Adelaide-based artist Julie White is a big pop of colour in a small package. We speak to Julie about her colourful designs and what it was like to create a scarf for The Ghan’s 90th anniversary.
INTERVIEW Sarah Deer
PICTURES Ron Furner
How did you first get into textiles and designing scarves?
Since I was a kid, I loved to draw. I started my creative career making clothing and studying fashion design, but I felt an ongoing compulsion to draw. I’ve always had the vision to make art wearable, and found I could combine my love of art, fashion and textiles in making scarves. I love the freedom of making bold prints for scarves. Fashion can have seasonal restraints, so I love that my scarves can be worn trans-seasonally over time like a collectible piece in the wardrobe.
Your designs are very bright and fun with a strong Australian influence. What do you think it is that draws you to this style and theme?
I can’t stop being inspired by the beautiful and unique flora and fauna of Australia. Perhaps it’s something to do with memories of growing up here and travelling or visiting family in rural Australia surrounded by the bush. Whatever it is, I’m ever inspired by the Australian landscape for the colour, wilderness and mystery. I love making bold and bright artwork that has a playful, joyful aesthetic. I think wearing something that makes you feel uplifted is very important. If I can somehow help people feel this way while expressing their own personal style, then I’m very happy!
You recently travelled on The Ghan Expedition from Darwin to Adelaide. What was your favourite part of the journey?
Waking up every day to look out the window and see the landscape completely transformed from the day before!
What elements from your rail journey most inspired your design for the limited-edition Ghan 90th scarf?
Travelling The Ghan from the top end of Australia to the bottom was an absolute feast of inspiration. It was hard to capture it all in just one scarf! I was really inspired by the changing landscape and the flora and fauna seen in every location – from tropical plants and giant termite mounds in Darwin, to the desert park flowers in Alice Springs and rainbow opals in Coober Pedy – the scarf evolved to capture the landmarks of the journey like a memory captured in time. It was really exciting to work with Journey Beyond collaboratively too and the result is a beautiful contemporary travel scarf. Ninety years is a fantastic achievement and it’s been an honour to be part of the journey.
Talk us through the process to create one of your beautiful scarves.
I draw wherever I go and am constantly thinking of the next print. Travelling is such an immersive experience and I love taking my sketchbook with me to capture ideas I’m inspired by. When I get back to the studio, I further research ideas and try to tease it out until a theme emerges. Every print starts on paper. I begin drawing lots of motifs with colourful acrylic inks, marker pens and gouache. Once I’ve built up a collection of drawings, I scan them into the computer and collage them into a scarf print. Most of the work making the prints is by hand, but the final artwork is printed digitally onto silk in limited edition. This is very much how I designed The Ghan 90th scarf.
You also designed the dress featured on the front cover of this issue, which is also be on display in our Artist in Residence exhibition in Adelaide. How did you create the dress?
It was a fun project to showcase The Ghan 90th scarf and transform it as a dress. It was created using layered multiple scarves, draped across the body and the red looks stunning on location at the Breakaways – the perfect kind of ‘outback glam’ which I love!
If you could have any celebrity wear your scarves, who would you pick and why?
Cate Blanchett – she always looks fabulous and I love her contribution to the arts.