Self Portrait

Self Portrait
Holly Pepper

Tread Lightly

Currently I am undertaking an internship in Utrecht, Netherlands with the renowned design team consisting of Tejo Remy + Rene Veenhuizen. Through this blog I plan to document my design experience in Holland.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Sustainability in Context

Sustainability in design is very much dependent on the context in which the designer exists in. Ultimately primitive or indigenous culture is the best examples of sustainable design. However, it is unrealistic to expect the conditioning of Western societies to turn primitive over night. Therefore as designer we need to respond to the environmental and social context that we exist in.

For me a young designer living in Perth western Australia a concrete jungle surrounds me. Perth has an urban sprawl running effectively 100 km from North to South. It is unrealistic for all of inhabitants to abandon there homes and take up living in hollowed out logs, and sport the wears of a mere rabbit skin over the privates. As a designer it is unrealistic for me to start growing Pandanus leaves and weaving mats to feed the consumer habits of Perthites.

Instead I respond to my environmental context, and start re-using industrial waste. I pass sites of generic brick homes going up in generic suburbs and I raid the bin of these worksites and give the brick straps a second life. By using waste destined for landfill, I prolong the short life of a brick strap. The energy that goes in the producing a new raw sheet material is being saved because of the initiative I take. I am working with recycled materials, which may not be biodegrable at the end of there lifecycle. However, I feel that working with recycled materials. This is one way to work in a sustainable designer manner to respond to the consumerist context we live in and make use of our waste.

 I work best with recycled materials. When something is free I don’t have hesitation to put my creativity to work. For the time being I have plowed into this project and experienced an overwhelming sense of ideas.

 Where as if I work with a 100 % biodegradable fabric which cost 50 dollars a meter I am hesitant to put scissors to fabric. The dollars and cents scare the creativity out of me. However, to some degree this encourages and perpetuates the cycle of consumerism. However, for exhibition purposes I think I may well have to branch out into these fabrics to show a broader understanding of the sustainability topic.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Midland Junction

Last Wednesday I signed a 5 year lease for a studio at the Midland Junction Building under Artsources management. As I wondered through the rooms I hoped that I wasn't making a bad decision to move in. The place was like a hovel. Lots of dust dirty and marked walls. The chimney running through my room was covered in fat, remnants from the old kitchen cooking. As the room heated up the smell of old fat filled the room. I noticed in the latest newsletter from Artsource they did a feature story on the new Artist space in Midland, but put some very dimly lit images in of the space.

So over the weekend I pulled in the troupes. I had my twin sister and Dad in helping me scrub the building cleaning. Between us I think it took about 30 hours of work to make the studio space come up to scratch. At the end of the days work I was a bit more satisfied that I was making a good decision to move into the studio space. In time with the presence of lots of artists the flaking paint will be barely visible. I can now photograph my studio in brightly lit conditions!

Monday, November 30, 2009

The Magical 64 Pods

Finally after 6 months working on the design and construction of the Spinifex Screen for Cottesloe Sculpture by the Sea 2010 I have hit the magical 64 pods, required to complete the sculpture. 

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Reverse Art Truck

The other day I was in material heaven. I got off a red eyed flight to Melbourne and then made it my mission for the day to make it out to Reverse Art Truck. Reverse Art Truck collects industrial waste for creative re-use. I was on a mission to look for Cotton Plastic Spindles. I want the flared base of the spindles to use in my Spinifex sculpture. I was pretty fortunate to find about 60 of these random objects. So I filled up a massive garbage bag of these things and then trucked on home via public transport. I received many a curious looks, people commenting that I had a few dead body parts in my mystery bag. Along with the curious looks I also ran into a nice bloke who also tinkers about make sculptures from recycled metals.
After getting these gems home I woke up to some tight muscles from carting this bag of junk around all day and the thought that these treasures need to make it back to WA.
I have come up with a cunning plan, i have brought my bike across and I can disguise them as "sporting articles".
The Sculpture by the Sea Adventures are never endless!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Let there be light in Movember

