REVIEW

Robyn Lea has documented the lives and homes of 20 creative women

Virginia Woolf, in her 1929 essay A Room of One's Own, highlighted the need for a physical space for women - "a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction", essentially a cri de coeur for women's rights.

Australian photographer, author and director Robyn Lea, author of the bestselling Dinner with Jackson Pollock, documents the lives and homes of 20 creative women - painters, writers, sculptors, chefs, directors, curators, designers and jewellers.

All seem to have money, either inherited, like Amber or Claudia Guinness, or from the success of their artistic work. Lea sees their lives and "free expression" as a canvas for their artistry. Brief biographical portraits and Lea's full page colour photographs intertwine their work achievements set in impressive home and studio settings.

Lea says her obsession with reading biographies about women inspired the book: "From the outset, female friendship and spiritual connectedness were part of the conversation. Then art and interiors - two of my great loves - were added to the mix, and it evolved into a book about creative women in their homes and studios. Female friendships, mentors and mother-daughter relationships are woven through many of the stories."

Lea says Sue Townsend, the British founder of soap and scent brand, Ortigia Sicilia, "infuses every aspect of her life in Italy with colour and passion". Artist Fiona Corsini believes her paintings reflect the natural world and that "houses are portraits of those who create them". Easier to achieve perhaps if you are able to restore a 16th century house in Florence.

Lisbeth McCoy, born in Denmark, is now a sculptor and multi-media artist with a studio in Tribeca. She recalls mustering cattle on a rural property in Australia, before she eventually settling in New York. "It was an experience that formed me in many ways but my career as an actress and NYC was calling me back".

Australian fashion designer Heidi Middleton, of Sass & Bide fame, manages online ArtClub from her Mosman atelier, selling "rare vintage garments for sale along with Heidi's paintings and original clothing designs".

Jewellery designer Fiorina Golotta and photographer Francesca Golotta run Fiorina Jewellery on High Street, Armadale, where the decor reflects Fiorina's travels, influences and interests.

Lea's sumptuous photography and exuberant bios certainly represent the energy of the creative spirit expressed, in this instance, in considerable style.

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This story Finding an incredibly stylish room of one's own first appeared on The Canberra Times.