Sunday, 25 November 2012

profile ivy & lil - jenny pemberton - webb.

jenny pemberton-webb of ivy & lil

When I discovered the label Ivy & Lil a little while ago I let out a shriek of excitement. Although I have seen art and homewares inspired by Australian road signs, I'd never seen any which struck a chord quite like the ones created by Jenny Pemberton-Webb, the mastermind and creator behind Ivy & Lil. After two decades working in the arts, it was a six month road trip which inspired Jenny to head down a different path and utilise the graphic roadside motifs to create screen printed cushions, tea towels, greeting cards and decorative artworks. I've always been drawn to the 'old school' sign which depicts a lady in a mini crossing the road with a child, and when I saw Jenny's cushions embellished with the iconic image, I it was ingenious! I love Jenny's work and I am sure you will too, you can checkout here entire range here.

How would you describe yourself in five words?
Energetic, kind, creative, passionate and determined.

What was your childhood dream?
To change my name to Sharon.

What led you down your current path?
I have spent the last two decades working in the arts in various roles predominantly around project management and public art. My own art practice fitted in where there was time and I painted for my own fulfilment. Then in 2010 while on a six month road trip around Australia with my husband I realised it was time to give my creativity a much stronger voice, and the idea for Ivy & Lil evolved.


What do you love most about what you do?
Being a printmaker I’m hooked on process. I’ve always loved the buzz you get when you lift up the screen to reveal the print you’ve just created. My eyes run over every detail taking in the depth of colour, the edges of the print and how well the colour sits on the linen – I love that! I also enjoy the diversity of skills that you need. Taking care of all aspects of Ivy & Lil from the designing and making to the promotion and administration is really exciting for me.

Where do feel most inspired?
Travelling in outback Australia where all the noise of life gets turned off and your thoughts are so much more pure and uninterrupted. When we go away I always come back with a jolly great list of what to do next and a clear sense of direction.  We’ve been on three more remote outback road trips in the last two years, so now it's part of how we live.

Who do you admire?
As well as keeping an eye on my peers including artists and makers who are a few years ahead of me, I admire artist Miranda Skoczek for her use of colour and composition and the beautiful work of sculptural basket maker Harriet Goodall. I am completely moved by the work of the late Rosalie Gascoigne and her ability to express artwork that is so totally Australian in its content, colour, materiality and scale.

What challenges have you had to overcome?
My inner critic needed some managing when I was starting out and getting everything set up. These days it doesn’t get so much air time, but it's never too far away!

What attracted you to the signs?
My attraction to road signs is really focused on their simplicity and graphic qualities. I’m interested in how you interpret them in new ways once they leave the road and enter a domestic setting. They seem to offer something nostalgic and humorous.

What struck you about the signs and why were you inspired to reproduce them? 
After hours and sometimes days of travelling through the outback, I was always amazed when coming into a small town at just how many signs there were. They are so familiar, relatively unchanged for decades and our brains process them immediately. I loved the idea of taking them into a domestic setting and repurposing them onto soft backgrounds such as cushions and tea towels.

What hurdles did you have to leap over in order to reproduce the images?
Before I could use the designs I obtained permission from the authority that owns copyright of Australian Standard Roads Signs and we entered into a license agreement. Some of my products use the designs in their existing graphic form whilst others are my own designs that use road signs and symbols as inspiration.

What's been a 'pinch yourself' moment?
Recently one of my favourite pink fluoro cushions featured in the 2012 winter Dulux promotion on their website and printed catalogue. It was selected by renowned stylist HeatherNette-King so I was rather chuffed!

What are your top creative resources?
*I simply LOVE all the home and style magazines.
*Daily life including the colours and patterns that appear all a round me.
*Time out - to think through ideas, tease them out, draw them up.

What is your idea of happiness?
The open road and an endless horizon.

What's next?
New designs and colours are evolving all the time and I’m loving the whole process of refining and expanding what I’m doing. I’d really love to learn how to reupholster chairs so this is a new skill I’d like to master.

When the weekend rolls around what do you love to:
Watch- Pablo our whippet running around at the park.
Cook- An oven bake combining lean meat and roasted vegies
Create- I’m learning to knit.
Listen to- These days I’m enjoying peace and quiet, no music, no TV or background noise, just the silence.
Dream about- Having a sleep in.
Look forward to- The next road trip to some impossibly remote place.