Entries Tagged as '// Shop'

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)!

Website: vintagelasttuesday.com.au
Etsy: etsy.com/au/shop/vintagelasttuesdayau
Facebook: facebook.com/vintagelasttuesday 

Lloyd Kellett / One Man’s Trash

Wednesday, Jul 17, 2013



Lloyd Kellett’s out-of-work-hours business, One Man’s Trash, now with shopfront at The Emporium. Photos – Siobhan Curran


The latest round of Renew Newcastle projects at The Emporium (the former David Jones) on Hunter Street Mall have turned up some cracking talent for all to see (Thu – Sat). On a recent visit I was particularly taken with the treasures inside One Man’s Trash. Lloyd Kellett not only builds race-winning billy carts but assembles lighting, furniture and homewares pieces using reclaimed timbers and spare parts that are positively Burton-esque.


If necessity if the mother of invention, Lloyd is its father…his industrial inventions are indeed necessary for anyone who appreciates fine craftsmanship.




Condensed CV:

Gyprocker and bricklayer by trade, in building industry for the last 20 years. Working a day job as a sign installer currently. Began building furniture in December 2012 as we needed a desk for a nook in our home, found some materials in the shed and it has evolved from there.


What has been your most memorable project?

Building Tiny Dancer – the second fastest billy cart in all the land.





Top: Billycarts Tiny Dancer (front) and Toe Cutter (back). Photo – Brett Piva. Bottom: Camera shy Lloyd at it in his workshop in Wallsend. Photo – Mel Kellett. 


What would be your dream project?

Turning One Man’s Trash into the day job would be the ultimate goal. Any project that came along with that would be great.


What do you consider your greatest achievement?

The fit-out of our storefront on a tight budget and timeframe.


What is your most treasured possession?

My collection of collections.



L: One Man’s Trash desk, office chair with castors, desk lamp and organiser. R: Laboratory aromatherapy oil burner. Photos – Siobhan Curran.


What does a typical day at work involve for you?

Well the day job Monday to Friday involves sign installation and all that comes with that. Once I knock off of an evening I am either to the shed to work on custom orders, projects etc or out to an install. There is also phone calls to return, emails and quotes to do.


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

Sleep is overrated.


Where do you derive creative inspiration?

From rusty, discarded items. I see the potential and make it up from there in my head.



Locket necklaces available at One Man’s Trash. Photos – Siobhan Curran.


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

Not really into art or anything like that so don’t know of any sorry.


What are some of your favourite websites or blogs?

The freebies section of Gumtree is a personal fave.


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

In my spare time I am into billy carting, music and eating.




The incredible assemblage of Lloyd’s lamps. Photos – Siobhan Curran.


How long have you been a Novocastrian?

Originally from Tamworth and Gunnedah, I moved here about 20 years ago. That makes me a legit Novocastrian, I think.

Newcastle in a word?



What do you love and hate about living in Newcastle?

The people. Everyone knows everyone.


How is Newcastle different to anywhere else?

The variety. The beaches, the history, the suburbs. So much to do for all kinds of people.



L: Another of Lloyd’s lamps – they are very photogenic! R: A little fascination with skulls x homewares throughout the store. Photos – Siobhan Curran.


Where are your favourite places in Newcastle / Hunter to:

+ eat

T&Ps Fire Station Pies (31 Union St, Cooks Hill)


+ drink

I don’t actually drink. My other half loves the coffee and eats from One Penny Black (cnr Hunter & Morgan Sts, Newcastle) though.


+ shop

Auld & Grey (92 Maitland Rd, Islington)


+ play

No time for that!


+ relax

My workshop with a project or seven on the go.


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

People will need to come visit our great city to find out!



Bookends perfect for some vintage reads. Photo – Siobhan Curran.


Shop: One Man’s Trash , The Emporium, 185 Hunter St, Newcastle. Thu 10am – 6pm, Fri 10am – 5pm, Sat 10am – 4pm.