Things have been a bit quite on the Blog front. Well let me explain... I literally feel like I have been working like a factory laborer in China. My hands are all blistered up and strengthening up with some nice callouses. The old industrial scissors are a little archaic to cut up endless meters of Brick Strapping for the sculpture by the sea submission. I think it is pretty humbling as a designer to be subjected to working like a slave on your own project. It means that I have a massive appreciation for people with hand skills and it also means that probably in future I won't be so ambitious when it comes to designing pretty pictures on the computer... because when it comes to the real deal it is a damn sight harder to create.
Luckily I have a very talented Dad who has saved me from RSI and blistering hands. Last week he came up with some more mechanised methods to cut all the plastic strips up. A pair of electric metal shears turned upside down and modified with a few guides has become my saviour.

So it is for this reason there is light at the end of the tunnel this Movember!

To perk things up even further good old Deal extreme is coming through with the goods. A set of LED flexible strip lights just arrived. I am planning on making my Sculptural piece a lit night time sculpture. However, tonight I just rigged it up to the old car battery only to be blinded by light!

On the Sustainable Exhibition design front. Well this week has been the tedious end of year clean up at Iona's Art Department. On my travels I came across a old box of test tubes which Lisa brought in a few weeks ago from a gara
ge sale. I stuck them in the kiln and fused these tubes together but at a temperature which enabled the glass to maintain it's shape and came up with a pretty exciting design idea... I will see were it goes in the next couple of weeks. 

Friday, November 13, 2009

Creative Tides Exhibition

I work as an Art Technician part time to supplement my income as an artist. Creative Tides is a professional exhibition which will be held at Iona Presentation College. It will be the third exhibition I have worked on installing and creating all the marketing materials for in the past year.

Anyway, this is the first opportunity I have to exhibit at the school, so as well as helping put the show together I will also be exhibiting. I would encourage everybody to attend.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Art Trail Exhibition Online

I am currently a Perth based visual artist. I work from a studio space at the Midland Atelier. Generally I work with creating three-dimensional works. However,

Over the past couple of years I have lead a pretty transient lifestyle. Working on painting and a drawing has meant I can express my artistic creativities anywhere around the globe. I simply role it up and stick it in the backpack and bring it back to my home-town to exhibit.

 Through my travels I have developed a fascination with photographing the interesting textural qualities of different rock surfaces. Generally I print these photographs out and develop artwork concept sketchs or on some occasions I just let loose on the canvas.


Through the reinterpretation of the rock surfaces into strong lines, shape and colours, often new and abstract images appear. The works are full of hidden surprises, after hours of sitting around in the lounge room watching these abstract works, different people spot different abstract figures and forms within my works. So I label my works as abstract narratives, if such a classification exists.


Anyway, Thanks for viewing my works in Art Trail 2009. Have fun spotting faces and figures.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Art Trail 09 Invitation

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Speaking of Climate Change

Yesterday I walked out of RTR Fm, feeling as though I had been sort of some traumatic experience. Over the past two days I have had to put my public speaking to work. I signed myself up to speak on Climate Change and Sustainability over a year ago, after returning home from Samoa But when it came crunch time it turned out to be a bit of a daunting experience for me. I would say I probably average about 20 minutes of speaking per day. Even just in the practise sessions were a I sat in the car speaking to myself, my jaw started ceasing up from talking too much.  Then when it came to the big d-days my mind went to mush and all my well thought out ideas didn’t come at as expected. I think all the acting and performing skills were granted to my sisters. So I thought I would use the blog as a forum to pretty much say what I wanted to say but in a more articulated and less nerve racking environment.

 I went to Samoa on a mission to have an environmental design experience. I thought by heading out into the Pacific on an island where imported materials are relatively expensive and hard to find, I would have a limited palate of materials to work with which would automatically prompt environmentally considerate design pieces.

Also the experience of viewing an undeveloped nation where traditional crafts and lifestyles are practiced would be a grat source of inspiration.

