Anna Sutherland has become a very successful young artist and designer. She tells FOCUS about her passion for textiles and her journey so far.
How long have you lived in the area, and tell us about your background?
I was born in Armidale and grew up on our family property east of Uralla. I went to NEGS in Armidale, where I enjoyed studying Visual Arts and Design & Technology to Year 12. I then studied a Bachelor of Visual Arts (Hons) majoring in Textiles at The ANU School of Art.
I found the opportunities in Canberra while pursing a creative career were abundant; there is such a fabulous creative scene down there. I worked as a Textiles & Home Ec Assistant in Canberra and Brisbane girls’ schools, before concentrating solely on my own business. A year ago I moved to Sydney, but any excuse and I am back home. I am very fortunate that my business can follow me wherever I go.
What is your label called, and what makes your products different from others?
Originally my label was Maddison Jayne, but from 2018 I have been using my own name as my label. I have found it to be a really positive change to growing my business. Putting a name to a face and products made a lot more sense to customers. My product range includes homewares and gifts, ranging from cushions to ottomans and hand printed tea-towels to toiletry bags.
My products are eye-catching, as they are bright, colourful and heavily patterned. My designs are always changing as are my colour combinations. I love to create designs and know that they are limited edition, as the majority are screen-printed and therefore I only do a short run. When expanding my product range, I created some of my designs to be digitally printed, which allowed for the use of different fabrics like velvet for my cushions.
When and why did your interest in textile design begin?
I’ve always enjoyed being creative. As a youngster I had containers full of craft goodies and copious amounts of glitter glue. After school I knew I wanted to do a B. Visual Arts, but was undecided on a major in Textiles or Print Media. When I saw the size of the print table at The ANU School of Art, I was sold on textiles. The thought of designing my own fabrics sparked a passion that I wanted to pursue into the future.
Throughout the course my main focus was on screen printing, dyeing and weaving, processes which I still use. I launched my design business in 2014 after finishing uni and a small business course. I feel like I’ve come a long way in such a short time, and yet I have so many ideas that I want to pursue.
What’s involved in your screen-printing process?
My designs begin as a simple line drawing. They are then developed and transformed on the computer into a repeat design. To screen-print my multi colour designs I have to separate each colour into a different file, so they can be exposed on to my silk screens. At the moment I send my screens and designs away to be exposed, as I don’t have a dark room or extra large exposure unit … yet!
I like to create very tight repeats; I enjoy the challenge and love seeing the design transform as I print each layer. I mix my own colours, making them as bright as I possibly can. I then print the designs on to coloured fabrics, beginning with the darkest colour, finishing with the lightest colour or a touch of white for that POP!
I have a 5 m print table in my studio (our shearers’ quarters at home) which is an absolute dream; it makes printing lengths or numerous tea towels a breeze. My favourite designs to screen-print are the multi-colour repeat designs of three or more colours.
You currently have a business in Uralla; tell us more about it?
Yes! In November last year I moved back home and opened a gift shop Anna & Co. Artisan Homewares and Gifts. My partner was heading overseas to work for six months, and I thought this was a great opportunity to open a shop and was lucky such a beautiful retail space was available – 82 Bridge St, Uralla – that I couldn’t resist.
I stock my own products and have selected products from Australian artisans and designers I have met at markets and events. I have enjoyed creating a fresh and fun gift shop, with many brands unique to the New England area. You may even meet my mum, Cathie who works in the shop when I’m busy printing and sewing; she does a lot behind the scene too. My parents and partner are all very supportive, always encouraging me to just do it! You won’t know until you try.
I head back to Sydney mid June, but I’m sure it won’t be the last time Uralla sees me. I’ll be back for sure!
What’s planned for the rest of 2019?
I’m really looking forward to the months ahead!
I’ll be FINALLY launching my indoor/outdoor cushions, which is very exciting. Its been a work in progress, sourcing Australian made and printed fabric that I am happy with. The cushions will be launched in mid April.
On the 30th March I’ll be at the Seasons of New England Expo, Hampden Park, Uralla. It’s such a wonderful event, which I enjoy being a part of each year.
Then in April I’m attending The Sydney Royal Easter Show. I have a stall in the Fashion and Style pavilion. It will be the biggest event I’ve ever done, so I’m very excited.
Until June you will find me at Anna & Co. Artisan Homewares and Gifts. It’s a beautiful space to work in, so call in and say hi.
Where can we find you?
Brick and Mortar: Anna & Co. Artisan Homewares and Gifts, 82 Bridge St, Uralla, NSW. Facebook and Instagram @annasutherland.design