Last winter, Shaye Hardisty made a yellow woollen coat for her friend Ketakii Jewson-Brown out of a recycled blanket. When Ms Jewson-Brown remarked it was like a “sunshine coat”, it was a lightbulb moment for the hinterland artists. They submitted an application to the Sunshine Coast Arts Foundation and won a $1000 Gifted grant for a project that will see the design and construction of seven to 10 coats that share visual stories of our unique experiences living on the Sunshine Coast.
Ms Hardisty is a sewing artist from Mapleton whose popular Instagram page Little House Seamstress showcases her cute and quirky creations.
A self-taught seamstress, she began sewing 10 years ago and makes clothes for her family and friends from recycled and sustainable fabrics. She also teaches sewing workshops and models her designs, which Ms Jewson-Brown photographs for the page.
The two share a love for the colour pink and all things fashionable yet sustainable, and began to collaborate artistically when Ms Hardisty suggested Ms Jewson-Brown do her photography in exchange for handmade clothes. Their shared passion for interesting fabric led the two to visit Japan in 2009 on a two-week fabric buying tour. They returned with 37 kilos of fabric.
They’ve also collaborated on an Instagram page called Mill Street Fashion Walk, which celebrates the street style of people in Nambour and all roads have led to the Sunshine Coat project.
“We’d been looking for a way to collaborate in our work more in this coming year and with the Sunshine Coat, it started falling into place,” Ms Hardisty says. “We’re going to create seven to 10 coats and Ketakii is going to make a photographic essay of that process of designing and creating the coats and all the people we bring into the process.
“Our intention is to collaborate with six other artists. We work out of the Makers Space in Nambour, a council-funded space, and their criteria was to be creatively active in the community. It focuses on Nambour and bringing together some community culture and art.”
Ms Hardisty says their Sunshine Coat project is still in its early stages and she needs to create a prototype of the coat to work off.
“We’ll definitely get some fabric printed for one of the coats and we’ll be using Ketakii’s amazing photography. We’re planning on printing through a company in Melbourne called Next State, which have some great ethical options.
“The fabric we’re going to use is called eco-drill and I think it’s 70 per cent recycled and 30 per cent organic cotton. It’s a really good sustainable base. Our ultimate goal is for all of the fabric to be that standard or second-hand from the Nambour area.
“One consideration is why a coat for the Sunshine Coast? We only have a couple of weeks a year to wear a coat. Coats are a big garment but they’re not gendered and can be very inclusive and they don’t need to be made out of wool.
“I really feel the coats need to be usable. I like the idea of functional art and I really want them to be worn and loved.”
Ms Jewson-Brown, a mother of two from Witta, says life for her is about creative contentment and inspiration. Collaborating on new art projects is her idea of fun and doing it with her bestie, Ms Hardisty, is even better.
“I would love to see us get lots of members of the community involved in telling us little pieces of their story and other creatives getting involved and adding to our vision of what the Sunshine Coat is,” she says.
“I’ll be helping to liaise with artists and getting photographic documentation, which will be exhibited alongside the coats. I’ll also add photos to the fabric printing.
“We’ll be exhibiting the coats but in the long run, we’d probably auction them off and do something for charity. But we’d like to build on this.
“It can start as a Nambour-based project then expand Sunshine Coast-wide and see where it can go. It’s a really good starting point for stories about place, identity, fashion and the fabric of a community and how we can showcase that; how we can weave it all together – the threads of the story. From Nambour to New York… why not? From little things, big things grow and it feels really doable and not a pipe dream.”
“I’m really excited to have the finished coats exhibited with the photography,” Ms Hardisty says. “Ketakii will be documenting what goes into making clothing – people don’t realise all those little pieces that go together.
“By winning the Gifted award, it’s that thing of ‘keep going’,” Ms Jewson-Brown adds. “You can add kindling to the fire. It’s the same with our friendship and collaboration with Shaye – we keep bouncing off each other. We’re not in it alone and knowing we can pull people in from the wider community, there’s fresh air in there.”
Sunshine Coast Arts Foundation’s Gifted program invests in talented artists to ensure their success and the artistic prosperity of the Sunshine Coast. Donations can be made at scartsfoundation.com/support-scaf.