Q&A WITH ARTIST ANTONIA MRLIJAK

We were first introduced to Antonia a little over two years ago whilst scouring for accessories to finish our Victoria Street project.

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During one particular visit to our favourite Becker Minty store, we fell in love with one of Antonia’s bold, abstract pieces. It was as if she had painted those vibrant colours with our Victoria Street project in mind, and so our love affair with her work began.

It has been an effortless partnership since then, with Antonia’s diverse style being the perfect companion for the unique spaces we tailor to each client.

Antonia’s work is in one collection epitomised by punchy palettes and unexpected colour combinations, and in another collection moody and monochrome. But whether she’s brightening her canvases or exploring a darker emotion, Antonia is certainly not afraid to colour outside of the lines.

Here, we find out about her life lessons, dreams and inspirations.

WHICH THREE WORDS BEST DESCRIBE YOU?

Optimistic, excited and kind.

WHAT DID YOU WANT TO BE GROWING UP? 

I could never place myself in any particular field. All I knew was that I wanted to create. I was active and unruly and my imagination and creativity supplemented that. I didn't care what I was doing, as long as I felt like I was having an experience.

HOW DID YOU EARN YOUR FIRST PAY PACKET? 

My first job was for my parents when I was 9. I spent my summers at Flemington Markets serving gelato from a van and then hanging out with my cousin after work.

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WHAT IS THE BEST LIFE LESSON YOU HAVE LEARNT ALONG THE WAY?  

Work hard and take care of yourself along the way. Your self care is vital to being able to fulfil your needs and reach your potential – they go hand in hand. You have to work on your Self, your passions, your family and your work simultaneously to ensure that your energy is optimised and your creativity is fresh. 

WHAT'S YOUR PROUDEST ACHIEVEMENT?

Completing a Bachelor of Fine Arts at Sydney College of the Arts with first class honours. School and education wasn't a strong point for me and I grew up with the self imposed and limiting belief that I wasn't smart enough or capable of learning or studying. It was an incredible effort and overwhelming achievement to receive that degree and quashed that belief I carried with me through most of my life.

WHO INSPIRES YOU? 

My children and family are so important to me and a constant source of inspiration. And I admire every parent who strives to achieve that delicate balance between work and family. 

WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST VICE?

Staying up too late too often. I am a fantastic procrastinator and work really well under pressure. It's easy for me to put things off until the last minute then work really hard right on deadlines which sees me crawling into bed in the early hours of the morning – often still covered in paint. It's a terrible habit I'd like to change but my self-talk game on this topic isn't very strong. 

DO YOU FOLLOW TRENDS OR ARE YOU A TRENDSETTER?

I am a dreamer. So I just make things up as I go along. I am always intrigued by what people are interested in but I tend to follow my heart and do what feels good in the moment. It's never conditioned by anything anyone else is doing . . . Not that I'm consciously aware of it anyway!  

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WHAT DREAM DO YOU STILL WANT TO FULFILL? 

I want to travel to Europe again. As a mother of four children I haven’t travelled much since my honeymoon. I would love to return to my roots in Italy – I miss it dearly. 

WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT WORKING WITH AKD?

I’ve always had a crush on AKD and their designs. Alex’s residential design is particularly inspiring, I love seeing a home transformed into something special and so personal. Alex’s studio has always been so kind and welcoming to me. I really value that they have always given me full creative trust and it's an absolute pleasure working with them.

Images 1, 4 and 6 courtesy of the artist (credits below) / Images 2, 3 and 5 via ©Alexandra Kidd Design

Curator Jason Minty / Curator Sophie Vander / Photography Maree Homer / Acessories Beautiful Things

Q&A WITH ABSTRACT ARTIST KERRY ARMSTRONG

We have been following and supporting the work of Melbourne-based artist Kerry Armstrong for a few years now. Many of her bold, striking artworks have found themselves right at home in several of our residential projects, providing the perfect complement to our interiors.

We have been keen to sit down with the Abstract Expressionist painter to find out more about the inspiration behind her practice, life lessons, and what dreams she still wants to fulfil.

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WHICH THREE WORDS BEST DESCRIBE YOU?

Impetuous, open, dreamer 

WHAT DID YOU WANT TO BE GROWING UP? 