Facebook: onemanstrashaustralia


Ali Wanchap / Jude

Wednesday, Jul 3, 2013



L: Knitwear label Jude by Ali Wanchap R: Irresistibly soft Smith jumper. Photos –  James Bennett.


This week I had the pleasure of meeting Ali Wanchap, the bright spark behind Jude, a knitwear label with a distinctly sophisticated down under aesthetic designed in Newcastle (Adamstown specifically!) and produced in Australia.


Ali attributes school holidays at her family’s wool farms in Northern NSW and South-West Queensland as the driver behind the idea to start Jude, “I have been privileged enough to be surrounded by creative, hard working people in my family, feet firmly planted in the dirt of the Australian bush. Out of this heritage my great love for wool has blossomed and has set me on this journey”. Ali’s grandmother has always utilised wool from the family farm to hand-spin and dye yarn to produce one-of-a-kind knitted jumpers and dolls that were always in high demand.


Ali has taken that proud family heritage to a new level with Jude using Australian-grown wool milled and dyed in Italy which is then brought back to Australia for machine-knitting in Melbourne to become the latest designs conceived by Ali in her Adamstown home office. Her family heritage saluted as each design is named after family properties or much-loved horses.


The range of super-fine merino wool pieces includes knitwear for women and baby, plus blankets and cushions that feature modern geometric designs in classic colour-ways. But it’s the handsome sulphur-crested cockatoo and a sweet wattle and gumnut motif of several pieces that add a distinctly Australian edge. Forget any thoughts of itchy wool jumpers you may have endured as a child. After road-testing the soon-to-be-released Kaloola kimono I can attest that wool has come a very long way. It’s like wearing a warm hug!


Not only is Ali a fellow Sydney transplant to Newcastle but she has whole-heartedly embraced her new-found Novocastrian status. Even the latest Jude A/W campaign is 100% local talent and location. Model Bonnie Richardson (those eyebrows!), photographer James Bennett, make-up artist Jes O’Brien and creative director Kelly Sharples, together with Ali, utilised the stunning backdrop of the Watagans for Jude‘s current season location shoot. Stunning work all round.



Jude Avery sulphur-crested cockatoo jumper. Photo – James Bennett.




Condensed CV:

Grew up in Brisbane, finished uni and moved to Sydney shortly after. I started my real working career in Public Relations after a short-lived attempt at acting in Sydney, and stayed in PR for 8 years. Worked a few years out in the big bad world of fashion PR, then 4 years ago started my own consulting business AlphaWhiskeyPR, which is still going today. I moved to Newcastle in 2009 looking for a fresh start, and to take on a new challenge – to get my commercial helicopter pilot license, which I completed in 2011. Amongst this,  I had always dreamed of starting my own knitwear label inspired by my family history of wool farming and production. I started putting Jude into action throughout 2012, and officially launched the label in April this year.


What has been your most memorable project? 

I have been lucky enough to work with some amazing businesses over my PR career, however I must say starting Jude has definitely left a bright, bold exclamation point on my list of projects to date. Flying solo for the first time in the chopper was pretty memorable too – probably because I was so scared.


What would be your dream project?

I am pleased to say that I am doing it now, with Jude.


What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Having the courage to follow my dreams. And not only just follow them – follow through with them.


What is your most treasured possession?

My puppy dog Bosley.



Soon to be released Jude Kaloola kimono (my pick! So luxurious!). Photo – James Bennett.


What does a typical day at work involve for you?

My days are so varied, but it mainly involves loads of emailing, packing and sending orders, managing my online store, seeking out new opportunities and new products, dealing with manufacturers, printers, suppliers, contractors, going to meetings, cuddling Bosley and watering my pot plants for a bit of zen time. (Is that odd?!)


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

Don’t cut corners or compromise your standards for the sake of a quick gain or a quick fix, make the smart decisions today so you don’t pay for them tomorrow.


Where do you derive creative inspiration? 

