" I nominate Rena because although our paths have only crossed in recent times, her passion and boundless creative energy infected me. She explores the body and movement as a vehicle for unlocking creative process. "
- Katy Svalbe
// Q+A //
1. Where is your favourite secret spot in Sydney?
Mrs Macquarie's Chair.
2. Katy asks: What work of art, architechture or landscape would you percieve successfully + wholeheartedly ' feeds the five senses'?
I love Wollombi Valley + simple timber houses there - the shape of spaces, light, colour, smell... + the Sculpture Studio of Paul Selwood + the paining studio up the mountain among large boulders - open to nature - sunny - tranquil quiet except when cicada's choir starts in summer or wind in the trees above sings its songs of birds visit.
The other powerful place is the famous Sea Ranch designed in 1970's on the north coast of California, USA by Lawrence Halprin with a group of inspired Architects.
3. How has growing up in Poland impacted your view of the world?
Life in Poland made me into a romantic + poetic seeker with philosophical views.
I love forest + mountains where I spent a lot of time during holidays. Since then I feel very comfortable + happy in timber mountain huts wherever I find them around the world.
I am also away of complex histories people inherit - sometimes I become aware how the post war stories of my childhood in Poland still traumatise me. I love music + art how it can heal.
4. What is your most favourite structure + who is it by?
- Riversdale by Glenn Murcutt at Bundanon NSW.
- Sea Ranch by Lawrence Halprin + others in North California.
- Alhambra by the century Andalusian artisans in Grenada, Spain.
- My home / Scoparia Place designed by me! (passive solar courtyard house)
5. What do you like most about Australian architecture?
Openness to nature / porosity. Allowing easy lifestyle in harmony with nature. Simplicity - good simple yet beautiful dedication celebrating life.
6. Katy asks: How does your dance + art practice influence the way you design homes?
I am inspired + moved by eros by life force itself. Life is movement. When designing homes + places, I listen to how life moves through the site. I listen to rocks, trees, wind + observe, imagine how people move. How sun rises + sets. How shadows move across the land. I like to integrate what is already there, given for free - sun, air, shadows, gardens and aim always to integrate outer landscape with the inner landscape- create continuum - light airy shaded places that comfort + delight.
7. What historical art period do you love + why?
I don't know other times really. Love the now - the time I am alive.
But after last years visit to Portugal, I am fascinated by the iron age period. The time of movement of people across Europe. Big migrations that brought Celts to England, Gypsies + Jews to Portugal, Spanish + Goths to Northern countries. Music of Galicia in the west (Portugal) + east (Romania) is so similar + beautiful.
8. Sketch + describe your dream home.
A - Open space with roof tilted towards northeast allowing morning sun in winter, but protecting from morning sun in summer - breezy open space for doing drawing morning gatherings + fireplace!!!
B - Afternoon sun in the winter. In summer, protected by wisteria.
9. What conscious decisions have you made to lead a more sustainable + greener lifestyle?
I live in a passive sola courtyard house - love it. It is open to north sun, protected by some huge turpentine trees on the west, the big multiple sliding doors remind me of the light paper / cedar screens of Katsura Palace in Kyoto. The doors open the space completely. The house foot print is quite small but it feels larger than it is. The polished, light grey concrete floor keeps the house cool in summer. Under floor electric heating + the open wood fireplace keeps it warm in winter. I work from home and like to share my space with others who appreciate good design, native gardens, good library of books, poetry, music + dance.
10. How can we make more art + less war?
It is a mental decision. Shift in attitude from consuming, reusing, achieving, completing, reaching + overreaching, pursuing + always being short of time, struggling without support.
Making more art allows us to slow down, take notice. Realise how easy it is to be satisfied, how little we need, how precious life is, how vulnerable we all are - how much joy comes from making art.
Thank you Rena, it has been a pleasure x