Christina Newberry is a highly creative individual that works across art, fashion and styling and teaches Art Workshops as well as providing a Wardrobe Styling service. Christina’s approach is closely linked with sustainable practices that encourage us to utilise and repurpose the things we already have.
Tell us about yourself
I am an artist who loves combining elements to create art, fashion and interiors. I have a Degree in Textiles, a discipline I chose as it incorporated painting, printing, sculpture and fashion. I absolutely love working with colour, pattern, texture, shape, and form. I also have a passion and a commitment to sustainability. This passion has been ongoing for the past 30 years and drives not only my art practice but also my fashion choices and daily living. I enjoy repurposing what we already have, extending its life and creating something new that is unique and beautiful. Creativity is at the heart of my family life with my husband being a fellow artist and our offspring all drawn to various artistic pursuits.
What services do you provide?
I offer two services, Art Workshops and Wardrobe Styling, which both focus on sustainability.
Private Art Workshops, with either one or two people, are available from my home studio. I also offer the option of coming to your home or another venue to teach a group workshop. It’s a great opportunity to bring together a few friends or family members to enjoy sharing some creative time. There are several options available for creating a variety of textile items in the workshops.
My Wardrobe Styling service gives you the tools to utilise and maximise your current wardrobe, following a full review and edit. It is said that the average woman wears only 40% of the clothes they own, which leaves a huge percentage never utilised. Thinking they have nothing to wear, often leads people to just keep buying more. Clients are greatly surprised and most pleased to find just how much they did have to wear in their wardrobe. By learning how to coordinate your wardrobe effectively, stress can be greatly reduced and daily dressing becomes a pleasure. If any gaps exist in your current wardrobe, suggestions will be provided for items that would further complement and consolidate what you already have. The service is a cost effective way of making the very most of your current wardrobe. I feel so excited about dressing and coordinating outfits for myself and love clients to get to know and live that feeling each day.
Your interest and use of recycled items is great, tell us more about that?
The concept of recycling started with my mum who always mended clothing and extended the life of household objects. Whilst living in London in the early 80s I discovered my first op shop. I was hooked. In Australia several years later I started full-time study and dressed almost solely in op shop clothing. This was partly a result of being a cash-poor student, but perhaps more significantly, it provided me with the opportunity to dress in a very individual way. It has been ‘my thing’ ever since. Over the years I have been successful in discovering absolutely wonderful items, not only clothing but also furniture and homewares. I am often complimented on the way I dress, and people are very surprised to find that I am dressed top to toe in items found at op shops. It is so gratifying to be able to dress well inexpensively whilst being environmentally friendly.
You were recently in the media with your artwork, what was that for?
Yes! The London Bureau of the ABC News provided coverage on an International Embroidery Prize, hosted by one of London’s oldest embroidery houses. Both myself and one other Australian were amongst the finalists. The ABC did a personal interview with me about my entry in the Prize, which was broadcast on the national news. It was all very exciting and I was proud to be able to represent Australia with my hand-embroidered neckpiece.
What do people say about your work?
I believe people see my art as being quite innovative. This is because of the way I use materials, predominantly recycled, in a different way. For example I used a recycled vintage wood jigsaw puzzle from the op shop to create a neckpiece where all the pieces were stitched together. This piece won 2nd Prize in a Wearable Art show in Los Angles earlier this year. I have the ability to work in a very detailed way and people often remark that I must have a great deal of patience. I have a reputation for being very professional with my work as I always like to perform at a high level.
Have there been any events that have shaped you as an artist?
When my youngest daughter was born we found she had some challenging long-term medical issues. It was a very intense time and I didn’t make time to honour my creativity during those first 18 months of her life. My husband, aware that being creative was such an essence of who I am, thought it was important for me to introduce that back into my life. Deciding to get me started, he came home one day with bags of clothes he had collected from op shops and encouraged me to experiment and play with them; even if it was only for 15 mins a day! A few days later I pulled out one of the skirts and started to paint and stitch it. A week later I wore it to an exhibition opening where the skirt attracted much attention and compliments. This was the catalyst and beginning of me re-creating recycled clothing, often deconstructing and reconstructing them. I began to sell my clothes in speciality stores. This led me to teaching very successful workshops in this area from my own studio and at national textile forums. I love that about life, how different paths and opportunities can present themselves in unexpected ways. Since that time I have always made sure that I keep a balance in my life between my children, family and creative practice.
What is integral to the work of you as an artist?
A strong and innate desire and need to ‘create’. This creativity permeates every facet of my life. I enjoy the ‘conceptual’ side of my art practice just as much as the making. I have an eclectic approach to my art, which sees me work across different areas such as fine art, fashion and wearable art, and for which I have received awards. I don’t like to limit myself; I believe creativity is without borders and can cross over many areas.
Most loved project you’ve ever done and why?
This is a difficult question to answer as I have experienced a lot of joy in creating many projects over the years. I think the one that is probably the closest to my heart though is a garment of wearable art I produced called “Inheritance”. When my mum was diagnosed with terminal cancer she began a process of passing along various possessions to those she thought would most appreciate them. Mum had a whole collection of doilies, which had been made by both herself and my grandmothers. She thought I was the perfect person to receive them given my love of textiles. A year after she passed away I decided I would like to do something creative with them. After setting aside a few extra special pieces, I deconstructed the rest. I began creating flowers incorporating the pieces of doilies with hand-dyed silk from outgrown fairy skirts that I had sewn for my daughters when they were very young. Each thread used to reassemble the doilies became representational of the strands of our DNA that bind us together. The work is a visualisation, celebration and marriage of the craft and skills passed down by the women of my family from one generation to the next. I absolutely love the fact that the materials in these flowers, about a 100 of them, have been touched by 4 generations of the females in my family. These flowers formed part of a neckpiece made of recycled tulle. This garment was a Finalist in the World of Wearable Art in New Zealand in 2011 and was retained for exhibition in their Museum after the show. It’s a really emotional piece for me and I like to think that my mum and grandmothers would have thought it was a beautiful work that united us.
Favourite spots in Sydney’s Inner West?
I would definitely have to say Mort Bay and Ballast Point as I walk around there every morning. Each day I feel so grateful to live in Balmain near the harbour and have its beauty as part of my daily routine. The sense of community is very strong in the Inner West, which makes it such a wonderful place to live.