Local Artist Series // Marni Stuart

Who are you and what do you create?
I am a practicing textile designer, creating printed textile designs for fashion, lingerie, swimwear and stationery brands.

I am also a sessional lecturer at Billy Blue College of Design, Torrens University in Brisbane. Where I teach a range of undergraduate subjects including design thinking; design processes and fashion design history, whilst also undertaking a practice-based PhD at RMIT School of Fashion and Textiles. My topic sits broadly around the key drivers of my own design practice and ideation methods used by textile designers.

What materials and techniques do you use?
Each piece starts by hand, using drawing, painting and other mark making techniques to create croquis and motifs, that are scanned into Photoshop or Illustrator and placed into repeat for printing.

My current go-to tool is a large collection of sharpies that I use to build up croquis in my sketchbook. As you can imagine, as a working and studying mother-of-two, my time is very limited and my ability to sit and focus on a painting has disappeared. Now I work when I can, for as long as I can, so I need to use materials that can set up and packed up at a moments notice, that can also travel with me throughout the day.

Within my pieces the shapes are simplified and abstracted, foregrounds and backgrounds are flattened to create single depth of perception. Focal points are often removed, replaced with a repetitive rhythm of bold elements to provide a piece that compliments, but doesn’t direct the form of the garment it sits upon. Colour is harnessed with confidence, with bright contrasting hues thrashing it out of the page. The repeats twist and wind across the print with a detailed level of complexity, blurring the lines between the start and end of each repeat.

Pictured below: Painted container cafe, crafted in collaboration with Thom Stuart for the Sunshine Coast Council’s new permanent container cafe at Happy Valley, Caloundra.

What kind of inspirations go into your work?
My own practice sources ecology / site-specific flora, intermingling it with my upbringing and ideas of nostalgia, to express motifs that document specific moments in time. No singular work documents me and my ideas in their entirety, instead these pieces can be collected together in different ways to express my sense of self at any particular time.

These images of banksias, the bush, native flora connect deeply with my childhood. To time spent in the bush, camping as a scout, to exploring books about gum nut fairies, sitting around a campfire, knowing the different types of spiders and snakes, eating bush tucker. My mother is deeply in love with Australiana, our childhood puppets were kookaburras and ring tailed possums, she played Don Spencer on repeat. My grandmother’s home was a green wilderness. A true green thumb, she lived in the garden, it overflowed with an abundance of produce.

The area of native habitat I’m exploring at the moment is the Wallum coastal heathland, ie. the area around the NENSW and SEQ. Here the plants are spindly, flowers are small and hardy. These are a response to the harsh sun, the gusty winds and the drying salt spray. Their flowers are often so small they’re overlooked, but when you give them time, they show show you some pretty spectacular sights.

In what space do you like to create most?
We’re really lucky to have a studio space at home, which is wonderful for printing, painting or all-round mess making. However, when I am lucky enough to get an hour break from the kids, I’ll pack up my drawing supplies and head down the to the Pocket for a beer or a coffee. I like to tuck myself away in a booth and bliss out with some uninterrupted sketching.

What has been your favourite or most important work to date?
There’s a couple of my works that really connect with people, one in particular is the Coastal Banksia piece (pictured below). This was previously painted as a mural on the wall of the Pocket Espresso Cafe, Moffat Beach and has recently been featured on a travel towel from the Sunshine Coast Council’s Arts Coast souvenir collection. These can be purchased a the Caloundra, Caboolture and Noosa regional galleries.

This work was painted during a family holiday to Angourie, NSW. I had spent the week painting different nature studies from collected botanicals. I had already crafted 3 or 4 works from the banksia leaves, so they were starting to feel very familiar. This work appeared in my head before it appeared on the page, there was no real work involved, it just flowed out.

To see more of Marni’s work, head to her website or Instagram.