Jes O’Brien Saddington

Wednesday, Aug 13, 2014

(1 comment)



L: Jes O’Brien kitted up and on location


Ahoy! So Instagram proves once again that it is a goldmine for discovering local talent. I just can’t keep up with the accounts of a literally hundreds of Novocastrians who are up to all sorts of creative endeavours and posting examples of it on this little app. And this is where Jes O’Brien comes in. An ex-fashion PR turned make-up artist who’s also a dab hand at interior design, who just can’t seem to escape the ‘superglue’ effect of Newcastle.





Condensed CV:

Falling into the unlikely career path of a makeup artist was definitely not what I expected. In fact, if you had told my teenage self, that this is where I’d be, I would have laughed at you. I wear very little makeup. Very little. But long story short …


I have an art background. Got creative. Was offered a special effects scholarship. Declined. Travelled. Studied a short makeup course. Worked in short films. Fashion Week. Travelled & lived in Europe for three years. Worked in fashion PR & communications for Topshop HQ. Launched the original Kate Moss for Topshop line. Came Home. Based Myself in Sydney. Worked for Estee Lauder Group combining my PR & makeup worlds to launch a brand new line to the press and market. Makeup artist career now or never! 2009, launched freelance and have never looked back.


What has been your most memorable project?

The giant Kate Moss for Topshop launch is a hard one to beat. I have also worked alongside some of Australia’s crème de la crème in the makeup world on campaigns for Witchery, Seafolly & Bonds. I travel at least twice annually as a Creative Director for beauty of Californian line Cleobella. I feel really blessed and have had, and continue to get great projects.

What would be your dream project?

Anything involving Carine Roitfeld, or Lou Doillon – or BOTH! Possibly I have an obsession with the French?



Makeup by Jes O’Brien. Photo – Matt Briggs


What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Having the guts to launch my own business and lay it all on the line.


What is your most treasured possession?

Ah, that’s a tough one as I am a total consumer! But I would have to say I get very emotionally attached to my jewellery and wear the same pieces day in day out.


What does a typical day at work involve for you?

There is no typical days really. Saturdays are booked out 18 months in advance with weddings, so that’s my one strong consistent. Fridays are filled with trials and or weddings. Most days I am struggling to respond to my never-ending inbox with a 2-year old fighting for my attention. I do a creative shoot whether it is editorial, advertising or beauty, about once a month, and throw in a bit of beauty writing for good measure. All the other days seem to be a jumble of work, parks, play, cleaning and washing, that every other mother seems to be doing ever so effortlessly!



Makeup by Jes O’Brien. Photo – Justin Aaron


What is your most valuable pearl of wisdom gained since starting your business?

It’s ok to say no. With your own business it’s really hard to turn work away. But in the never ending search to find the perfect balance of work, life, home, family and me time, I have learnt for you and your family’s sanity it’s OK, actually is a great thing, to say no sometimes.


Where do you derive creative inspiration?

From everywhere! It could be a colour, a pattern, a style, the sky. But I must say Pinterest is pretty damn amazing…


 Which other designers, artists or creative people are you most inspired by at the moment?

Amanda Reardon is my mentor turned lifetime friend; she constantly inspires me in makeup. I love anything Carine Roitfeld has had her magic hands at. There is also a fabulous creative hub of people in Newcastle that I have connected with. We all bounce off one another – that’s something I didn’t see here five years ago & gets me really excited.



Makeup by Jes O’Brien. Photo –  for Cleobella


What are some of your favourite websites or blogs?

For makeup and creative inspiration I love fashiongonerogue.com

For beauty reviews intothegloss.com

For interiors I adore Real Living and thedesignfiles.com

I must admit I also have a slight addiction to Pinterest and Instagram as well.


Apart from your work, what other interests, passions, hobbies do you have?

In another life I would do interior decorating. I adore it. My poor husband is constantly putting up with me changing one room or another – buying and selling furniture. It’s definitely a passion. Also maybe it’s growing up in Merewether, but I am a beach girl, the ocean makes me happy. Sunshine, sandy salty hair, a day spent at the beach is a day well spent.



 Jes O’Brien’s living room. Photo – Justin Aaron


How long have you been a Novocastrian?

Born & Bred. Wandered away for my early to mid twenties only to inevitably return – as do most.


Newcastle in a word?



What do you love and hate about living in Newcastle?

