29 August, 2023
Each piece is made by hand, slowly, on the Mornington Peninsula, and is imbued with connection and care.
Read all about Emma Shepherd of Sundance Studio as she shares her creative journey to weaving, her biggest inspirations and what has been the biggest challenge as a creative. Emma's work encompasses everything Provider is about, focussing on slow-made and well-made products while paying homage to the ancient art of weaving.
We honour the ancient craft of weaving, the structures passed down through generations, and the tactility of natural materials that have been used for hundreds of years.
Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do?
I’m a weaver, based on the Mornington Peninsula, Victoria, and make work that exists at the intersection of art, craft and design. I make functional, utilitarian pieces like cushions and tableware, in conjunction with art based pieces and hangings.
How did you first get into weaving and what do you love most about it?
I came across weaving during my degree in Textile Design at RMIT and was immediately drawn to it - the slowness and repetition, as well as the tactility of the yarns. I love the process of building cloth from start to finish, it’s incredibly satisfying.
Who or what inspires you and why?
I always come back to three iconic weavers, Sheila Hicks, Anna Albers, and Lenore Tawney. They were (and Hicks continues to be) incredibly talented, trailblazing women. I am inspired by material itself, an interesting material is foundational to the final piece.
Talk us through a day in the life of Emma Shepherd?
Lot’s of coffee in the morning, and straight up to the studio which is just behind the house. At least a few hours of weaving a day, although this is always broken up with all the tasks and errands of life. I also work two other jobs so my studio days are condensed!
What do you find are the biggest challenges being creative and running your own creative business and what advice would you give your past self?
A big challenge would be maintaining a quiet determination when being a maker doesn’t feel like a financially feasible, long term plan. Although there are many ways to always be learning, growing, changing, I think it’s more of a mental strain than most realise to persevere while questioning. Advice I would give myself is to be patient! It has taken me years to develop an eye and style (or rather, just better work) , and so many incredible opportunities have come over time. But it doesn’t happen in 6 months from launching a website, despite what the internet may portray.
What was the proudest moment in your career?
The hems I wove for the Malachi Theatre in Oberon was a pretty monumental project for me - it was thrilling to weave something that large (30 meters long, 80cm wide). It was a very immersive experience, having taken my loom up to NSW and woven almost everyday for weeks. The theatre owners, Lucy and Johnny, were incredible to have made it happen, along with a grant from the government.
Do you have any other hobbies or something you love to do that people may not know about?
I show jump and compete with my horse Lou!
What does home mean to you?
Home is feeling grounded at the farm, it’s the dirt road I walk my dog on a few times a day, it’s the routine of feeding all the animals. It’s a place for all the beautiful things I’ve collected, and a place were I am together with my family.
You created some beautiful cushions for Provider House, can you tell us a bit about the process and inspiration?
I loved working on these cushions, there is such a lovely synchronicity between Provider Store + Provider House and my style - a deep appreciated of the Japanese aesthetic and material approach. Tara sent through a few pictures, of a vase, some tatami, a Japanese ink illustration, and based on this imagery I designed a simple plaid. I wanted to create something that spoke to the beautiful surroundings of Provider House, the earthy tones, something that was simple but thoughtful and hopefully stands the test of time.
Favourite book or movie?
Sheila - Weaving as Metaphor.
Guilt pleasure food?
Frozen violet crumble cheesecake.
Next travel destination?
Vietnam + India!
Morning person or night person?
Cats or dogs?
Best song to start the day with?
Kape Fear, Elder Island
Tell us a maker/designer/creator we need to know about?
God, too many to list!