My creative inspiration comes from many places – my dreams, my family, the Australian landscape, and often the tiniest of random details can get a whole idea or concept flowing.



Jude Clarence jumper featuring fine cable knit body. Photo – James Bennett.


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

I am inspired by people who put themselves out there and are giving it a go. I have two dear friends that have started their own businesses in the Newcastle/Hunter region recently too – Kelly Sharples of Arnley and Tegan Brideson of Tegan Asha Bridal and they inspire me every day with their passion, hard work and dedication.


What are some of your favourite websites or blogs?

I love the Cool Hunter to marvel at the amazing imagery and design finds. Although a lot of the time it makes me feel very un-cool….And when I need a bit of a high fashion fix I go to The Sartorialist, which is an amazing blog that sparked the craze of ‘street style’ fashion photography.


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

As mentioned previously I have a bit of a passion for flying, although recently I haven’t had a great deal of time to commit to it. Horse riding is another great passion of mine that I wish I had more time to enjoy. I do however always seem to have time for traveling and exploring new places…. I tend to get itchy feet if I’ve walked the same ground for too long.


How long have you been a Novocastrian?

I have lived in the Newcastle/Hunter region since 2009. I’m not sure if I pass as a true Novocastrian quite yet. I’m told I have another 20 years to go till I’m there.



Clockwise from top left: ‘I love the crimpy goodness of raw merino wool’ says Ali at uncle Brent Finlay’s sheep station in SW Queensland. Autumn/Winter 2013 season planning. Where dreams turn to reality, the manufacturer’s machines in Melbourne. Ali with Gem the mustering dog at the family farm, Cooinda, in SW Queensland. Photos – Ali Wanchap.


Newcastle in a word?



What do you love and hate about living in Newcastle?

I love the relaxed lifestyle, the fact that you can get almost anywhere in 10 minutes, and the beautiful coastline scenery. I don’t really hate anything about Newcastle, I guess I’m frustrated by the stunted progress of the CBD area, but having said that there are some pretty amazing little shops and businesses starting to appear, which is encouraging.


How is Newcastle different to anywhere else?

Newcastle has such a unique mentality and lifestyle. It is in an elite category of cities that can boast they are built seaside, around such a stunning coastline. The passionate patriotism of Novocastrians is quite intoxicating and very unique too.


Where are your favourite places in Newcastle / Hunter to:


+ eat

The Bistro (102 Darby St, Cooks Hill) for its beautifully comforting yet innovative cuisine.

The Burwood Inn (77 Berner St, Merewether) for its gorgeous pub atmosphere

And my house because there is nothing quite like a home-cooked meal.


+ drink

Bar Petite (5/5 King St, Newcastle ) in the east end

Tyrrells Cellar Door (1838 Broke Rd, Pokolbin) the best wines in the Hunter Valley, in my opinion.

Cambridge Hotel (789 Hunter St, Newcastle West) for a beer and a dose of rock and roll.


+ shop

Colosseum Antiques (116 Maitland Rd, Mayfield)

Betty Mim (176 Darby St, Cooks Hill)

And of course the Jude online store


+ play

Burwood Beach on a sunny day


+ relax

The banana lounge parked in the sun in my backyard.


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

Its lifestyle. So many people outside of Newcastle have an out-dated perception of what it is and what it has to offer – and I think most Novocastrians are happy with that. Their secret is safe for a little bit longer.


Website: www.judeaustralia.com

Blog: www.judeaustralia.com/jude-files/

Shop: http://www.judeaustralia.com/shop/

Facebook: judeaustralia

Instagram: judeaustralia




Clockwise from top left: Ali Wanchap at home in Adamstown. A sneak-peek of the new season range. Hard at work in the home office. Equine inspiration from a childhood spent on family wool farms. Photos – Siobhan Curran.