Oh, the things I love and hate about it are basically the same things! I love that I can run to the grocer and see everyone I know. I hate that when I run to the grocer I see everyone I know. It’s essentially a big city and a small town where everyone knows everyone, love it and or hate it. But at the end of the day I truly have a love affair with this town. It’s getting better and growing, in some fabulous creative ways. There is a fabulous sense of community and boy, our beaches are world class.


How is Newcastle different to anywhere else?

It’s not pretentious or too big for its boots. We have some of the most beautiful beaches in the world right here on our doorstep – believe me, I’ve searched. But the incredible thing about Newcastle is it has a superglue effect. You may leave but you always come back, or if it becomes a pit stop on your life journey it’s easy to get stuck.


Where are your favourite places in Newcastle / Hunter to:


+ eat

The Locale (28 Alma St, New Lambton)

Snows (Union St, The Junction)

Baked Uprising (21-25 Downie St, Maryville)

Hello Naomi (175 King St, Newcastle)

Napoli Centrale (173 King St, Newcastle)


+ drink

The Happy Wombat (575 Hunter St, Newcastle West)

The Edwards (148 Parry St, Newcastle West)

Coal and Cedar (Ed’s note: giving away the address would be giving the game away)

Admittedly it is rare this gal gets our her party attire anymore.


+ shop

Darby Street – I have been a longtime shopper at Scout and Abicus and you can’t go past Sanbah for any surfwear or cute boys gear.


+ play

The beach, anywhere from Merewether along to Bar Beach is where you’ll find me.


+ relax

The Royal Day Spa (1 KIng St Newcastle)


What is Newcastle / Hunter’s best-kept secret?

Burwood Beach. If anyone asks, yes there is a big sewerage plant there – it’s not worth the trek ;)


Website: jesobrien.com.au

Blog: jesobrien.com.au/blog

Instagram: @dazedbutamazed




Jes O’Brien and family at home. Photo – Justin Aaron


How This Is Not Art Festival Got Its Name

Tuesday, Aug 5, 2014




Chris Brown

Friday, May 16, 2014

(1 comment)


Photo – Chris Brown


Chris Brown’s exhibition Everyone I Know, Everything I’ve Seen opens Friday 16 May, 6:30pm at Diamant Coffee (formerly Churchkey Espresso, 488 Hunter Street, Newcastle). Check it out and drop by Watt Space for Art City and Newcastle Art Gallery for Novocastria at the same time.




Condensed CV:

Artist based in The Hill, working in film and digital photography. I have exhibited regularly in several galleries across Newcastle and sydney, participated in artist in residence programs , and have won several awards. I am a graduate of the University of Newcastle in Fine arts, specialising in digital and film photography, with a passion for alternative development techniques. I’ve been published in several Magazines including local publications  Newcastle Mirage, CUBS and Reverb.
I am a passionate advocate for community gardens and I currently work at Belmont Neighbourhood Centre as the Community Garden Coordinator – possibly the best job in the world.


What has been your most memorable project?

Definitely my film based projects TreeFingers and FlowerFace. These works were created in my final year studying Fine Art at the University of Newcastle. They were created using medium format colour film, employing negative sandwiching and double exposure techniques which created dreamy, fuzzy, layering effects. The project was so serendipitous – double exposures are difficult to predict because you never know how the film will react to different colours and intensities of light, but they came out perfectly!


What would be your dream project?

My dream project would have to be large format black and white photographs. By large format, I mean prints that are 10 meters high and 15 meters wide. Detail and texture of that magnitude is so immersive! Seeing something like that hanging at the MCA in Sydney would be pretty spectacular.



Photo – Chris Brown



Photo – Chris Brown


What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Probably what I am doing at work. I coordinate Habitat in Harmony Community Garden at Belmont Neighbourhood Centre and over the last 3 years have seen it’s transformation from a weedy mess, into a bio-diverse, engaging, safe, productive and loved place for the whole community.


What is your most treasured possession?

My plate camera, ‘Percy’. She is 101 years old and takes the most spectacular images. The negatives are made by hand on pieces of glass which are treated with an array of different coatings and chemicals.  It’s a labour intensive process, but it’s worth it.


What does a typical day at work involve for you?

Quickly checking emails and a cup of tea, then I head into the garden and help organise the jobs for the day with our volunteers. After that I could be doing anything from turning compost, planting potatoes, writing management reports to teaching a permaculture class. It’s a very dynamic (and BUSY) place to work.



