Sunday, September 26, 2010

Footage of Nathalie Lete painting in Melbourne.

Such a treat to see Nathalie Lete painting a store window at Blue Illusion today in Malvern. After following her work for so long, I was really excited to meet her in person and stand there (along with lots of other people) and watch her work. Jam Fancy was there, too. A lovely gathering of crafty bloggers and people who admire Lete's work. So lucky to see Lete dip her brush and just...create something so beautiful.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Interview with Nathalie Lete

A window into Lete's Red Riding Hood world

Frances Atkinson

NATHALIE Lete's work is exuberant, nostalgic and everywhere. Blooming flowers with giant petals, bright red toadstools, battered teddy-bears, butterflies and birds; her work is story-book naive, with bold brush stokes from a boiled-lolly palette.

In the past decade the work of the Paris-based artist has become coveted by everyone from Disneyland and Issey Miyake to Chanel and, most recently, Australian clothing line Blue Illusion. Lete's unique aesthetic has blurred across a diverse array of items including clothing, rugs, jewellery, stationery, dinner-ware, ceramics, linens and colouring books.

In an email interview (her English is not strong) on the eve of her first Melbourne visit, 46-year-old Lete talks about her childhood growing up in Paris. ''I had no brother and sister so I was often alone and drawing all the time,'' she explains.

Holidays were spent with her grandmother in Bavaria where Lete spent her days exploring the forest, ''like Little Red Riding Hood''. Fairytales, ''the woods'' and the menacing threat that might be lurking there, also creeps into Lete's work: a spider dangles from a web or a wolf with a hungry look prowls nearby.

''My mother read me lots of stories when I was a child and I loved the illustrations. Even now, when I'm in the middle of nature, I can remember that feeling and I try to use it in my work,'' she says.

Lete says her father also influenced how she sees the world. ''He was Chinese. He wasn't really home a lot because he worked very hard. I remember we had a lot of silk paintings and my mother had some kimonos, which I loved.''

Lete describes her visual style as a mosaic that draws on everything from souvenirs to clashing colours.

''I like contrasting things. I think my parents had 'strange' taste and as I got older, I developed my own and now I mix both. Sometimes what I paint is inspired by stories I make up in my head. Some people might not understand this but it's an important part of how I work.''

Making a living from her art was something Lete always hoped to achieve, but growing up she was told the idea was ''impossible''. Undeterred, when she was 18, she sought the advice of an astrologer who predicted she would become an artist.

''That's why I went to art school, but it wasn't always an easy path. It's been a lot of hard work.''

Today Lete, her husband, painter Thomas Fougerol, and their two children, Oskar and Angele, live and work in a renovated 19th century studio that was once a metal factory that made pieces for the Eiffel Tower. The iconic structure features in Lete's work as a playful kitsch element that she seems to mock and embrace in equal measure.

Recently, Lete was flown to New York to paint Anthropologie's window on Fifth Avenue and this Sunday, she will visit two Blue Illusion stores in Melbourne. ''People are amazed that I find painting the windows so easy but for me, it's like a big piece of paper,'' she says. ''It's fun to draw such large pieces … it makes me really happy.''

The desire to create - whether for the crowd of bystanders she inevitably attracts, or a major label - is constant. ''I always have this feeling that I need to do something, otherwise I feel like a prisoner inside.''

Lete says that her ability to recreate certain feelings of nostalgia is partly because she feels ''disconnected" with the reality of being an adult. ''I don't like too many responsibilities, unless it's to do with my work. I like to feel protected in my world, which is probably why I'm so organised."

As Lete's popularity grows, how she manages her creative time has become critical. ''The success is great but I can't just sit on my balcony,'' she says. ''I have so much to do but I'm not a machine, I have to make sure I don't forget myself.''

Blue Illusion, Sunday 10am, 113 Glenferrie Road, Malvern; 2pm, G093, Doncaster Shopping Centre.

From: The Age newspaper

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Queen SIze Crochet Blanket FINALLY finished

Three and a half years.
Countless balls of yarn.
Hours of happy hooking.
Ta daaa.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Chapter One: Spring Comes This Way

The warmer weather is getting closer. You can see it in the early mornings and again later at night when the sky gets that pinkish glow. I don't mind winter but I'm ready for some sun, reading in the shade, picnics, bbqs and drinks with lots of ice. Speaking of reading, I've got a stack of books on the go. I usually try and read one at a time but the four books on my bedside table and the one in my handbag, tell a different story.

I've just started Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro (if you buy it from Book Depository, it's FREE shipping around the world). The film, with Carey Mulligan and Keira Knightley is out soon and looks fantastic. Set in the 1990s, the book is about three children who grew up and were educated at Hailsham School, a place where children are referred to as 'donors' and have 'guardians'. I'm not too far into the story, but it's got me completely absorbed.

Racing through Jonathan Franzen's new one: Freedom. When it comes to a contemporary take on the suburbs of North America, Franzen is a wicked genius. The book charts the lives and the demise of the Berglund family. They might look like the perfect couple with two 'perfect' teenage children, but of course, they're not. More acerbic than poignant, Franzen's take on modern life can make you squirm and laugh at the same time. Can't wait to get on with this book.

Just quickly: Naming the Bones by Louise Welsh. I saw her recently at the Melbourne Writers' Festival and she was fascinating.

Tokyo Vice by Jake Adelstein. Loving this book about an American journalist who ends up working for a big Japanese newspaper and taking on the Yukuza. He was at the MWF, too - very funny guy with so many amazing tales of his life covering the 'beat'. Made me want to jump on a plane and fly to Tokyo (again!).

Okay. That's not exactly all of the books I've got my nose in but it's a start. I'm off to get a coffee and find some sun.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Breakfast: the prettiest meal of the day.

Our breakfast doesn't look this pretty every day but a new teapot kind of demanded a little extra trouble. Loving Sophie Dahl's cookbook. I haven't actually made anything from it...yet, but it makes for good breakfast reading and the pictures? So pretty.

Woolly Winter

A friend told me about the Yarn Barn in Reynard Street Coburg, just up from the old Progress Theatre. It's a small, unglamorous shop but they have some of the best colours. I went a little crazy, partly due to the fact that I was on the home stretch with my 100 granny square blanket. These new hues got me over the line.

Some Books I've Really Enjoyed

  • Apples For Jam by Tessa Kiros
  • Saturday by Ian McEwan
  • Philip Larkin: A Writer's Life by Andrew Motion
  • The Bell Jar by Syliva Plath
  • Ex Libris by Anne Fadiman
  • Stasiland by Anna Funder

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Living, reading, crafting, taking photos, writing.