Creative Magic Happens Inside Kathryn Sproul’s Mile End Shed

Kathryn Sproul
Photos: Andre Castellucci

Not all sheds are man caves. South Australian Designer Kathryn Sproul creates magic for our well-known festivals from her Mile End studio.

When design inspiration hits in the wee hours of the morning, Kathryn Sproul heads to the little shed in her back garden. It’s a small space, packed with rolls of fabric, handdrawn designs, rulers and ideas.

When she’s not in here or onsite, she can usually be found hunting for the perfect yellow hues. Splashes of yellow material, cardboard and pencils dot the garden studio.

Kathryn Sproul

On the desk, there’s an Adelaide Cabaret Festival program, also a vivid shade of gold. It’s the primary colour of this year’s festival and Kathryn is designer of the external Cabaret spaces (including the Adelaide Festival Centre foyer and bars areas).

Kathryn works on concepts in the little studio, often with her adopted cat at her side.

During winter, she cranks up the heater, flicks on the radio, grabs a pencil and lets the ideas flow.

The Mile End abode has been her home for 22 years and the doors are always open to travelling artists in need of a place to rest their heads.

The former granny flat at the back of the rambling garden came with the house and was gutted and converted into a studio.

Kathryn Sproul

Kathryn works closely with Adelaide artist Wendy Todd, who designs the Festival’s staging and internal venue areas. The pair can often be found huddled over a drafting table, bouncing ideas off one another.

“It’s really nice having that partnership,” Kathryn says.

“This year’s program is extraordinary. It’s about visual impact and really engaging the nooks and crannies.”

A priority this year is navigating the public through renovations on the riverbank site. Feeling lost? A bright yellow trail (‘the yellow brick road’) lead the way.

“There is a bright yellow trail that will get you to the front door. Sometimes it’ll be flags in the air and sometimes stickers on the floor.”

The pathway to the Magic Mirrors Spiegeltent at the northern end of the Riverbank Footbridge is yellow. Artist Kaspar Schmidt-Mumm’s bright artwork (as seen on the program cover) will also lift moods.

Kathryn Sproul

The Sydney-born designer has 30 years of industry experience and has worked on Cabaret Festival since 2005. Her colourful career includes dance and stage pieces, television shows, festivals, outdoor performances, and parades – “Anything and everything.”

The Adelaide Festival of Arts opening event in 1998 was a highlight. The outdoor spectacular Flamma Flamma attracted more than 30,000 people to the city and included 2000 performers, 800 children, and giant lanterns.

“It wasn’t just about spectacle – we embedded meaning. That’s at the core of what I do.”

“It’s about finding the ‘why’ of what we’re doing and we’re clear about what we’re communicating.”

Adelaide Cabaret Festival runs until 24 June, discover our reviews, here.

Got a shed full of hidden treasures or created the perfect he/she-cave? Let us know in the comments, below.

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