Photo – Chris Brown



Photo – Chris Brown


Where do you derive creative inspiration?

From people, largely. There are few things as inspiring as someone with a positive outlook on life. I often find myself searching for a certain mood, which could be found in a song, a landscape, in a person, a story. I would describe that mood as being a mix of peace and chaos, confidence and vulnerability, fleeting glances and expressions, and what I like to call ‘exhale moments’, times when you just stop, take a second to have a deep breath, withdraw into your own mental space and say to yourself “Oh my god. Okayyyy, keep going”. Like a 2-second head space recombobulation.


Which other designers, artists or creative people are you most inspired by at the moment?

I am  very much inspired by my friends in the local art community. Neal Booth, El Hanlon, Rebecca Noel Holmes, Philip Solman, David Hampton, Kate Parker, Helena Smithe, Artist as Family, Beau Idaho, Belinda Howden, Brian Fuata, Andrew Johnstone and a zillion others.


What are some of your favourite websites or blogs?

It’s Nice That, but does it float, Synaptic stimuli, Today and Tomorrow, 50 Watts, I like this blog and AdBusters among many others. I keep my bookmarks in a folder I call ‘brain food’.


Apart from your work, what other interests, passions, hobbies do you have?

I am a passionate community garden advocate and I love sharing and absorbing knowledge relating to how we are going to navigate through the shit-storm which will be the end of cheap fossil fuels. I love permaculture, urban agriculture, native bees, swimming at the ocean baths, freecycle, couchsurfing, travel, tea cosies and nanna blankies.



Photo – Chris Brown


How long have you been a Novocastrian?

Since I was 2yrs old.


Newcastle in a word?



What do you love and hate about living in Newcastle?

I love it’s scale – it’s so bicycle friendly.

I dislike negative nancies. This place is so beautiful! Go and see the world and get a bit of freaking perspective.


How is Newcastle different to anywhere else?

Newcastle has this fantastic balance of city/country town. The CBD isn’t filled with gigantic high rises (YET!) and people are friendly and relaxed.


glen rock conservation area

Photo – Chris Brown


Where are your favourite places in Newcastle / Hunter to:


+ eat

Delucas  Pizza (159b Darby St, Cooks Hill)


+ drink

The Lass O’Gowrie Hotel (14 Railway St, Wickham)


+ shop

I vehemently detest the big supermarket chains and I avoid them like the plague. The organic fruit and veggie guy in the Hunter St Mall (Wed to Sat, 8:30am – 3pm)  is fabulous, and so are the Newcastle City Farmers Markets (most Sundays, Newcastle Showground, Broadmeadow).


+ play

Various green spaces across Newcastle and the small but beautiful coral reef at Nobbys Beach.


+ relax

At home surrounded by my many indoor plants and precious things.


What is Newcastle / Hunter’s best-kept secret?

The spectacular view and native species living on Shepherds Hill Reserve.



Photo – Chris Brown

Newcastle Blogs

Monday, Apr 7, 2014



Trevor Dickinson works on The Lucky Country mural, 22 April 2011. Photo – Siobhan Curran.


At Saturday’s Newcastle Writers Festival session ‘Rough & Tumblr: Blogging Newcastle‘ I’d hoped to reference some Newcastle blogs that I subscribe to but we ran out of time. So here’s a list.




All The Streets in Newcastle

Ben Howland’s Tumblr


Brett McDonald’s Tumblr

Coal River Working Party

Dylan Smyth’s Tumblr

East End Footprints

Found In Newcastle

Hamilton North

Hidden Hamilton


Little Eco Footprints

Little Housein a Tsunami

Newcastle Appearances

Newcastle Now & Then


Pink Patent Mary Janes


Swamp Life

The New Industrial

The View From King Street

This Untidy, Smoky City

West End Adventures


The act of blogging is a fickle thing. People get busy. Inspiration takes a holiday. Passwords get forgotten. So some of these accounts have had little or no  activity for some time, but I hold out hope that they will return. Others post with such regularity I think I might have fears for their well-being if they suddenly ceased posting.


If I’m missing out on a Newcastle-based blog, please do let me know in the comments. Sharing is caring!


Thanks to Keri Glastonbury for inviting me to take part in the NWF panel, and to my fellow panellists Michael Newton of Showbag and Mark MacLean of Hamilton North for sharing your story about why you blog Newcastle. Newcastle rocks.

