In a period of time when we're inundated with what feels like consistent bad news, we wanted to put some emphasis on the positive. This is another instalment in "Collective Conversations," a weekly series focusing on a woman we think is awesome + what she's all about. This week we're talking to Abbey Rich, a multidisciplinary artist, designer and tattooist here in Melbourne. You may have spotted her work around- possibly in the form of larger-than-life outdoor mural, a select painting in a restaurant or a drawing handpoked onto the arm of a passer-by. She talked to us about accessible art, assumptions and what food means to her.

1. Describe yourself in three words? 

Passionate, a-bit-chaotic and determined. 

2. What does heritage and tradition mean to you? 

I think of all the incredible cultures of the world and how important they are and as a white settler in a colonised country it mostly is a reminder of the destruction of this incredible land and its people. I think heritage and tradition are what make communities rich and full of life and am excited for more of us settlers and those who have come to this country to actively engage in listening to and learning from Aboriginal culture. 

3. Something that you’re passionate about? 

A lot of things, but my current focus is making public art collaborative and accessible. I’m really excited to be working on a series of community co-designed public art works made in collaboration with the people that use the spaces. 

4. Who do you most admire? 

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez! Honestly offfftttt she’s AMAZING. Obviously, I would never be as cool and incredible as AOC but my parallel life dream is to be in politics, so I spend a lot of time listening and reading and admiring.  

5. What is a weekly/monthly/fortnightly ritual or tradition you do for yourself? 

At the moment in current lock down life I try each weekend to give myself time to read, I’m also trying once a week at least to ring a friend and catch up. In this weird time, I’ve found it hard to socialise this way and not hug or cook a meal for the people I love. 

​6. What is something you're proud of? 

Being an artist, trying to forge my own path without conceding my values. 

7. What is something you do to be kind to yourself? 

Taking the whole day off in summer to go swimming in the ocean and cook my friends a huge meal, I really love cooking for people.  

8. What are some traditions that you’ve adopted from somewhere or someone else? 

I think food preparation is definitely a tradition I’ve picked up as an adult, as I’ve travelled and just spent time with people who really love food- I’ve adopted lots of recipes and ways of enjoying food. I didn’t really get it growing up (sorry mum and dad) but the food we ate wasn’t the most flavour filled or varied so my ‘traditional,’ food isn’t something I cook now. My partner and I (pre covid) would throw dinner parties for our friends a few times a week and it honestly brings me so much joy. We’re spoiled in Brunswick/Coburg too visiting small spice shops and specific grocers trying to find the right ingredients. 

9. How do you align and connect with your intuition? 

It’s the only real thing that guides me, as the years go on I am afforded a larger sense of trust in my own decisions as a result of that connection with my intuition. I don’t actively try to connect anymore – it just kinda does. 

10. What is an assumption others make about you? 

I think often people think I studied art, but I have no formal training. I tried studying Textile Design for a bit but never made it through the course. 

11. Is there an item you would like to see from Collective Closets in the future? 

Ooooh everything is so good already so I’m really just making shit up – I’m trying to think back in case you’ve already done this but maybe a sun hat? I love the check fabrics you use and think they’d look beautiful as a wide brimmed hat.

You can follow Abbey on Instagram here and visit her site + store here.

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