The creative escape of The ARTL—NE's Amy Henderson

Images by Lillie Thompson

As the founder of an agency devoted to multidisciplinary creatives, Amy Henderson evidently has a penchant for the world of art. It’s a passion which not only weaves its way through her work life, but that of her home too, a warehouse apartment in Richmond overflowing in wonders. The Melbourne-based founder of The ARTL—NE (and the adjoining digital publication The ART—CLE) has called this space home for the past two decades, slowly layering it with new creations from talented friends and colleagues in that time. This week Amy welcomed us into her unforgettable abode to talk creative expression, styling as a journey, and (of course) the world of art.

Amy's bed is dressed with IN BED 100% Linen Sheet Set in Chestnut.

I moved into my warehouse apartment in Richmond in 2003 — I was 20 at the time and at university. I remember vividly the day I went through it for the first time. I immediately knew it was special and it immediately felt like home. I fell in love with its proportions, its flow, the high ceilings, concrete floors and the buckets of natural light. Despite its location in the belly of Richmond, my apartment has always been a sanctuary from my busy day-to-day life and has allowed me to move with ease between community connection and seclusion. 

"The space changes immensely from day to night. During the day, I can hear the buzz of the area — trams, passersby, cafe culture, kids in the primary school at the end of the street. And at night, after the offices, pubs and surrounding sports stadiums empty, the area goes incredibly still and quiet. 

"When I am in the space, I love the open plan environment and being able to move from one pocket of the living room and kitchen area to another. I spend a lot of time with the bi-fold doors to my Juliet balcony open, enjoying the way the apartment fills with periphery inner-city sounds.

I have slowly collected art and objects. The feeling of the space and my style has changed a lot since I first moved in, and it is only in the last few years that I have started to weave everything together and find the apartment’s interior aesthetic and its flow. Each collected piece has a story, a reason for being — some are pieces I have collected myself and others have been gifted to me by friends, family, or by artists I have been fortunate to work alongside, like Steven Clark from DenHolm and Sarah Nedovic.

"I tend to discover artists and then gravitate to a piece from there. I feel lucky to have artwork created by Brendan Huntley, Marta Bonilla, Greg Wood, Alexander Kirkeby, Lilli Waters, Adam Cornish, Greg Hatton, Lucas Grogan, Joost Bakker, Saskia Folk, Magnus Reid and my Mum, sculptor Titania Henderson

"My favourite piece in the apartment at the moment is in my kitchen, and is by William Mackinnon. It is a piece taken from his sketchbook, titled In my secret life and was a gift from my Mum and Dad — I love it. My Dad passed away last year and so this piece holds more significance now than ever — it reminds me of the landscape we explored and admired together and our shared love of the novelist Cormac McCarthy who, like Mackinnon, balances wonder and darkness in an extraordinary way. This particular  piece embodies a crossover between a real and ethereal world — I think of Dad when I am looking at it.

The feeling of the space and my style has changed a lot since I first moved in, and it is only in the last few years that I have started to weave everything together and find the apartment’s interior aesthetic and flow.

When it comes to furniture, I tend to lean toward strong design pieces. Because of this, the space has come together slowly — I believe in investing in key, timeless pieces that make a statement, hold space in the room, and that I can create an environment around. 

"Above all, I love my Massimo & Lella Vignelli ‘Metafora’ coffee table. I had always wanted one with a black marble base and stumbled across mine one day at Castorina in Fitzroy. It was the first significant and special piece I bought for myself for the apartment and I hope, a piece I have with me for years to come.

I believe in investing in key, timeless pieces that make a statement, hold space in the room, and that I can create an environment around.

I don’t spend a lot of time in my bedroom, it is very much a space of rest and ritual for me. My bedroom can be seen from both the open plan living area and the bathroom and so it was important to me that the pieces in there, whilst functional, showcased art in the same way as the main space. I wanted to be able to enjoy the pieces in this room as much as possible, no matter where I was in the apartment. I never specifically bought pieces for the bedroom — I just slowly pieced it together from works collected over time and created the space. 

"I have a photo in this room, taken by Lilli Waters, and gifted to me by a group of friends 13 years ago  — it’s a piece I hold dear to me and I love that I have recently connected with Lilli through work and the community."

Amy's bed is dressed with IN BED 100% Linen Pillowslips in Chestnut.

Having lived in the same suburb for two decades, I have seen the area change immensely. It is important to me to be able to access nature and I have always loved that Richmond feels central, a middle ground. I am able to easily get to the bay for a morning swim, or Merri Creek, its many trails and ever changing environment. I can also walk to the city and am a stone’s throw from the NGV and surrounding galleries, when in need of inspiration. I enjoy being out and about and whilst some of my favourite haunts are northside, I am loving new local restaurants and wine bars, like Clover, that are starting to fill my weekends and bring me back into Richmond. 

