In Ainslie there appears to be an unusually high number of creatives in residence. From photographers to graphic designers, textile artists, ceramists, milliners, architects, bespoke designers, lovers of food and writers.
So what is it that makes Ainslie a melting pot of creative ideas, design and a strong arts community?
In the wake of DESIGN Canberra and the 200 plus events hosted by the festival, I started thinking about the undercurrent of creatives in our city, and more importantly the swell of suburban creative communities and homegrown design.
I know they have always been there, these dedicated and committed creatives enriching the local community by participation and sharing. But more recently, it has been in the celebration of DESIGN Canberra each November that has provided opportunity and profile to makers and designers like never before.
The open studios program during the DESIGN Canberra festival revealed the extensive network of makers, designers and artists working away in homes and backyards, immersed in their suburban studios or the collective community hubs nurturing our city’s design.
My intrigue was again sparked this month with the sale campaign launch of 58 Paterson Street, Ainslie – an iconic heritage home on Corroboree Park that is sympathetically preserved and beautifully enhanced by the design of Gina Carmody.
Gina’s obvious passion for heritage properties was clear when she shared the details of the design for Paterson Street – a timeless and beautiful timber cottage with thoughtful design elements that are careful to place a gentle footprint on its architectural integrity. The garden and home that have evolved there over time have been adaptable for family life, and are a continued celebration of an early Canberra house.
Gina Carmody is at the forefront of designing such homes. Renowned for her design, particularly in the inner and established suburbs, she contributes much of her inspiration to her own character-filled home and the lifestyle of Inner North living. Gina believes her deep connection with heritage homes and the local community is what inspires her and other creatives in Ainslie.
Knowing a number of creatives and makers who live in the Corroboree Park Precinct, I wanted to explore more. During an afternoon of cups of tea and home visits, l asked them the question: “Why does Ainslie inspire creativity?”
As my conversations deepened with each artisan, commonality was found. The heritage or story of a home, the surrounding environment, and the connectedness with nature and the local community all played important roles in the love, passion and lifestyle that influenced their craft.
Gretel Harrison, the owner of local design house FINK & Co, says the Ainslie local shops play an important role as a gathering place.
“Ainslie is a community-focused suburb,” Gretel says. “It is in community and connections that a suburb can stimulate and support creativity.”
Dimity Kidston’s heritage home is adorned with art and colour. Her home epitomises the lifestyle of a creative who works as a teacher by day and uses the front lounge as a studio by night. Dimity speaks to me of the heritage of Ainslie and the creativity she derives from the early garden city design with its wide verges, historic street trees and large gardens.
“The environment and home are daily inspirations,” Dimity says. “A heritage home is a beautiful place to live and create.”
Jodie Cunningham, known for her iconic “watermelon” cottage on Foveaux Street (also designed by Gina) and the prolific use of colour in her visual art, passionately describes her connection with Mt Ainslie as her spiritual home.
“The close proximity to nature and bush is an important and precious resource for nurturing creativity,” Jodie says. “What surrounds you can influence the way you feel and your emotions.”
Holly Komorowski is the director of boutique agency home.byholly, which focuses on selling houses throughout the established Canberra suburbs. Holly is living proof that real estate agents can be authentic, genuine, friendly and highly effective. To learn more, contact Holly on 0434 973 987.
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