Featured Studio

Clear acknowledges the Wurundjeri People of the Kulin Nation as the Traditional Owners of the land on which we work.

Clear Design Insolation Diaries Volume30 Header

We created the Isolation Diaries as a way to keep motivated and inspired during our lockdown. We recently teamed up for a content collaboration with LA-based architects LOHA to bring a special global perspective to the project, where we take a look at what people are reading, watching, making, and listening to—across continents. Our special guest this week is Hannah Fox, Co-Artistic Director of Rising.

Clear Design Insolation Diaries Volume30 Reading

Have you been longing of late… for less news, and more wholesome weirdness? Here’s a collection of interactive experiences for people who have too much time. Uniquely beautiful, and ‘profoundly odd’ is how Manchán Magan describes one of the oldest and most vulnerable languages. Did you know the Irish language has Thirty-Two Words for Field? We do now. A straight-talking and influential work, The Death and Life of Great American Cities have been referred to again and again as an insightful urban planning resource since it was published back in the early 1960s.

Clear Design Insolation Diaries Volume30 Watching

Based on the 2016 dark fantasy novel of the same name, Lovecraft Country explores a real-world crossover between H.P. Lovecraft’s horror fiction and racism in the US during the segregated 1950s. It’s clever, captivating and very, very unsettling. One of those shows where once it ends, you have to begin again purely because (warning: spoilers) you miss it so much, we’re rewatching Fleabag. An American period drama starring Daniel Brühl and Dakota Fanning? Sign us up. The Alienist’s second season isn’t for the faint of heart, but we are strong of heart.

Clear Design Insolation Diaries Volume30 Making

A classic Italian dish that still generates new controversy each day, we can say one thing and it’s that Real CarbonaraTM does not, and we repeat does not contain any cream. We’ve been getting crafty of late, with Jacquard’s Indigo Dye Kit. It comes with everything you need (just add fabric) for creating incredible patterns. Stick to their guide that uses traditional shibori techniques, or just go for it and see what happens. A rewarding pastime of late, we’ve been exploring the many types of collage art and experimenting with some of our own creations.

Clear Design Insolation Diaries Volume30 Listening

Though he’s probably a really great dinner party guest, turns out Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend. A weekly catch-up with people he likes (Bruce Springsteen, Michelle Obama, and Rashida Jones, for example), Conan’s podcast series is light, funny, and warm, which makes for pretty great listening. A podcast about the internet, but not about technology, Reply All is a compelling show that tells stories that just happen to include technology. It’s claimed by some to be the podcast to get you into podcasts. We’re making our way through the queen and icon Grace Jones’ back-catalogue.

Clear Design Insolation Diaries Volume30 Talking

The Co-Artistic Director of Melbourne’s much-anticipated Rising Festival, we spoke with Hannah Fox about staffies, staffies, planning a large-scale festival over Zoom, and future trips to Japan. The inaugural Rising will be a major cultural event to unite our city, taking place in May 2021… and we simply cannot wait. But—due to having no choice—we’ll wait.

What’s the current view from your home office?
An ever-growing indoor jungle, a needy, elderly staffy by my side and the view of the back of Bill Henson’s home studio. He has his own needy staffy called Pig. They are very emotional and neurotic creatures and I love them.


What are you currently working on?
I am currently researching various greening or wilding public art or land artworks around the world like Agnes Denes’ Wheatfield —A Confrontation, Klaus Littmann’s For Forest—The Unending Attraction of Nature, Katie Paterson’s Future Library, and our very own greening of Swanston Street.

It feels timely to revisit these ideas that are dystopian and utopian at the same time—riffing on a world without people and the hope of a green future. This kind of research work keeps me buoyant amongst the endless planning for the dreaded C word.

I also spend quite a lot of time chopping and changing the program in mind map form. Trying to understand the impacts of reduced audiences and increased costs and trying out different configurations and levers to get to what feels like a festival worthy of Melbourne. Attached is one of these mind maps with the artist names removed. The black branches are the things that might have to be pruned due to the impact of Covid and the categories are there to help us think about what each part of the program is doing and who it is for. I’ve been thinking a lot about authentic representation not just across the artistic program but also the audience.

Some of these branches contain 20 or more artists within the one project and each one of them represents months and months of conversations, meetings, plans, budgets, site visits, more conversations, arguing, head-scratching and excitement.

2021 RISING no names

How do you structure your day?
I get up early and have a double espresso with a little bit of oat milk and listen to the 7am podcast like a true Northcote lefty and see what new horrors Shwartz Media has for me each day. It’s probably not a very zen way to start the day but I like it.

Then I try and get at least an hour of work in before 9am so I can have some clear quiet time to focus and write/ think/ make lists before the zoom onslaught begins.

I got a report from zoom the other day saying that I had done 380 on zoom in the last few months which I’m not proud of but indicates what my days are like. So much of our work is collaborative and creative and I’ve found it a huge challenge to work creatively on video calls and everything seems to take twice as long. It feels quite transactional and disconnected to me but thank god for it, otherwise, I’m not sure where we would be!

I exercise at lunchtime and usually try and get outside at around sunset to walk my needy staffy and see some horizon which is supposed to be good for your eyes and brain after a long day on the screen.

What was the last thing you bookmarked or saved and why?
My colleague Grace sent me this
and I found it inspiring to see some provocations and deep thinking on new models for community-oriented ways of working. This part of Margaret Morton’s essay particularly struck me: “We must change to survive. It is part of our ethos as sentient beings. We have a rich history of cultures and peoples who have walked boldly into and through change. They hold deep lessons for us today as we face a future of uncertainty, deep lessons on how we can adapt, imagine new systems, think innovatively, and evolve with shifts in power and ethics.”

I feel anxious to harness the potential of this moment to make meaningful change and at least snap a few sections of the power structures we are trapped in.

What are you looking forward to?
Seeing my family and friends again, dancing, getting really dressed up and going to a party, going to a show, having ‘one off the wood’, not talking about the pandemic, having a little more agency, going back to Japan.

What will you take away from Isolation?
My life was extremely hectic before with constant travel and being out a lot and I hope to find some balance between my current nun-like existence and that crazy pace I kept before because I’m now less convinced that it was all that productive.

I have also become hyper-aware of how hard this has been on some of my loved ones and everyone’s mental health and I hope I will keep that awareness that we can’t let life get in the way of looking out for each other. I hope I stay soft.

Related Project — Isolation Diaries, Volume 29