Style Trader + Giveaway

Sunday, Jun 30, 2013



Style Trader owner Lisa Preston at Merewether Beach sporting an Emeldo necklace. Photo – Siobhan Curran




Lisa Preston is born and bred Novocastrian. Having lived in London working as the Sales Co-ordinator for Elizabeth Hurley’s swimwear label Hurley Beach and more recently in Brisbane as the International Sales Manager for Easton Pearson, Lisa along with her husband decided to move back to The Hunter to start a family. “We both had such wonderful childhood memories because of where we lived that it just seemed fitting to offer everything Newcastle and The Hunter to our new family.”


After moving back to Newcastle just in time for the birth of their son Oscar, Lisa describes being at a crossroads in her career. “Working at Easton Pearson allowed me to travel, be surrounded by creative and vibrant personalities and meet so many influential people in the fashion industry….plus have access to the most divine clothes and accessories.” The bar was set pretty high in terms of career satisfaction and options for positions in high fashion in Newcastle are limited. Undeterred, Lisa (with a 4 month old Oscar in her lap) decided the time was right to start her own business, Style Trader.



A colourful Turkish kilim from Style Trader.


Style Trader is an online boutique offering a tight edit of fashion and homewares; a reflection of her philosophy of stocking product that’s hard to find. And there’s another common theme amongst the items as Lisa explains, “I have a love for colour! I think furniture and walls in a home and clothes can be plain and basic but you can style up a room or an outfit very easily and relatively inexpensively with a fabulous pop of colour, whether it be an ikat cushion, Mexican sarape blanket, a pom pom necklace or fun tote.”


(( For your chance to win a selection of items from StyleTrader keep reading! ))


Newcastle in a word?


What do you love and not-so-love about living in Newcastle?
I love the beaches, the people, the awesome food and coffee. I not-so-love that people from a certain city down south are starting to work out that Newcastle is the place to be.


How is Newcastle different to anywhere else?
The relaxed and friendly environment and people, also we seriously have the most amazing beaches. There is nothing better than driving down Scenic Drive and on a clear day looking all the way up the coast. Sensational!




Who knew naturally shed deer antlers could look so good wrapped in brightly-coloured thread?


Where are your favourite places in Newcastle / Hunter to:
+ eat
Rustica (2/1 King St, Newcastle)

+ drink
Merewether Surfhouse (5 Henderson Pde, Merewether)

+ shop
Love Darby Street.

+ play
I do spend quite a bit of time in the park with my son Oscar so it not really play for me.

+ relax
The beach

What is Newcastle / Hunter’s best-kept secret?
Hmm if I tell you then it is not a secret…






We’d love to make sure you don’t miss out on TNF posts as they are published. Google Reader will be out of commission as of tomorrow, 1 July and there are a couple of one-click transfer feed options so you don’t miss out on posts from your favourite blogs, such as Feedly or Bloglovin’.


The other thing you can do is sign up to TNF’s e-newsletter to have fresh posts delivered right to your inbox. Style Trader has kindly offered a bright and cheerful gift pack valued at $231 to one lovely reader who signs up to the e-newsletter between now and this Friday 5 July, 5pm. Current e-newsletter subscribers will automatically go in the draw for being so ahead of the pack :)


Simply click HERE to subscribe to the TNF e-newsletter (or on the link at the top of the side bar) to be in the running to win:


Style Trader ‘Moroccan’ cushion in orange with insert – $99
Emeldo ‘Dallas’ necklace in pink – $99
Lumiere Art & Co ‘Moving Moon’ tea-towel in yellow / pink – $33


A winner will be chosen at random and contacted via email on Monday 8 July 2013.


Angela Hailey / Studio Melt

Wednesday, May 29, 2013



Just some of the range of gifts and homewares available Anglea Hailey & Suzy Manning’s shop Studio Melt. Photo – Froxy.


I have been a big fan of Renew Newcastle even before I moved to Newcastle in 2011. ‘Citizen activism / creative capital / making things interesting’, which is how I see RN working, is a triumvir that warms the cockles of my heart. So I count my lucky stars to have ended up working with Marni at Renew over the last year or so.


