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Category Archives: Blog

MAY GIBBS: More Than Just a Fairy Tale

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Following the adventures of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie is a rite of passage for Aussie kids (hello nostalgia, old friend). But what about the creator of these iconic – and let’s be honest; seriously cute – gumnut babies?

You can call May Gibbs many things: author, illustrator, responsible for your irrational fear of banksias.  However, in their book “May Gibbs: More Than Just a Fairy Tale,” Robert Holden and Jane Brummitt show us that Gibbs had a life as rich as her artistry.

Gibbs is one of those rarities who managed to appeal to both children and adults. “More Than Just a Fairy Tale” gives incredible insight into her motivations, her personal history, and the social and cultural influences that trickled into her illustrations. Not to mention, it has pages and pages of her beautiful work.

If you need a little inspiration or you see book illustration in your future (or, quite frankly, you just want more cuteness in your life), this is definitely one for your bookshelf.

Purchase from MacLean’s Booksellers here. And mind the banksias!

Text and photo by Jane Hollier Brown

EVENT : Satisfaction

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Satisfaction is a photographic exhibition & auction featuring images from East Africa.

On returning from an assignment with Baptist World Aid in Kenya & Uganda, Shane couldn’t help but feel incredibly challenged by what he experienced. The best word he could find was “satisfaction”, and how despite the situations and experiences of the East African people, they are able to find joy and freedom in their daily life.

Shane will be auctioning these beautiful, large format, limited edition photographs as a part of his charity challenge to raise funds for Baptist World Aid

When’s the Exhibition  |  Who’s the Artist  |  See the Gallery

Evolve Yourself

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Who would’ve thought that the humble Sharpie could be such an extraordinary design tool?

In his book, “Sharpie Art Workshop,” Timothy Goodman encourages us to put down the paint brush and pick up a Sharpie.

This bright and bold book is full of how-to’s, techniques, creative exercises and a whole lot of inspiration. If a wall/cup/sneaker/your annoying younger sibling is merely a blank canvas to you, then Tim Goodman’s book will point you in the right creative direction.

Now pass me my high-tops; I’ve got some shoes to Sharpie.

Find it NOW at Maclean’s Bookseller ” Sharpie Art Workshop” by Timothy Goodman

Text and Photo by Jane Hollier Brown

A Mover and Maker: Jess Brown

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Meet Jess Brown, a 2014 Certificate IV in Design graduate. 

Why did you study design at HDS?

I’ve always loved to create because it makes me happy and I thought how can I make this a career instead of a dream.
Having found HDS through social media, I discovered that this course would be an awesome way of backing up my creativity with some knowledge and challenge me to think beyond my initial ideas.

At first I was nervous, thinking ‘how am I going to do this being a new mum?’ but HDS supported me, pushed me and encouraged me to understand the knowledge that I gained and how to apply it.

Having done the course, I now see design in the bigger picture, where as before the course I just thought “that looks so good together” where as I now think “that looks good together but it because of ….”

I have a deeper knowledge of colours, which has helped me in creating the styles of each range of shoes I design and ensuring that they look good together.

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After graduating what are you doing now?

I’ve now started my own label Little Brownies, which is currently just children’s shoe designs BUT like every creative person my mind is always abuzz of new & expanding areas I’d like to work on.

Little Brownies started because I always loved styling, interiors & fashion, children’s especially.

I absolutely loved styling for children that love grew after my son Flynn was born now 2.5yrs & even more so with our new addition Lola 1 month old, hence the name Little Brownies, as my little ones are my inspiration for starting LB.

I became slightly obsessed with baby shoes & always found myself combining styles of shoes together hoping that I would find something that no one else had that was on trend, affordable & also appropriate. I found myself looking at shoe styles for adults thinking why don’t they make something like this for kids.

Travelling over seas earlier this year, after having finished my course at HDS. I went to a leather smith & looking around the store thought finally I’d put into reality some of my design ideas & produce these designs…. Little Brownies was born.

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What inspires you?

Wow, Everything haha, my children, my husband, family, friends other design Mummas especially them. My mum raised me to be a strong woman & to always stay positive as like attracts like. So I aspire to be positive & have fun. Which is defiantly what I do when working on Little Brownies I have so much fun creating our designs.

I also am a bit of a naturalist I love drawing in inspiration from the natural environment as it is endless.


The future for Little Brownies?

I’d like to expand on my designs in different areas such as interior pieces, Linen, clothing & accessories. They are all in the pipeline but as a new business we are slowly getting there.

I’m hoping to start our market stall soon attending in the Newcastle areas as well as up & down the coast.

We are a little label but we have big dreams.

Currently we just have our online store www.littlebrownies.bigcartel.com or you can find us on instagram @littlebrownies_


Industry News :: Porter’s Chalk Emulsion Workshop

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This hands on course helps you to gain an understanding on the different techniques and uses of Chalk Emulsion.

Only $80 per person. Includes all paint, waxes and supplies plus Champagne, Orange Juice & Nibbles.

