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The latest rendition of Create Not Destroy [VOL 6] sees a sustainable artist series in collaboration with @madeline_odonoghue that offers an exploration into the beauty of the organic planet we strive to sustain today.

 Shop The Capsule

Hailing from New Zealand and then doing stints in Byron Bay and L.A, Madeline recently decided to move back home and chose the small town of Whangamatā on a mission to reconnect with her roots and live her best creative life. Intrigued by the day-to-day beauty of her surroundings, Madeleine channels the earth's natural elements to inspire her artwork, which she explores in the graphic t-shirts and floral prints that make up our eco-friendly hemp art capsule. We didn’t let the never-ending border bubble wars get in the way of chatting with Madeleine about all thing’s life, art, sustainable fashion and of course, our debut collab collection.


How does your hometown of Whangamatā in New Zealand inspire your artwork?

I moved to Whangamatā when I made the move back to New Zealand. I had been living overseas in Byron Bay and before that in LA, so I sort of had a dream to come back to my home country and live in a small beach town that still had a bit of a surf vibe as well as a creative community. Whangamatā has a rich surf history and is just a really nice beach with a few rivers thrown in for good measure. I was hell-bent on trying to live out my best creative life (and get a dog and grow some lettuce), and Whangamatā presented itself to me in a sort of right time, right place scenario.

It's quiet. Like watching your lettuce grow quiet. So, not actually anything like Byron or LA at all, BUT there are some very creative people here and there’s this strong undercurrent of people just working away on things and creating a genuine community around themselves. It’s like looking back to look forward. Connecting, growing, moving slowly. 

I like to think I live pretty simply. I rent a small batch (beach house) about three streets back from the beach with a big backyard, a lemon tree and a swing. Over summer I grew tomatoes and chillies. I walk my dog on the beach every morning and every afternoon. I try to surf on my foamie when the waves are small.

Living here has been about carving out a life that is built around creative existence in a specific time and place. As JB Blunk puts it so nicely “I consider this whole place—house, studio, fruit trees, vegetable garden and chickens—one big sculpture.


Describe your style of artwork, What mediums do you gravitate towards?

I often scribble or sketch out ideas in words and crazy little drawings before I work digitally. I draw a lot of detailed cacti with fine tip pens, but I also like to mix things up. I like to randomly use watercolour or text, or unexpected shapes but I usually take these into a digital space to further manipulate. 

I’m from an art school background rather than a design background, so I like things to feel human. I taught myself how to use Illustrator and Photoshop, so I probably use them in a way that’s pretty explorative and more like a drawing tool. It’s always the unintentional things that make for the best material. I am happiest when I’m just treating a project like it’s playing, and I have fun with it and mess around and then interesting things happen. Sometimes I find it hard to work on a brief because of this reason; It’s like “pressure equals no pleasure” and who wants to make something that doesn’t feel pleasurable to make? Not me. 

I would say I just always try unconventional ways of using things, even software to create things that have an “organic-ness” to them. I don’t like things that look digital. So, I disturb them if and when a project allows for it. I dabble in a lot of different mediums too; photography, music - anything really where I can visually get an idea out and these all feed into one another.

Have you always been creative? When did you know you wanted to pursue art as a career?

Yep. Always been creative. My parents used to say “happiest in the water and drawing” and outside of this I lived in constant boredom mode. My goal as a kid was to live by the beach, make art and have a dog.

I went to art school straight out of high school but after graduating I quickly fell into side-lining any of my own creative pursuits in jobs and relationships where I supported others in their creative dreams - some classic blocked creative behaviours. It wasn’t until I moved overseas and had time to draw and look around at things and teach myself some software that I started making things again. From here I guess my life has become somewhat of a creative pursuit in itself. Now I create multiple different things, in different areas of interest, but I would love to start creating something in the physical world.

Why is sustainable fashion important to you? 

I mean we all need to be doing our part. We can’t not be aware of what’s happening to planet earth in 2021. And if you’re not conscious of it, then you must be unconscious...

I don’t buy a lot at all. I live in a small town and often have no reason to put on elaborate outfits. I’m usually knocking around at the river and walking my dog most of the time, so there’s no need for massively elaborate outfits that don’t work in the life being lived. So yeah, again my lifestyle lends itself to a minimal wardrobe, and things that can actually be worn. Like I love the Shelby Long Floral Wide Leg Pants I worked on with Afends, I will wear these over and over until they have holes and when they have holes, I’ll get someone to patch them (as I’m not skilled in that area). 

I love buying things I can wear multiple ways, and this is one of my KEY approaches to buying. I love wearing things back to front, or dresses underneath overalls or like truly pushing things to maximum use. I want to wear things that I can wear purposefully. In the same way, I approach most things - with clear intent and purpose.

What is your favourite piece from the Organic Planet: A Hemp Revolution collection? 

Definitely, the Shelby Long Floral Wide Leg Pants, because I will wear these heaps - with tees, a swimsuit, with a big jumper, with sandals, boots, just I’ll get heaps of use out of them, I love the brown Afends patch popping out from the red/white print.

The Shelby Floral High Waisted Shorts - the little white pocket detail is genius.

AND MY VERY FAVE IS - THE ORGANIC PLANET OVERSIZED GRAPHIC T-SHIRT! In white. This was an absolute pleasure to draw and just really satisfying to play with composition and colour and of course, come up with the whole idea of Organic Planet. It felt fluid and organic and the shapes and colours were just so satisfying.

What does a day in your life look like at the moment?

Well, I’m a creature of habit and a morning person. I wake up early, I walk Moon (my dog) along the beach every morning, usually just as the sun comes up. I try to play about 20-30 mins of the piano with a coffee when I get home, and then if I have a freelance day, I work from home in the little batch on client stuff - print design, logos, playing with type, drawing etc. 

Recently I’ve also started working with a Production Company that’s set up here in Whangamata, so if I’m not at home freelancing, I am there helping to produce documentary content.

I start the day with walking Moon (the dog) and usually end the day walking Moon too. I did move here to continue my surfing journey having surfed daily in Byron (I lived opposite The Pass) but it seems I’ve bumped into a pretty big mental block there that I’m still working through! Need for it to be fun again and... pleasurable. Maybe I’ll do a summer of boogie boarding just to keep it light.

I also make music, so I’m often writing lyrics down or like thinking about a melody. I shut down after like 4 pm, my brain goes into full shut-down.

Can you talk us through the creative process behind your artist capsule, Organic Planet: A Hemp Revolution?

Yeah! This was a super fun capsule to work on. Afends Womenswear Designer, Lucie reached out to me with a few ideas and examples of my work and was open to my playing around with some ideas and working on a few logos for Afends as a collab. Of course, having lived and worked in Byron I knew what Afends stood for as a brand, so this was exciting to have an open brief and really just the opportunity to play, artistically.

I guess I started off with plant forms, manipulating plants and working with loose shapes and forms that alluded to plants. Probably at the time, I was planting stuff so maybe plants were on my mind anyway. But yeah, I did a few drawings and took these digital and further manipulated them. For the colours inside the Organic Planet tee - I had actually drawn some plants in green and pinks and just decided to distort these together to emulate watercolour or marbling paper. Really, it’s just like thinking about layers - I guess sort of like the planet itself.

Then the words came (which often they do as someone who loves words) and ORGANIC PLANET was born.

Artist: Madeline O'Donoghue @madeline_odonoghue
Photos: Morgan Keating Marr @cleveryou

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