Around Town

Friday, Apr 4, 2014


Sian Edwards
Sian Edward’s handmade mesh jewellery as seen at Renew Newcastle‘s Open Day on 29 March. Photo – Siobhan Curran


Being new in Newcastle


…leads to awesome adventures.


Mug rainbow.


Wedding photos in Newcastle are never average.


Moon says ‘Boo!


Mark MacLean sure can write a good speech.


A diverse port (the only things missing are a cruise ship and some porpoise).


Chance of a Rachel Milne portrait by supporting HMRI research (win-win!) .


What’s missing from your suburban main street shops?


Newcastle bloggers represent at Newcastle Writers Festival on Saturday. Come say hi.

Shelagh Lummis

Saturday, Feb 15, 2014




The painting ‘Horizon Study’ for which Shelagh Lummis received a Highly Commended in the 2013 Newcastle Emerging Artist Prize. Photo – Shelagh Lummis.


Ahoy! I would wish you all a Happy New Year, but it’s mid-February so I think I’ve missed that boat. Things have been rather busy in my corner of the world. So busy in fact that I took these photographs of Shelagh Lummis in OCTOBER and have only now had the opportunity to pull her long-ago answered Q&A together with the pics into a post. I totally suck.


What doesn’t suck is Shelagh Lummis who’s quite obviously a very patient person. Not least of all because of how long it’s taken me to get this post up, but rather because her practice of painting only began after a long career as a Personal Assistant at the University of Newcastle! Taking a redundancy in her stride Shelagh signed up for some art classes at Newcastle Art Space with a friend. Discovering a talent for abstract landscape painting Shelagh enrolled at Newcastle Art School and then returned to UoN, not as a secretary, but as a full-time student in Fine Art. In that time she’s received high praise for her painting skill.


I came across Shelagh’s work at an exhibition at the Uni’s Watt Space Gallery during This Is Not Art Festival last year. Shelagh was one of nine students who set up studio spaces within the gallery as part of an ‘Artist in Residence‘ exhibition. I was equally entranced by her works as I was by her in person – she is so encouraging, telling me that it’s never too late to discover a hidden creative talent . You just have to commit to the learning.


My priority will be to re-commit to posting stories of creative Novocastrians with a hell of a lot more timeliness than has been the case recently.




Condensed CV:
For most of my working life I have undertaken various secretarial positions, enjoying those most where there seemed to be a culture of autonomy. When I first arrived in Newcastle I found part-time teaching work at Belmont TAFE. My longest and most interesting employment was at the University of Newcastle where I worked in various departments between 1990 and 2005. I was offered a redundancy from the University in 2005 which I accepted and started taking art classes shortly thereafter, leading to enrolment in a Diploma in Fine Arts at Newcastle Art School in 2007.



Finalist, Newcastle Emerging Artist Prize (NEAP) (2013), Highly Commended.

Recipient, $1,000 Ford Scholarship, Newcastle Art School (TAFE) (2011).

Finalist NEAP 2012, 2009, 2008.

Sandhills Community Garden Exhibition, Winner People’s Choice Award (2008).


What has been your most memorable project?
Taking on an art career.



L: Shelagh Lummis and Leo at the door of the backyard studio in Hamilton South. R: A recent work rests above an antique credenza in the living room. Photos -Siobhan Curran.


What would be your dream project?
An artist trip to Antarctica.


What do you consider your greatest achievement?
I consider that I’ve had a fortunate life with many successes, including raising my family. No one achievement really stands out.


What is your most treasured possession?
Anything I have that belonged to my parents has a special place in my heart.


What does a typical day at work involve for you?
While I’m a student at the University of Newcastle completing a Bachelor of Fine Art, my days usually incorporate some kind of research, experimentation, and journaling. If I have an exhibition coming up then I’m usually in and out of the studio all day.




L: A work in progress sits on an easel. R: Framed pieces are from a series inspired by a residency at valley called Promised Land near Bellingen. Photos – Siobhan Curran.


What is your most valuable pearl of wisdom gained since starting your business?
Mistakes are a good thing as long as you learn from them.


Where do you derive creative inspiration?
Mostly from our environment and the way the atmosphere of places can change according to weather or light. Our changing landscape has the ability to generate new ways of looking at it.


Which other designers, artists or creative people are you most inspired by at the moment?
The recent exhibition of Philip Wolfhagen at Newcastle Art Gallery was very inspirational. Wolfhagen’s engagement with his environment is clearly shown in his work. Another artist I like very much is painter Euan MacLeod, a kiwi now residing in Australia.


