Kenzy Cheeseman, an artist and fashion designer, makes botanical art prints with flowers from her father’s garden and designs and sews face masks. She lives in Hataitai, Wellington with her partner Luis Perez, a chef.
KENZY CHEESEMAN: We bought this townhouse about four and a half years ago. It was pretty run down when we got it, with dirty yellow walls. We completely gutted it and painted the walls white. It’s a really cozy house in the winter and a sun trap in the summer. It is so close to Hataitai city and beach where you can swim in summer.
I leave my bike inside so I can remember to ride it, although I have to admit that I find the streets of Wellington a bit daunting.
When we moved in, I was running Bello, a homewares store, and a lot of our stuff comes from there. I wasn’t long done with my silk and merino loungewear label For Every Minute, which ran for five years. I’ll be honest, I lost a bit of my creative confidence after having to close a brand that I put my heart and soul into.
My Bitossi glasses are quite expensive. They are color coded so when friends come over we each get a color so we don’t mix up our drinks.
The Tsé Tsé ceramic bowls and plates are bold with Uzbek designs and I am drawn to their irregular shapes. Luis and I both like to cook. When you can present food on beautiful plates, the dining experience becomes so much more interesting.
I wear a lot of black but prefer colorful interiors. Color brightens everything. We have some orange in the house. It plays well against all our green things.
My parents bought the green dining table in 1975. It’s by Italian designer Vico Magistretti and they had it in their London flat. They’ve always had such a cool style – powder pink walls and Mum did her black and white zigzag curtains.
Growing up in London it was our dining table in our formal lounge. We bought it with us when we moved to New Zealand in the 1990’s. I always told my parents that I wanted some of it. My parents have had great dinner parties over the years and we have loved entertaining there as well.
After closing the shop and working in retail for five years, I missed making my own products. I had no job and no plan but was positive and open to possibilities.
So I took down my old sewing machine, which was dusty, from upstairs. The day before [March 2020] Lockdown, I bought a lot of fabric from Spotlight and started making face masks for family and friends, then things got crazy and our house turned into a manufacturing factory.
My mother’s friend gave me the sofa. It was a cream colored linen. I ordered the orange fabric and had a few weeks during one of our lockdowns so I found it again. I took a pattern from the old sofa and made the new cover and cushions on my sewing machine.
Mum and Dad got me Seraphine Pick’s artwork for my 21st birthday. It’s from the late 1990’s. i have always loved it
Last year I spent a week tending to my father’s 3 acre garden in Greytown. Dad comes from a background as a typographer and art director and combines plants, colors and textures with such a wonderful eye. His garden is my happy place. I began hand-picking and arranging the flowers, leaves, and seedpods he grew, and I captured them digitally using the flatbed scanography process.
I thought I would make them into textile patterns, but a friend asked for a framed print and that was it.
I find it mesmerizing to pick and arrange flowers like dahlias, canna lilies and achillea and hold back and see what works of art unfold. It is also an opportunity to observe the flowers and plants changing with the seasons. I can’t wait for the Hellebore to bloom in winter.
I look forward to exhibiting at the NZ Art Show [over Queen’s Birthday weekend]. It will be my first exhibition ever.
My mother and grandmother were both avid knitters – I don’t have the talent for that! I came across all these knitters over in Wairarapa and thought it would be a great way to profile and support them. I founded Yarnly, a community project that brings together a team of skilled artisans to knit, crochet and weave New Zealand wool yarns into fashion items and accessories. I design the ideas and the knitters make them.
I keep my scarf on a mannequin in my study in memory of Jan Daly, one of the knitters who passed away last year. Her wool collection was donated to charity and our knitters did their best knitting the wool into baby blankets.
The New Zealand Art Show takes place at the TSB Arena in Wellington from 3rd to 5th June, the Queen’s Birthday weekend.