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Sunday With Lisa Madigan

words and photography by Natalie Masli




“... millions long for immortality who don't know what to do with themselves on a rainy Sunday afternoon.” 

― Susan Ertz


Lisa Madigan is an artist in every sense of the word. Well-versed in painting, styling, floristry and photography, she is a multi-faceted and talented woman - traits that are manifested in her beautiful and textural pieces that have graced many a studio, with an exceptional few adorning the walls of her own residence as well.

After spending a gorgeous Sunday in her light-filled abode in Newport, it is clear that her artist sensibilities are present in her lifestyle too. Her house rests on a grassy knoll and the door is welcomingly open as a soft jazz melody drifts down a flight of stone steps, from a record player that is placed just inside the humble entrance. The saxophone riff can be faintly heard from the quiet street overlooking the vibrant and azure waters of Salt Pan Cove.

Having grown up in Sydney’s northern beaches, her appreciation for slow living, light-filled spaces and the fresh sea breeze is strong. Her living room is a photographer’s dream, with sunlight streaming through the open slatted windows, gilding the white walls and interior with an ethereal quality. Lisa herself is the picture of grace, donning a billowy and luminous all-white ensemble that is mirrored by the house’s neutral palette as well as her husband, Rob’s own clothing. Even her two Dalmatian dogs, Oberon – named after the king of the faeries in one of Shakespeare’s foremost plays, A Midsummer Night’s Dream – and Mia, are a radiant white with daubs of black, resembling some of Lisa’s monochrome pieces.

Despite these allusions to otherworldliness, Lisa herself is a down-to-earth woman; and whilst she is grounded in her work and her paintings, her inspired and impassioned approach to her craft blurs the lines between labour and leisure, giving her the ability to paint for hours on end in her backyard studio. The harmonious balance that she seems to have so effortlessly achieved is one of the secrets to the art of slow living, of savouring life’s smaller, intimate moments.

Weekends are the perfect time to wind down and to take a step back, to nourish one’s soul from the daily grind of the week days that weather down upon one’s psyche. Starting with wholesome food, Lisa carefully prepares a balanced meal with fresh ingredients from the local organic grocer, paired with a modest amount of fine white wine. Quality often surpasses quantity in many aspects of a healthy lifestyle - food being a significant one - and sustainable and ethical produce can make a vast difference.

The fine dining is accompanied by easy going conversation, a natural flow of dialogue that is exchanged freely between Lisa and her husband, borne from an honest like-mindedness and perfected by many years of cohabitation. There is much laughter as Lisa narrates stories of flower foraging expeditions and her husband driving home in his ute weighed down and overflowing with branches. The experience was all worth it though, as said flora can be found ornamenting corners of the home, elaborating on the bucolic feel that makes the space so charming, perhaps so inviting that with the warmth of the sunlight, it is all too easy to bask in its rays and wander into an afternoon nap.

Likewise, Lisa’s backyard studio is also naturally illuminated. Paint cans and faded flowers line the shelves, and large and impressive works are propped up against the walls, luxuriating in the beams of sunlight. It is not hard to imagine her whiling away the hours here - its serene atmosphere is conducive to the meditative process that is her work. She herself is stilled by the tranquillity of the space so that while she was all liveliness moments before, now she is mellowed. A hushed silence falls as she begins on a work in progress, until a cheeky Mia meanders into the studio.

Ultimately, while the Sunday was a lovely insight into Lisa’s weekends and her inspiring space, there is also something greater to take away from her lifestyle and artworks, and that is that life amounts to layers upon layers of experiences; like her brushstrokes, it is an amalgamation of light and shadow, of bigger pictures and of smaller moments, all of which are to be treasured.