I love this question! I remember vividly when I was about 5 years old folding a shirt for Mum (very much perfectly, Virgo style) and my determined aim was to make it look exactly like it was in a shop. She wasn’t an easy person to impress although her comments were that I could easily get a job in a shirt folding factory. My little heart burst with pride and instant ambition! I held onto that career aspiration for a long time and tragically still have a strong urge to refold jumpers in shops! 

HOW DID YOU EARN YOUR FIRST PAY PACKET? 

My first pay packet was earned washing dishes and waitressing at a little Austrian restaurant in the Dandenongs. I worked there Friday, Saturday and Sundays and relished the ability to be independent financially. I remember buying my first pair of Staggers jeans at Merivale and Mr John in Melbourne and it felt like my life suddenly had no limits. 

'Geraniums in Pam Pink'    Paddocks for Ponies series 2018, Acrylic & oil on Belgian linen, 203 x 203 cm, Framed in black Australian oak

'Geraniums in Pam Pink' Paddocks for Ponies series 2018, Acrylic & oil on Belgian linen, 203 x 203 cm, Framed in black Australian oak

WHAT IS THE BEST LIFE LESSON YOU HAVE LEARNT ALONG THE WAY?  

Accepting the (concept) of perceived and real failure and understanding how far you can actually go once you’re on your life’s true path. These lessons rang true throughout my health issues with a brain tumour which was the impetus to let go of my old career to be my real self as an artist professionally. 

WHAT'S YOUR PROUDEST ACHIEVEMENT?

Personally, my two adult children who I have always dreamed of having. I used to talk about them way before they were born and nailed their personalities even then, they were always meant to be. They are strong, hardworking, kind, talented, ethical and my best friends. 

Professionally, the fruition of Studio Gallery Melbourne and now being represented by .M Contemporary in Sydney. I’m super excited to be included in their exhibition at the Sydney Contemporary this September!

WHO INSPIRES YOU? 

I am inspired by people who demonstrate honesty and strength. Turia Pitt blows me away with her complete and utter ownership of her life and even thinking about her fills me with admiration and awe without a shred of any other emotion.

I once heard Quentin Bryce speak and felt very drawn to her manner and acceptance of life’s challenges and imperfections. She is a woman of true grit and emotional intelligence who also rocks a tailored suit, perfect hair and beautiful pearls!  

'You Sat To My Left’    Paddocks for Ponies series 2018, Acrylic on Belgian linen, 120 x 141 cm, Framed in white Australian oak

'You Sat To My Left’ Paddocks for Ponies series 2018, Acrylic on Belgian linen, 120 x 141 cm, Framed in white Australian oak

WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST VICE?

I'm an excess coffee drinker which has sadly flourished as it punctuates my studio/painting time. My ONLY other vice (!) are my never-ending hankering’s and proposals to my poor husband as to how we need to finish our renovation at home  with great style of course! I’m a complete homebody and adore our old place and garden and very much enjoy seeing it slowly come together.

DO YOU FOLLOW TRENDS OR ARE YOU A TRENDSETTER?

I think all humans do at different speeds, my personal style is tailored, Euro-influenced and uncluttered whether that be clothing or design. I think I’m still heavily influenced from a deep love and personal history of equestrian pursuits. 

WHAT DREAM DO YOU STILL WANT TO FULFILL? 

I have plenty of them! I always have this sense of life and ambitious pursuits being at the very beginning which is where I believe you learn the most. One that comes straight to mind is another exhibition overseas - this time in London or New York! 

'Our Midnight'  In Water Series, Acrylic on Silk Poly, Framed in solid hand-stained Black Australian Oak. 

'Our Midnight' In Water Series, Acrylic on Silk Poly, Framed in solid hand-stained Black Australian Oak. 

WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT WORKING WITH AKD?

Working with AKD always feels like a perfect fit! The attention in the specifications are extremely well detailed, however the respect for my artistic process and integrity is always there. It’s always ridiculously exciting to receive the professional photographs of the works in situ! I will never tire of it.

Images 1 & 2 via ©Kerry Armstrong Art / Image 3 via ©Alexandra Kidd Design
Visit Kerry Armstrong's website for more information.