Creative Catch Up with Rachel Burke

We’re incredibly excited to welcome for her Finders Keepers Debut, Brisbane’s very own tinsel maven Rachel Burke. Rachel has been sharing her colourful and sparkling world with fans for over 10 years, creating custom tinsel garments, art installations and exhibitions that give us a little insight into her mind. We recently caught up with her to learn more about her creative journey, what she does for creative play and what you can expect at her stall this May.

If you have ever wanted to get your hands on some magical merch, trinkets and home decorations made by Rachel herself, come along to Brisbane Finders Keepers this May 20-22 at the Exhibition Building Brisbane Showgrounds.

Tell us a little bit about what you do and how you got started?

I call myself a multidisciplinary artist because I love working across various mediums.  When I was in high school, my art teacher put on my report card that I would be advised to just pick one thing and master it…but it’s just never been possible for me to do!  And so, I continue to play across many mediums, enjoying making wearable art pieces, sculptures, paintings, and installation works.  I have a love for all things nostalgic and aim to majestify the mundane through techniques of obliteration and transformation through naive materials.  

I got started on this journey in my parent’s garage.  They gave me this space to work in after I dropped out of the Victorian College of the Arts Musical Theatre course (go figure)…and work in it I did!  I started sewing and making nonstop. I began a blog where I would document all the things I made.  From there, things really snowballed as I got more involved with the making community and started to really get some experience in what was possible. I worked as a designer and eventually started styling the fashion editorials for Frankie Magazine – which was just the most wonderful experience through which I had the chance to work with many fantastic local creatives.  It’s been over 10 years now since working away in this little garage, and goodness me, what an adventure it has been so far!

What’s something we might not know about you?

Hmmmm, perhaps that I have a very side-line love for writing?  I worked at a bookshop for 5 years (RIP BORDERS) and studied literature and creative writing at university (in addition to all the other things I studied without finishing ha!).  As such, I’ve always had dreams of writing a young adult fiction extravaganza or kids book…without giving too much away; I’m hoping one of those dreams might come true soon!  

On a trivial note I am also one of those people who really doesn’t like coriander. It really does taste veryyyy bad to me.

We think you’re pretty courageously creative! What keeps you inspired and motivated?

Aww that’s lovely of you to say!  Gosh, sometimes it really does feel like it takes a bit of courage to continuously put work out for other people’s eyeballs to consume…it can get a bit scary sometimes – particularly if you’ve ever received a negative comment or review of your work.  But I think the actual practice of creativity keeps me really motivated because at my core, I really do enjoy making and sharing things so much. I don’t think I would have been able to sustain what I’ve been doing for so long if I didn’t enjoy the physical toil involved with producing…I would have burnt out to a crisp long ago. 

To stay inspired I love reading artist autobiographies and watching documentaries on artist/designer practitioners and I find a lot of pep by following creatives on youtube and listening to podcasts.  Also, whilst it’s been hard to do this over the last few years (looking directly at you Covid) I find inspiration by connecting with other creatives and participating in physical workshops – at the moment I’ve really taken to pottery!  

What is your creative guilty pleasure? What do you do for creative play and creative self-care?

Haha watching the Real Housewives and making badges for 8 hours at a time?  Guilty as charged!  Reality tv and crafting to me go hand in hand!  It’s a match made in trance-like heaven! 

As mentioned, I am really enjoying some pottery at the moment doing a hand building course at Dabbler’s studio (Bonnie Hislop’s baby) that I’m really enjoying. This is an excellent exercise in creative play because the stakes are really low, and it’s all about learning, having fun, drinking tea, and just enjoying the process of making some work.  I think it’s really important to have some outlets that are purely for enjoyment and fun – even more so when you get to physically connect and chat with other humans too.  If the last few years showed me anything, it was how bad isolation from other people can be for my mental health – I need to engage and connect with others or I really don’t feel my best.  But as much as I love play-time and trying to do all the crafty things, self-care for me really comes in the form of taking a proper break from the studio and being with my family, friends and poochie.  Simple things like a daily walk with my dog Daisy, having a delicious dinner with my partner, or playing cars with my kiddo are often all I need to fill up my cup and they do me the world of good.  As much as it’s a cliche…finding a balance of things that light you up is really important – it just can’t be work work work all the time. Believe me I’ve tried it, and it’s really not conducive to good mental and physical health.

Where’s your favourite place to get inspired in Brisbane?

I really do love a little arty day at QAGOMA – I find it very inspiring to just take my time wandering around the gallery and then doing some sketching in the outer grounds.  Second, though, I always find a lot of inspiration in materials and have to say a little jaunt to the Bead, Trimming and Craft store near Stone’s Corner will literally light my spirit up! Rows and rows of beads and sequins! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…bead still my beading heart!

What can shoppers expect from your stall at this event?

They can expect to see something very sparkly and colourful! This will be my first time selling my badges, wall hangings, and accessories in a physical setting, so am EXTREMELY excited. I’m also hoping to be selling some new prints and tote bags too!

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