At Home with Raenee and Marto


Our Locals started as a love letter to our hometown and the creative endeavours of local businesses and creatives to embrace the challenges and turbulence of a new, restricted lifestyle. It naturally evolved into a way to connect with people in our online communities to showcase their hometown, like a digital journey across the world to embrace a new way of living and supporting locals in our online lives in 2020. This year has challenged us all to embrace and invite creative perspectives to living, and Raenee and Marto are such an exciting example of this in Sydney.



There is some playful debate on how they actually met, with Marto asserting that it was at the PAM store in Sydney, which he attests Raenee doesn’t remember and her swearing it was at a pub, although she’s happy to admit that she thought “Marto’s name was actually Mody”. Regardless of how they met, it was in Sydney, Marto’s hometown but somewhere Raenee moved to later in life. Raenee spent the first half of her life travelling between Malaysia and Singapore before settling in the sunny oasis of Sydney. In her words, “My childhood home in Kuala Lumpur got broken in quite often, so my brothers and I would always sleep in our parents room. I remember my childhood home always having a blow up pool that was never really inflated and used”. This image of a half-inflated and never used blow up pool feels like the starkest juxtaposition from the beach-filled paradise of the Sydney shoreline, where the coastline is wrapped by the ocean. Their favourite place to swim in this objective paradise is “a couple of secret rock pools on the north of Sydney you have to time the tides and abseil to”.

 

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“Sydney has got to be in some of the closest proximity to the best landscapes in the world. Two hours north and you can be in sand dunes that you could almost mistake for Egypt. Two hours West and you could be in a tropical rainforest and 2 hours South and you could be on a secluded beach with the whitest sand in the world.”






This is what they love about Sydney, and as Marto admits, something they can easily take for granted. In his words “Sydney has got to be in some of the closest proximity to the best landscapes in the world. Two hours north and you can be in sand dunes that you could almost mistake for Egypt. Two hours West and you could be in a tropical rainforest and 2 hours South and you could be on a secluded beach with the whitest sand in the world.” Raenee mirrors these ideas, and embraces the stereotypes of a Sydney lifestyle. As she says “as cliche as this may be, [the best part of living in Sydney would] have to be the beaches and the weather! But also our National Parks and how spread out and spacious the city is”.


 

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“having all this time on my hands during the weekends and my days off has allowed me to be more creative and adventurous in the kitchen”. Like the rest of us, Raenee has evolved from quick meals to experimental culinary adventures; “having nowhere to go gives you the perfect opportunity to slow-cook and bake things”.

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Needless to say, this year has brought a change to the lifestyle of beach hopping and rainforest exploring that is an integral part of their normal lives. However, Marto and Raenee have risen to the challenge of remaining inspired, motivated and stimulated during what can only be described as an isolating time in the world. For Raenee, part of this journey has been very relatable, she has embraced cooking like the rest of us budding chefs. In her words “having all this time on my hands during the weekends and my days off has allowed me to be more creative and adventurous in the kitchen”. Like the rest of us, Raenee has evolved from quick meals to experimental culinary adventures; “having nowhere to go gives you the perfect opportunity to slow-cook and bake things”. For Marto, it’s a newfound love for skipping on their apartment balcony, “Iso helped me realise that I can do a 20min skipping routine with a heavy rope daily and that is all I feel I need (as well as riding everyday) to stay fit.... It solidified my belief that I can happily do this for the rest of my life as well.” 

 


It’s also been a great opportunity for the couple to explore their ceramics practices. Marto has a small business of hand crafted mushroom incense chambers which he paints himself and in collaboration with local artists. Although Marto wouldn’t call himself a ceramicist, in his words “I fell into ceramics as I wanted to create a particular object and through some research found that ceramics was the best way to fulfil that idea”. For Raenee, her love for the medium comes from spontaneity and the drive to create something new. As she says, “If I am spending the day throwing, I like to just get on the wheel and make whatever comes to my mind/body... A lot of the shapes I produce were initially accidents which I have then kept and continued with”. She sums up the joy of working with clay eloquently and affirmingly, “clay is such a beautiful medium that can produce such varying results - it's honestly the best!”

 

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Whilst they are yet to formally collaborate on a project together, they’re both extremely inspired by the other’s approach to their work. For Raenee, it’s Marto’s drive and dedication to his practice which she is drawn to most. Specifically, “the amount of hours he spends at his studio in order to get the work done, makes me feel lazy in comparison”; although she says this with humour.

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Although they both love the medium of clay, and have strong individual practices, as of yet there has yet to be a collaboration. However, this is all in the works, Marto reveals. “Our first collaboration however I think will be a series of 3 mini mushroom incense chambers. Raenee also wants to take my airbrush for a spin soon, so stay tuned for some new fades and sprays”. Whilst they are yet to formally collaborate on a project together, they’re both extremely inspired by the other’s approach to their work. For Raenee, it’s Marto’s drive and dedication to his practice which she is drawn to most. Specifically, “the amount of hours he spends at his studio in order to get the work done, makes me feel lazy in comparison”; although she says this with humour. For Marto, it’s Raenee’s excitement and experimentation to try new glazes and approaches to her work. As he says, “most weeks she comes home with a fresh new glaze she has layered onto another glaze resulting in a uniquely beautiful texture/colour”, before he pertly adds, “this glaze experimentation gets me feeling some sort of way”.
 

 

There’s something so exciting about thinking about tomorrow, and the places of your dreams, so before we said good-bye we asked Marto and Raenee one last question; If you could wake up anywhere in the world tomorrow, where would you go? For Raenee it’s somewhere she’s been before, “back on the beaches in Okinawa, Japan. The weirdest but most memorable place I've ever visited. Or back in Nepal amongst the mountains - blissful!” But for Marto it’s somewhere he can’t wait to see, in his words it would be “waking up in my tent on the second day of my pipe dream riding my bike around the Cordillera Blanca loop in Peru”.

 

Photography by Raenee and Marto