought-provoking show that reflected a powerful voice within the art world on political and environmental issues. “you can never pre-judge how people will respond, but hopefully there are a number of triggers here for them to actually connect with the commentary I’m making on some of the issues in our world today, whether they are political or environmental or financial,” she told The Huffington Post.
When Wrong Way Time travelled from Venice to the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra, Hall helped install it there. Her 40-year art career shows no signs of winding down. “It keeps you engaged with life, really,” she told The Canberra Times.
“I THOUGHT [THE COOK’S COMPANION] WOULD NEVER, EVER BE FINISHED.” – Stephanie Alexander
Christian Dior jacket, $4300, top, $2100, pants, $2100, and shoes, $1000; Georg Jensen ring, $425. BEAUTY NOTE: Estée Lauder Pure Color Envy Sculpting Eyeshadow 5-Color Palette in Savage Storm, $90. OLLIE HENDERSON 27, model and House of Riot founder
DR SUSAN CARLAND 30, academic, media personality, former Australian Muslim of the Year