Elise Cake­bread

ONCE DIS­MISSED AS ‘TOO CRE­ATIVE’, THIS MEL­BOURNE-BASED TEX­TILE ARTIST HAS FOUND HER SIL­VER LIN­ING AT LAST.

VOGUE Living Australia - - Art & Design - By AN­NEMARIE KIELY Pho­tographed by JOHN LAU­RIE

IT MAY BE A NAME that pre­or­dains a ca­reer in the kitchen, but Elise Cake­bread has left that busi­ness to her sis­ter. “She is the gifted baker,” says the Mel­bourne craft prac­ti­tioner who is mix­ing it up in a dif­fer­ent medium — tex­tile de­sign — “but we both have prac­ti­cal skills and love the ‘mak­ing’.” Nest­ing in a small for­mer bed­room at the front of a sub­ur­ban house, where a mag­pie’s sen­si­bil­ity has spun lairy threads and a lit­tle plant mat­ter into a cosy stu­dio, Cake­bread ad­mits to ac­quir­ing those skills in a very cir­cuitous way. “Af­ter ma­jor­ing in art his­tory and theatre stud­ies at the Univer­sity of Mel­bourne, I had all the crit­i­cal think­ing but no ca­reer path,” she says. “So I spent a lot of time trav­el­ling, dab­bling in re­tail and slowly de­vel­op­ing an in­ter­est in tra­di­tional crafts, par­tic­u­larly the art of leather glove-mak­ing.” She found her way to Mil­lau, a small town in south­ern France that once sup­plied the Em­press Joséphine with up to 1000 pairs of lamb­skin gloves per year. “There were three ate­liers in a re­mote area that was al­most un­reach­able un­til a viaduct bridge was built in re­cent years,” Cake­bread says. “I had made it my mis­sion to be­come an in­tern, but an in­surance is­sue pre­vented that op­tion.” Cake­bread re­mem­bers get­ting ready to hitch­hike out of town and hav­ing last-minute thoughts about a re­turn home to study. “I was sit­ting in this hor­ri­ble McDon­ald’s on my lap­top and sud­denly en­rolling in tex­tile de­sign at the Royal Mel­bourne In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy,” she says. “It was the best de­ci­sion I ever made and as soon as I started [the course], I knew it was right. Why the hell hadn’t I done it years ago?” Fast-track­ing to the end of that de­gree and the sub­se­quent en­coun­ters with po­ten­tial em­ploy­ers, Cake­bread re­calls the oft-re­peated cri­tique of her work as be­ing ‘ too cre­ative’. “So I just started do­ing my own thing.” Her wild and woolly reimag­in­ing of soft fur­nish­ings into sculp­tural colour fields soon got her no­ticed. Ho­tel Ho­tel, the cool Can­berra es­tab­lish­ment that both in­cu­bates lo­cal ta­lent and ac­com­mo­dates tourists, got it, com­mis­sion­ing Cake­bread to fur­nish its foyer with her ‘Pile High Club’ cush­ions. And Du­lux spot­ted a star on the as­cent, brief­ing the artist to fash­ion her galac­tic ‘Soft Hemi­spheres’ in the bold colours of their In­fi­nite Worlds pal­ette. Soon to launch a new col­lec­tion of Sil­ver Lin­ings soft fur­nish­ings at the 2016 Mel­bourne de­sign trade event, Den­fair, Cake­bread pre­dicts a brood­ier pal­ette for de­sign. “The ‘place’ we are in right now makes us sub­lim­i­nally at­tracted to darker things,” she says of world dis­or­der. “We want to cosy in and pro­tect our­selves.”

Visit elise­cake­bread.com.

clock­wise from right: Elise Cake­bread in her Mel­bourne stu­dio, sur­rounded by her plush, playful cre­ations and in­spi­ra­tional mood board.

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