Meet Miss Moresby: Rich and Intense With a Tapestry Look

Absorbing inspiration from her natural surroundings and characteristics of her home town is Melbourne artist, Sarah Rowe, or better known as Miss Moresby.

Sarah has had a strong interest in the relationship between design, space and expression and her art brings together abstract forms, contrasting colours and intense tones. The end result has lent itself to a collaboration with Nerida Hansen Fabrics that has a decorative tapestry look and transports you to the festivities abroad.

Sarah talks to our blog editor, Jacqui Taylor, about her proudest career moments, challenging herself with patterns in her art and working with Nerida.

Tell me about your studio name, Miss Moresby. What is the meaning behind it?
Moresby Street is where I spent the first 21 years of my life, in a leafy suburb close to the city of Adelaide. It’s part of my own personal history. I wanted to reference that history in my studio name.

Do you still live in Adelaide?
No. I have lived in Melbourne since 1998! I also spent five years in Sydney since then.
Outside of your art, how do you fill your days?
I have three boys to keep me very busy. I also have two dogs and two cats. I walk the dogs daily. I like to cook and garden. I like movies and good TV and I’ve always been interested in fashion. I like listening to podcasts too, often whilst I paint.

Let’s delve deeper into your creative process. Talk me through it.
At the moment I’m swinging a lot between two main ways to create an image. If I’m feeling like using oil paint, I’ll start by filling up the canvas in a very intuitive and abstract way, using ink-like acrylic paint. Because this paint is so thin and dries quickly, it’s easy to add layers and layers to get interesting areas on the canvas, some with much colour intensity. Once I’ve got some colours down I start to consider shapes and composition. At this point I decide on colours and lay down first oil areas. After this, it’s a puzzle-like game I set for myself of how many colours and patterns can I possibly stuff in there without making a big mess.

Collage has also become one of my favourite mediums and I guess my process is much the same, fitting puzzle pieces to make a composition that finds an end point almost on its own. With collage I decorate my own paper and so I’m led by the patterns and colours of the papers I’ve made. It’s a very rewarding process.

What inspires you the most with your art? Who inspires you?
Nature inspires me an awful lot, but I also pay attention to small visual details I come across in my daily life from almost anywhere. I’m alert to colour combinations and shapes interest me and of course textures and patterns from other artists and designers inspire me all the time.

I’ve always been inspired by Matisse and the Fauves, I love that movement. Also the Bloomsbury and Bauhaus movements are very inspiring. I love the work of fashion designer Stella Jean for her incredible ability to use pattern and colour so boldly altogether.

What has been your greatest achievement with your art?
I was so proud to be one of the four winners of the Kip&Co Art Series tea towel competition this year. It was just so cool to be recognised by a brand that I really like. Also, a while ago two of my paintings were acquired by the Epworth Hospital, I was told they were to be hung in the maternity ward, which was quite wonderful to hear.

Tell me about your upcoming collection for Nerida Hansen Fabrics. Is there a theme that is running across these designs?
These designs are almost like an introduction into my creative world that spans both painting, collage and digital design. Some of the fabric designs come from paintings that either Nerida or myself thought would make excellent print designs and then there’s a few that come direct from my iPad which I also love to use to mix up my studio practice.

What would be your dream job?
I think maybe I already have it.

Give me three words to describe your style.
Whimsical, rich, intensely colourful

What advice would you give artists starting out or anyone keen to explore textile design?
Be committed, work really hard and make as much work, good or bad, as possible. What’s worked for me is being tenacious and possessing an unwavering belief in what I bring to the table. Having lots of ideas and stamina is pretty useful too, because nothing happens overnight and nor should it if your looking for long lasting success.
Lastly, what is in the pipeline for Miss Moresby? 
Having just signed up to be a part of Nerida Hansen Creative, her agency, I’m thinking there’ll be a lot in store for me in 2022. I’m so looking forward to working with Nerida next year on whatever exciting project she sees working for me. I’ve got my fingers crossed for a packaging gig or maybe even a licensing deal with an international retailer if I’m really lucky!

Miss Moresby collection is available in-store and online at www.neridahansen.com.au.

@missmoresby