Felix Allen is the calm & curious mind behind collection of bespoke creations, Somewhere South. A young whittler & craftsman, he makes strong and honest pieces with inventors, adventurers & wanderers in mind.
Felix has been a good friend to The Society Inc. for many years and we love having his fishing hooks, tiny timber Turkish eyes & enormous sheds inspired by the net-drying sheds of Hastings all sitting (or standing) proudly in our shop.
Can you describe your workspace and location in detail?
My workshop is in an old industrial area 5 minutes from home, halfway between the Tasman Sea and a Mountainside covered in gumtrees and rainforest. The workshop has had a million different lives, from brewing beer to building tractors. It’s beneath these giant metal silos, which tower over my little wooden shed like skyscrapers. I built my shed under the branches of a huge tree. It has a wood fire inside and is jam packed with materials, tools, experiments and paintings of sailing ships.
Which part of the creative process excites you the most?
I am constantly sketching little ideas in my notebook and recording all my thoughts on paper but nothing beats just going out and physically making prototypes, experiments and collecting all the great raw materials I use to make things. There are always new materials, techniques and processes to discover and learn.
What are your favourite materials to work with? Where do you source them?
My favourite material at the moment (this usually changes every couple of days) is coal, I find it on my adventures to the mountainside near my house, littered on the forest floor, hidden in old mine shafts, and lately washed up on the beach in perfect round pebbles. Coal is ancient forests buried under pressure over millions of years and has played a big role in the history of my town, so it means more to me than just a material. I try to find this personal connection and story in all the materials I use. Old bricks, weathered copper and lead are my other current obsessions.
What keeps you inspired?
I love local history and the local environment, there is always a new place to discover whether its digging for buried treasure on the beach, exploring abandoned buildings or climbing ancient fig trees in the rainforest. I get a lot of inspiration from both nature and man-made items. I love trees (I still can’t believe how awesome it is that we can make so many things from them) and I love broken things like broken glass and how they were made, used, broken and discarded.
What do you do in your spare time?
When I’m not at work I like adventuring, surfing, bushwalking, painting, sitting by the fire, gardening, collecting things like bottles, feathers and rusty things and going to markets and garage sales. I’m also halfway through restoring an old wooden boat that I bought from an amazing old couple down the coast for only $50! One of my best ever finds.
Who would you love to chat with over a drink?
I wouldn’t mind having a dinner party with a bunch of inventors and explorers from history such as Nikola Tesla, Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein, Alexander Graham-Bell, Jacques Cousteau and Leonardo Da Vinci. There would be some wild ideas and arguments going on around that table! Maybe I would bring Margaret Olley along too, I think she would keep them all in line.