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Quick interview with Gracia Haby of Gracia & Louise


Happy New Year everybody. Our final interview for the holiday period evolved into a 'true or false' quiz for Melbourne-based artists Gracia Haby and Louise Jennison, AKA Gracia & Louise. Together and independently (but most often together, and most often with a four-legged friend or two), G + L are very prolific makers, doers, dreamers - delightful to follow on the gram. The image above is from their new artists' book, Prattle, scoop, trembling: a flutter of Australian birds, 2016 - which is currently on display at the Mornington Peninsular Regional Gallery. Kind thanks to Gracia for taking the time to write, and to both she and Louise - for always being willing partners to our projects and flights of fancy.


MS: True or false ... Louise draws all the animals and Gracia creates the collage?

GH: More true than false. Yes, Louise is at home with a 2B Staedtler pencil and a brush for colour wash, whilst I prefer a small pair of scissors, and my brush is for dipping in the glue jar. Our digital collages are a fusion of both, though they are created in similar layered vein to those created through fine cut and paste.

You've been creating and making for some time now?

True that, too. We’ve been making artists’ books together since 1999. Upon last count, we’ve released 87 titles (unique state artists’ books, and limited editions of 10, 25, and 50). How we work together has slowly changed to accommodate our ideas and we have distinct roles. However whilst these roles are distinct, they are above all flexible. Ultimately, whatever the work needs is how the roles are shaped. Our collaboration is as organic as it is fastidious, and it is founded in harmony.

You currently have work on display in an exhibition at the Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery, entitled 'Birds: Flight paths in Australian art'?

True. Indeed we do. Until the 12th of February, 2017, you can see our artists’ book, ‘Prattle, scoop, trembling: a flutter of Australian birds’ on the gallery wall. In this piece, Louise’s drawings are created in response to the collage pieces. Hence, an Australian king-parrot (Alisterus scapularis) seen resting upon a man’s knee in a cabinet card composition, in the drawing appears within splendid foliage of red berries. In addition to this piece, we also have a print, ‘Underneath Soane’s ‘star-fish’ ceiling, the library at No. 12 proved anything but quiet’ (2016), and Louise’s artists’ book, ‘A Flight of Twelve Southern Hemisphere Birds’ (2013).

You have, full-time, two cats and one dog (but perhaps a few others on the books)?

True. We have Olive (11-year-old black and white cat), Lenni (2-year-old Siamese cat), and Lottie (3-year-old Jack Russell terrier with the pins of an Italian greyhound). We also shelter Misha (11-year-old tabby), and care, with a neighbour, for Frank (9-year-old ginger tom), both of whom were abandoned. And two kittens we’ve nicknamed Trouble and Squeak come over to play in our back garden. A back garden that is also home to an elderly singing canary, and visiting bird (rainbow lorikeets, doves, and sparrows) and possum (brush and ringtail) life.

One of you used to dance and sort of still does?

True. Many moons ago now I donned a leotard and undertook classical ballet training through until late Secondary School years. Now I get to sit still and see a lot of dance, and later write about it for Fjord Review. And if hand weights in first position count, Barre Body classes for the head and the heart.

One of you is a very competent/confident home DIY-er?

True. Louise is brilliant with a spot of maintenance and property upkeep. Replacing washers, unblocking sinks, sawing branches, patching gutters, minor rewiring, replacing floorboards…. hoovering the roof, polishing the chimneys, you name it. Must be that Art School resourcefulness coming into play.

You are both really looking forward to 2017?

True. True. Absolutely. Again. Here’s to a year with more of the good and challenging bits! For you, us, everyone.