The underwater world surfaces in a whimsical studio on SA’s Limestone Coast. 

Story Gretel Sneath  Photos Adrian Gale

Tucked behind swathes of ivy, Lisa Baker’s Robe studio, Inky Blue, is a hidden grotto bubbling with its own unique brand of whimsy and humour. It is stuffed with sea creatures that have character in every stitch, twist and fabric swatch. 

A self-described ‘Swell Acquainted Designer’ and ‘Maker of Marvellous Whim-Sea’, Lisa dishes up a smorgasbord of wire and fabric creatures that are very much alive in visitors’ imaginations. “None of my creatures are caught; they’re all escaping and they all have personalities, and that’s how people connect with them,” she says. 

It’s a bold move in a coastal town largely kept afloat by commercial fishing; the southern rock lobster – or crayfish, as the locals call it – is considered the jewel in Robe’s crown. “It’s sort of an icon of Robe and people do love eating them – even I love eating them – but I want to help people to understand them as a living creature and not just something on a plate, so I have humanised them,” Lisa says. 

Lisa’s lobsters are dressed as chefs, laze on deckchairs, bust out of craypots and even chase down their nemesis, the octopus. There’s also a cute troupe of prawns poking out from lettuce leaves in a vintage green cocktail glass, and a grumpy-looking walrus wearing a vintage life vest. “It’s about sharing the natural world, but not taking it too seriously,” Lisa says.

This story excerpt is from Issue #137

Outback Magazine: June/July 2021