It is rare to find an artist who is also a poet. Or a poet who is an artist. Kylie Johnson is both, and has been successful in each field autonomously before combining these two loves into her business Paper Boat Press. As a ceramicist, Kylie participated in 12 group shows of an artists' collective called Amfora. While, as a writer, she has published three books of poetry: Distant Shoes (1992), forty-eight minus one (1997) and the ivory birds (2000). These were launched at the same time as solo exhibitions of her painting and collage work. Kylie not only keeps herself busy with Paper Boat Press but she has also recently had an anthology of her poetry published by Murdoch Books - Count me the stars. See her beautifully simple works in progress at Instinct and Grace.
Which five words best describe you? Loyal - melancholy - passionate - sensitive - friend.
What’s your proudest achievement? Having a collection of my poetry published by a major publisher and finally acknowledging myself as a "full-time artist".
Who inspires you? My friends and family (on a daily basis). In an artistic sense: Michael Leunig - I can open one of his books, read one of his prayers, look at his most seemingly simple of drawings, and feel connected to the beauty and melancholy in the ordinary... if I ever feel lost or alone his work is what I reach for. I am also inspired by the work of Shaun Tan in a similar way. As a potter and artist there are too many people to name but the roll of links on my blog are some of the artistic friends I have in my life here in Brisbane, and some of them are my dearest friends, they are truly inspiring and supportive people and many have been in my life for a long time... I truly count my blessings...
What are you passionate about? True and honest artistic expression and the beauty of the handmade... Looking after those less fortunate than ourselves... A good cup of tea, glass of wine, or sharing a meal with friends... Making time in this crazy, fast-paced world for the small things and not letting computers and text messaging be the main form of contact... Looking after our planet... and I suppose I'm pretty passionate about passion; I don't think I have much choice really being a poet and a hopeless romantic...
What’s the best lesson you've learnt? Listen to, and trust your heart... even when it's cracked or broken (as Leonard Cohen says: there's a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in).
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Neil Finn (that's a no brainer; I wrote the words to "Message to my girl" all over my grade 7 diary and knew then the power of words and the love I had for poetry in its many forms and that I wanted to be an artist, a poet).
What’s next? I'm so busy at the moment finalising orders for my stockists and preparing for my Christmas show it's one day at a time... but I'm writing new work in the quiet moments, and my head is swimming with new ideas for Paper Boat Press, there's a lot of new products for the new year... but most of all after Christmas: a holiday... it's been a very big year.
What are you reading? There's a crazy mix on my bedside: The Unknown Craftsman by Soetsu Yanagi, David Letterman's Late Show Fun Facts (that man makes me laugh), and a penny dreadful western (a gift from a friend).
Images courtesy of Kylie Johnson and Paper Boat Press