We are Chris McDonald and Claire Bradshaw. Chris (speaking) attended the Melbourne College of Printing and Graphic Arts, completing a five-year apprenticeship in Screen Printing and Stencil Preparation. During the early 1970s I was apprenticed to Alf Evans of A Charles Print, based in an old two-storey house in Elwood where we produced some of the earliest photographic images on tee shirts in Australia – mainly rock bands of the era. I also learned textile printing from master yardage printers supplying the fashion and soft furnishing markets.
I started screen-printing when I was fifteen and it definitely got under my skin, and I am dedicated to maintaining this hands-on tradition. I find that the richness of colour and texture that comes from applying liquid inks onto fabric, wood and paper is far superior to newer methods. Screen-printing deserves to be enjoyed for a while yet.
A few years after my apprenticeship, I teamed up with Alf again in a firm he bought, called Textile Convertors. Maurice Holloway the founder, had sold the business but stayed on as a consultant colourist and this gave his career a new impetus. It was fortunate for us because Morrie’s textile ink and printing experience dated back to the 1930s, and I think he appreciated having a couple of willing students.
I left Melbourne in the 1970s for Western Australia where I set up Snapshot Screen Printing in Mosman Park. At that time, Snapshot was probably the only textile yardage printers in the state (although the great Helen Grey-Smith was an earlier exponent). My visual arts journey has been an interrupted affair, and after some decades away from textile printing, my circuitous life journey has brought me back with a renewed vigour for this enduring craft. It was something I learned when I was young and I loved it. It has never left me.
Blue Lawn Designs was set up by myself and my wife Claire Bradshaw. Our design and screen-printing studio is located on the ground floor of the Pakenham Street Art Space (PSAS) in Fremantle. PSAS is being developed into a creative hub and has an interesting future ahead of it. The building itself is an increasingly rare example of a heritage building, where the building’s origins and its various uses over time can be tracked: a clear line of sight from past to present.
Claire also has a visual arts background and is taking time out from her other life as a writer and editor to revive her creative talents and lend design inspiration to the team. As well as sharing a creative space, we also share a home, two children, debts, domestic tasks and a resilient sense of humour. Original art and design are sources of much enjoyment for us and, increasingly, for our children.
Our backgrounds and interests have converged with a desire to create and sell the types of things that we like, and Blue Lawn Designs is seen as a means of continuing to shape our lives and interests in ways that are fun and satisfying.
All of our products are designed and printed by hand, by us. We sell to those who appreciate authenticity and individual expression (as opposed to mass-produced items or highly derivative imagery). As ever, we aim to produce distinctive products that are of practical and aesthetic value to people everyday. The Blue Lawn design philosophy centres around celebrating the everyday in a new and interesting light: hence the name Blue Lawn, which alludes to a new way of highlighting familiar things in Australia’s natural, and built environment.