Artist Kayleigh Heydon Shows Us Around Her '70s-Inspired Brunswick 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, artist Kayleigh Heydon welcomes us into her home.
If you’re a fan of bold colour combos and unconventional shapes, prepare to devour the work of UK-born, Melbourne-based multidisciplinary artist Kayleigh Heydon.
After moving to Australia five years ago, Kayleigh began experimenting with painting, and what was at first a form of creative output soon became her primary practice—and we’re all the better for it. Fluid forms and shapely silhouettes dance across her vibrant canvases, at times connecting together like an abstract jigsaw puzzle.
Her home and studio in Melbourne’s bustling inner suburb of Brunswick feels both nostalgic and contemporary, with unique artwork adorning almost every wall, and Kayleigh’s enviable ceramic collection dotting shelves and surfaces as far as the eye can see.
There’s a real retro-Australiana-meet-Laurel-Canyon vibe throughout the space, no more so than in the spectacular wood-walled sunroom (affectionately dubbed the ‘ski-lodge’) that feels pulled from the pages of '70s Rolling Stone spread.
In almost every room, vines tumble and leaves sprout from hanging pots and ceramic planters, whilst in the living room, a red brick fireplace sits below ornate art-deco inspired high ceilings.
In her bedroom, a palette of terracotta and beige pairs perfectly with artworks by Nyilyari Tjapangati and Charlotte Alldis, whilst her sun-soaked converted garage studio is unlike anything you’ve ever seen. Brimming with character and vintage charm, it’s no wonder Kayleigh feels so inspired to create from home.
Hi Kayleigh! This series is called The Makers. What is it that you make?
I make art, in lots of different forms. Mostly painting, but I also do a lot of wooden sculpture work and creative writing too.
How does the act of “making” relate to your personality and who you are?
For me, painting is a form of catharsis, a personal battle of boundaries and my natural love for rigidity and clarity. It’s about pushing myself to break those things down slowly within my work. Letting go and trying new things, loosening myself, my brush strokes, my need for perfection, using different and challenging colours. I would say there’s a clear discourse in my work from past to present. Releasing myself from my rigidity so that I can be more free in my work—and ultimately, in myself, too.
When did you start creating art and painting? And what inspired you to go down this route with your career?
I’ve always been creative and loved making things. Back in the UK, my practice was mostly 3D sculpture, installation and performance/video art. But I found it difficult to continue that practice when I first moved to Australia five years ago, so I started life drawing classes and then I started painting for the first time around age 23. At first it was just a form of creative output, but I slowly felt it becoming a central part of my practice, and people started purchasing work. It’s a bit scary to refer to my art practice as my career, but that’s what it’s become. There’s a lot more pressure on the continued success of my work. But I love what I do, and I hope I can continue to do it for a long, long time.
Talk us through your creative process. Where do you start?
I often start by looking at my most recent works and seeing what energy they have. I like to understand what essence the work has and if it’s something I want to try and capture again. I’m trying to find the secret ingredient behind my own painting, I guess. I look at what movements felt good to me. I also then look at where I could loosen up, what risks can I take this time that I was too afraid to take last time? Once I've done that, I try to forget it all, and just start sketching straight onto the canvas, sometimes creating layers and layers, before it’s finally finished and feels resolved.
What’s been the single most crucial tool or strategy you’ve used to grow your creative business?
I think social media has played a huge part in growing my audience, but mostly just good old-fashioned persistence.
What’s been the most challenging lesson you’ve learnt since you started your business?
I struggled a lot with whether I should keep my business and personal life separate, especially on platforms such as Instagram. I know a lot of artists who use Instagram for their work only and very much see it as a marketing and communication tool so they don’t polarise or isolate their audience, which I really respect. I ultimately decided on the ‘Dance like no one’s watching’ approach. I’m human too, and I think people connect with that. I have good days and bad days and I have opinions and beliefs and I think I should be able to voice them rather than silence myself to be more palatable, especially as a young queer artist.
What’s been the best thing that’s happened to you since you started your business?
I’ve been able to connect with and sometimes collaborate with so many amazing artists, writers, curators, musicians, designers and photographers that I love!
Do you have a single piece of advice you’d give to your younger self/someone looking to start their own business/go out on their own?
Now, the home stuff. How long have you lived in your home?
I’m real fresh here, I moved in about two weeks ago!
How did you initially know this was the space for you?
The aura of the house, and the people who lived here already.
Did you do any renovations or make any big changes after moving in?
I just hung a lot of artwork!
What was the thought process behind the way you’ve styled the interior?
Because I moved into a wonderful home that already existed, there was already a feeling in the house that I liked. I usually have a very specific and linear aesthetic, but I love that there was already a flavour in the house, everyone had made it their home, you can see it’s lived in and that it’s collected special things along the way and that it’s loved.
What are your favourite pieces in the home?
My favourite pieces are my Heath Newman and Charlotte Alldis artworks. Closely followed by my collection of ceramics!
Do you have any special décor pieces you’re looking to add?
I'd really love a rug for the living room I think, just to break up the colour.
Which is your favourite room in the house?
The ‘ski-lodge’ has a really nice energy but I often find myself in the dining room!
Tell us about your bedroom.
Less is more. I love my huge wardrobes so I can hide the real chaos of my life away and enjoy a very pared back and peaceful space.
What are your top tips for a well-styled bedroom, and home generally?
If it doesn’t feel imperative and special and important, don’t buy it. If you can’t imagine yourself still loving it in five years, or even next year, don’t bother.
For more from Kayleigh, follow her @kayleigh_heydon.
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