As it turned out I didn’t get a great deal of time to produce my own design work, but I did have strong sustainable design encounter. Samoans have not had to go full circle like western nations to realise that sustainable lifestyles are the healthiest ways of living. Instead Samoan lifestyles are living breathing and working examples of sustainability. Samoa is small and isolated but culturally the place is still rich in traditional culture. Samoa is has not progressed significantly since the colonisation of the island in the late 1800’s by Germany. The island is a prime example of sustainable living.


Samoans still practice self-subsistence lifestyles. On small ½ plots families farm the necessary foods to supply the re entire family.


Samoans fish in local lagoons to supplement their food sources.


Most people live in open fales. Traditionally these buildings were constructed entirely from locally sourced materials. The structure built from local hardwoods. The roof clad with pandanus leaves. Blinds woven from coconut palms.

Admittedly the infiltration of western materials has seen the introduction of non natural materials into the fale structure such as roofing iron.


The buildings are designed with high ceilings and are very open designs to enable the airflow to move through the building and naturally cool the building. There is no need for air-conditioning.


Homes are furnished minimally; generally a woven pandanus mat will do for sleeping. Samoans homes are not cluttered with a whole lot of material crap.


One of the most striking things in the Samoan culture is the simplicity of people’s lifestyles. This yearlong experience of living in sustainable country has made a massive impression on my life. In some ways I feel that we have indoctrinated these indigenous cultures with the idea that ‘progressive’ development should model the west. Cultures should revolve around consumerism. Instead I think that in the event of Climate Change there is a need for western nations to look at the sustainable merits of indigenous cultures. We need work to protect this culture and empower people respect there indigenous ancestors.


When I returned home, the scale of everything in Australia was the most striking thing. Here in Perth we live in extravagance.


The average home is 227.6 sqm to house approximately 3 people. Compared with the 200 sqm homes of a Samoan that house around 8 to 15 people.


80 percent of Samoans use public transport as their sole form of transport. There are just 18,000 motor vehicles and 120,000 people living on the island that equates to just over 6.6 percent of the population relying on personal motor vehicles.


We have a heavy reliance on motor vehicles. In the 12 months ended in October 2007, 14.8 million vehicles were registered in Australia with a population of 22 million people. This equates to 67 % of the population using motor vehicles as their prime form of transport.


Consumption habits are a bit out of control, we purchase new products by the season. Our lifestyles have become disposable. When comparing the lifestyles of Samoans and Australians it becomes apparent that the Australian culture is very much fossil fuel dependent. This dependence on fossil fuels is creating disproportionate levels in the Carbon Footprint that each nation makes.


Australians produce 50% more Carbon emissions than people living in Kirabati.


However, despite Samoans and other Pacific island nations being role models in sustainable living. These island states, poor developing countries will be hit earliest and hardest by climate change, even though they have contributed little to causing the problem. The international community including Australia has an obligation to support pacific islanders in adapting to Climate Change.


The push and change is not going to come from the pacific. Pacific islanders live in isolated islands in the Pacific, they have very little resources to lobby for high carbon emitters to reduce their emissions. These nations have small political weight in a global context. But this is not to say there is not anxiety being expressed in the Pacific community about the prospect of climate change.


The Samoans are concerned but in a quite humble sort of way. With 90% of people practicing Christians and 700 churches to serve a population of 120,000 a lot of praying goes on to mitigate the islands of Samoa, from the devastation from natural disasters. At the beginning of the wet season a number of church’s hold special church services to pray for the country’s protection from cyclone and storm devastation. Government officials and churchgoers are encouraged to fast for half a day for a week in an attempt to ward off cyclones.


 While I was living in Samoa Cyclone Damien hit Fiji in late December 2007 and caused some severe flooding and damage to infrastructure to the island. The cyclone was heading for Samoa and at the last moment diverted off into the Pacific Ocean. There was a bit of pacific rivalry occurring between the Samoans and the Fijians. The Samoans commented that the Fijians musn’t have been praying hard enough. I think the corruption currently going on in the Fijian government was also some of the logic behind, ‘Gods’ decision to hit Fiji with a cyclone.


