At Home with Kitty Callaghan and Jamie Preisz
Artists Kitty Callaghan and Jamie Preisz let us in on their world. They share what inspires them, their big breaks as artists and all things love.
What do you both do?
Kitty: I work in fashion and I’m also an artist. At the moment I’m doing a few different things. I work for Russh magazine where I mainly take photos, document things and people-based profiling. I also work for Ellery as their PR Coordinator, and then I do my art. Which is mainly collaging.
Jamie: I’m an Oil Painter. I think that would be called Contemporary Realism. I show at Jerico Contemporary in Sydney. I also like to fix old cars and motorbikes.
How did you start creating art?
Kitty: I started by making birthday cards when I was seven and making scrapbooks. I guess it was documenting and collaging, I like to use things that I find.
Jamie: I’ve always loved drawing and painting. I used to stay in the art room at lunch time and I drew a lot there. When I finished school, I didn’t know what to do. I looked through all my exercise books and they were all just full of drawings, so I was like ‘I’m going to go to art school’.
My favourite quote from Pablo Picasso is ‘Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.’
How do you find the courage to keep going?
Kitty: I definitely question it. I think I just really like making things. I enjoy the process and having something to show for.
Jamie to Kitty: I also find that you’re much calmer on days when you’ve done something creative with yourself.
Jamie: I question it sometimes. I was really lucky, I did a residency in Paris – Kit and I had just started going out, and I asked if she wanted to come with me. When I was over there, I did this show, and the show didn’t actually go very well. Just as I was leaving I was like ‘I’ve quit my Graphic Design job, I don’t know what I’m doing, I’m in Paris. I’ve just had this show, I didn’t really sell very much work, but it was a great experience. And just as I was leaving I won this Packard prize that was $10,000 and I was like well, this surely justifies me to keep going, at least until this money runs out. Then I would sell a painting and it kind of just picked up from there.
Tell us about winning the Archibald prize.
The artwork I created was actually organised by Kitty, because Kitty is friends with Jimmy Barnes’ daughter, Ellie, so the two of them were kind of plotting and scheming to get me to paint Jimmy. I also really wanted to paint him, but I was trying not to get my heart set on it, because I think in painting or anything creative, you can feel so rejected when you have your heart set on something and then it doesn’t happen.
It was also a hard time around that time, I had just lost my little sister and so I put all my energy into making this artwork and then I got in.
The day I dropped my painting in, Channel 7 was there interviewing the Head Packer, Brett, and they were saying ‘so Brett, have you had a few good works come in yet?’ And he was like ‘not really, no.’ Then they said, ‘who would you love to see painted this year’ and he said, oh Barnsey. Just as he said that, I walked in with this painting, and they were like ‘oh my god’, then they interviewed me on the news. I remember walking away from that and thinking ‘damn, now he’s definitely not going to choose me because I’ve been on the news with my work.’ So, it was a beautiful surprise.
What inspires you?
Kitty: It used to be going to the bookshop in Newtown called Gould’s. Also, music – my dad’s a musician so I grew up around music.
Jamie: When Kit and I first met, I said to her, ‘I want to paint a picture of you’ and she said, ‘nice pick up line’ and I was like no I promise I’m a real artist. We did end up doing the painting in the end, it was a beautiful giant portrait of Kitty. There was a time where I was so over the top in love with Kitty and I needed to put my energy somewhere, and I so I put it all into this painting.
Valda Glass Vase, Artwork by Kitty Callaghan, Parlie Glass Tealight Holder, Maysen Glass Planter
What are some of your favourite ways to spend time together?
Jamie: We love going to galleries, if you’re going to be an artist or creative in any way, exhibitions are a must.
Kitty: Rock climbing. Lots and lots of gigs. Music is a big part of it.
Jamie: If there’s natural wine and a cheese plate, you’ll probably find us there at some point.
What does love mean to you?
Kitty: I think love means to me, everything is going to be ok.
Jamie: I think love means to me that you are inspired and recharged by your partner and you can get through good things and bad things together. When something goes wrong, that’s the person you want there, and when something goes right, that’s the person you want there.