What are some of your favourite websites or blogs?
Sadly I don’t blog much. However, I am on Facebook which has been a fantastic way of keeping in touch with family and friends I’ve made while at Art School.


Apart from your work, what other interests, passions, hobbies do you have?
I enjoy travel, fine food and wine, walking, animals and gardening. I always have a camera with me, snapping whatever gives me inspiration, including the amazing skies we have in Newcastle.



The tools of the trade. Photos -Siobhan Curran.


How long have you been a Novocastrian?
My husband and two children moved here from Sydney in 1983. I was raised in New Zealand and moved to Australia in 1973.


Newcastle in a word?
A coat of many colours (I know, that’s 5 words!)


What do you love and hate about living in Newcastle?I love the friendliness of its people and the diversity of activities available. What I hate is the sad and run-down look of parts of Newcastle, and I don’t mean just the CBD. I believe that even if a building or building site is unused, an owner should be responsible for its continued maintenance. I don’t think environmental aesthetics assumes enough importance with the powers that be in Newcastle. And the appalling situation our Gallery finds itself in saddens me a great deal.


How is Newcastle different to anywhere else?
Newcastle’s ‘otherness’ stems from its unique position on the coast. Its working harbour means that residents are treated to the fantastic sight of huge ships being towed in by tugs. It has miles of surfing beaches and is very close to wonderful vineyards. However, the natural gifts of the place include large coal deposits, which means that heavy industry must coexist with our local environment. There’s a lot going on but to me Newcastle retains the feel of a country town.


Where are your favourite places in Newcastle / Hunter to:


+ eat

Leaves and Fishes (Lovedale Rd, Lovedale)


+ drink

Le Passe Temps (75 Hunter St, Newcastle)


+ shop

I don’t much like shopping!


+ play

Anywhere I’m with friends


+ relax

At home


What is Newcastle / Hunter’s best-kept secret?
Then it wouldn’t be a secret …


Website: www.shelaghlummis.com.au



Corners of Shelagh’s studio. Photos -Siobhan Curran.


Around Town

Thursday, Dec 5, 2013


Secret #1 revealed: 15 minutes for 10 cents.


Secret #2 revealed: pool pass-outs.


Engagement photos not at Newcastle baths.


The smell of coal smoke.


Mapping the Port of Newcastle…


…which is where it’s all happening.


A most prolific architect (thank goodness).


A 93-year old walks all the streets in Newcastle.


A painting a day.   Another artist revealing the mundane in a completely new light.


The Regal reopens late January…in the meatime.


One new retail venture about to open (art objects!).


Plus another (cakes!)


And one more (bakery!).


Also, in case you’ve been living under a rock…One Penny Black’s new digs.


Residents of A-town rejoice.


For art & cultural events around town, I am testing out a calendar.

This Is Not Art 2013 – My Schedule

Friday, Sep 27, 2013




For the rookies there’s two things you need to know about This Is Not Art (TiNA).


Firstly, (and mostly to appease the pedant in me) it’s important to understand that TiNA is actually the umbrella name for several Festivals that take place on the same October weekend in Newcastle every year. All of these festivals are dedicated to the development of experimental and emerging arts practice ; arts & media (Critical Animals), cross-disciplinary theatre & performance (Crack Theatre Festival), writers, publishers & performers (National Young Writers’ Festival) and electronic arts (Electrofringe).


Secondly, put aside any notions of what you think the TiNA is and whether it’s relevant to you. Speaking from someone who is falls outside of their target market (I am not a young, emerging artist), there’s still plenty of events that pique my interest each year, enough to book the babysitter and get into town to see some of them.


As for 2012, I have scoured the online program from each sub-festival (bypass TiNA’s online program – it’s a little clunky) for my picks with my usual partiality to National Young Writers’ Festival. My NYWF bias is amplified by schedule conflicts with other Festival events :(


TiNA event ready reckoner [PDF], the print version of which will be distributed between venues from this weekend.


Also, here’s ‘A Novocastrian’s Guide To Newcastle’ I did for NYWF. I’ve received flack in the past for recommendations where the focus is on the CBD and Darby Street. Yes, Newcastle Farmers Market is fantastic as are all the places in Islington and Hamilton and Wickham and….I’m keeping in mind the fact that most visitors are limited by time and by transport options and are usually based in the CBD. Obviously there’s a tonne of hidden gems in other locations. This particular guide is by no means definitive. If you have other suggestions, consider adding them to the comments section of the article.




