Meet Your Maker: Sydney designer Christina Mclean

Author: Maggie Scardifield
Photography: Will Horner

Sydney designer Christina Mclean has been addicted to colour and pattern since she was a young girl. "I remember being enamoured by the scales on fish I used to catch with my dad, and the patterns in the leaves of the plants my mum used to grow," she says. Mclean has designed prints for leading Australian fashion designers such as Sass & Bide, Romance Was Born and Bianca Spender, but in 2014 she took a step back to start her own creative business, Trade the Mark. As a "mark maker", as she calls herself, Mclean handcrafts the likes of indigo-dyed linen napery, cheese platters and hanging planters - each ceramic piece painted with bold underglazes and then sgraffito-etched with fine, graphic lines.

You work across art, textiles and ceramics. How do you balance all of these media, Christina?
They all feed each other in many ways. I tend to sit with one material for a while, then there's an organic shift and I move to the next. One thing in common with my textiles and ceramics are the marks I put on them. Whether it's a piece of cloth, ceramics or paper, I stare at the form and it speaks to me - a blank canvas, waiting to be filled with print.

Your St Peters studio is an Aladdin's cave. How do you make it work?
I open my studio to the public and to stockists, so it's a showroom as much as it is a working studio. There's a lot of wetclay flying around when you throw, so I contain the wheel work in one corner, and when I'm painting my textiles, I need enough space to be able to step back and see the piece from a distance, so I hang a lot of work within the space, too.

How have your experiences in fashion influenced Trade the Mark?
I've experimented a lot with dyes, printing and painting on fabric with my fashion design work. I remember developing prints for Sass & Bide in the early days. To see a print you'd worked on go down the runway at London Fashion Week is pretty amazing. We're the sum of all of our experiences - and I'm a mark maker, committed to the slow tradition of hand-craftsmanship. Trade the Mark, from $55, 0431 600 700, tradethemark.com







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