The multidisciplinary artist has filled the house with personal items that make it feel like her home.

| By Rachael Thompson | Home tours

Artist Clare Dubina’s Rental House Is Filled With Meaningful Décor

The multidisciplinary artist has filled the house with personal items that make it feel like her home.

Welcome to The Makers. Each week, we’re celebrating innovators, artisans, and crafters of all types, taking you on a private tour of their creative spaces. For this instalment, we tour artist Clare Dubina's studio and home in Melbourne.

Australian multidisciplinary artist Clare Dubina draws inspiration for her paintings, stoneware sculptures, and vases from the negative spaces and curves of the female figure. She creates fluid and abstract art in earthy tones that add a contemporary edge to the spaces they sit within.

Clare completed art school in 2001 at The University of The Arts in Philadelphia with a BFA and concentration in printmaking. Since then she has dabbled in various creative areas from fashion photography to visual merchanding. Her ever-evolving art practice and unique style has seen her collaborate with iconic Australian brands such as Viktoria & Woods, Tigmi Trading, and En Gold, and now, six of Clare's original works will be available as part of our inaugural Bed Threads Gallery, set to launch on 11 October.

"In April 2021, at 44 years old, I made a bittersweet decision to leave my secure job and take a chance on myself and the unknown!" she shares with Bed Threads Journal. "I have never felt more like myself than I have recently, and there is definitely something to be said that no matter what stage in life you discover how to get there."

Her eclectic rental abode is filled with meaningful décor from her father's homeland, Sri Lanka including; old wooden decorative pieces from a temple and a hand-carved elephant. "Being home is my favourite place to be, so it’s important to be surrounded by cherished and inspiring pieces," she explains. "There is something special about that additional layer of storytelling within a home that goes deeper than what it offers aesthetically."

She has also styled her home with vintage items like a wooden Indian mirror, a Moroccan Kilim floor cushion, and a collection of African stools all from various markets. These pieces bring a unique and personal quality to the abode that helps make the house feel like hers, even though she's renting.

An extension of her art, earthy tones and textures prevail throughout, from the sisal rug in the living room to the Rust Stripe linen in the primary bedroom bringing a natural and welcoming ambience to the home. The abode is also filled with both her artworks and the works of other Australian artists including Holly Terry and Mirador (Lauren Cassar). "...we swapped our artworks with each other….and there is nothing more meaningful than creators you admire wanting to add your work to their collection!"

We took a tour of Clare's unique home and spoke to her about life as an artist, her original artworks for bed Threads, and the details within her apartment.

Shop Clare Dubina's Edit.

Hi Clare! This series is called The Makers. What is it that you make?

Hello, thanks so much for inviting me to be part of this series! I predominantly make paintings, but also stoneware sculptures and vases.

How does the act of “making” relate to your personality and who you are?

Whether it was “making” in the form of my imagination or something tangible, I believe my childhood years of being alone with my creativity helped me to comfortably sit with my own company, but also at the cost of possibly being too introverted! On one hand, being able to spend full days alone in the studio with no outside contact is certainly something I appreciate being able to do, but when it comes to the need for promotion, I struggle with shyness and insecurity of not wanting to bother people. My passion to maintain this journey will be the ultimate personality-shaping tool and will hopefully see me grow as a person alongside my art!

Tell us about your career journey to date. Did you always know you wanted to pursue this line of work?

I’ve definitely tried my hand at a lot of different avenues over the years trying to find the right balance of creativity for my happiness and job security to ease the worry of my extremely talented and smart engineer father. I completed art school in 2001 with a BFA and concentration in Printmaking, but honestly had no idea where I was going to go with it at the time.

After I left school I pursued a small career in fashion photography, which ended up crossing over into a Creative Director position at a denim retail company. In the background, I was always trying to start up some sort of creative outlet, which included making polymer jewellery, screen printing soft furnishings, and upcycling found pottery with painted patterns.

My job prior to leaping FT artist was as a Display Coordinator for a clothing retailer. It was such a unique role that had me painting, sculpting, sourcing props etc., and I absolutely cherished it and the creative freedoms it allowed me to have. I initially started to revisit my uni sketchbooks in 2020, painting on weekends and after work creating a small collection to debut with at En Gold, who played a vital role in nurturing my dream to become reality.

In April 2021, at 44 years old, I made a bittersweet decision to leave my secure job and take a chance on myself and the unknown! I have never felt more like myself than I have recently, and there is definitely something to be said that no matter what stage in life you discover how to get there.

We're thrilled to feature some of your original works as part of our inaugural Bed Threads Gallery. Can you tell us a little about this collection and the inspiration behind it?

Thanks so much for inviting me to participate! This collection is an ongoing series of paintings that draw inspiration from the negative spaces and curves of the female figure. For these particular pieces, I was choosing my palette based on the Bed Threads colour range and the combinations featured in people’s homes.

Talk us through your creative process. Where do you start?

