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Aussie fashion faves launch capsule collection for ovarian cancer research

Aussie fashion faves Camilla & Marc this week announced a philanthropic capsule collection designed to stylishly raise both awareness and much-needed funding to further develop an early detection test for ovarian cancer. 

Titled ‘Ovaries. Talk About Them’, 100 percent of proceeds from the new unisex line of limited-edition t-shirts and hoodies will go directly to ovarian cancer research.

Motivated by the devastating loss of their mother to ovarian cancer, Camilla & Marc’s creative director Camilla Freeman-Topper and CEO Marc Freeman launched the first Ovaries. Talk About Them campaign in 2020. To date, they’ve raised more than $225,000.

“There is still no early diagnosis test for ovarian cancer, almost 30 years after my mother’s death, largely due to a lack of awareness and funding, which is just so hard to believe,” says Freeman-Topper.

“Ovarian cancer is the deadliest female cancer and is in dire need of attention. Over 300,000 women worldwide die annually from the disease, often because of a late diagnosis and that’s simply not good enough. It’s so difficult because we all want to be preventative and get checked but there’s currently no way to do this.”

“We’re proud of what we’ve achieved to date, but there’s much work to be done. In honour of our mother and all of those affected by this disease, for 2021 we’re launching a bold unisex campaign to get both women and men talking. If we can detect this disease early, it will be a game changer for women’s health.”

The 2021 limited-edition t-shirts (available in black or white) and luxe camel-hued hoodie will be available to Kiwis online at camillaandmarc.com, and Camilla & Marc is encouraging those who buy a piece to share their experience on social media with the tags #ovariestalkaboutthem #powerandsolidarity and #camillaandmarc.

In the studio with gardenscape artist Karl Maughan

Despite a more than 30-year career painting his distinctive and much-loved gardenscapes, celebrated Wellington artist Karl Maughan says it’s a style he’s never felt like straying from, describing flowers as his artistic ‘language’.

Photography by Tobias Kraus

On a warm spring morning in his Wellington studio, Karl Maughan is working on his latest painting for an upcoming exhibition at Auckland’s Gow Langsford Gallery. The show coincides with the release of a new book, Karl Maughan, edited by Hannah Valentine and Gabriella Stead. It’s the first dedicated to his life and long-standing career.

“The paintings are based on Monet’s garden at Giverny, but set in New Zealand,” he says. “So native New Zealand flowers, trees, gardens and hills, but working from a lot of the plant structure and form of Monet’s garden, using photographs from various trips there.”

Unlike the reclusive Monet, Maughan is a social artist, happy to talk as he paints and often welcoming his friends and family to stop by the studio while he works. He goes on to describe the process of his current work, explaining how he likes to collaborate. “I work on the principle of getting the background done, then all the leaves in, then working the flowers in, then the leaves back over,” he says. “Right now, I’m starting with some blue sky and darker green. A friend comes in to help me block it all, so I’m just figuring out what I want to paint next.”

In a way, Maughan’s pathway into gardenscapes was laid out for him. His father painted in his spare time; his mother was a talented horticulturist and landscape designer. It was on a road trip in the 1980s that a young Maughan found the inspiration for his works, stopping by his parents’ home to take photographs of his mother’s garden.

‘Aro Valley’ (1999), 2285 x 2590mm, oil on canvas, Arts Council Collection, Southbank Centre, London

“The time of year was dead winter, so the garden was stripped out, things torn out, waiting for spring to arrive. I thought, ‘that’s interesting. The photos of his mother’s wintry garden represent a very different picture to the gardens Maughan, now known for his grand, visceral and blossoming gardenscapes, would go on to paint.

After studying at Auckland’s Elam School of Fine Arts under the tutelage of Dick Frizzell, he took off to London to mingle with fellow expat artists, where awards and a discovery by famous art collector Charles Saatchi propelled him into prominence. Now regarded as one of New Zealand’s best-known garden painters, Maughan says it’s a style he’s never felt like straying from, describing flowers as his artistic ‘language’.

With hundreds of paintings to his name, what is it about gardens that fascinate him so much? “With real-life gardens, you have the ability to pull a plant out, trim it down, make it how you want. But only up to a point, because nature always fights back,” he says. “When you’re painting gardens, you can do anything. Take out that giant tree, or put a pond in. I can literally do whatever I like and not be restricted by the image. That’s the fun aspect of painting.” The history of gardens is another aspect of the subject matter that deepens his obsession. “There’s a huge history that you’re tapping into when you look at the works. There’s this whole tapestry of what a garden is to people. It goes right back to the practice of fencing off the forest and making something inside that is safe and idyllic.”

Straying inevitably to talk of the pandemic, Maughan says the country’s response is, in some way, a modern reflection of this desire to fence ourselves off from danger and create spaces of safety. “New Zealand has literally done just that with the COVID-19 barrier. It’s amazing in its own way.”

As much as he is drawn to the romance of gardens, Maughan is also fascinated by the uneasiness that finds its way into the frame – what he describes as ‘menace’. “It’s the feeling that the colours are a little too intense, the lighting somewhat unrealistic, that something is hidden behind the beauty. It’s a funny thing,” says Maughan, describing the ‘looming-ness’ of some of the paintings. “Sometimes it just looks so beautiful, you think, ‘What is around that corner? What’s lurking?’”

‘Plume Poppies’ (1987), triptych, each panel 2000 x 1000mm, oil on canvas, private collection

As curator Gregory O’Brien describes it in the last chapter of the book, Maughan’s paintings illustrate the belief that “beauty must be tempered with oddness”. It’s a notion that the artist delights in. “It’s a great thing to have this slightly scary, stray presence that you can’t quite put your finger on.”

Maughan works on several paintings at once and each one typically takes just one to two weeks to finish. As his career has evolved, his gardenscapes have intensified, evident in their brighter colours, deeper pigments, as well as the energy of his brushstrokes.

In 2002, a scare with an eye tumour that threatened his vision was one catalyst for this renewed celebration of brightness, colour and depth. “I felt lucky to get through [the surgery], and subsequently enjoyed diving into colour and trying to evoke every kind of emotion with paint. I love eliciting that feeling of being able to climb into the painting, to wander around in the frame and discover what’s behind something,” he says.

Looking back at his more than three decades-long career, Maughan admits he is a more self-assured painter than in his early days. “I used to angst and worry, now I’m more confident,” he says. He’s quick to add, however, that it’s the small failures along the way that keep the work interesting.

“It’ll surprise you. Something might not work and you’ll have to scrape it off and try something else. But one of the delights of painting is that it’s not foolproof.”

Originally published in December 2020.