The opening of Australian artist Pippa McManus‘ solo exhibition ‘Gypset: Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves’ last week at Friends of Leon Gallery was a huge success! Visitors poured into the gallery until there was barely room to move, in fact it was more like a dance party than an opening. The DJ’s kept the base thumping and the visitors grooving with their Drambuie cocktails, as they gazed admiringly at Pippa’s spectacular new body of work.
Gypset: Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves
Friends of Leon Gallery
82 Marlborough St, Surry Hills NSW
25 Sept – 18 Oct 2014
I was lucky enough to be part of the fabulous vibe and like so many others couldn’t resist buying one of Pippa’s bold and vivacious new works. I am now the proud owner of ‘Sacred Heart’. Pippa will be featured in Issue 007 | December 2014 of beautiful.bizarre, so stay tuned to see her incredible work in our next issue.
Along with being incredibly talented, Pippa is also an engaging and down to earth women, who gave me her time to answer a few questions so we may get a personal insight into her life and work. I hope you enjoy our interview with Australian fashion illustrator, Pippa McManus:
When did you know you would pursue a career as an artist? What was that defining moment?
Very early on in primary school, I must have been about 6 years old. Art was the only thing I was good at and that continued throughout school! I distinctly remember telling my (creative) parent that I was going to be an artist when I grew up and their answer was ‘but you won’t make any money doing that, how about you choose something else?’
Did you find formal study worthwhile, would you recommend it to young artists?
After I graduated from my Fine Arts course I dint pick up a paintbrush for at least 5 years and was scared to even put anything down on canvas. And I have barely touched a sewing machine after my Fashion Design course. I think the best thing I got out of formal study was the group of creatives I met while going through fine arts and fashion design. Looking back I think I learnt as much, if not more, from my classmates and because we are still friends ten years on, it’s like our classes continue when we all catch up.
What inspired you to create your new Mexican/Spanish influenced body of work?
While there are Mexican and Spanish influences in the collection I wanted to invent a girl that traveled everywhere. She is a gypsy and she has picked up special pieces along her travels like jewellery and fabrics and borrowed the styles of the women who inhabit the countries she visited. In some of the paintings she has been to China, Peru, Sicily, Texas and Indonesia. I started to recognise a pattern with the images I was being drawn to, different from the sweet pretty girls that I have been illustrating the past couple of years. These new girls had a bigger story and a stronger background, they are more worldly.
The opening of ‘Gypset’ at Friends of Leon Gallery was an incredible success! There were hundreds of people in attendance, all paying homage to your work. What in your experience, is the worst and best thing about an exhibition opening?
Thank you! Yes I was so happy at the turn out and the response. The worst thing would have to be the nerves I get right before the opening hour, they don’t exist till then and I have to admit I did have a bit of a melt down while getting ready for Gypset! I think it has to do with putting yourself on display to everyone and you can’t get away from the works, whether they are a success or a failure they are there staring back at you all night. The best thing would be having a wonderful gallery curator by your side the whole way. Leon was fantastic from the minute we started talking about holding the show last year, so I knew he would be just as excited and nervous on the night. It’s great at the end of the night, when everyone has gone home, to share a sigh of relief with someone too!
You live in beautiful Perth in Western Australia, post successful exhibition, what is your favourite place to relax and unwind in your home town?
Well I actually can’t wait to get home and sleep for a good 24hrs! I feel like I have been working non stop and while I did go away for a week and a half before opening night I’m a bit tired. I’m planning on spending a week down south in beautiful Yallingup at Injidup Spa Retreat in the next couple of weeks. It’s about a 4hr drive from Perth. I stayed there recently and it is in the most incredible location overlooking the bush and the ocean and close to WA’s famous Margaret River. Otherwise you will find me at The Bird in Northbridge having a beer with my girls in their little courtyard out the back.
Your beautiful unique fashion illustrations have seen you collaborate with various fashion brands, which top 3 designers/fashion houses would be your dream collaborators?
Well I’d have to choose something classic like Chanel to start with. Melbourne artist MISO (Stanislava Pinchuk) was recently hired to create some of her beautiful paper cuts for the house and I got a massive pang of jealousy when I saw her Instagram post about it, which is rare for me. The second would be a crazy London label, someone like Meadham Kirchhoff or Ashish because their clothes are insane and so fun to illustrate. And the third would be a house I have extreme nostalgia for, the first that made me fall in love with fashion so Versace for sure.
You attended Fashion Week in Paris, how did this experience assist you to develop your vision and inspire you?
I downloaded the show schedule and hung around out the front of various shows like a total fan-girl. This was after I actually attended London Fashion Week. Both of these experiences were amazing in the fact that I got closer to the goings on of international runways, and also that I got to see some of my heroes. I am so lucky that I get to attend shows here in Australia and illustrate the runway looks from the photographers pit, so it was an amazing experience to expand that internationally. In the end, backstage craziness is the same anywhere in the world but it’s only in Europe that I could ever get that close to a Suzi Menkes (British fashion journalist) or a Anna Dello Russo (Vogue editor) before or after a show.
If you could live and work anywhere in the world (other than Perth) where would it be and why?
I actually love LA for the art scene. It also feels very similar to Perth weather wise, plus I found everyone to be so friendly and happy, not unlike Perth either. It would be really fun and crazy to immerse myself in that world for a time, having never lived anywhere other that Perth I’m not sure if I would sink or swim. Also having just come back from Milan it has become one of my favourite cities in the world, I would love to spend more time there. Ooooh and Hong Kong!
Your use of bold colour is both evocative and dramatic, if “you” were a colour which would you be and why?
I was asked recently if my friends could choose three words to describe me what would they be? And one of those words would defiantly be pink. I’m not a Barbie pink kind of girl but if you laid out a bunch of objects in front of me in various colours I would always choose the pink one. My hair was also pink for a couple of years up until a month ago so it’s a pretty natural choice.
Who is the greatest inspiration/influence on your work?
There isn’t really one person, I think it’s the whole fashion industry that influences my work. The designers, the models, the controversy, the history and most of all the seasonal changes. I love that one little trend can set off a whole exhibition or collection for me and in six months time there is something new to be inspired by.
You clearly love fashion, which designers best encapsulate your own personal sense of style?
I am kind of in the midst of a struggle with my personal style. I’m quite an adventurous dresser normally but because I’m in my home studio 9-5 everyday I’m finding I’m quite sloppy and lazy and never really get that inspired to make an effort, really bad for someone who claims to be in the fashion industry! For events, weekends and parties I love wearing something brightly coloured or crazy or vintage. Again I don’t think I could choose just one!
Where to from here? What have you got planned for late 2014 and 2015.
I have an exhibition opening on the 10th of December in Perth, it’s a collaboration with a stylist, model, hair stylist, make-up artist, photographer and florist. It’s called ‘In Bloom’ – we did a photoshoot about six months ago from which I will be painting. There will be between 6 and 10 works and the photographer Caitlin Worthington will be exhibiting her photographs from the shoot too. And who knows in 2015, another exhibition or two maybe? I hope so anyway!
Leon Krasenstein [Friends of Leon Gallery, Owner & Curator], Pippa McManus & Danijela Krha [Editor-In-Chief, Beautiful Bizarre Magazine]