The Abbotsford Convent, in Melbourne’s inner East, is an ex-monastic 16-acre historic marvel. With 11 buildings, surrounded by stunning gardens, this site is home to 2 cafes, a radio station, a school, and over 100 creative studios, including the marvelously talented Ink & Spindle; a creative duo specializing in ethical and sustainable handprinted textiles.
History & Philosophy
Ink & Spindle was set up 10 years ago by Lara Cameron and was later joined by Caitlin Klooger. Working together for many years now, they have created the perfect creative partnership and have managed to continually produce textiles that capture the beauty of natural Australia whilst holding true to their ethical and sustainable production ideals. This is upheld through the use of hand mixed water-based, organic inks and a range of lovely eco-linens, organic cotton, hemp and yak fabrics.
Their designs are all inspired by the Australian natural world in the way of plants, animals or indigenous markings. These illustrations are firstly drawn by hand, then refined digitally, where it is then translated into a pattern and then onto the large silk screen. Screen printing in it’s own right is an amazing and classic printing technique, but mixed with designs such as Ink & Spindle’s, that’s when the art form really captures my attention. Big, bold graphic illustrations of banksias, bottlebrush and Kookaburras, in beautifully curated natural colours, catch the eye immediately and remind you of the country we live in and the beauty it withholds.
It’s hard not to be inspired to create such beauty when their environment is equally as gorgeous. Ink & Spindle’s studio is on the second floor of a recently (2018) restored 1863 building, which has been derelict since the 70s. The restoration team did an incredible job in retaining as much history as possible, being seen in the many, many layers of worn away paint jobs on the walls. The tall warehouse-like ceilings, big, chunky timber floors and artwork-like walls make for the perfect backdrop to Lara and Caitlin’s process.
They say that a work space can inspire and equally discourage creativity, well this space definitely is an inspiration. Every window overlooks lush green landscapes filled with native Australian flora and fauna, and the multitude of different studios in the building gives a great sense of bustling creative energy which is truly inspiring.
Discover for Yourself
So, have you fallen in love with Ink & Spindle yet? I truly did when I visited them, and you can too as these lovely ladies open their doors to the public Tuesday – Saturday (Friday by appointment). You will be able to visit their incredible space (as well as see the stunning surrounds of the Abbotsford Convent), watch them print on their huge 13m table, purchase rolls of fabric to make your own creations with, or purchase ready-made pillows, purses, beeswax wraps, all made with their beautiful (and ethical) printed fabrics.