Every person that is involved in Renew projects are a creative force to be reckoned with. None less so than Angela Hailey and Suzy Manning from Studio Melt. Now ‘graduates‘ of the Renew Newcastle scheme (having signed a commercial lease within six months of their retail/workshop foray with RN) for near on one year. Whenever I happen to pass through Hunter Street Mall I always stop by and am guaranteed a tempting curation of homewares, art and jewellery. It’s my go-to shop for gifts. The added bonus is the smiles and conversation that inevitably play out which always makes me late picking up my gözleme for lunch. I mean, you’ve seen how long the gözleme line can get, right?


As friendly as they come, I walk out of Studio Melt wondering if I really did just agree to start surfing lessons at Nobbys with Ange so we can keep up with Suzie’s wave riding talent. These ladies are the real deal. Ange proves so below.



Angela Hailey getting some laughs out of a customer. Photo – Froxy.




Condensed CV:
I’m staring down the barrel of turning 40 at the end of the year, if only I felt that grown up! After finishing school I spent a couple of years traveling before returning home to begin a degree in marketing. With that degree I worked far too many hours a day in my 20s coming up with all manner of ideas for convincing people why they needed everything from a premix can of Jim Beam to removable storage for their computer. But somewhere along the line I started evening art classes, then more art classes and all of a sudden I realised they were the highlight of my week. So – I chucked my job in and went to art school. Never looked back.


What has been your most memorable project?
Definitely opening Studio Melt (a workshop/retail space) through Renew Newcastle. I honestly don’t think I would have attempted a project like this if I had had to take out a commercial rental lease and invest in the stock up front. Opening through Renew Newcastle gave me the opportunity to test out our idea without a huge initial investment and allowed us the time to gradually build up our stable of artists and stock before transitioning to a commercial lease.


What would be your dream project?
I feel so consumed and stimulated by what I’m doing at the moment, it’s hard to imagine a ‘dream project’ being too far from what I’m doing. I would love to get my hands on a one the really iconic old buildings in the city – like the old Victoria Theatre on Perkins St and turning it into a really expansive version of what we are doing now. and converting upstairs into furnished apartments for shorts stays in Newcastle.



Just a small range of jewellery on display by artists that include Angela and Suzy plus Francisca Rendic, Aimee Sutanto, Alison Jackson, Amy Robson, Christine Battochio, Danielle Sweeney, Emma Kidson, Katrina Freene and Thea Fortmann. Photo – Froxy.


What do you consider your greatest achievement?
I think what I am most proud of is my decision (in my late twenties) to walk away from a well-paid corporate job to go to study full-time at art school. I had never thought of myself as particularly creative but slowly I had begun to paint, draw and sculpt and was enjoying it more and more. Eventually, I finally decided that creating things rocked my boat much more than my proper job. Art school was like kindergarten for adults. You got to try everything and it didn’t matter whether what you made was any good – I was hooked. I majored in Jewellery and Object Design and here I am 12 years on.


What is your most treasured possession?
Despite the fact I have a store with some really beautifully crafted things, many of which I am starting to take home – I would have to say that my family. I have a really lovely husband and two lovely rambunctious boys. Everyday I see how different they are from each other and their parents and it’s just fascinating stuff.


What does a typical day at work involve for you?
Begins religiously at One Penny Black with a coffee and a chat to one of the many other regulars trying to gear up for the day. I spend a lot of time managing the artists and stock in the shop, looking for new things to bring in, but I do try and sit at my bench and pick up some tools to make some of my own jewellery for a portion of every working day, because I like to think that’s still why I am here. If I’m honest though, I spend a lot of my day talking to people who come into the shop. I have a LOT of enthusiasm for explaining the stories behind the objects and artists we have in the store, the potential of the Newcastle CBD, the success of Renew Newcastle. Its a wonder I get anything done really.




Studio Melt combines shop and studio. Photo – Froxy.


