Durack arts lecturer in Perth festival week coup

31 August 2015

PRiley fabricsIt all started with a painting and a tea towel – and the future is a big, colourful canvas.

Geraldton’s Mulla Mulla Designs, named after the Mulla Mulla wildflower, is three-and-a-half years old and expanding rapidly. Durack Institute of Technology Art Lecturer in Visual Arts and Design, Peta Riley, is part of that success story.

The fabric design company has a strong, sustainable business plan and Ms Riley teaches her art students that planning is an important part of their studies if they want to be successful in the creative industries.

The Durack Diploma of Visual Arts enables students to build a strong foundation in a variety of art genres, and by special arrangement, Durack students can use this course as a pathway into the second year of the Bachelor of Visual Arts at Edith Cowan University.

“The visual arts is commercially undervalued, people don’t understand its potential,” she said.

Mulla Mulla Designs 1     Mulla Mulla Designs 2 

Leading by example, her business acumen has seen Mulla Mulla Designs, with company partner Helen Ansell, grow into a thriving, exciting retail company based on the Australian landscape. The current collection of designs are based on WA’s unique wildflowers. That’s where the tea towel comes in; the design was adapted from a Mulla Mulla painting by Ms Ansell.

Mulla Mulla Designs 3     Mulla Mulla Designs 4 

And the latest exciting project they are involved in is a bit of a coup; being part of the 2015 Telstra Perth Fashion Festival Windows of the City display, where artists are paired with Perth businesses to display their artwork.

Ms Riley said they put an expression of interest in for the Windows of the City Display and to her delight were selected and matched with the Rendezvous Hotel Central, Mount Street Perth, at the top end of St Georges Terrace, where their ‘Wildflower Rendezvous’ art blooms in the hotel foyer and front window.

“Unbelievably the hotel’s conference rooms were all named after wildflowers,” said Ms Riley

“Part of our ‘windows’ submission included using some of our fabrics. I made cushions and reupholstered some of the feature chairs in the foyer area - I was sewing like mad!”

“More of our fabrics were used to make the fabric installation based on the iconic Wreath flower which is only found in our Mid West region.”

Ms Riley and Ms Ansell are the only regional artists selected to take part in Perth Fashion Festival Windows of the City, and you could win a $4000 Perth city shopping spree by voting for their display on PerthNow at The competition runs until September 14.

Helen Ansell is a well-regarded artist who paints vibrant, colourful wildflower canvasses and Peta Riley digitally translates the paintings into fabric designs for tea towels, cushion covers, luscious silky scarves, and bolts of fabric for any number of applications, textiles and homewares.

That’s when she’s not teaching her art students at Durack or heading into the outback with Ms Ansell conducting art workshops in some remote and remarkable places.

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