Wednesday 19th August 10am – 12:30pm
Wednesday 23rd September 10am – 12:30pm

To book please contact
Bristol Paints Kotara on 4956 1099

Spotlight :: Miriam show’s off her home

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Past student, Miriam Ragen, recently had her home featured in the Newcastle Herald.

Miriam’s “interest in modern Scandinavian style has led to her beautifully minimalistic smatter of slimline furniture, simple ornamental pieces and monochrome colouring with gentle pops of pastel throughout her home.”

Check it out here

Artist Spotlight :: Vanessa Lewis

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When I first discovered some of Vanessa’s work through the Blessing & Honour’s stationary range, I instantly feel in love with her hand drawn work; the textures, movement of every stroke and the beauty of each of her subjects.
Upon meeting Vanessa, she revealed her love and passion for discovering traditional techniques. Creating her work by hand, with imperfect dots and lines where the ink merge together naturally forming stunning  design pieces.

Here’s her story….

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“I feel like I have been an artist all my life. I was born in Zimbabwe, Africa to two beautifully creative humans, who loved life and gifted me with a yearning for knowledge, beauty and truth. When I was ten, my family traveled through Europe, on a kind of ‘lets see everything’ pilgrimage, I fell in love, so deeply, with art and the rest as they say.. is history.

Now based in the excitingly understated city of Newcastle in Australia, I make art, I draw and paint, study, research and explore the recipes and techniques once used by artists throughout the centuries. Sometimes feeling more like a chef than a modern day painter, I work with deliciously luscious ingredients..eggs, vodka, walnuts, pomegranates..and more. Every day in the studio is an exhilarating learning experience, as I explore the chemistry, the botanic’s of painting and turn it into new art.

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The more I learn about mediums, the more there is to know. I started with tempera as its such a beautiful yet challenging medium, and I really liked the idea of learning to make my own paint, like artists used to do. Recently I have been exploring old inks, from recipes from the renaissance etc.  They are all so historically rich and yet almost forgotten by contemporary art, and yet they are so wonderful to work with even if they are occasionally quite rebellious. Gold leaf is also an ‘historic’ medium with a long history, it has been a real treat to learn how to use the different metals, and I think it adds a new dimension to the picture I’m working on. I love love love working with charcoal, its a medium that’s long been undervalued, but its so versatile in its mark-making abilities. I get my charcoal from Coates, a family run willow charcoal factory in England, which I would love to visit one day.

I  am influenced a lot by how other artists work and I love to see the world through their eyes. I have learnt that the only way to grow as an artist is to keep doing. For my own art, I look to the life around me, anything that makes my heart skip a beat whether its something in nature, music, people anything beautiful even if its achingly sad. Creativity flows from a  full heart, and that becomes the starting point. Then I let the mediums do the rest.”

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Meet Vanessa and fall in love with her beautiful work at either Hunt & Gather Markets or The Olive Tree Markets.

Discover more at Apothecary Artst

Inspiration :: Timeless Leather

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Leather is often described as timeless and classic.

It’s soft and supple, with a natural patina developed over time, leather lends warmth to an interior, creating contrasts and offsetting other finishes like wood, steel, stone and concrete, becoming a conduit for effortless style.

Leather has become a favourite and essential material throughout design history. It is one of the distinctive hallmarks of coveted Scandinavian style and was the fabric of choice for the renowned Eames Lounge chair. American designer Ralph Lauren’s use of leather is evident in home furnishing whether it’s on the New England coast or his Western ranch.


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Inspiration images sourced from: designattractor.comroadkillrescue.nethandmadecharlotte.comthedesignchaser.comdreambookdesign.comkarinecandicekong.com


Similar products can be spotted locally at: 

Me Me Homewares; Empire Furniture; InsideOut

Exploring Japan

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Japanese Architecture, Art, Design, delicious food and an exotic culture are just some of the many joys of visiting Japan.


Donna will be travelling to Japan later this month to meet with the Kobe Design University in hope of establishing a relationship between the Hunter Design school and Japan. This trip will also include some planning for our second student excursion tour later this year.


Last year students enjoyed a 10 day excursion to Japan, experiencing Japanese culture, learning some Japanese craft and visiting a few of the amazing design and architectural interests of Tokyo, Kyoto, Nara and Kobe. If you are thinking this may be an exciting opportunity, you can contact the school or come along to our information night next term (date to be confirmed) and you too can join us for what will be a truly memorable Japanese experience.

Watch out for further details in our next newsletter.

INSPIRATION :: Pantone Colour of the Year 2015

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Much like the fortified wine that gives Marsala its name, this tasteful hue embodies the satisfying richness of a fulfilling meal while its grounding red-brown roots emanate a sophisticated, natural earthiness. This hearty, yet stylish tone is universally appealing and translates easily to fashion, beauty, industrial design, home furnishings and interiors.


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Marsala is a subtly seductive shade, one that draws us in to its embracing warmth.Leatrice Eiseman

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The impactful, full-bodied qualities of Marsala make for an elegant, grounded statement color when used on its own or as a strong accent to many other colors.

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