With all respect I don’t think the Samoans fatalist approach will solve the problems of climate Change or divert storms from the coast of Samoa. However, the Samoans faith expresses their concern with the changing climate in the pacific.


Another aspect of life in Samoa is learning to chill out and take things easy. It is very hard to obviously raise concern and stress in a Samoan.

I worked for a small Non Government Organisation called Tagiilima Handicraft Association. The organisation is heavily reliant on Aid money, and the organisation was having trouble with being reissued with there funding. My work mates get paid the equivalent of 50 Australian dollars a week and they hadn’t been paid for over six weeks. On the sixth week of no payment the Electric Power Company arrived and cut the power to the office. This meant we had no power to work our computers and power tools. In this pretty dire situation my work mates would crack up laughing about the situation. There was no sense of urgency at the office, people just cruised about in the office. However, it was at this point that I lost it, I was fed up with the lack of action at the organisation and I moved onto a new volunteer assignment at the Samoa Museum. Six months later I returned on holiday and the same thing had re-occurred. At the reaction remained the same. People just cruise along in Samoa, the worst of situations are taken pretty lightly.


I suppose it is the fatalist response and the general relaxed atmosphere reaction, which explains why I am writing on the topic of climate change. We westerners are very reactionary. It wasn’t in my nature to chill out on such a threatening topic. Things like climate change get at you and you want to do something about it, take action. So a bunch of volunteers got to together to create a short film on the topic. We didn’t have a great deal of resources at hand. Just a sturdy old video camera and bit initiative saw us undertake the development of the short film Coral Currency takes a dive, Samoan tourisim in a warming world. For me this was a great way to get a better understanding of the specific implications threatening the Pacific Islands. I hope it assists you in putting a Pacific face to the implications of Climate Change.


To view the film follow the link to the Oxfam Website.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Souther Art Trail 2009

If anyone is feeling like a trip to Denmark in the up coming weeks than here is a good excuse. On the 26th of September 2009 a number visual art spaces will come alive with a number of different local exhibitions opening for a month long period. Karli Dore and myself will be exhibiting a series of paintings at the West Cape Howe Winery. We are currently in the process of organising an opening on Sunday the 27th of September 2009... so keep this weekend free.

You can download a copy of the Art trail booklet for all the information on the exhibition venues and artists. Visit the Art South Wa site 

Please disregard the Artist blurb on myself, it has been totally cocked up. It should read... Holly Pepper's abstract landscapes are inspired by rock faces.


Saturday, August 29, 2009

Sculpture by the Sea 2010

For a long time now I have dreamt of exhibiting in the Cottesloe Sculpture by the Sea Exhibition. So I got cracking and spent a good 12 hours pumping out the design work to represent my concept. I am not usually a last minute person but I purposely left it to the last minute on this occasion; I have a tendency to spend way to long on these submissions. Days can slip away when you refine and refine the submission content.The rate of knock backs an artist gets means that you can’t become too attached to your design concepts. But at the same time you have to have enough love and logic invested in the design idea that you can pull it off later down the track.

 Anyway, to cut to the chase my sculpture concept has been accepted by the Sculpture by the Sea selection committee. I will be one of the 60 exhibitors at the beach side exhibition in March 2010. To put things mildly I am over the moon about my selection in the exhibition. This is one big break for an emerging artist like myself. The sculpture by the sea team expects over 140,000 visitors to the event over the 3 weeks, so surely the exposure from this event will be beneficial. But I think above all the nicest part about exhibiting in this exhibition is that it is fun, it is an exhibition that makes art accessible broad target audience.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Working with a Mentor

As a young and emerging artist I feel it is pretty important to establish a mentor relationship with someone who can support you through the duration of an art project. For the next six months I will be mentored by Wilma Van Boxtel, who operates her own industrial design business Desos Designs.

 Basically Wilma is my sounding board for ideas and she acts as my sustainability consciousness. Wilma has a strong ability to pear the wild art and design ideas back to the original design brief ensuring that the products fulfill the criteria of good eco design principles.