At the moment, it’s important to me to have each series inspire the next and allow the evolution of my art to happen within its own narrative. A typical sketching session happens during the evening listening to podcasts on the couch. I draw pretty quickly to try and not overthink what I’m doing and just go along with the natural progression on each page. Obviously not all the ideas are going to work, but I do keep all the rejects to go back and re-work them at a later date when my mind may see the potential in simply changing a line placement.

My ceramic pieces aren’t as planned as my paintings and are created more intuitively. I have certainly tried to sketch out shapes and ideas, but I could never translate them properly with the clay and would get quite disheartened. The freedom of the unknown within this practice gives me the space to loosen up and hopefully transfer that to my painting style at some point. I was actually going through a creative block trying to uncover my next painting series and ended up taking the time to just work the clay with no intention. It wasn’t an immediate remedy, but the result of that exercise ended up clearing the block and inspiring my new ‘Posture’ series through the shadows cast by those pieces!

What’s been the most challenging lesson learnt so far in your career?

Silencing that “imposter syndrome” voice that sneaks in from time to time! It’s a challenge to avoid comparisons to the paths of others and to feel like there is enough room in the world for your ideas to also share the space. Staying true to what you are comfortable with is imperative, whether it’s whom you choose to stock your work with or how to place a value on your work, it’s a lesson I am continually trying to navigate.

I recently read this quote “‘Success’ might just be doing your thing your way and having that be enough to feel content”, which really puts everything into perspective and keeps me grounded to appreciate where I am within my own goals, and no one else's.

What’s been the best thing that’s happened to you since you started your career?

That’s a hard one to pick, but to choose just one it would be working on collaborations. Not only is it incredibly flattering, but it's interesting how other people visualise your work in a different format or can inspire a new direction you may never have entertained the idea of. For example, I did a collaboration with Viktoria & Woods based on their SS21 Resort collection, which resulted in a series about the absence of the figure. It was an exciting challenge to pursue given that the main focus of my work at the time was the figurative form. I really appreciated how they saw potential in me being able to produce this unexpected extension of my work and still remain my artistic expression.

Do you have a single piece of advice you’d give to your younger self or someone looking to pursue a similar line of work?

My advice would be to just listen to your gut and do it all at your own pace. As much as I absolutely love the direction my life is going in now, I don’t ever wish I had done it sooner because, for whatever reason, I wasn’t quite ready. However, to completely contradict that advice, I would tell my younger self to just give it a go!

What advice would you give anyone investing in their first piece of art?

When you know, you know. If you have to think twice about whether or not you can see the piece within your space, then it’s probably not for you.

Also, if you missed out on a work of art because you were saving up for it, don’t hesitate to start a conversation with the artist about a commission piece, as the process isn’t as intimidating as it seems to be perceived as.

Now, the home stuff. How long have you lived in your home?

I’ve been here for 6 years

How did you initially know this was the space for you?

I had been previously living in a tiny dark apartment in Brunswick for about a year when I realised that getting home from work at 4 pm and getting into bed was not healthy. I wasn’t really taking advantage of what the area had to offer anyway, so decided to try and find a place with daylight. That was pretty much my only criteria! At the time I was probably too focused on window size and placement, but for the same rent as the other place and about three times bigger with a backyard, I could compromise on the old bathroom and kitchen for the sake of my mental wellbeing. I was also quite excited about the potential of having a second bedroom to use as a place to create – which at that time was weaving!

Did you do any renovations or make any big changes after moving in?

Being a rental, the only thing I’ve been brave enough to tackle was to paint the fireplace from blue to a dark brown, and that was only within the last year. I would love to give the whole place a fresh coat of paint and also put hooks in the ceiling for plants.

Can you tell us a bit about why you think art is important to have in a home?

I think it’s important because it brings life and personality to a room, even if it is through someone else’s voice, it’s still you choosing it to become part of your story because it resonated with you in some way. Being a renter, I am so grateful for 3M strips and picture hanging rail devices, otherwise, it wouldn’t feel like my home, and it would probably end up affecting me mentally not having that stimulation or connection to where I spend most of my time.

Which is your favourite room in the house?

The living room is my favourite because that's where I have found a spot for most of my treasured pieces and it fills up with the most beautiful afternoon/evening sun. It’s also where my dogs are at their happiest on the couch laying by the large front window watching the world go by.

What are your top tips for a well-styled bedroom, and home generally?

Lamps! They create such a warm environment. I think the only time I use the overhead lighting is when I'm trying to catch a spider!

Also, invest in good quality bedding and a decent mattress! I have collected the majority of my furniture, homewares and clothing through thrifting and wish I had respected the importance of this combination earlier in life.

Do you have any projects coming up you want to talk about?

I’m so excited to experience my very first group exhibition coming up on October 20th, which includes an epic lineup of 43 artists that Hunter and Folk have brought together, and is being hosted by Rainbow Studios in Darlinghurst, NSW.

For more from Clare follow her at @claredubina

Photography by Amelia Stanwix. Styling by Beck Simon.

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