5pm – 7pm
Renew Newcastle’s Spring City Walk
Start: Make Space, 152 Hunter Street Mall, Newcastle
(off schedule, timed to coincide with TiNA)


6pm – 7.30pm
TiNA Official Launch
Terrace Bar, 529 Hunter St, Newcastle West




8.30am to 10am
Renew Newcastle’s Creative Talks with Ghostpatrol
The Lock-Up Cultural Centre, 90 Hunter St, Newcastle
Bookings required.
(off schedule)


10am to 11.30am
Get Rid of Gina
The Royal Exchange, 34 Bolton Street, Newcastle


1pm to 2.45pm
Creating the City
The Lock-Up Cultural Centre, 90, Hunter Street, Newcastle


2.30pm to 3.30pm
Hey, Good Looking
University House, Auckland Street, Newcastle


Penguin Plays Rough: An Entirely Fabricated History of Fort Scratchley
Fort Scratchley, Nobbys Rd, Newcastle East
Bookings required.




Paper Trail Tour (Newcastle)
Blue Write Disco (The Kensington), 299 Hunter St, Newcastle


11.30am to 12.30pm
Scripts, Scenes & Sluglines
University House Theatre, Auckland St, Newcastle


1pm to 2pm
Salad Days: stories of memorable meals
Blue Write Disco (The Kensington), 299 Hunter St, Newcastle


1pm to 2pm
This One Time… with Dan Ilic
University House Theatre, Auckland St, Newcastle


2.30pm to 3.30pm
How Not To Be A Douche
United Services Club, 55 Watt St, Newcastle


4pm to 5.30pm
90s Literary Trivia
The Clarendon, 347 Hunter St, Newcastle


6pm to 7pm
Recipe for Success
Blue Write Disco at The Kensington, 299 Hunter St, Newcastle


7pm to 8pm
Reading The Trolls
The Royal Exchange, 34 Bolton St, Newcastle





1pm to 2pm
This One Time… with Ellen van Neerven
University House Theatre, Auckland St, Newcastle


2.30pm to 3.30pm
Why Awards?
Watt Street Church, 48 Watt St, Newcastle


Anytime that day. Reading 4pm to 5pm
Watt Space, Auckland St, Newcastle


4pm to 5pm
We Don’t Speak Americano
The Royal Exchange, 34 Bolton St, Newcastle


6pm to 7pm
What the Fuck, Australia…
United Services Club, 55 Watt St, Newcastle


7pm to 9pm
The Royal Exchange, 34 Bolton St, Newcastle

Around (Old) Town

Wednesday, Aug 14, 2013



Newcastle from Civic, date unknown, photograph 20x15cm, courtesy State Records of NSW.


Newcastle Now & Then exhibition opens this Friday at Newcastle Library’s Lovett Gallery.


Newcastle Yesteryears (with Man From Snowy River soundtrack…)


The Ballad of Les Darcy teaser will be produced.


Windale aka Surprisetown.


The return of The Regal.


Our ‘act of defiance against an obstinate tide of industrial decline


Girls in the news for all the wrong reasons.


The original Lost Newcastle.


Some Newcastle blogs:










Sophie Smyth

Wednesday, Aug 7, 2013



L: Self-watering mini planters made from recycled wine bottles R: Sophie Smyth at her Wickham studio with recycled bottle light pendants ready to be hung.


Wickham is such a wonderful pocket of Newcastle where industry and residential collide and it’s so close to the CBD, waterfront and Islington Hamilton. Quaint weatherboard cottages sit side-by-side with auto-repair workshops and woolsheds (auctions and Pigeon Coop Studios long gone). There’s The Lass, Croatian Club, Sourdough BakerFig Tree Community Garden and its neighbouring playground, Dark Horse Espresso inside of French Patina Studio which overlooks the Greenway Street art wall, The AlbionFishermans Co-op and Wickham Motorcycle Co. Oh and I nearly forgot Inner City WinemakersArts Systems and of course, The Wicko! I often lament not buying an old warehouse there fifteen or even ten years ago.


