Nurit Ophir, Marrickville, NSW
Images by Saskia Wilson
In penning this article, we got to know the incredible artist Nurit Ophir on a number of different levels. Firstly, over email as we organised to visit her beautifully restored family home. By phone as we selected the perfect combination of linen to work back with Nurit’s existing IN BED collection. But it was in person that we were truly able to appreciate the artist’s warmth and hospitality as she welcomed us into her home. Nurit’s art is organic yet complex, her inspiration traces back to a childhood spent in northern Israel and merges with a fascination and love for the Australian bush; we spoke to Nurit to draw a line between these two worlds and learn more about her creative practice and life here in Sydney.
“My home is a late Victorian Gothic house with a contemporary addition at the rear. There’s a studio in the backyard, a courtyard, and a veggie garden. We always intended that the long hallway would be an introduction through the historical part of the house into the newly designed open living space. Since we bought this house over 20 years we have shaped it to be a place we feel at home and we hope to live here for many years to come.”
I enjoy living close to the Cook River, the walking and bicycle tracks, the parks, the kid’s playgrounds and open spaces to walk our dog. These days I don’t often go to cafes but I like The General, Roastville Coffee, Bourke Street Bakery, Paesanella Cheese and the Marrickville Sunday Market. I also enjoy spending time at our local bookshop, Glebe Books.
Nurit’s bed is dressed in an IN BED 100% linen fitted sheet in white, flat sheet in khaki, duvet cover and pillowslip set in cool grey with extra pillowslips in white and an alpaca throw in grey check.
“Our bedroom is located in the older part of the house. It has two large windows and a decorative pressed metal ceiling. On the bedroom walls we have a mix of large and small art works created by friends of ours. The larger focal works are a treasured oil painting of my childhood landscape in Israel, which was given to me by my parents, a print by Seraphina Martin and a plant fibre woven wall piece I have made.”
On the bedroom walls we have a mix of large and small art works created by friends of ours.
“We have a few bronze sculptures by various Australian artists from the years my husband was working at Crawford’s Casting, a fine art foundry based in Sydney. In particular I like the sculpture of a young boy which was made by David Rae (1924-2007), and the abstract sculpture of a woman figure by Phyllis Koshland.”
Nurit’s home is full of art work and objects, each with their own story to tell. More recently, Nurit has also been hanging pieces of her own work (pictured right) Artwork in Nurit’s home.
“I also love our photograph of Lake Eyer by Australian photographer Peter Elfes, and the folkloristic Cuban painting of Santeria : Obatala, who is the goddess of peace, justice and pureness. In our living room we have a colourful rug from the Caucuses which carries a strong sentimental value for me, since it has been brought back from Europe by my grandparents after the Second World War.”
A selection of Nurit’s sculptural, woven baskets and wall hangings in her home studio.
“For the past 2 years, after 15 years of working as a music therapist, I have attended several workshops where I’ve become familiar with and inspired by the work of a few plant fibre artists. Since then, I have been creating sculptural vessels and wall pieces which incorporate traditional weaving and basketry methods.”
“My interest in craft, art and design application began at a young age, which led me to pursue diverse studies in Israel, England and Australia. I trace the inspiration to my work back to my childhood on a kibbutz in northern Israel near the Sea of Galilee. I have had versatile previous experiences in silversmithing, papier-mâché, knitting, and textile design and printing.”
My interest in craft, art and design application began at a young age, which led me to pursue diverse studies in Israel, England and Australia.
The start of Nurit’s creative process includes sourcing natural fibres which are hung and dried in preparation for her work to begin.
“My art making process begins with fossicking for suitable found natural fibers in my local area. While I predominantly use native plant material, I also enjoy using materials from various origins that provide interesting textural contrast. I work with dry harvested material, which I then soak to make it pliable for weaving. The form a piece will take is dictated by the materials at hand. It’s an intuitive process which keeps me close to nature and on a meditative journey of making.”
“I use traditional methods like plaiting, stitching, coiling and twining and I continue to enjoy experimenting with shapes of vessels or baskets with a strong emphasis on the form and texture rather than the function of the object. When I arrived in Australia, I was immediately drawn to the bush and to the unique flora and fauna. The forms and colors were completely new to me and inspired a new direction in my creative path.”
I use traditional methods like plaiting, stitching, coiling and twining and I continue to enjoy experimenting with shapes of vessels or baskets.
“[Outside of the studio] I like going for walks in unfamiliar streets or bush walks out of town. I like to travel overseas when I can. I listen to music or podcasts while I weave. I read, watch foreign language films and enjoy cooking for my family and friends (but not too often).
For the rest of the year, I am looking forward to being part of 1-2 group exhibitions, to take a trip to Western Australia to see the wildflowers in spring time and hopefully to travel overseas to visit my elderly dad.”
Nurit’s bed is dressed in an IN BED 100% linen fitted sheet in white, flat sheet in khaki, a duvet cover and pillowslip set in cool grey with extra pillowslips in white and an alpaca throw in grey check.
Nurit’s pieces are available to purchase directly. For enquiries or commissions, email Nurit or see more of her beautiful work on instagram. For our photoshoot Nurit wore an outfit made by ethical fashion label The Social Outift.