Artist brothers shaping a new future in Orange
The turning point for Carl and Eden Plaisted happened on a beach in Bali last September. Nine short months later, the brothers are sitting across the table from me on a wintery day in their new hometown of Orange.
Even they seemed surprise.
“It is a little bit surreal to be honest,” said Carl. “If someone had asked me six months ago, do you honestly think that you are going to be able to achieve what you are wanting to achieve, I probably would have said no — I had my doubts!”
Born and raised on a dairy farm in the Adelaide Hills, both brothers were drawn to the performing arts.
Carl attended the prestigious Australian Ballet School and upon graduation was offered a job at the Sydney Dance Company.
“I spent 13 years working for the Sydney Dance Company, for Graham Murphy,” said Carl.
“Unfortunately, due to injury, I had to stop. I had a couple of operations to have bone spurs in my ankles removed and…”
“And he was getting old for a dancer,” chimes in Eden.
“Yeah, I was hoping to continue, but 13 years is a pretty good run,” said Carl. “Most people are lucky if they get eight or nine years, so I was pretty lucky.”
With his dancing career behind him, Carl fell into hospitality.
“Our whole family is very food orientated, so it was a natural progression I suppose, so I spent the last 20 years in hospitality, most recently at Hugo’s in Manly. It’s quite a reputable place and great people to work for hence why I was there for so long,” said Carl, who — whether he knew it or not at the time — was looking for a change.
Eden too had found himself in Sydney after studying musical theatre at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA).
“Carl was already in Sydney with Sydney dance, so I was in the industry for a while and dabbled around in lots of different things as every actor does, there's always an actor who’s a waiter or barista or something, which is what I did on the side,” said Eden, who five years ago, took the plunge and decided to follow his creative passion.
“I decided to go to university and study sculpture so that was at the University of NSW Art and Design, what was formerly known as COFA [The College of Fine Arts], and I thrived! There was just nothing more exciting than doing that,” said Eden, who began to put the idea of an artistic partnership to his brother.
“Over the years I kind of hinted to Carl every now and again — what do you want to do? Then finally, when we went to Bali, he said, ‘OK, let’s do it’.”
So, in a matter of months, the brothers turned their lives upside down and turned an idea on paper into up-and-running sculptural studio, 908 Art & Design.
“It was time for a change, predominantly for me,” Carl. “And we’ve now formed our partnership, started our own business, got our own workshop, bought our own house, a car — we had a huge list of what we wanted to do, our goals and crazily enough, we've pretty much been able to tick every box.”
“When we found this property here in Orange, we basically fell in love with it”
Not that moving to Orange was originally on that list. The brothers had planned to stay in Sydney and were simply looking for an investment property in a regional area, but then they saw the potential.
“When we found this property here in Orange, we basically fell in love with it,” said Carl. “It had pretty much everything we needed and a little bit more.”
“Our main priority was not moving away from family in Sydney,” said Eden, “but then we saw Orange isn't too far away and when that switch flipped, that's when we started to consider moving.
“In Sydney, I lived in a studio apartment with a tiny courtyard, a dry cleaner down below, backpackers on either side and that was where I was finishing off all the artwork. Here we have a house with a massive backyard and garage — it's unbelievable, it’s exciting and a bit overwhelming!”
The brothers have just opened their first exhibition 'Wood, Metal & Fire' which is showing at Gaffa Gallery, Sydney until 17 June. They have also scored a sponsorship deal from Dremel Australia, and just last week they were approached by M Contemporary Gallery in Woollahra, who are now representing them.
It’s all a dream come true for Carl and Eden.
“To have been picked up by a gallery in Sydney and they are going to represent us… it is something I’ve dreamed about for five years and now it has happened,” said Eden.
“It is super exciting, it wasn’t expected — not so early on, so quickly,” said Carl.
With one exhibition behind them, Carl and Eden are back brainstorming in their new workshop and settling into life this side of the mountains.
“It probably still hasn’t sunk in how lucky we are to be where we are,” said Carl. “It started from the first moment we came looking for houses in Orange, people are so forth giving, they are just so open. All of a sudden, we've felt like we are back in Macclesfield in the Adelaide Hills where we grew up —it has been good.”