In conversation with Ken Done

In conversation with Ken Done

Collaborating with Australia's most iconic artist is a rare privilege, and we have had the honour of working with Ken Done once again this year as we celebrate our 50th anniversary.

Our collaborative history began in the 1980s when Ken Done created a series of quilt covers for Sheridan. Bringing artistry into the home through textiles and bed linen was groundbreaking at the time, when sheets were mostly white and bold print and pattern were seldom seen in the bedroom. The Sheridan by Ken Done Collection was the most vibrant colour Australians had ever been offered for their bedrooms, which resulted in the limited edition collection selling out imminently.

In our 50th year, we wanted to celebrate some of the key milestones from our half century, which is where the idea of a modern retrospective of our 1980s collaboration with Ken was born. Our social media platforms and Customer Service team have been contacted constantly with requests for Ken Done to be brought back over the years. We have listened, and created a new interpretation of the iconic range we’re hoping you’ll love.

Ahead of the launch of his iconic collection to celebrate our 50th anniversary, we sat down with Ken Done in his paint splattered artist’s studio to discuss the collaboration.

How did the iconic collection with Sheridan in the 1980s come about?

At that time, I’d worked on quite a number of projects which were reaching a reasonably wide audience, and when Sheridan approached me, I hadn’t done bed linen, so I was interested. Having an exceptional reputation for premium quality, it was a yes from me. I produced a series of works for Sheridan which were incredibly successful – Australians seemed to like them very much. I think in those days, there really wasn’t much that you could buy in the area of bed linen that were as colourful as the ones that I was doing. And even now, many years later, people are still coming up to me and they remember the bed linen, because it made such a big impact within a room, and it really became an icon of the time.

As a painter, how does it feel to work on pieces which aren’t going to sit in a gallery, but in Australians’ bedrooms?

I believe that you don’t necessarily have to go to a gallery to find art. You can find it in all kinds of things, but I’m certainly not the first artist to do this. If you go right back to Matisse, back to Picasso, they were producing designs for scarves and all kinds of things at the turn of the century in France. I love the idea of wearable or liveable art.

Today, technology allows you to do everything digitally, and so the new bed linen, I mean it’s astounding! You can see every single brush mark from my original canvas. Every little nuance of every line, and I think it’s representative of art in the time in which we live. It feels modern and it’s exciting, I am really happy with the finished product.

Can you share some key moments of your creative process in creating the collection?

Initially, I supplied Sheridan with around 30 paintings for them to choose from when we commenced the collection. The Sheridan designers chose a few really diverse pieces of work which I was really thrilled about. The pieces referenced the landscapes of Sydney Harbour and also the marine life of The Great Barrier Reef, painted with lots of bold colour and movement in the paint.

Additionally, another work which was translated into a quilt cover was a painting I created from an expedition we made to the Antarctic. Antarctica is such a hypnotic place. I loved depicting the tourists wearing bright colours meeting the penguins. This work took me a long time to get right. I think I painted this scene about 17 or 18 times before I was happy with it, because the penguins, when you see them from a distance, look little black spots on the snow. I was really interested in the pattern of the penguins against the pattern of the tourists. The work has made a fantastic quilt cover. It’s great.

What is it about painting Australian landscapes and people which you find to be a continuous source of inspiration in your work?

Well, there’s something truly about the Australian quality of light. But I think that if you are an Australian painter, which I’m happy to be called, even an Australian artist, it’s just a matter of keeping your eyes open, whether it’s The Great Barrier Reef, Sydney Harbour or the outback. We are very fortunate to live in Australia, and for me, it’s a constant source of inspiration. Even in the Antarctic – Australia owns half of the Antarctic, and we must take care of it.

I think in modern times, artists should be reaching a wide audience. A lot of Australian painters, towards the end of their career, keep repeating themselves. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I don’t want to do that. I want to be a modern artist adopting modern technology and the idea of art translated onto cushions, beach towels and bed linen seems to be perfectly applicable and perfectly correct to me.


Due to the overwhelming response to our Sheridan by Ken Done Collection launch announcement, we have just launched a pre-release limited quantity of the collection online – available to shop now.

The limited edition Sheridan by Ken Done Collection is launching in store in late July.

Be the first to know about the Sheridan by Ken Done Collection. Sign up to become a Sheridan member and subscribe to hear all the news of our collection launch, and follow us on Instagram.