In Conversation: Milne & Stonehouse Q&A




With a diverse art practice spanning over two decades, Susan Milne and Greg Stonehouse’s transformative works have left an indelible mark on public spaces and galleries both locally and abroad. Embracing a collaborative approach, Milne & Stonehouse consider their practice, significant in promoting economic vitality, enhancing well-being, sparking innovation, fostering social engagement, and nurturing the environment.

Their latest creation, 'Cloud Seeds,' is poised to captivate audiences at our upcoming build-to-rent development in Parramatta. An ambitious project, that encompasses the successive waves of migration, and environmental impacts have helped to shape Parramatta’s rich and compelling history.

Join us on this extraordinary artistic adventure as we delve into the visionary universe of Milne & Stonehouse, where art defies boundaries, sparks curiosity, and forges profound connections between people and their surroundings.

Who is Milne & Stonehouse and describe the work that you do as Artists?

We are a collaborative team who have worked together for over twenty years as well as pursuing our individual work. Many of our permanent artworks are in the public realm throughout Australia and we have exhibited ephemeral artworks in St Petersburg Russia and New York USA.

What is your creative process for conceptualising a new work?

Our work is site specific or responsive to the environment. The conceptual development is initiated by engagement with site to glean the histories, the present users and its community. Sketches are produced and a critical dialogue ensues to examine the form, materials, role and viewing perspectives of potential ideas. Over the years, we have become less precious about authorship and focused upon the most exciting ideas.


What was it about the Charlie Parker project that spoke to you?

Besides the building’s proximity to the original creek which flowed into the Parramatta River, and the architectural merit of the design, the artwork location suspended in the soffit contextualised our ideas. As Parramatta develops its role as the city heartland of Sydney, the significance of its prior plant life, seed distribution and creek environment were a rich source for our concept.

Talk us through the construction of ‘Cloud Seeds’, what materials, tools do you use and
how do you manage a creative project that is so detailed?

The design development of the idea was worked through with Tilt Industrial Design who were very important in testing the parameters of materials and their location within the building. At first the Seed Bank at Mount Annan Botanical Gardens dried out actual seeds and plants as the art elements to be inserted into the capsules however testing at the Tilt workshop discovered that the bubbling around the seeds and the potential for the materials to degrade over time meant a change of materials to porcelain. Within the dimensions of the resin infused vials, we made over 200 porcelain seeds and flowers to be inserted into the acrylic vials before the resin is poured in and they are suspended. Tilt tested prototypes of the vials to achieve an efficient pouring process within a refined shape. The lighting was refined with diffusers to transform both individual seeds and the cloud formation of the artwork.



What do you hope the community will take away from ‘Cloud Seeds’?

While the artwork’s housing and collection of seeds refers to the unique prior biodiversity and its parallel with the cultural identities which make up a contemporary Parramatta, the enjoyment of its presence as a sculptural light work with fragile translucent porcelain elements will stimulate them to discover more about its presence in the Charlie Parker building. The protection from extinction, and the germinating of old / new plants for future growth helps sustain both communal and environmental futures.

Was there anything unique that you had to consider when speaking to Parramatta's
provenance and progress?

We thought about the parallel of the emerging communities which contribute to the unique character of the city and the importance of its cultural and environmental history explored in the germination of seeds and plant growth.

What is it about public art that appeals to Milne & Stonehouse?

Public Art has an exciting presence interacting with an audience in the pursuit of the everyday. Taken out of the rarefied gallery, public art has an immediate response and an accompaniment to places and pathways. It celebrates the experience of the public in these places.



Learn more about our current projects and how Coronation is redefining the experience of home - here.