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Laura Jones, Alex Standen and Mirra Whale

Homes

The shared home of Sydney artists Laura JonesAlex Standen and Mirra Whale is extra special.  The presence and immense talent of each artist is felt all around this house. The walls are hung with large artworks by both Laura and Mirra, as well as a host of their artist friends, while almost all of the ceramic tableware in the kitchen was made by Alex, and is used daily.

There is a certain magic between these three likeminded housemates that really feels like sisterhood.

29th April, 2015

The shared home of Sydney artists Laura Jones, Alex Standen and Mirra Whale.  Large painting by Laura Jones, which is currently included in her show at Hawkesbury Regional Gallery, until May 24th.  ‘Our artwork is on high rotation for this reason!’ says Laura. Couch is Laura’s, cushions from EDIT.  Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Looking from entrance hallway through to living room. The top painting is by the girls’ close friend Ben Quilty, and is a portrait of their other friend, artist Luke Sciberras. The bottom painting is by Laura, and depicts another artist friend, Clara Adolphs. Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Living room, with painting by Guy Maestri and wall drawing by Mirra Whale. Ceramic lamp and little blue mountains on the mantle piece made by Alex Standen. ‘There is a little piece of all of us in the image’ says Alex. Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Dining table made by Laura’s brother Elliot for her 30th birthday. Elliot’s business, Telegraph Rd, is based in the mountains where he and Laura grew up, he makes bespoke hardwood furniture.  A variety of vintage chairs, some from Mitchell Rd Antique Centre. Alex’s handmade bowls are scattered on the table… ‘we have a love of all things hand made’ says Laura. Even the ceiling lamp is made by Alex. Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Kitchen, newly renovated by all three girls. ‘This picture reminds me of how amazing a transformation our kitchen has made!’ says Alex. ‘It used to be so dark but our friend Celia Gullett found this amazing window on the street, Mirra knocked a hole out of the wall to put it in, and then suddenly we had the most beautiful bright kitchen’. The plate hanging on the right above the sink is by their friend and fellow artist Luke Sciberras, and all the ceramic bowls are made by Alex. Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Kitchen detail.  Kitchen bench made by Laura’s brother, Elliot Jones aka Telegraph Rd. The leather drawer pulls were handmade by Mirra from a recycled old leather handbag, an idea from a friend. ‘The handbag had a few bad memories but now it’s a beautiful detail in our lovely kitchen’ says Mirra. Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Amazing collection of handmade ceramics in the kitchen -most are made by Alex, with a few from travels and other ceramic artists. They are eaten off daily! Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Kitchen looking back to dining area.  The kitchen bench was also made by Telegraph Rd, whilst the leather drawer pulls were handmade by Mirra from a recycled old leather handbag.  Drawing on wall also by Mirra. Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Butcher’s block salon hang in the dining room. Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Alex’s room. Painting above bed by Celia Gullett, lamp found in a second hand shop in Braidwood. Two plates on the wall were given to Alex by an old ceramics teacher. ‘They are beautiful ancient Chinese examples of two firing atmospheres… reduction and oxidation, it was one of my first lessons as a ceramicist and such a lovely fife from a favourite teacher’ says Alex. Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Hallway detail.  Painting by Mirra on the right. ‘Our hallway is always changing with different paintings on the walls and flower arrangements’ says Alex. Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

View from hallway through to Laura’s bedroom, with a landscape painting by Mirra in the foreground. The walls in both the hallway and in this bedroom room are floor to ceiling pressed tin!  The portrait above the bed is a painting of a family friend Laura made in 2012.  The rug is Mirra’s. Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Laura’s bedroom, featuring another painting that has since fled from the house to Hawkesbury Regional Gallery for Laura’s current show there! Artwork the bedside table by  an artist called Marty Baptist, bought at an Alaska Projects show. Lamp found at a second hand shop in Melbourne. Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Mirra’s room. Painting above the bed by friend and fellow artist Luke Sciberras. Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Sydney artists Alex StandenLaura Jones and Mirra Whale at the home their share in Petersham.   Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Amber Creswell Bell
Wednesday 29th April 2015

Today’s home is a little like a modern day urban artist colony – a space where creatives live, work and interact, inspiring each others’ practices. In this case, the three creatives who share this beautiful little house on a quiet backstreet in Petersham are Sydney artists Alex Standen, Laura Jones and Mirra Whale. With an impressive art pedigree between them, it would be impossible for this house to be anything short of beautiful!

Alex, Laura and Mirra are close friends, and have each spent significant amounts of time moving around, and living outside Sydney. But late in 2014, they all found themselves back here, and in need of a home.  As it happened, there was a home in need of some love from them!

Mirra and Laura moved into the place in late September 2014, which was at the time painted in a questionable palette of blue, magenta, purple and yellow!  Though they’re renting, the owner of their home is known to them, which has given Mirra, Laura and Alex the freedom to significantly improve the place and make it beautiful.  Soon after moving in, they wasted no time in throwing themselves into a renovation, ripping up carpet and painting walls. ‘We have such a colourful array of paintings, rugs and objects that we decided to paint it all white. There is nothing like painting a house before you move in, it is like a new canvas’ explains Mirra.

Not shy of a power tool and some DIY-style home demolition, the girls’  most impressive project has been the renovation of their kitchen.  ‘I have a history in hospitality and a love of cooking, so for me the kitchen is the heart of a home,’ explains Mirra. ‘An artist friend of mine, Celia Gullet, gave me a beautiful stained glass window that she had rescued off the street, and the house is a weather board cottage, so I literally cut a hole straight into the side wall, sanded and repainted the window and put it in,’ Mirra details.

The presence and immense talent of each artist is felt all around this house. The walls are hung with large artworks by both Laura and Mirra, as well as a host of their artist friends, while Alex’s ceramics are sprinkled liberally around. Almost all of the ceramic tableware in the kitchen was made by Alex, and is used daily. And there is no shortage of flowers – beautiful, sprawling arrangements constructed by Laura, who worked part-time as a florist whilst at art school.

There is very little in this home that doesn’t have a story to tell. Almost everything here is second hand, handed down from loved ones, or handcrafted. The dining table was a 30th birthday gift for Laura, made by her brother Elliot, whose business, Telegraph Rd, is based in the mountains where he and Laura grew up.  The new kitchen was largely Mirra’s creation, right down to the handmade leather drawer pulls, cut from an old handbag. Alex made the plates and bowls the household eat from daily, as well as the terracotta lamps hanging in the lounge room, and over the dining table.

‘Likeminded’ is an understatement when describing the synergy of these three housemates. There is a certain magic here that really feels like sisterhood. It is clear that Laura, Mirra and Alex each derive great enjoyment and support from living together, and operate more like a family unit than as housemates. Alex reflects on how nice it is coming home each night after a day in the studio, and finding ‘two lovely souls to chat to about similar creative struggles or triumphs.’

Mirra sums up the home these girls have created perfectly – ‘We set it up as a place to constantly build on, a community that is inclusive of every aspect of our lives, and the people who come and go, in such meaningful ways.’

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The Design Files acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers, and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files. Please email bea@thedesignfiles.net