Well Hi There!

Well Hi There!

Happy New Year. I hope you had a delightful break & were able to welcome 2024 surrounded by the people that mean the most. I had the best time attending at kids countdown at Clancy’s Pub in Fremantle. There was a petting zoo & the countdown happened at 8pm, meaning I could happily be in bed by 9pm. (I’m unsure when I became one of “those” people but I’ll make no apologies for it) & being around my chosen family has made me realise that you may not actually know me yet & I’m sorry because I feel this may be the only reason your here!

You can’t have The Sumner Collective without the Sumner, I am my brand & my brand is me. Yes this does make my work days more complicated, more emotionally fuelled, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m fabulous & talented & that’s what makes TSC special. I’m fierce with beautiful core values & that’s why people resonate with what I’m doing, & really I’m very charismatic & extraverted so I’m kinda hard to ignore (ask anyone who I’ve decided to befriend, they don’t really have a say in the matter) but enough about how generally great I am. You want to know how did I get here? what are these talents? & how do I use them? Well today’s substack, rather than being about the biz, is about the person who runs the show. (I hope you like them)!

I’m Elly Sumner, I’m a 33 year old, female identifying artist living on Whadjuk Noogar Boodja. My home has been many places around the world but is currently in Hamilton Hill with my partner James, our dog Andy, our cat Jenny (Grem) & our 10 chooks. We compost our food waste in our worm farm, collective honey from our beehive & I grow a small permaculture, edible garden on our rental property (yes we got very lucky with our landlords). I’m a controversial vegan, I only eat animal products from our garden so I can enable practices that I approve of. I’m a lover of the ocean, for me there’s nothing better than salty skin & sandy toes. I’m an atheist although I strictly follow “do unto others as they would have do unto you”. I’m a feminist & I’m a Greens voter. Above all, I’m a creator.

I guess you could say this started 33 years ago (my parents definitely would) I have a graphic designer for a father so I’ve always been immersed in the art world, back then, before photoshop, I remember watching dad spray painting his designs & always enjoying the colours. I would get into his felt tip pen collection or his coloured charcoals & we would draw from our imagination around the dining table with my sister. So the only thing I’ve been really sure about my whole life (apart from my love for my family) is my love for art.

I was accepted into the “Gifted & Talented Art Program” at my high school, this ment I had to attend school on Saturday mornings through the school term (yes it made me an “art nerd”) but it was an amazing program & all the students loved attending it. I went to TAFE part time in year 11 & 12 to earn a Cert 3 in Design Fundamentals to further my art training.

I got accepted into WAAPA in 2009 and studied “Costume Construction for Theatre” for 4 years. To those who have also been to WAAPA, if you know you know, & to those you don’t I’d say your lucky not too. It was HARD training, necessary, but hard. Looking back I’m unsure how I managed to maintain any glimpse of a social life during these years but I guess I was 18 so I was probably just choosing not to sleep.

When I graduated uni I was head strong on “making it” (whatever that was) & I booked a one way ticket to the big apple with one of my closest friends. We were only there on a 1 year visa so we had to make the most of it & somewhere along the way I lost sight of my career goals & just started saying yes to the fun, sleepless & ever so spontaneous nights that New York offered. I did manage to work for Off Broadway, Broadway & makers houses that allowed me to create for The Rockettes & Victoria’s Secret Fashion Runway so the year wasn’t a total bust & I have no regrets my memories of this time are still held dearly in my heart.

Laura & I left New York in 2013 for more fun & less sleep backpacking around Central & South America for 6 months before returning to Perth with not a dime to our names. We stayed at home for just under a year mooching off our parents & squirrelling away every dollar we could to save for our next great adventure. It was during this time that I fell into the beginning of my career as a mascot maker.

In 2015 we moved to London, unfortunately for Laura, I (thought I) had found love in Perth prior to this move & lived in a wallowing regret for the first 9 months of this trip. I booked a flight home over Christmas to sort myself out, which I did, & which started my “best of both worlds” era. Every year I would work for 9 months in London & then as close as I could to Christmas I would fly home & enjoy a summer of fun with my mates. The first couple of years in London was about climbing the ladder, I worked on West End shows such as Pricilla & Lord of the Dance but I eventually found I could make more money perusing those mascots I was talking about earlier. This was great for my bank account but not for my mental health, I’m a great mascot maker but I wasn’t in love with the mass production & lack of use of creativity. I started calling in sick more often & taking more unpaid holidays. Then the saving grace of my theatrical career, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre offered me a backstage role & I ended up coming back to them every summer season until my visa ran out in late 2019.

I guess that brings me closer to current times, somewhere between there & now we had a small pandemic which pushed me to “rebrand” as a permaculture gardener. I studied a Cert 3 for 6 months in Horticulture & spent a year & a half working as an indoor plant expert followed by a year & a half as a restaurant gardener for Coogee Common.

4 months ago I quit Coogee to peruse this lil biz full time which has been the most exhilarating & terrifying thing I’ve ever chosen for my career & here we are. I feel I’ve been yabbering a little too long so next week I’ll peel back that layer of the onion that is each of my current skills but thank you for staying with me! I really didn’t know if you’d find me this interesting so there you go!

Cheers big ears & Stay safe,

Elly Sumner.

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