We are so chuffed to have worked with the talented duo that is Field Day, Shelley Steer and Louise Jones. These incredible artists are responsible for our beautiful new artist print Gondwana.
We asked them a few questions to get some insight into their practice and how it all came to be…
So, tell me, who is Field Day and how did it all begin?
We are Louise Fernando and Shelley Steer, two artists and friends, who joined artistic forces to create a collaborative pattern studio, Field Day.
Our friendship began in 2010 whilst working together in the fast fashion industry. Inspired to find more creative freedom, we both departed to work independently. Within months we were sharing a studio space and our first collaborative project was born—A Side Project, this kick started our own solo careers as freelance artists.
We had contemplated how to join our artistic talents and shared love of patterns, again and again, throughout our years working solo. We decided to bite the bullet in 2020, during one of the most challenging events in recent history—the Covid-19 pandemic. This forced multiple lengthy lockdowns in our city of Melbourne, which created the time we needed to plan all our dreams for Field Day.
I love that you’re all about Australian natives, what drew you to our native flora as a focus for your practice?
We feel a lot of joy when we think about the boundless beauty of our Australian natives, whether it's the incredible wildflowers of Western Australia or the beautiful lush rainforest of the northern east coast of Australia, we continue to discover more unique Australian natives that make us ohh and ahhh.
Can you tell us a bit about your process: how you start, and then how do your drawings and ideas evolve into prints and finished works?
When working on a design together, a brainstorming chat is first and foremost, preferably in the same room, but these days we’re usually at the top of each other’s 'recent calls' list! Talking with each other brings to the surface a particular theme or idea that we think fits the brief. In the case of Gondwana, the beautiful Firewheel Tree flowers were the starting point.
This is usually followed by a barrage of inspiration and reference imagery being sent back and forth, until we have settled on a collection of plant elements/types that fit together cohesively. We also decide on what media we’ll be using, for this project, watercolour was the best fit.
We’re both very happy painting plants, so it’s not too hard to decide who does what… though Shelley does have an enduring love for foliage! We both scan and refine our motifs before bringing them together into a repeat pattern. At this stage, we usually take it in turns working on the file—this is exciting and slightly unpredictable because you never know where each other will take it!
I’d love to learn more about the flowers and leaves represented in ‘Gondwana’…what drew you to them (pardon the pun!), how they were to capture…how long did it take?
Sometimes collating plant types into a design can be as simple as loving their colour or form. Other times, especially when pairing different plant types, it can be a long process finding the perfect fit! We usually try to have some element of continuity that holds them together, this can be their season or geographic location.
Gondwana is based on the beautiful Stenocarpus sinuatus, commonly known as the Firewheel Tree. It is an Australian rainforest tree, commonly found in NSW and Queensland, though we’ve also come across some locally in the Abbotsford Convent gardens and the Maranoa Gardens in Melbourne. The foliage, seed pods, flowers and buds offered up wonderful inspiration when painting motifs.
We wanted to add some other pops of colour to the design and were particularly drawn to the amazing shaped flowers of Hardenbergia, also known as Purple Coral Pea.
You started working collaboratively on a shared Tumblr. Tell me about that process and what you learned, and how it informed your practices?
Looking back, our process of working together hasn’t changed too much from 2011, when we first started A Side Project! We used our shared Tumblr as a way to exchange and record reference imagery and inspiration—much like how we do today. We learned how important it was to bounce off, and be inspired by, each other, but more particularly helped us start sharing our work with the world. I think it also helped us to meaningfully critique another person’s work, which is incredibly useful now that we have a business together!
What does an ‘average’ day look like for you (keeping in mind the last 18m have been anything BUT average and regular, HA!)
Our ‘average’ days have a few constants, these involve a phone call with each other, definitely a morning coffee and usually a shared image of some sort—sometimes it’s something inspiring on Instagram or a photo of a beautiful flower we’ve seen. We are very much in each other’s lives day-to-day.
Individually, we’re always busy juggling emails, clients, design work, children, sewing, painting, Instagram, website updates… not necessarily in that order!
Your perfect summer looks like…
Shelley This one's easy! Consistently warm weather, ideally 26–30 degrees, the beach, lovely fresh food, and time to just chill with a book!
Louise Lots of beach time at a family shared holiday house in Ocean Grove, special ice-cream outings with our girls and backyard dinners with loved ones.