‘I always worked with fabric even as a kid. I started working in the rag trade as an apprentice cutter in Flinders Lane in 1962 and then was heading in to bridal and thought; if I’m going to do bridal then I need to know something about hats. The very first piece of felt I picked up and blocked, I went, “Ahhh, that’s what you’re meant to do.” You’re working in three dimensions rather than working in flat pattern work.
‘I still do a huge amount of sewing but now I teach hard and soft sculptured costume. It’s kind of a combination of millinery and costume. I’ve been lucky. I’ve had lots of big jobs and lots of fabulous work to create. The last job I did was Aladdin – it was lovely… but Star Wars, Phantom and Moulin Rouge were also great.
‘I’ve been a milliner for 55 years and I just turned 71. That was why I had the blue beard done because it was my birthday – my birthday beard.’
‘Creativity means coming up with something from almost nothing. If you want something original then some of that is going to happen with you being an ordinary person working with unusual concepts. But some of that is also going to come from your own individuality – you will look at an ordinary thing but bring your own perspective to that – the way you formulate the story for example because of your background. I think we all need to embrace our inner weirdness. We need to keep it weird.’
Graeme Simsion, author of The Rosie Project and The Rosie Effect.
‘Once you get to a certain age, you’re not so consumed about looking around for how people perceive you. You start perceiving yourself in a different kind of way and start trying to expand who you are.
‘Sometimes I feel like I’m behind. I have friends who are in corporate jobs. Fluorescent lights are nice but I’d much rather have my hands in the dirt. I’ve embrace an artistic lifestyle and I have no fear that money will come. It doesn’t really matter.
‘It feels liberating in a way. You’re more in tune with things. You see things and you draw creativity from it and that fulfils you – it’s the best. It’s frightening too. You have to make something from it because you have no other choice. You have to go forward.’
‘A few years ago I completely stopped watching TV and stuffing my brain with all this stuff I don’t need to worry about and stuff the media throws at you. After I completely stopped watching TV, reading newspapers and everything, just every day I’ll go home and it will be quiet. I’ll maybe put on a bit of music and I’ll pick up a pencil or some clay and start doing something rather than being brain dead in front of a TV. I’ve found in the last few years I’ve really opened creatively. I made a glass bridge last week with a mirror underneath it so it looks like you’re standing on infinity. It’s crazy. I like playing with stuff and illusions and things sort of optically – brain fuckery! A little bit of brain fuckery never goes astray!’