 Choosing the right mentor is really important. I have attempted this mentoring on many occasions, without a great deal of success. Finding someone that is genuinely keen to help out is always a bonus. Someone that you feel comfortable calling up for advice is a step in the right direction.

 Wilma and I work in different ways, Wilma is very much into working in 3D modeling programs from the conceptual stage right through to the final design. Whereas I loathe working in this manner, I like to work in hands on manner, working the material itself. Despite our differences in design practice, I feel its is important to expose myself to as many different design professionals to work out a suitable practice for myself which suits my skills, interest and abilities.

Wilma has a good knowledge of marketing I think this will be of great assistants for this specific design project. One of the personal aims I have for this project is to start to get some exposure to my work. For too long now my pieces have been lovely objects, which adorn my household, it is time for me to break out and show people my talents. As well as this there is always a sense of mystery to a designers work, and a general lack of understanding of what a day in the life of designer comprises of. Hopefully with a bit of assistants from Wilma I will be able to break into the Western Australian Design scene. Having a mentor is one step in the right direction, associating yourself and seeking out professional advice which can set your work and practice on its way. 

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Green Drinks

Green Drinks
UWA University Club
Date: Tuesday 8 September
Time: 6pm - 8pm
Venue: Case Study Room and Club Cafe
Free Event!

At this event I will be screening a short film called 'Coral Currency takes a Dive, Samoan Tourism in a warming world.' During my volunteer assignment in Samoa a group of volunteers including myself, embarked on a developing a small short film that explored the impact of Climate Change on Samoa's tourism. The film was screened at the Pacific Climate Change Film Festival in Fiji and at The United Nations Climate Change Conference in Poznań. I thought I would take this opportunity at Green Drinks to share the film with a Western Australian audience, to enable them to gain a small insight into the impacts of Climate Change on our Pacific Island neighbors.

The Film Blurb-
 Pristine beaches, swaying coconut palms, turquoise waters: the images of Samoa that are conjured in the minds of people the world over. Samoa relies on it's natural beauty to attract visitors from overseas, and these visitors are vital to the country's economy. But climate change has the potential to greatly impact on the natural environment, the very thing that is so important to attracting tourists to the region. This documentary examine these potential impacts, and the effects they may have on the livelihoods of the Samoan people.

Come along to Green Drinks to view the film and have a small open forum discussion on the topic.

Please RSVP the UWA University club on +61 8 6488 8770. 

Monday, August 10, 2009

Trash catchers Robot

Over the past couple of months while I was waiting for the announcements of grants and arranging my studio space I started working on the Trash catchers project. Trashcatchers is a community arts short film project which is being run by the YMCA in Leederville. The film is going to communicate the messages of recycling, reducing and reusing in a 5 minute short film. Over the past 15 weeks a group of about 10 young people have been tinkering way at writing scripts, performing and designing costumes. My main role in the project was working out of REMIDA with Jen and Poppy to produce a Robot costume. The E-waste Robot, emerges out of the bin, and breaks out some funky dances moves in an attempt to encourage us to dispose of our e-waste responsibly.
 The E-Waste robot encourages us to recycle our e-waste responsibly, by taking your old electronics to a certified dumping zones. This ensures that all the heavy metals contained in the electronics don't end up in landfill, instead they can be dismantled and sorted into there different metals and plastics.

Thanks to Poppy Van Ord for her lovely pics of the E-Waste Robot

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Material Reuse

For the past couple of weeks I have been tinkering around in my workshop space with lots of PET plastic straps that wrap around packs of bricks. I have developed an eagle eye for worksites and skip bins. There have been plenty of occasions lately when I am cruising the streets of Perth on my bike and I spot a special piece of material on a roadside chuck out, so I rig up a novel little contraption that enables to cart the material and make my way home. Findi

ng these roadside treasures fills me with a lot of inspiration, the endless possibilities of creative uses makes my

 mind tick..


