Marle Women is created to celebrate our philosophy of designing pieces for women of all ages and stages of their lives. We hope each interview inspires you, the same way in which these women do to us.
Celebrated multidisciplinary artist, Seala Lokollo has made a substantial following for her clay works, as well as jewellery brand ‘Le Sea’. Self-described as an object maker, Seala’s most recent creative works explore identity, in particular the space between her own Maluku Islands and Australian heritage.
Here, we speak to Seala about her upbringing, creative process and how connections - both external and internal, inspire her work.
Please share a little bit about yourself - including your background, where you were raised, noting some of the defining aspects that have contributed to the woman you are today.
I am Seala. I am an artist, working predominately with clay and metal. I run Mori Market, a recycled/vintage store with my best friend. I was born in Byron Bay, and grew up in Mullumbimby with my family by the river there. I was lucky to attend the local Steiner school in the hills for 15 defining years, where artistic endeavours are nurtured concepts. I grew up in a unique household, surrounded by creative parents. I moved to Melbourne in 2011 to work and eventually study, completing a Bachelor of Fine Arts. From there, I began my adventure toward the person I am today.
Your Maluku and Australian heritage has inspired recent works. Can you talk us through how identity has played a role in your creative process and speak about this recent project?
For me, my practice is an extension of my own being. It’s a physical, visual representation of the things that are alive inside of me. It’s a unique window into my experience. My past works have been an exploration of my identity. Today, I am in a place where I have created a certain method or set of tools so to speak, to be able to stay connected, and stay in the moment with connection to my culture, family and ancestors.
In times of social injustice and unrest, art can be an incredible tool to amplify important voices and messages. How has the recent year affected your works and is there a message you are wanting to convey?
Art is a powerful tool. In my own experience, as a POC, the most important thing I have learned in the past year is to take control of my own practice. To make work that first and foremost connects me to a deeper understanding of who I am. To help me heal my own self. There is so much to fight for, and so much wrong in the world. My message would be to the BIPOC community, that it is ok to put yourself first, to use your energy, your art practice, to connect you to the place you need to be before using your energy to educate others.
Where does your love of creating come from? And have you always enjoyed making art?
Absolutely! For me, it’s my natural way of being able to express myself. It’s my way of writing. I definitely was inspired by my family. My father is a musician, artist, chief - everything he does breaths his heritage and I feel extremely lucky to have him as an elder/ teacher to show me the way. My mother is also a total creative. Everything she does, any subject in conversation, she will have a unique way of looking at it. She is a diamond in the rough. Speaking from my experience, I am very lucky. I have always been nurtured to be who I am, do what I want to do. That’s an import part of who I am.
Marle Founder Juliet Souter finds a lot of inspiration from her coastal home town of Mount Maunganui. Do you draw any personal connections from growing up in Byron Bay?
Yes, I would agree. Growing up where I did, is my physical place and connection to the water. The ocean is a big part of our culture in the Maluku Islands. It has a big role in our creation story. So, when I think of those stories, or of the Islands where we come from, it is forever connected in my mind to the water at home in Byron Bay.
Texture is inherent in Marle’s use of natural fabrics and fibres. How does texture play out in your clay and metal works?
Yes, texture is definitely a source for expression for Marle. And much the same for me. I suppose texture is its own form of language. It is a technique for expression. I use it a lot. It comes naturally. I won’t be finished with a work unless it has my texture and expression visible throughout. That’s my way.
With a friend, you source unique, recycled clothing for your store MŌRI market. What styles are you drawn to when sourcing? Is repurposing something that you carry through to other areas of your life?
Yes, Wave and I source for our store, Mori Market. Mori was born from our shared passion for clothing, especially vintage gems from the past. Mori style is definitely a reflection of our own wardrobes. As we moved forward, Mori has been able to transform into more than just what we are wearing. Our only rule when sourcing is that we have to love it. From there, the items we select for Mori, really do find their own people. That is one of the things I love most about working in this field: Individuality.
Nearly everything in my home is repurposed. What a piece of furniture from the past can bring to a home, is something so special and unique. I could never go back to new furniture.
How would you describe your personal style? And how has it changed over the years?
My style is a mixture of carefully curated pieces by current designers I love, mixed with unique vintage pieces. I would say my style has become more mature or timeless over the years. I have less crazy colour pop pieces and more beautiful timeless pieces. But that all depends on where I am living really. When I’m home in Mullumbimby by the beach where it’s hot, I’m colourful and I have thongs on. I have a bright swimsuit. I have a big hat. When I’m in Melbourne I’m rugged up because I don’t react well to the cold. I love the 90’s. You’ll find me in a huge wool coat, a warm hat, a big cashmere jumper and long loose pants with boots nearly every other day here in Melbourne.
|"Art is a powerful tool. In my own experience, as a POC, the most important thing I have learned in the past year is to take control of my own practice. To make work that first and foremost connects me to a deeper understanding of who I am. To help me heal my own self"|
Tell us about a day in the life of Seala Lokollo and what are the go-to Marle pieces you reach for when you have a day in the studio?
I’m a home body. I work a lot from home.
If it’s a studio day I rug up in my old clothes, because the studio is messy. This is my playground, so I don’t worry about what I’m wearing. The usual is overalls, boots, and a skivvy. When it’s my free time, I like to go out to a restaurant or meet a friend at a cafe. My go to Marle piece at the moment is my new Cashmere Cardigan. I honestly have been wearing this with everything. Over jeans, under coats, atop my yoga clothes - it’s so soft! My favourite thing about Marle is that it embodies so many moods. You can be the person in the flowing white silk gown, or the person rugged up in the cosy cashmere jumper. I’m both of those people, depending on my mood!
What are some of the things you have, or bring to the studio, that help cultivate your creative space?
Mementos - they help me to centre ideas. I have many. I collect keepsake mementos. Be that a photo, a natural object from a special place, a relic from my past. To me, these small treasures can evoke memories and moments that can transcend into my work and really help make what I’m working on come to life.
Quick fire questions
What is your most treasured object and why?
A necklace and ring my dad gave to me. He gave them to me at different times in my life when I needed protection or strength.
Do you prefer texture or colour?
Spring/ Summer or Autumn/Winter?
Autumn/ Winter wardrobe!
What are you listening to right now?
A creative you admire?
Where is home for you?
Seala wears the Lyla Dress and Sawyer Cardigan (both arriving soon). Photographed by Georgia Smedley