Journal

IN CONVERSATION: STEVE OF DEN HOLM

I like having people in here all covered in dust… everyone wears black when they come and they leave wearing grey.”

Our SS18 Collection was shot in stone mason and artist Steven John Clark’s luminous studio, where dust from piles of white limestone coat every surface. We were lucky enough to sit down with Steve to hear his story.

“I grew up in a little Scotch village called Denholm – pronounced ‘denim’ (or ‘Denholme’ if you’re posh). I left school when I was 16 and became a stone mason. I was lucky to work with the best Scottish builders in the area on historic castles and old houses - you couldn’t get a better apprenticeship.

At the age of 19, I moved to the city and started, making my own outfits to wear to dance festivals. I would take things to pieces and put them back together: ripping jeans and adding on pockets. Before I knew it, I was making things for all my mates as well and that led to studying fashion in Glasgow.

I decided to study art based hand embroidery in Manchester, working predominately with building materials. It all comes from a place of trial and error. You’re always making up and testing things in textiles and embroidery – basically problem solving. I had an inspiring lecturer at the time and he said, “The only thing that makes you different from the next person sitting next to you is your past experiences.” And all my past experiences were in the building industry.

My wife and I had planned on moving to London after Manchester, but I had a friend in Australia and I thought, let’s take a year out and go and live life before we move to London. So we came over and eight years later, we’re still here.

There was no plan to be a sculptor. I’d made furniture and little bits of sculpture out of concrete, but never out of stone. For some reason it seemed too easy – I needed to go the long way around to come back to it.

My first project that really started to get traction was some sculptures for jewellery designer Lucy Folk. I did jewellery displays and planters for her stores in Windsor, Crossley St and Bondi and they ended up in Vogue Australia. The interior designer that worked on that project was Tamsin Johnson who was at the time, fitting out Rae’s hotel in Byron Bay. We ended up doing tables and planters for all the rooms. They had to crane one of the tables into the penthouse suite because it weighed around 500kg. There’s a real permanency to these pieces. You can’t just put them in a room and decide actually, “nah”. 

My approach is textile based – so it’s all about texture. I’m currently working with all Australian limestone. It comes mostly from Mt Gambier, near Robe. You look at the whole of South Australia and a lot of the houses are made of limestone: it will last forever. 

I like having people in here all covered in dust… everyone wears black when they come and they leave wearing grey.”

If you are wanting to know more, visit denholm.com.au