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Women to Watch: Nellie Peoples

HerCanberra Team

“I have memories of the walls covered in art, and every spare shelf space taken up by exotic objects that were brought back from my parents’ travels. All of these visual delights that surrounded me were a continual hint, at a very early age, of the wonders of the world that awaited me.”

Born and raised here, Nellie Peoples is the child of an artist and a scientist, which she believes influences her design practice to this day. She recalls her childhood home: “A lovely old house in Canberra’s inner north. I have memories of the walls covered in art, and every spare shelf space taken up by exotic objects that were brought back from my parents’ travels. All of these visual delights that surrounded me were a continual hint, at a very early age, of the wonders of the world that awaited me.”

It wasn’t until Nellie was on a five-month European adventure at 21 that she made the decision to leave her Masters in Architecture and study Gold and Silversmithing at art school. “I love making precious objects,” she explains. “I love that there is a possibility that these objects go on to play a role in someone else’s life; that the object becomes part of their ongoing narrative.”

Nellie’s artistic ability was recognised in 2013, when she was shortlisted and exhibited at Talente, an international competition for young professionals in Germany. “It was an incredible honour to participate in the design exposition. I was one of three artists representing Australia in the competition, and the only Australian in the metalsmithing category. It was the first time I’d exhibited overseas.”

This honour was eclipsed for Nellie by one other: “The proudest moment in my career and personal life was having the responsibility and honour to make wedding bands for my two dearest friends. It was a special moment to be at their ceremony, and to know that what I had created would be a part of the rest of their lives.”

The challenge for designers and makers is having to be a ‘Jack of all trades’. “You are the designer, the maker of the object, the sales person, the accountant, the publicist and your own boss. The Canberra art and design community is rapidly evolving and producing so many inspiring and talented emerging artists and designers. This year I really look forward to finding my feet in the industry.”

Nellie thinks we do a lot of things well. “Canberra’s multicultural festival is one of my favourite times of the year. I love being able to wander about the city centre in the bustling crowd to take in all the sights and sounds of some amazing cultures. My favourite thing to do is to explore the city on foot. Walking from place to place you get to see things that you would otherwise miss on a bike or in the car.”

It’s from the top of Mount Majura that Nellie loves to admire her city most. “It looks like a giant park, speckled with buildings. I just love sitting on the summit and watching the sun fall behind Black Mountain and the Brindabellas.”

And our biggest challenge? “Getting the rest of Australia to see how Canberra has evolved from the little country town we used to be. It has become a destination beyond the university and the public-service sectors. There are more exciting opportunities for emerging artists and designers here than ever before.”

Home page image by Lori Cicchini of Loriana Fotografia . Make up by Ali Price Makeup. Hair by Angela Pavlovic of Kosa Studio. Clothing from Canberra Centre.

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