Lisa Marie Corso is back today to introduce you to another talented ‘New Kid’ on the Blog. Sydney-based Kenya Peterson is only 13 years old (!!) but her sculptures have already caught the eye of many Sydney stylists, as well as retailer Sarah O’Neill of Small Spaces – we have no doubt she’s destined for very big things! Lisa caught up with Kenya and her encouraging mum Georgina Brown to learn a little more about this unsuspecting wunderkind! What a clever cookie. – Lucy
Hanging straw sculptures by 13 year old Sydney based Kenya Peterson! Photo – Sean Fennessy.
Kenya shows us one of her sculptures. Photo – Sean Fennessy.
Kenya Peterson with one of her sweet handmade sculptures, outside her family’s Sydney apartment. Photo – Sean Fennessy.
I don’t know if Generation Z actually exists, or if it is a concept in my own mind. But if Sydney based 13 year old Kenya Peterson is anything to go by, I think the next generation is in very good hands. While most tweenagers born on the cusp of the new millennia are keeping their minds occupied with One Direction and onesies, Kenya has a little entrepreneurial hobby that is keeping her quite busy once the 3pm school bell chimes.
Kenya is a teenager, but is also an artist. She’s a little more wise and worldly than your average year 7 student, having moved from her native Sydney when she was five, and spent the last few years living in Colorado, Oregon and Los Angeles in the USA with her family, before returning home to Sydney last year. It was at elementary school in Portland, Oregon that Kenya’s passion for creative arts was first ignited, after being encouraged by her favourite teacher in art class. The result? Her very first sculpture.
Upon moving to Los Angeles, where the standard teacher to student class size ratio was 1:40, Georgina (Kenya’s mum) decided to home school Kenya, and was keen to incorporate lots of art on the home syllabus. Here Kenya continued to develop and refine her intricate sculptures with that unfettered intuitiveness and imagination of a child, much to the ‘Did my kid just make this?!’ surprise of her mother.
Kenya avoids over-thinking her creations, instead working fluidly, allowing each sculpture to dictate it’s next move. She also has that enviable gift of restraint, and knows exactly when to stop working on a piece. Created from drinking straws (!!), the sculptures are very light weight and have a ‘floaty’ quality, they are beautiful displayed either on a wall of a surface as singular pieces, or grouped together to create a larger work.
When moving back to Australia late last year, Kenya was able to bring just one of her sculptural creations with her. It remarkably survived the flight unscathed, and was soon positioned pride of place in her family’s new apartment. Family friend Sarah O’Neill of Sydney store Small Spaces noticed it immediately, and asked Kenya to make some for her store – where they literally walked out the door. Kenya has been making her sculptures professionally ever since. Being only 13, she hasn’t quite realised the impact of her work just yet, and is more concerned with whether the increase in pocket money is enough to upgrade her wardrobe with the latest leather Converse!
Kenya creating a new piece. Photo – Sean Fennessy.
We asked Kenya a few questions about her work –
Hi Kenya! I think our readers will be surprised to know that these intricate sculptures are made by a 13-year-old Sydney girl! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I have lived all over the world, we moved from Australia to America when I was five. We lived in Denver, Colorado then Portland, Oregon and finally LA. I am happy to be back home in Sydney. I am currently in year 7 and my favourite subjects are art and music. I am really enjoying metal work this term.
When and why did you start making these sculptures?
Mum has always encouraged art and craft at home. When we lived in Portland, Oregon I went to Buckman Elementary, an art magnet school. I had a great art teacher, Mr Simmons, who really encouraged you to be creative. That is when I first made the sculpture.
When we moved to Los Angeles Mum decided to home school me, so she made sure I did a lot of art.
How would you describe your sculptures and what type of things influence your designs?
I like how light and floaty they are, most people think they are going to be heavy but they are not. I like the shadows they create on the wall too. When I make them I just try to get interesting shapes.
Your sculptures are hot property! With all your new clients no doubt your pocket money allowance has grown in size! What are you currently saving up for and why?
I have a birthday coming up so I have a few things on my wish list. I want a new phone, Nikes and a backpack I saw at American Apparel!
What do you want to be when you grow up?
I have no idea yet. Watch this space!