What is your most valuable pearl of wisdom gained since starting your business?
Oooh goodness, I think running a business is glorified common sense. There are always people and services out there who know what you don’t and it’s just a matter of finding them and picking their brains. I think the most valuable thing I’ve learnt is the hardest step is having the faith to have a go, the rest is solving problems as you go.


Where do you derive creative inspiration?
I remember my first studio project at art school was making something to respond to the concept of space. I thought – ‘What?’ They asked us to come up with ten ideas, refine the best five and then actually make the strongest one. I spent 3 years doing this. Art school nowadays isn’t focused on teaching to skills to make, but instead teaching you how to use anything and everything as a starting point and develop a concept accordingly. Challenging, when you graduate and you can’t make a brooch, but great for your creative thinking. What do I derive creative inspiration from now? Sometimes architecture, sometimes form, repetition, materials and sometimes just playing around with bits and pieces I’ve found.


Which other designers, artists or creative people are you most inspired by at the moment?
One of the most unexpectedly rewarding things I have found in having the retail store are the artists and craftspeople I come across, now that I have applied myself to looking! We have a collage artist called Hollie Chastain from Chattanooga, Tennesee – whose work I find indescribably beautiful. I love the design and quality of the screen-printed cushions and wooden products from Melbourne duo Bonnie and Neil. I love the work of all 24 of the jewellers we have, who use such a variety of skills and materials, it kills me. I’m also a sucker for beautiful furniture and love almost everything at Great Dane and Jardan.



Altered antique plates make a gloriously kooky feature wall. Jewellery by Stampel. Photo – Froxy.


What are some of your favourite websites or blogs?
Absolutely definitely The Design Files. I just love the clean and clear presentation, the photography is awesome and if you scroll back through – you will see I have nabbed a few ideas from products and artists from Lucy’s wonderful recommendations. When Lucy came to visit Newcastle last year we had only just opened. I subscribed then and have been an avid fan ever since.


Apart from your work, what other interests, passions, hobbies do you have?
I’ve told you about my inability to stand up on a surf board. I love to read when I can stay awake and I would like to disappear overseas every year for the rest of my life to explore the world.



Fish wall mount wire sculpture by Sophie Toupein & Jesse Neale. Photo – Froxy.


How long have you been a Novocastrian?
We moved here about 6 years ago from Sydney. Best thing we ever did. More than slightly nervous everyone in Sydney would if they knew how good it is here.


Newcastle in a word?


What do you love and hate about living in Newcastle?
I really love the potential Newcastle has – especially in the city area. There are now some really creative people coming out the woodwork due to great initiatives like Renew Newcastle and taking advantage of the relatively cheap rents in the city to do some fascinating and unique projects. I don’t really hate anything about living in Newcastle, but perhaps sometimes I wish I could push the fast forward button on the city renewal through sheer impatience.


How is Newcastle different to anywhere else?
For me it’s a wonderful life by the beach, with all the vibrancy and opportunities offered by a city but without the ‘rat race’ of a really big city like Sydney. But ssssshhhhhhh!



Photo – Froxy.

Where are your favourite places in Newcastle / Hunter to:

+ eat
One Penny Black (cnr Hunter St Mall & Morgan St, Newcastle) or le petite deux (27 King St, Newcastle) for lunch and subo (551D Hunter St, Newcastle) for dinner, thanks.


+ drink
The Burwood Inn Hotel (77 Berner St, Merewether). Walking distance from home, feels like a very groovy living room, excellent food too. Waiting desperately for a wine bar in the CBD, a few coming and I will be first customer.


+ shop
Hunter Valley Design (149 King St, Newcastle).


+ play
Definitely at the beach, all year round. Am even trying to learn to surf myself – wish I was as flexible as my kids. My ‘pop’ looks like more of a drunken stumble to standing.


+ relax
Relaxing is for the weekends and gotta the perfect relaxation for me is a bike ride to breakfast, swim at the beach and then the afternoon at home pottering about with the family. Lucky nearly the weekend, there goes my work ethic.


