Artist Leah Fraser's Unique Bronte Home Is Packed With Treasures
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 head to Sydney’s Bronte, where artist Leah Fraser lives in a book-filled home with her family.
As an artist, Leah Fraser describes herself as “very hands-on". “I feel that there is a hand to heart connection,” the painter and sculptor explains. “The language of the hands is one that I am fluent in.”
You can see this in Fraser’s work and whenever she is in the studio, working on a creative project in a style she calls “stream of consciousness” – the creative work “just unravels itself as I go”. And you can see it in her home in Sydney’s Bronte, where she has lived with her partner and children for more than two years.
When they first moved in, they needed to do a lot of work to the building. “Everyone who had been here before us had had a go, and it was very run down and hodgepodge,” Fraser explains. They renovated the kitchen, the laundry, the bathroom, the floors and replaced all the lighting with pendants. Then it was time to tackle the outdoor areas, filling them with greenery and life. “It’s only now just feeling like the garden is settled in and it’s so beautiful,” she says.
The blank canvas that Fraser first inspected more than two years ago is now a unique and art-filled family home, with paintings hanging from the walls and bookshelves piled high with keepsakes, records and paperbacks. A white backdrop – floorboards, walls and shelving is all monochromatic – serves as a base for more glamorous interior design elements to pop. Like the rich, luxuriously emerald green velvet sofa from Jardan, and a huge standalone bathtub in the bathroom, perfect for relaxing on a Sunday afternoon.
Fraser’s favourite room, though, is the kitchen. It’s here that her beloved Il Fanale ceramic light is hung, over a marble island. And it’s here that the family spends most of their time together. “We love food and entertaining, and it’s where everyone naturally gravitates,” Fraser says. “But I love the light in the front living room in the afternoons, and snuggling up there in the evenings,” she adds.
Hi Leah! This series is called The Makers. What is it that you make?
I make paintings and sculptures.
How does the act of “making” relate to your personality and who you are?
The act of making is crucially important in the kind of work that I do. Everything that I do is very unplanned, almost like a stream of consciousness, so that I never really know what is going to come. Also, I think for me the actual act of making is very key to who I am in that I feel confident with my hands in a way that I don’t feel in many other aspects of my life.
Tell us about your career journey to date. Did you always know you wanted to pursue this line of work?
I think in a way, yes I have always been on this path. I have tried all kinds of other things but I always come back to painting like a thirst.
Talk us through your creative process. Where do you start?
I guess I can best describe it as a longing to see something that is in my mind: I might have a dream that gives me some imagery that gets stuck in my head, or maybe it’s a line from a book or a poem. When I come to the canvas I will have this seed and then I let everything flow on from there.
What’s been the single most crucial tool or strategy you’ve used to grow your creative business?
I really think that for me the most important thing is that I just keep giving my practice the time and energy that it needs, as it's not really a business, and I'm just making the work that I need to make.
What’s been the most challenging lesson learnt since you started your business?
What’s been the best thing that’s happened to you since you started your business?
Learning that there is always another threshold to push through of what I am capable of.
Do you have a single piece of advice you’d give to your younger self/ someone looking to start their own business?
Have faith in yourself.
Now, the home stuff. How long have you lived in your home?
Two and a half years.
How did you initially know this was the space for you?
We had been looking for quite a long time before we found this place, and I remember standing in the master bedroom looking out the window and my friend who I was with asked me if I could see myself living here. In that moment, I knew I could.
What was the thought process behind the way you’ve styled the interior?
I think it's all just very intuitive and personal… Most things we have had for many years and it's just a slow accumulative process of collecting things that we love when we see or need them or have been handed down to us.
Do you have any special décor pieces you’re looking to add?
I'm really lusting over Pierre Jeanneret Chandigarh chairs at the moment, and WO AND WÉ lighting. I also have a lamp that I'm fantasising about but can't find anywhere, so maybe I'll try and make it myself!
Which is your favourite room in the house?
Probably the kitchen. We love food and entertaining and it's where everyone naturally gravitates, but I love the light in the front living room in the afternoons, and snuggling up there in the evenings.
What are your top tips for a well-styled bedroom, and home generally?
Be true to yourself. There are no rules. Authenticity is key.
For more from Leah, follow her at @lelefraser.
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