I have also been visiting REMIDA a facility, which collects clean, light industrial waste for use in creative projects. REMIDA is based in West Perth, a little too close to my home. I feel like I am in material heaven at REMIDA. I am regularly scooting back to collect more treasures. I have had to gather some restraint, to prevent my studio space from overflowing from material. Slowly my studio space grows and grows with stacks of re-usable materials.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Siapo Making in Samoa

Today I visited Makulata a local Samoan Siapo maker. Makulata lives in a remote village named Siutu in Savaii. Through the help of Samoan socialite Steve Brown, I was able to track down a lesson on Siapo making. Siapo is a natural fabric or paper fiber made from mulberry bark. At the conclusion of a skillful two-hour session session of scrapping and beating the mulberry bark a surprisingly long length of fabric appeared approximately 1.5 meters by 5 meters.

Today Siapo is just used for decorative purposes, or as tourist souvenirs that travelers purchase. However, back before the missionaries arrived in Samoa, Samoans would dress in Siapo, completely natural and biodegradable clothing.


Once again another inspiring sustainable design experience. You really have to praise the work of cultural preservationists and historians who assist in documenting and preserving these traditional practices. It is traditional practices like Siapo making that I am attempting to learn from.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Seeking Samoan Inspiration

I don’t need to read glossy design magazines for my inspiration. Instead I would prefer to go more primitive and get amongst traditional cultures for inspiration to my design work. For the past three days I have been cycling Savaii, an island in Samoa. Savaii is 300km round trip covered in lush tropical landscape

, with pristine oceans surrounding it’s shores. I am back immersing myself in Samoa for a short holiday, ten months on from undertaking a long term volunteer placement here.


On this relatively small and isolated island you still see a lot of traditional Samoan culture practiced today. People source there food by practicing self substance farming, running small scale farms to provided the family home with fresh food. A lot of S

amoans live in fales, open grass hu

ts made from various hardwoods and coconut palms. Traditionally you eat from woven coconut leaf plates. Fruit and Vegetables are transported and are sold in hand woven coconut baskets.

These guys are living, breathing examples of Eco design and sustainable living. The Despite being colonised by Germany over one hundred years ago the Samoan lifestyle has not progressed or should I say regressed to full blown western consumerist culture, traditional life lives on. Samoans humbly plod away at their sustainable lifestyles without the hype at which we acclaim for adopting sustainable practices in our western lives.


So basically living in Samoa as a volunteer over the past year has had an enormous impact on how I practice as a designer. I spent a few months questioning the need for more designs and products in our world after returning home, when in Samoa things haven’t really progressed, the genius designs have been born from tradition and the primitiveness of the culture. But when you are born with a making gene it is just inherent and you can’t stop making things, it is the process and materials that I employ that I am attempting to alter to positive sustainable design solution.


It is through this design project that I want to try to express the impact this year has had on me, exploring Eco Design solutions, which re-use or recycle. So far it has been weaving plastic straps from the jungle of masonry that surrounds me in my home context.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Midland Atelier

 The Midland Atelier is housed in the Pattern shop, one of the many buildings in the old railway workshops, based on the outskirts of Perth. The surroundings are pretty inspiring. Down below are 12 designer makers, working away at there individual businesses. My studio sits above the hive action downstairs; I am based in the Water tower, away from the dust of all the wood creations.

Since moving into the space I have managed to fill one pretty large space with all sorts of collected treasures. I have traveled to Denmark to collect all of my precious objects, which have been stashed away in storage.

Whilst working out at Midland I aim to develop a new body of work to exhibit in my first solo exhibition in early 2010. I will focus primarily on developing a range of sustainable designed floor mats handmade from recycled materials and/or environmentally sustainable certified materials. Throughout the production of these prototypes I will be mentored by Wilma Van Boxtel an award winning, Western Australian based designer who has a strong philosophy and experience in sustainable furniture design. 

Midland Atelier

Midland Atelier
The Water Tower Studio.

The Water Tower View

The Floor Mat

The Floor Mat
This is an organic looking floor mat I am creating. It was inspired by mold crawling up the wall