Clementine Stoney Maconachie is a sculptor of precise and evocative works. She grew up on a big hill outside Albury with her parents, grandmother, and an ever-expanding garden. Clementine was born of artistic lineage, surrounded by her mother's abstract and landscape oil paintings, and credits the creative immersion of her childhood as a key influence in her art. Her work is centred on simplicity, embracing imperfection, and contrasting of hard materials with soft shapes.
Clementine predominantly sculpts with metal and stone, and in 2015, founded the creative agency The Visuals. In conversation with Clementine, we discuss her seeking inspiration from "Isamu Noguchi, Barbara Hepworth, Henri Matisse, Frida Kahlo, and all the amazing women who came before and did awesome things." And Clementine notes she is often hit with ideas in moments of in-between, when driving, waiting, or daydreaming. Clementine channels her life's energy into art and family, and we were humbled to talk with this grounded and impassioned woman.
“Shape, line and contrast are the other things that inspire me. It always comes back down to these things, and the relationship between them.”
“An idea can strike anywhere, often when driving, waiting for something, or just daydreaming.”
“I have a large amount of shiny, sparkly, fancy clothes for a life I don't lead.“
What drew you to the practice of sculpture?
I’m not sure what originally drew me to sculpture. I grew up surrounded by art and sculpture. For as long as I can remember I have been drawn to sculptures. I love contemporary art, but I didn’t study art at school, choosing workshop instead, which I adored.
What do you enjoy about it?
I enjoy everything about it. I just love turning an idea into a physical object. It's very satisfying.
What inspires your creative practice?
Oh, so much. I definitely get inspired by materials. If I come across a building material or anything that I haven’t used before, I love thinking of the different things I could create with it. Shape, line and contrast are the other things that inspire me. It always comes back down to these things, and the relationship between them.
Tell me about your day-to-day. Where do you live?
I live in a little terrace in Edgecliff in Sydney’s eastern suburbs. It fronts onto a park which is really calming and especially incredible being that it’s so close to the city.
What does a typical day look like for you?
A busy breakfast with the five of us getting ready and out the door. I drop the kids, Maximilla, Hendrix, and Matisse, at school. I then continue to my studio in Alexandria and get to work or play. If I'm in the studio, I am making. It's a short day in the studio, so there are not many breaks, as I need to be back for school pick-up. But I have two long days thanks to some after-school activities. On those days I can really get into the zone.
What is exciting for you about the current Australian creative landscape?
I think in challenging times there is an opportunity if you look for it and have the capacity to adapt. I feel like a lot of creativity has come out of this crazy period in our lives. For me personally, it changed my business. It pushed me to do the things I really wanted to do but was not able to be all-in with, due to taking on other work and projects.
How would you describe your personal style?
It’s pretty eclectic. I have a good range of staple wardrobe pieces that I have collected over years. I then have a few fun statement pieces. I have a large amount of shiny, sparkly, fancy clothes for a life I don't lead. They’re there just in case, so I’m all set if I get invited at the last minute to a black-tie event, an opening, or some other formal occasion.
Who are some of your favourite designers (local and international)?
Locally, I love Esse Studios, Matteau, Sir the Label, Macgraw, Camilla and Marc, ARTCLUB, Sarah-Jane Clarke, Lee Matthews and Kit X. Internationally, The Row, Celine and Dries Van Noten.
Is there a piece from your wardrobe that you ‘can’t do without’?
A great pair of jeans, a leather jacket, perfectly worn t-shirt. I love a classic, well-made, quality staple piece. Then I need something with a bit more personality, like a kimono, some interesting sunglasses, something a little extra.
Who are your idols?
Isamu Noguchi, Barbara Hepworth, Henri Matisse, Frida Kahlo, and all the amazing women who came before and did awesome things.
What or who is currently inspiring your world at the moment (music, art, literature, etc)
Margel Hinder, the Australian-American modernist sculptor. I just finished the books ‘Mythos’ and ‘Heroes’ by Stephen Fry, so all things surrounding Greek mythology. I’m also looking forward to seeing what Cj Hendry does for her ‘STRAYA’ show.
Describe your workspace - where is it located and what do you need around you to feel creatively motivated?
My studio is located in Alexandria in Sydney’s Inner west. I don’t need much to feel creatively motivated, just materials or offcuts, so that when I think of something I can test it out straight away. It does mean the studio is always full of bits and pieces, but often it's just looking at one of those bits in a different way which will be the catalyst for the next series.
Can you briefly describe the creative process of creating one of your artworks? From idea inception to the final piece.
An idea can strike anywhere, often when driving, waiting for something, or just daydreaming. Then it sort of just floats around in my head for a while. If it happens in the studio, I usually try to make it straight away, but otherwise, it evolves in my head until I have a chance to realise it or test it out. Today I had one while waiting for a doctor's appointment. I made it this afternoon, and now I can feel a whole series coming on. Other ideas are still waiting patiently to get made. Then there are other sculptures that seem to just happen with little or no plan. They come out of holding something in my hands, and just playing, or testing if something will work.