• Dr. Kelsey Ashe

Background to a Creative Life

Updated: Jul 31, 2019

Pattern and repetition have entranced me for as long as I can remember. I still recall the design and colour on the tiles in my grandmother’s home when I was a small child. I remember tracing the patterns and grids in my mind, seeing how they repeated and merged into each other. Growing up in remote coastal North-West Tasmania in the 1970s and 80s, I was surrounded by pristine bush, beaches and wildlife. (I grew up near Arthur River in Tasmania, where a tourist signpost reads ‘The End of the World’. The Tarkine National Park is an ancient forest containing the largest area of Gondwanan cool temperate rainforest in Australia.)

It instilled in me a sense of spiritual awe, connection and belonging to the Australian landscape, an impression which has never left me and still remains a strong source of creative inspiration in my creative work today, usually providing that rush of impetus to start drawing. Pouring over my parents’ travel albums, images of Fijian huts and Japanese pagodas sparked my imagination early on for distant exotic dream-lands; the complete opposite of my rural, Eurocentric world, decorated with reproductions fromthe Heidelberg School.

My mother and both grandmothers were artists and craftspeople. My grandfather was a furniture maker. I grew up with the last remnants of a pioneering era of resourcefulness around me, using everyday items and raw materials to craft things that were both useful and beautiful. During the 1970s and 80s the crafts movement in Australia grew considerably and my mother was constantly making things such as giant macramé wall hangings, pottery on the wheel, sculptural vessels and drawings. Some of these treasured handmade, irreplaceable items are still with me today. My parents also designed and built three remarkable homes from the natural resources of stone and wood, illuminating for me the idea of thinking

of design in practical and aesthetic terms, and considering light, texture, scale and materiality.

You could certainly say, that from an early age I was dually drawn to the decorative exotic and to the romantic idealisation of the Australian bush and a handmade/design sensibility.

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© 2019 Kelsey Ashe