Spring has sprung in the Yarra Valley, the grass is green and the skys are clearing as we head into the prettiest season of the year. Over winter, there was much work happening behind closed doors, with the result being beautiful new places to visit with the opening of Coombe Cottage and Meletos of Stones. Meanwhile, lots of the artistically talented people of the Yarra Valley have been working hard to prepare their pieces for the Yarra Valley Open Studios this weekend. Growing in popularity each year, displaying a diverse range, including photography, textiles, ceramics, paintings, and so many more. To taste a sample of whats’ on offer, Oakridge Winery is hosting an overview exhibition, so you can see what takes your fancy! (and maybe indulge in a little food and wine while you are there!)
In celebration of the Yarra Valley Open Studio Weekend, morris brown is hosting a wonderful display of curios, collections, prints and paintings, all beautifully framed by local framer, Michele Tanner. Michele is the one woman show behind Michele Tanner- Bespoke Framing, and her work speaks for itself. She has had a busy time preparing other peoples work for display, but also found a little time to put together a collection of works that so suit morris brown. Take the time to study the matching of the frames, to the tiniest detail in what is being framed. It is truly beautiful. I have already mentally installed several pieces on different walls in my house! The collections of old watch faces are gorgeous, and become significant pieces when curated this way, and the over the top framing of a tiny Tasmanian Devil swap card is a stand out!
Framing is almost like the accessory to the outfit, and can make or break a piece of artwork in how it corresponds with the piece. A tricky game… Michele was kind enough to let us explore her world a little more…
What attracted you to the Yarra Valley, and how long have you lived here for?
I fell in love with the Yarra Valley when I moved out around 15 years ago, it is ridiculously beautiful here, it’s both energising and inspiring. I feel very lucky to live in the country side, i don’t have to commute and seldom have a need to travel into the city, apart for entertainment…everything is here. I feel a real part of a community here now, it’s full of such wonderful people. Our pace of life seems a lot less stressed than that of the city, there is more time to live, breathe and appreciate an idyllic life.
The Valley has a vibrant artists scene, what are some of the things you enjoy about it, and how have you got involved with it over time?
The Yarra Valley has a large artists scene and I really enjoy working with them. I appreciate the way artists can communicate emotions visually, I have found them inspiring and encouraging. I can relate to them as I am a creative soul and love to hear about what they do, how they do it. I think its fun to bounce around ideas with them, framing their work for them is doubly fun!
Often, we find our “thing” by accident, was that the case with your framing business, or was it something you always had an interest in?
My first Picture framing job was an employment add I applied for out of the blue after I had to leave my hairdressing job due to dermatitis, so many more chemicals back then! Framing Forum was the most fantastically creative job, I worked for a clever, enterprising artist, Janne Kearney and we had so much fun, it didn’t seem like work at all! After that business was sold I worked for a number of framers but never really enjoyed that much freedom and creativity, some were like supermarkets and some quite conservative and stiff. Then I started my own business and rediscovered my passion for design.
I have worked as a picture framer for around 14 years, strangely I found a majority to be absolutely boring, (sorry) but they are lacking any personal interest in art and were not what you would call creative personalities. The choice of mouldings offered was really limited… homogenised even. I think if we are encouraging people to spend once on good products we don’t at sometime regret and want to replace, we should have a real choice. There is no love in mass produced “stuff” it may be “cheap” but it has no love in it. (It also often turns out to be morally expensive)
In some ways framing can either make or break a great piece of art, by giving it the finish that elevates it to a higher level, or detracts and distracts from the piece itself. how do you ensure you find the balance and compromise required?
I always like to find out if customer has an idea of what they want…a style, an era, a colour, feel or texture…then I usually set up samples to view, including some fairly out there alternatives. Sometimes the combination that works is the last thing you expected, it is always good to view a lot of choice to be sure it’s just right. My consultations are free and there with no obligation and I am always happy to show people the different possibilities without any pressure.
I am lucky, I seem to have a good eye for my work. I have seen so many pieces framed over many years and I have a very clear view of the finished piece by looking at a corner sample. From this experience I can see if it will be over whelmed, underwhelmed or sit comfortably and honour a piece. Generally, I like to keep things looking fairly contemporary but I do enjoy going over board with particular pieces, it can take it to another level to treat an image in a special way. I have included in my work for Morris Brown a number of examples of this – another level…the tripple framed Tasmanian Tiger is by far the most elaborate, this inexpensive little swap card is treated very seriously and this extinct animal is honoured .
Favourite artist, alive, or not, local, or not (!) and why?
I don’t have a favourite artist, I do like being affected and feeling inspired by art. I enjoy a number of different art forms such as short films, mixed media- I really like films like Švankmajer’s Alice, sculptures like Lisa Roet’s with her huge Chimpanzee’s bust, Bernault Smilde and his man made indoor clouds, Julia deVille with her dark decorated victorian taxidermy. I am keeping a keen, appreciative eye on the Australian contemporary artists – Sandra Hill paintings stands out, currently at Tarrawarra’s BIENNIAL 2014 “Behind my Mask”. I also think Michael Cook’s photograph “Majority rule” is pretty special.
Framing is obviously an art form in itself, but outside of this, do you pursue any other creative passions?
I have always been very creative and I feel totally driven now (after exposure to artists around me) to pick up a brush and get painting but I’m still not quite sure where to start…I guess picking up the brush would be a start. Time to do this would be great!
Favourite places and spaces in the Valley; what do you enjoy doing here?
My favourite things to do in the Yarra Valley is to be outside, to bike ride along the trail with my kids or recently I have ridden up to Toolangi with friends. It is rather special to and walk around the weir’s or the Maroondah Dam, or spending time at the Healesville sanctuary with kids and visitors. I also can’t help but enjoy the fabulous food around the valley and it’s the wonderful, farmers markets, cafés, restaurants, cool wine bars and wineries. I couldn’t live anywhere else, it’s absolutely wonderful.
Thanks Michele for sharing your life and beautiful work with us. It has been great to watch people respond to her work with such enthusiasm. We wish everyone involved in this weekends Open Studios a very happy weekend, and with blue skies predicted, the Yarra Valley will be looking its sparkling best!!