What is Newcastle / Hunter’s best-kept secret?
Hmmm, beyond the amazing pool of talented creatives that I have hinted at – I would say the architecture of the buildings in the city is not-so-much a secret but something that until these buildings are restored and activated again, goes largely unnoticed. Bring it on, I say.


Website: www.studiomelt.com.au
Shop: 119 Hunter St, Newcastle NSW 2300
Facebook: www.facebook.com.au/studiomelt



The friendly exterior of  Studio Melt in Hunter Street Mall. Photo – Froxy.

Bunsom Thai Groceries

Wednesday, Apr 11, 2012

The newest grocer to Beaumont Street has the goods for Thai food aficionados.

Andrew Hills and his partner Bunsom opened this delightful Thai grocery store on Beaumont Street in 2011 and have been overwhelmed by its popularity with locals who drop by for fresh Thai favourites. 

Every Friday fresh ingredients direct from Sydney’s Cabramatta are available for sale, such as sour mango, little eggplants, dragon fruit and hairy melon. There’s also fresh Thai basil and lemongrass and everyday basics such as garlic, ginger and shallots. In fact, Andrew will purchase any Asian foods that you request on his weekly trip be it Chinese Peking Duck ($23 ea) or BBQ Pork. Place your order at the counter by Thursday afternoon.

Fridges on either side of the display are filled to the brim with containers of nam prik ong (a spicy Norther Thai ground pork dip perfect for a platter of cut vegetables), hung lay (a Northern style curry sauce) and homemade kimchi. 

It’s possible to purchase a fresh baby coconut ($2.90) from the fridge and have Bunsom open it for you to drink the fresh coconut water on the spot. Alternatively there’s bladders of frozen coconut water also available.
Beside CDs of Thai music you will find dried mushrooms, betal leave, lily flowers, galangal and bael fruit. Laksa pastes, chili pastes, fish sauces, dried salted fish and pickled mango compete for shelf space with teas, rice, traditional Thai brooms and sticky rice bamboo steamer baskets.

Bunsom Thai Groceries
128 Beaumont Street, Hamilton
0417 714 378

Mon to Sun 8.30am to 7pm


Tuesday, Apr 10, 2012

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Based in an industrial estate of Warners Bay, the Andreou family have built an emporium to satiate even the most adventurous foodies of Newcastle.

In what began decades ago as a back-street Continental grocery wholesale store in Hamilton, Bibina has grown to become the largest distributor of packaged foods in Newcastle. Lucky for us they open their doors for the public six days a week so we can enjoy their incredible range of products.  Don’t even pretend to go to Bibina thinking you’ll walk out with the one ingredient you came for. Do yourself a favour and pick up a trolley on the way in – you’ll need it. 

Each aisle at Bibina is thoughtfully curated by region and kind. To give you an indication of the range available the following are the types of flour I noted on a recent visit: tapioca, besan, maize, spelt, cornmeal, manioc, atta, soy, buckwheat and rice.   

Of course there are the food products from European countries that Bibina grew from; Italian tomatoes and coffee, Macedonian products including chutney brand Ajvar, a Greek section that includes tinned dolmades and delicious baked beans and a Dutch and German aisle that includes sauerkraut, spaetzle, Almdulec lemonade and Remia frite mayonnaise.

There’s the Chinese & Indian aisle that stocks everything from fish sauce to candlenuts, a Japanese section with everything you need to make your own sushi and more and the Indonesian section has jars of sambal oelek and Jimmy’s satay sauce. A Middle East section stocks pomegranate molasses, mallor leaves, dried whole paprika and Persian fairy floss.

You’ll find, among other treats,  tins of Mexican chipotle chilli in adobo sauce,  corn cake mix of the Venezuelan (cachapes) and Colombian (arepasde de choclo) persuasion in the South American section. In a nod the the US there’s Louisiana Pure Crystal Hot Sauce,  Hershey’s syrups, Pop-Tarts, Reese’s Peanut Butter and more. 

