Q&A with Charlotte Haywood and Ed Horne

NORPA is proud to welcome local dynamic duo Horne & Haywood to the creative team of Djurra as set and costume designers. Here we take a little time with Ed (Horne) and Charlotte (Haywood) so that you can get to know them better…

What were you doing this time 10 years ago?
Charlotte H — Working in the film industry in Sydney.
Ed H — I was Production Designer on a TV show Guerilla Gardeners and finishing my B.F.A. in Sculpture at COFA that I deferred from at RMIT in 1998!

What has been your proudest creative project to date?
Charlotte H —  My last exhibition, which Ed made this amazing multi-narrative structure, Green Asylum (2017). It exhibited at The Australian Design Centre, and is a large-scale experimental textile and video installation that blurs the boundaries between weaving and architecture and landscape and language. For the creation of the evolving video work, I collaborated and represented over 20 indigenous and migrant languages as hand gesture. Including Anmatyerre linguist and artist April Campbell of Ti Tree community. The video work was supported by Batchelor Institute’s Centre for Aboriginal Languages + Linguistics and Melbourne University’s Research Unit for Indigenous Language.

Ed H — Probably our first exhibition together ‘New Nomadic Living’ aka The Borbacle. 3 months into our relationship we applied to be in Bondi Sculpture by the Sea 2008. Our project was based around creating a piece of fast architecture to juxtapose the high density square box living modernity has fallen society into. In a way it was really a confirmation of our love for each other and building our first home. We really enjoyed showing off our skills to each other. Charlotte in her ability beautifully align Design, Colour and Form added with her pattern making skills of soft materials and Me in my construction and engineering knowledge of building materials and ability to translate Charlottes vision along with mine. It was symbiotic, we were even coined Horne and Haywood, Hard and Soft in a magazine review.

What excites you about creating?
Charlotte H — Experimentation, exploration, collaboration, research, observation, interdisciplinary projects, intercultural relationships, learning, yielding, practice, discipline… I think it must be this journey of creating. It has certain moments and processes and they all excite me together.

Ed H — I’m with Charlotte in these thoughts. I do have a love for helping other people create, bringing people together and collaborating has always been a driving force for me. To bring excitement into someones life because I’ve helped them bring their dreams to reality really excites me. That’s why I enjoy my roles as a Teacher and Production Designer/Manager within the visual arts.

You’re both based in the Northern Rivers. Has living in this region rubbed off on you?
Charlotte H — Well, all I want to do is garden and watch it grow! This place is vibrant. I love all the hamlets which hold unique character + ecologies. The Northern Rivers has this great way of being elastic — it’s larger physically, but people are more connected.
Ed H — I cant wait for the day that I can say ‘I’ve been living here for 20 years’. We’ve only been up here for 20 months and have only just moved into our new home. So much to discover, explore and rub up against. Once we get settled I can feel that what the region has to offer will turn me into the wise man of 20 years from now.

You’re both currently working with Kirk Page on NORPA’s next work Djurra, jointly creating the production and costume design. What can we expect to see from your involvement with NORPA’s new theatre work?
Charlotte H & Ed H — Hopefully something very exciting. It is a privilege to be a part of such a rich project, especially a story that is sparked by a Bundjalung creation story. Respect. We are aware of the importance and many inputs this project has. We look to create something that is collaborative and experimental. It will be such an interesting learning process and creative journey. We hope to be able to design something that is for the future-past and present. Somehow linking pop and the primordial.

You both work across a number of mediums/platforms including video, installation, weaving and sculpture. Does the form of theatre demand that you approach your process a little differently? Tell us a little about this process — how you generate your ideas and then go about creating set or costume design suitable for Djurra.
Charlotte H & Ed H — I think we approach most creative projects in the same way. We are both practicing artists with a background in Film + TV.  I suppose we come to theatre design as artists with design practicality. Meaning… sometimes there is not a set outcome, but room for experimentation and creative journey to unfold and allow for all those “light bulb” moments or particular elements to fall from the sky. They simply manifest.

We like to think of theatre as installation artists — immersive and would like to subvert the institution. We seek guidance and research and we talk a lot, fleshing out ideas. We have been looking into the Bundjalung seasons to see what natural pointers or markers are in this landscape. How can we honour these and embody them into the designs? And also for these to make sense or add to the costume narrative or set design. 

So, you’re a creative couple. Have you come up with your own joint-couple name? CHED perhaps?? Does that mean there is pillow talk when you have moments of inspiration or are you disciplined about how you work together? Talk us through the highs and lows…
Charlotte H & Ed H — Funny you should mention CHED — that is what we nicknamed our first baby in utero…As a collaborative artist duo we are Horne+Haywood.

Well, we have been living in a vague sense of chaos for years. Self inflicted, of course, but we are rather gypsy like. I think our ideas are rather rogue also and so they end up all over the house, the kitchen table, infused in all elements of daily life. I don’t think there is an ‘off’ switch. Especially if you are in inspiration mode, you have to be receptive and open, and actually I think that is happening all the time as we are usually working on numerous projects and responsive to our environment, who knows when an idea will fall in front of you.

What would be your dream project?
Charlotte H — It could be my next project, working interdisciplinary and exploring the threshold of death and ritual. Something that I believe needs to be honored, and deinstitutionalized. This is from personal experience. This new work will look to different knowledge systems and practices — palliative care doctors, ethnobotanists, Dharma teachers and Cultural Knowledge holders as well as exploring the practices of Ikebana, Thai fruit carving and the psychology and threshold of Virtual Reality.

Ed H — To collaborate with the whole family. Almost like a family business I suppose with our sons Oberon 7 and Lennox 4. An interdisciplinary art and design house. Creating anything we desired for the betterment of the world we live in and will be leaving them.

In addition to Djurra, what’s next for you both? 
Charlotte H & Ed H — Setting up my (CH) studio and hanging out in the garden, observing and planting. We have been invited to an art + ecology artist residency in Mexico in 2018 as well as working on this new work to be exhibited at the Biennale of Australian Artists in Ballarat, 2018.

There is also opportunities and talk of doing a project in Peru in 2019 at our friends artists residency that we have helped invest in and an invitation to go to Chang Mai in Thailand and help design/ build a bamboo resort for Lana traditional bamboo learning centre.

If people would like to see more of your work where can they do this?
Our websites.

Image | Dreamland. Photo by Kate Holmes.