Fashion / Style

Catherine Clayton-Smith on her practice, nostalgia, and Oroton’s Resort 22 collection

catherine clayton-smith oroton

In partnership with Oroton

Nostalgia is everywhere. From the song that evokes it to the smell of the air at a certain time of day, conjuring memories of time and place through sensory experience is part of the human condition. It's also the key touchpoint for Oroton's Resort 22 collection, as well as a key theme in artist Catherine Clayton-Smith's practice. Both are grounded in nature, and for Resort 22 the two are coming together to lean into what it means.

"As we go about our lives we still hold all of the experiences from the past with us. I think it's important that we consider past experience as well as being engaged in the present. As time moves we can reassess that history and take new meaning from it." Clayton-Smith says, echoing the sentiment of Oroton creative director, Sophie Holt, whose Resort 22 collection draws on time-honoured details like embroidery, hand-stitching, and charming motifs, marrying it with an interpretation of the times.

The result is a collection that is laden with nostalgia, joy and freedom. Prints that capture the mood are layered with classic tailoring and leather bombers offering masculinity amid lace blouses and party dresses. The collection is rendered in a palette of seafoam blues and neutrals, mirroring Clayton-Smith's most recent work. Here, lensed by Sam Armstrong, Clayton-Smith walks us through her practice, the feeling of nostalgia, and Oroton's Resort 22 collection.


Tell me about your practice…

I make paintings that I construct from fragments of many different kinds of imagery and experiences. I have a large archive of photos that I have taken as well as those saved from social media, advertising, and historical & current press. When creating a work I weave this diverse range of source material together. Taking a colour, line, form or idea from sometimes hundreds of different types of images to create a new space that holds these memories together.


A lot of your work touches on themes of memory and observation. Can you talk a bit about how these themes can be components of nostalgia?

Yes my work is layered with memories of both my own and the global past. As we go about our lives we still hold all of the experiences from the past with us. I think it's important that we consider past experience as well as being engaged in the present. As time moves we can reassess that history and take new meaning from it.


What does nostalgia look like to you?

For me, my paintings become the site & embodiment of nostalgia reimagined. Collectively we also witness nostalgia through the expressions on our faces. In someone's smile or glint in their eyes you can catch a glimpse of their entire history held within their face. There is a beauty of the deepening of lines of ageing as they hold onto the depth of experiences lived.


catherine clayton-smith oroton


The palette of Oroton’s Resort 22 collection is grounded in blues and neutrals which can also be seen in your recent work – what do these colours represent to you?

Nature often has a starring role in my paintings. Even though I may be working away in my studio I bring it into my work to create a new space from the combination of many different times. Subtle shifts in blue can bring forth memories of the skies or bodies of water in many different places, which can expand out to relive the experiences within those different locations. The colours of my homeland of Aotearoa New Zealand are very different to those of my current home in Sydney, Australia so you'll often see a whole spectrum of different shades in my work.


Walk us through what you wear in the studio?

When my favourite pieces of clothing have worn out beyond repair, they join my studio wardrobe. When I'm working I don't want to be concerned about getting a bit of paint on myself so I don't tend to wear anything too precious or brand new.


catherine clayton-smith oroton


catherine clayton-smith oroton

What about out of the studio?

I love quite vivid colours, print and texture, mixed with black or neutrals to balance an outfit. I'm always busy and running around so comfort has become increasingly important to me. I always have my eye out for stretchy knits and mesh when shopping so I can move around with ease.


What does the word “freedom” make you think of?

In the simplest of ways, just being able to wake up in the morning and decide what I'm going to do that day depending on my mood and the weather. I like to live very much in the moment and give myself a lot of flexibility in my working schedule. I do still tend to work seven days a week but I make sure to allow myself time to go for a walk or meet up with friends. I've learned that the best artwork is made when I let my body and mind pick my hours.


catherine clayton-smith oroton


Shop the Oroton Resort 22 collection, here.


STYLIST Hannah Cooper

HMUA Teneille Sorgiovanni at After Winter


TALENT Catherine Clayton-Smith

Special Thanks to Chalk Horse Gallery.

Oroton Resort 22 worn throughout. Model's own shoes.

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