Careers In Art: Suzanne Vial

Term: 3 Year: 2008

Lumina Fibre Arts Gallery

Suzanne is the proprietor of Lumina Gallery which represents contemporary Australian fibre arts.

When you were little what did you want to become?
Besides a fairy – a dressmaker!

What did you study at school and university?
I finished Year 12 at Canterbury Girls Secondary College, then on to Fashion Design at Emily MacPherson – now RMIT. It was a three year course, hard work, where I specialized in Marketing in my final year – because I love talking to people more than the drafting of patterns. This final thesis gave me the opportunity to be offered a job at Country Road Australia where I worked for 5 years during a very exciting expansion by the company.

Any career highlights?
Yes, I won a Scholarship at RMIT for Unique Design Work – which was presented by Adele Palmer – a doyen in the fashion industry (JAG founder). My first job in a high profile company like Country Road, where I met very interesting personalities in the fashion trade. I organized fashion parades, fashion garments to go to fashion editors for editorial. I loved to help my bosses pack to travel overseas – they always brought me back some beautiful presents!

What’s your favourite piece of art work?
I love all of Fred Williams art. I also love any Gustav Klimt art.

What period in art history inspires you the most?
Art Deco period – I just love all the colour, the freedom, the elegance.

What book are you reading right now?
I get my cultural “fix” by reading absolutely all and every type of fashion / art magazine I come across. I have a lot of subscriptions to keep abreast of style – because artists ask for advice constantly re colours/style.

What do you do to unwind?
I unwind by exercise a few times a week.
When we go away, we go sailing – just love that wind in your face!
Having a young family helps to keep a perspective too – you are forced to keep a level head planning for them constantly in your week too. I also love to walk my two puppies, a toy poodle and a King Charles Cavalier – we have a lot of fun.

At what age did you decide to make a career from visual arts?
Around about 8 years old – when my mother finally relented and bought me my first sewing machine – you had to wind the wheel for the needle to go up and down. I was destined, I know. My mother, grandmothers and two aunts all were talented in garment making!

Did you ever teach? If so where and for how many years?
No teaching, I’m afraid that requires a very special talent – but I love to have as many artists as possible teach! That’s very rewarding. I just love to learn – and I still do – by watching, listening and talking to other artists.

What is your favourite medium to work with?
Fabric naturally – any and all types – most especially natural fibres are still my preferred.

What are some of the negative aspects of your job?
I don’t really have any – maybe the paperwork of running a small business but I’m getting on top of that, slowly – it never ends!

What is something you would love to do that you haven’t already done?
I’d love to travel more – to see more – to know more – about other cultures. I’ll do that one day – soon!

Where do you get most of your inspiration?
Again, magazines, newspapers, written material – anything visual is very nutritional.

What fellow artist has most influenced you?
John Galliano and Vivienne Westwood.

What’s your favourite piece of work to date?
I made a fabulous kimono of pure ivory silk and printed huge leaves all over – it’s enormous and I adore it. It’s on display at home! And I will wear it one day – on the right occasion.

What is your favourite piece of clothing in your wardrobe?
The above kimono – it makes me smile and I love to touch the silk!
In fact, I have a couple of kimonos now – all of which I love to wear.

Who would you most like to sit next to on a flight to Europe?
Vivienne Westwood to glean her inspiration and just listen to her talk!

If you were speaking to a secondary school student who was showing interest in following in your footsteps, what advice would you give them?
Follow a passion – because that will be your success!  Talk to as many people in your passionate industry as possible – they will be honest.  You will know your passion – follow with your spirit and your heart – it will lead you to a big beautiful world!

Lumina Gallery often holds exhibitions throughout the year that involve student artworks as well as established textile artists work. Visit for more information on Lumina Gallery. Lumina Gallery is located at 89 Waverley Road, East Malvern 3145