"I like to feel connected to the community. The scattergun combination of residential and commercial spaces in Richmond brings an energy that I love and offers diversity from weekday to weekend. Over the last few years, the area surrounding me is quickly filling with creative offices and there has always been a strong focus on design in the area too.

The scattergun combination of residential and commercial spaces in Richmond brings an energy that I love and offers diversity from weekday to weekend.

I have never felt connected to a particular style or aesthetic and I think this is probably obvious when entering my apartment. I have organically created a style that is reflective of my love of art and design, and a collection of pieces I have curated together. If I feel connected to a piece of furniture, art or an object, I will buy it and I will piece it together with everything else — the space has come to life in that way. 

"I remember earlier on feeling like I needed to find my aesthetic and fill the space immediately. It was my Mum who told me to slow down, to see it as a journey, a work in progress. It’s only in the last few years that I truly feel I have created an environment and a space that is reflective of me and that I love to spend time in, more than ever. Everyday I look around and feel I have created something special for myself and when I open my home to guests, I feel proud to host them in my space."

This is what home should feel like — creatively expressed and a memory box of stories, collected over time — in my case, two decades. 

The ARTL—NE is very special to me. I never set out to do something different, but I had full intention to do what exists, differently. I wanted to create a through the line creative agency that represented multidisciplinary artists. The desire for diversity on the roster came from my own personal passions and interests and I am continuously excited and inspired by this. 

"The concept of the agency had been beating inside of me for a long time, I just couldn’t see clearly the road ahead — on reflection, I was sitting in fear. When you care and empathise in what you do, it becomes more than a career and because of this, your belief can be daunting. I woke up one night during Covid and wrote down the name of the business. It was settled, finally, I could see down the line and I knew I was ready. 

"At the core of it, it is a simple concept and focus. It is about the incredible artists we are fortunate to represent day-to-day, it’s about our community — how we nurture and contribute to it, our service and our responsibility — and it is about creating relationships and work that we are collectively proud of.

I was inspired to create The ARTL—NE based on the exposure, experience and mentorship I had received over the last decade across talent management, art and design. Earlier on in my career I was working in the sporting industry and mentored by a very well regarded sports talent agent. I was also fortunate to be given the opportunity to meet and work with one of Australia’s leading fashion photographers and it was, ultimately, both these walks of life, combined with a strong interest in and passion for the industry, as a result of my upbringing, that led me here. 

"I recognised that there was a bigger role to be played for both emerging and established artists and that, in addition to the creation of strong visibility and outcomes for them, they needed and wanted greater day-to-day business support — a team of people that worked alongside them and that played an in-house role for them, in their own respective businesses. 

"Prior to starting The ARTL—NE, I had been managing creatives for 10 years. I only ever represented one at a time as I was also working full-time for brands and agencies. I was meeting and mentoring creatives and building a network in the industry. I was regularly asked by brands and agencies to share with them recommendations for campaign and content briefs,  across many sectors — I was connecting the right people with the right opportunity. None of it was planned, I just worked hard to be able to do everything I wanted to do, unknowingly planting the seeds for what lay ahead. 

"Having also worked in the advertising industry for a number of years, I recognised how important the role of task and project management was, guided from end-to-end, and the positive impact a streamlined service for clients could make. And so it made sense to me that suddenly each of the career paths and opportunities I had taken were the components needed for the type of agency I wanted to create, the environment I wanted to work in and the way I wanted to work with creatives and their clients."

I studied photography at high school and went on to major in visual arts at university. My Mum is an artist and has always had a strong interest in and passion for art and design, which ultimately became the foundation for my own. Mum’s artistic knowledge, and her ability to recognise and collect the work of emerging talent, is something I have always admired. An instinct I now recognise in myself, just exercised in a different way. 

"For years I have researched artists globally. I have a folder of saved imagery that includes studios, talent and the work of both emerging and established artists I love and want to learn more about, connect with and hear from. And it was this that largely inspired us to create our online publication, The ART—CLE. A publication that is aimed at facilitating connection and collaboration between artists, globally. A publication we hope provides us and our industry insight into what we can improve on, how we can better support creatives, what the community are wanting to hear from one another and, importantly, provides exposure to artists yet to be seen or heard."

I am really looking forward to what is ahead for The ARTL—NE this year. In addition to continuing to build momentum and aligned opportunity for our existing roster of creatives, we will be holding a group show at Melbourne Design Week, launching Issue 02 of The ART—CLE in May and developing community events with a purpose to connect and share industry knowledge as a way of building better outcomes for us all, collectively. 

"We have recently been appointed the ongoing creative agency for a number of brands, leading creative direction via TRiC through to campaign delivery, and will be expanding our multidisciplinary roster and announcing some new, thoughtfully curated additions. We’re taking things slowly, focused on working with aligned creatives, brands, agencies and our community.


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