WONDER WOMAN // Tara Whalley, Textile Designer and Painter

Yes! Journal

WONDER WOMAN // Tara Whalley, Textile Designer and Painter

Tara Whalley is a Wonder Woman.

For her self-titled label, Textile Designer and Painter Tara Whalley creates bold printed designs of complex narratives. With the release of her latest collection 'Homely', Tara has built a surreal domestic dreamscape in which her garments are entirely at home. 

In preparation for the shoot, Tara reached out with the hope to introduce our lilac collection to this fantasy world. Featuring our Serendipity Lilac, Abundance Burgundy and All Seeing Lilac we are absolutely captivated by the series. We also took a moment to chat with Tara about her influences, daily rituals and exactly how she brought this label to life. 

Words by Alex Birch

As a Textile Designer and Painter, can you tell us a little about your story? How did Tara Whalley the label come about?

Tara Whalley began in early 2015 in preparation for We Wear Future exhibition. I had always had a bit of a dream since I was young to create a collection, growing up around a mum (now Insta Qween Anne Whalley) who had an eye for fabric and was always creating. One day I wanted to put together a collection myself. The exhibition was the perfect brief and perfect deadline - so I hand painted linen for a capsule collection. I didn't know what to expect; the samples sold well so I thought I better make some more! They sold out too.

Now, I mainly sell at the big markets like Finders Keepers, Big Design Market and Paradise Structures. I really enjoy dreaming about new collections. My textile processes have changed over the collections depending on the look I want to create. Early seasons have been more hand dyed and hand painted but I have been painting a lot so will be doing digital for the next collection.

I try to create the prints from a joyful place; I like to paint while I'm travelling, when I have fresh flowers in front of me. I want the joy to be in the prints so you are wearing something that has come from a good place and for the adventures to continue with their new home.

The vivid, almost surreal Homely lookbook is a work of art. What sort of creative process went on behind the shoot?

Oh thank you! I love the talented team behind the shoot, it takes a village!

I have been continuing the idea of rooms in a home since my last shoot - I loved building a bathroom last time, so I wanted to create another room to my imagined home, but this time more of a sitting/sun room, where perhaps you may read your books, water plants, craft, take a call on the home phone or nibble on an orange.

I have been also been watching a lot of Vaporwave music videos with my brother Lachlan so together we wanted to go with a year 2000 internet blue with statues of Venus de Milo, and fruit bowls to reference Vaporwave art. Do look it up! He helped me build all the props. Within the shoot we also had a mini story of a porcelain vase breaking. I accidentally broke that vase during the week so that was a case of art imitating life.

The team who made the magic on the day were incredible. Dulce Amor was the photographer extraordinaire, blown away by her talent! Marco Fusco is a dream stylist- he takes all the props and styles them perfectly - he has the eye and creates perfect scenes and is spot on in directing poses and shots. Jorge Viota is my go-to for hair styling - forever amazed with how perfectly looks are created. Falzon Fashion Consultants as always created the perfect make up look. Alice Hargreaves was our gorgeous model. Lachlan Whalley filmed and built the set. Tantri Mustika Ceramics leant her beautiful creations and of course Radical Yes shoes were a dream 😍

Who are your influences? What inspires you?

I'm definitely influenced by the creative women in my life, I think in a way we all can keep going, keep creating, keep dreaming because we are all cheering each other on. I always feel refreshed, energised and creative when spending time or connecting with them.  

Can you describe your work environment for us? How does this space influence you?

I work in a little studio overlooking a fully blooming wattle tree presently. I have a good sized desk so I can real life toggle between computer work and painting. I currently am trying my best to keep a selection of leafy pot plants alive but I have not yet found my green thumb sadly. I do love to be surrounded by greenery, art from friends, inspiration pictures and odd little ceramics and statues. I like my space to be a little bit quirky, and have little reminders of my friends who also work in studios to keep me solidly working.  

Do you have any daily rituals or habits that take you through your day?

I definitely enjoy a good coffee every day, and try and make time in the mornings for reflection. I'm trying to make sure I do something little and nice for me everyday, like getting a bit of fresh air, admiring a plant or listening to the birds. I tend to forget to do things like that and just work. Whoops!

I like to follow the runways and keep up to date with what's happening globally in the world of design. It keeps me feeling inspired.  I also like to put on the Wowee Podcast as motivation, as it is a podcast that interviews other designers.  

What does being radical mean to you?

Being a woman! Full stop! I'm really in awe of the women in my life and what they are achieving. They are creative, strong, and seem to have an unlimited capacity to bring their work and hustle to the next level. I also think it's radical how women will band together and support each other; the community we have is incredible.

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