Inside Artist Jordana Henry’s Farmhouse and Studio In Byron Bay
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 the home of artist and gallery owner Jordana Henry, who lives and works on an expansive property in the Northern Rivers region.
About four years ago, Jordana Henry’s partner told her about a plot of land he’d seen just outside of Byron Bay. A builder by trade, he had a vision: transform what Henry remembers was a “very questionable farmhouse shack” into a comfortable, open family home and studio.
“I definitely did not have the eye that he did at the time,” the artist and owner of Byron’s beloved Yeah, Nice Gallery recalls ruefully. “But now I am so glad we moved here and made it ours!”
Since then, the space has become a creative sanctuary for this young family. Fringed by greenery, the home is full of golden Northern Rivers light, which pours through French doors overlooking the house’s wide deck. Most of the home is open plan, with a mint green-tiled kitchen flowing easily into the dining and living areas. This is Henry’s favourite space and the “heart of our home”, she says. It’s here that they eat breakfast as a family and make their coffee—a soothing ritual of togetherness before the day begins.
Just outside the kitchen, past a big servery window and stools, is Henry’s studio. It’s here that the painter, often clad in a pair of overalls or jeans, works on her colourful, abstract pieces. Sometimes she’ll play music as she draws and sketches. Other times she comes to the studio inspired with a plan.
“I’m not sure if there has been one significant moment rather than a series of moments and hard work that have led me to where I am now, wherever that is,” she explains. “I always love when I finish a body of work and send them off to the outside world.”
Hi Jordana! This series is called The Makers. What is it that you make?
I make artworks, predominantly oil paintings on linen canvas.
How does the act of “making” relate to your personality and who you are?
Making artworks is the best way that I know how to communicate. Without communication there isn’t much a human can offer, so when I don’t paint for a while I start to feel pretty flat and unheard.
Tell us about your career journey to date. Did you always know you wanted to be an artist?
I have always made artworks—ever since I was a kid I think it was always something I had in me. It wasn’t until after finishing my degree at art school that I realised it was or could be an actual ‘line of work’. I have always painted because I love it... if I make money from it then that is an added extra bonus to me.
Talk us through your creative process. Where do you start?
I start in my studio which is on my property at home. If I haven’t painted for a while or am looking for inspiration, I usually go back to basics with charcoal and paper... drawing intuitively to music or after I have read something or watched something is how I get into the flow.
What’s been the single most crucial tool or strategy you’ve used to grow your creative business?
My practice always seems to work the best when I am making artworks that I feel I need to make at that time. It always stalls or becomes stale when I start making works that I think people will like or that I think will sell really well. I have to paint with the intention that I have something I want to say that’s relevant.
What’s been the most challenging lesson learnt since you started your business?
Learning where I want my work to be and the kind of artist I want to be has been hugely challenging. It’s hard with today’s world of social media and the ‘who’s cool of the moment’ art scene age that we live in. Staying true to what I feel comfortable with whilst also keeping in mind that I have a family to feed is a constant juggle and something that I struggle with all the time.
Do you have a single piece of advice you’d give to your younger self or someone looking to start their own business?
Always get someone to look over anything before you sign! And only listen to the advice of the people you truly admire and respect. Block everyone else’s opinions out, and go with your gut!
Now, the home stuff. How long have you lived in your home?
About four years.
Did you do any renovations or make any big changes after moving in?
Yes! Luckily my partner is a builder and has made some pretty major renovations on the home. He is always coming up with new ideas and the house/ property will forever be a work in progress.
What was the thought process behind the way you’ve styled the interior?
I have definitely learnt not to pick pieces for the home that ‘go together’. I always go with pieces that I love and want to keep forever.
What are your favourite pieces in the home?
My yellow couch. It’s a couch I loved the shape of and got it reupholstered in yellow Velvet. Completely impractical with kids but I love it—it makes me happy! I also love the artworks that we have started to collect.
Do you have any special décor pieces you’re looking to add?
I’m always looking for artworks to fill the walls!
Shop Jordana's look with Olive and Oatmeal in our Build-Your-Own Bundle.
Which is your favourite room in the house?
Our kitchen! It opens up to a servery window that overlooks my studio and rolling hills in the distance. It’s the heart of our home… where Christmas Day takes place but always where we make our morning coffee and eat breaky together as a family.
What are your top tips for a well-styled bedroom, and home generally?
Comfort and make sure you wait to buy the perfect piece that you love rather than a quick fix.
Do you have any projects coming up you want to talk about?
I am just stepping back into the studio after a long break. So… watch this space!
For more from Jordana, follow her at @jordi_pordi and @yeahnice_gallery
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