As cultural demographics in Newcastle grow so does the offering at Bibina. For Africans now calling Newcastle home there’s now maize meal, Pro-Nutro Corn & Soy Porridge and Bokomo Malted Sorghum Porridge. Mr Anreou’s personal recommendation is Bisto Gravy, describing it as better than his grandmother’s.

And as health needs in the community change so does the range at Bibina. For the coeliacs amongst us there’s an aisle and a vast frozen food section dedicated to your needs, including Zehnder Bread. 

Let’s not forget the cheese room that stocks mainstays, a lolly aisle with treats from overseas and bulk packaged favourites perfect for kid’s parties.  It’s easy to walk straight past the chocolate room (near the registers) and that may be a good thing for some. On my visit pallets of Hilliers Chocolate were being unpacked in time for Easter.

02 4954 6044

Mon to Fri 8am to 5pm
Sat 8am to 4pm

Greg & Audrey’s Garage

Thursday, Feb 3, 2011

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Ohh la la!  Or, rather, bellissima!

A lovely little store has opened in what is emerging to be a little pocket of surprise in the east end of town. Located at the corner of King & Bolton Streets, Greg & Audrey’s Garage is a Roman Holiday diorama.

Not only can you purchase your very own Vespa (or test ride one if you have your motorcycle Ls), all the accoutretments that go with living free and easy on the back of a moped are here in one place – scarves, totes, old-school trainers, French knickers (hello Valentine’s Day), flowing dresses, trench coats and retro helmets.


Owner Kristen believes Newcastle has all the elements to support a growing scooter culture. And it’s a fair call. While cycling can get you round much of town, distances between some areas and the hills that come between them (King St, Shortland Esplanade, The Hill & Merewether) make some places no-go zones. Public transport is infrequent and time-consuming. A moped does make sense – after all it is a cost-effective means for running about town. Hello Farmers Market! Hello Newcastle Baths!

Now you can not only buy a scooter, you can channel Audrey Hepburn riding about town.

Greg & Audrey’s Garage
1/38 Bolton St
Newcastle NSW
02 4929 2910
e kristin@gregandaudreysgarage.com.au

The Newcastle Australia Annual 2011

Monday, Nov 1, 2010

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The best of Newcastle in this 48-page A4 black and white book with a full colour cover that gathers together some of the first two years of Newcastle Productions sketchs, photographs, unseen pictures and comments by the infamous Trevor Dickinson.

Send one to Oprah! Show Kochie what it’s all about! Becks has already bagged one for Posh this Christmas.

Available only at your nearest independent online retailer HERE for one small payment of only $16.

But only for a limited time, so get in quick.

Blackbird Corner

Thursday, Jul 8, 2010

I thought it was timely that I did a little post about Blackbird Corner given the store is four years old today.

Nici packs so much homemade goodness into her shop it practically bursts with quirky, clever, adorable gifts. She patiently explains the difference between a Diana and a Fisheye camera at least a dozen times a day and curates shop windows with such amazing detail. 

How can you not step inside and nose around the nooks and crannies discovering all manner of lovely things while a real-life crow stand to order on the traffic lights outside?

This is the entrance to Blackbird Corner
(not Cooks Hill Books!).

Panda head? Yes, please!

The stacked Lomo shelf. Get ’em while you can.

Where all the good mags live.

Yes, you need a deer head clock
AND a cuckoo clock.

Nici and partner Sean (the Prawn)
design many of the tees in store.

Never get lost in Newy again with
Newcastle-specific map purses and magnets.

Crafty gifts galore…..

Blackbird Corner
70 Darby Street, Cooks Hill
02 4929 4350

Mon Closed
Tues 11am-4pm
Wed 11am-5pm
Thu  11am-5pm
Fri    11am-4pm
Sat   10am-3pm
Sun  11am-3pm

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