Another little creative enterprise that has make Wickham its home is a stone’s throw from The Lass and is occupied by three women, one of whom is Sophie Smyth of Vintage Last Tuesday. Sophie’s designs mainly focus on lighting (including dip-dyed string shades not photographed here, but available via Sophie’s Etsy store), however there is also a clever range of leather bags and planters included in the mix. As for two others in this trio, I have an another excuse to come back to share their goings-on.




Condensed CV:

I am an industrial designer, graphic designer and artist and received my Bachelor in Fine Arts/Sculpture from Sydney College of the Arts, Rozelle in 2007. I then went onto further study in design at TAFE and finally, Enmore Design Centre to study product design. My work would then bring me into contact with some of the best architects and interior designers in NSW in my role as a decorative and architectural lighting consultant for well-respected designer retailer, Dedece in Darlinghurst. It is here that my love of lighting was cemented and in the creation of Vintage Last Tuesday, I can now finally combine all of my loves, focusing on handmade, unique and sustainable design.


What has been your most memorable project?

Working with local craftsman, Neil Keats, a wood turner who helped realise my Turned series of recycled wood drop-pendant lights. He is a gentleman and a true artisan.


What would be your dream project?

I would love to do more interiors for hospitality. You can be so much more free and creative. I also am currently working on curating a new space in Newcastle for artists and other creatives to rent studio space. A collective of creative people in one place, sharing ideas and resources. I hope this becomes a reality because it would be so great and it’s so badly needed in Newcastle. Watch this space!


What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Having the courage to quit my job and move cities to follow my dream.



L: Sophie shares her studio space with Jess Coleman aka The Wedding Designer and Emma Guy from Dreaming of Stepford. R: A sweet little bottle pendant.


What is your most treasured possession?

My kitten Hunter. He tolerates my constant overbearing love and cuddles with patience.


What does a typical day at work involve for you?

It’s pretty varied from day to day but a studio day involves, getting up and out and coffee’d by 9am. Spend the day at the warehouse/ studio either sewing bags, working on a project or researching. Maybe a gym visit and home for dinner at 6pm. There is also A LOT of trips to Bunnings. I may as well live there.


What is your most valuable pearl of wisdom gained since starting your business?

Don’t expect everything to happen all at once and quickly. Take one task at a time and work on that, then move to the next. Be methodical. I personally struggle with that.


Where do you derive creative inspiration?

I constantly flood my mind with images. These all seem to merge and I can hopefully take the best of each and make something new. Also my work is often inspired by the material itself. I like to use recycled, repurposed and found objects wherever I can.


Which other designers, artists or creative people are you most inspired by at the moment?

For leather bags I cannot go past frrry. He’s a designer out of Amsterdam and I LOVE his stuff. Kate Stokes from Coco Flip is an amazing Australian designer and also Jess Coleman  from The Wedding Designer and Emma Guy from Dreaming of Stepford. I share the warehouse with these girls and they are such hard workers and so talented.



R: The Stepford / Wedding Planner / Vintage Last Tuesday shopfront (by appointment) L: VLT’s sunshine-dipped trolley table.


What are some of your favourite websites or blogs?

I am a Design Files junky. Also Pinterest, Instagram and I look at Juxtapose, Share Design and Lost at E Minor.


Apart from your work, what other interests, passions, hobbies do you have?

I like to swim (but only in the summer!) but mostly I love hanging out with my friends and eating. Eating and drinking are definitely hobbies of mine. My talented boyfriend Graeme Townsend from Casa De Loco never disappoints on the cocktail front. ;)


How long have you been a Novocastrian?

Well I was born here but we moved to Sydney in 1996 and I have just made it back in January this year.


Newcastle in a word?



What do you love and hate about living in Newcastle?

I love the closeness of your friends and everything to you at any one time. I love the beach and the lifestyle. I hate the drivers…. For some reason people are terrible drivers!


How is Newcastle different to anywhere else?

Newcastle isn’t afraid to be itself. Whether you love it or hate it, it is what it is.



L: ‘Turned’ Sophie’s locally made wooden long drop pendants. R: The warehouse space utilised for props storage for Sophie’s studio mates.


Where are your favourite places in Newcastle / Hunter to:

+ eat

Saluna (137 King St, Newcastle)


+ drink

Casa De Loco (10 Pacific St, Newcastle)


+ shop

Darby Street


+ play

The Lass O’Gowrie (14 Railway St, Wickham)


+ relax

Newcastle Baths


What is Newcastle / Hunter’s best-kept secret?

That it’s an awesome place to live (people don’t know)!

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