Getting to Know Chloe Coles
Australia-based model, artist, writer, serious gherkin-enthusiast and designer of our banner (above) Chloe Coles tells us about training for the Olympics, arguing with her biggest fan (her Mum) and getting run over:
I am a walking disaster. A mix between some sort of squashed pie and a three-legged giraffe. I’m not sure if it’s just really bad luck or if it’s in my bloodstream but it definitely makes life a little bit interesting. I was the kid that always had a broken arm or a dislocated leg, or both at once. I got hit by a van a couple of years ago in front of my whole school bus. It’s kind of hazy but I remember feeling pretty embarrassed when I woke up and my dress was above my head and everyone was jammed up against the bus window. I wanted to sink into the road for at least a couple of hours. When I was about 13 I was standing in amidst this giant crowd on my first real New Years with my friends. The last thing I remember is looking up and seeing this glass cup fly through the air and everyone yelling ‘heads!’. It literally knocked me out and I fell to the floor. And that was the moment that I knew that it wasn’t just me as a human-being. It was a deeper and a much more complex phenomenon. So I learnt to accept it. And now it’s a part of me that I don’t think will ever fade. I say that because yesterday I was electrocuted by a disposable camera. I don’t know how, I don’t know why, and I definitely didn’t know that disposable cameras even had an electrical board.
Modelling is a completely different world. You can fall into the lifestyle or you can fall into the experience. I think it can be dangerous if you let it get to your head. It can sound vain telling people that you model for a living so I try not to make it sound like a claim. And most of my friends have nothing to do with this world so they can’t understand, which is cool. I just keep it pretty separate. I live down south about two hours past Sydney in a little cove beach called Stanwell Park so I guess that part’s pretty easy. I think my favourite thing about the whole industry has been meeting all these weird and wonderful people. You meet so many funny characters and work with amazing teams of people. I’ve been pretty blessed when I think about it.
Art is what people do when nobody else is watching. Whether it’s dancing, or singing or throwing paint at a paper bag. It’s somebody’s bedroom or the way they dress when they are by themselves. I think the word ‘art’ can be thrown around pretty meaninglessly. I think art is pretty personal. And unless you have some sort of connection with the subject, then it’s not art, it’s just some paint on a canvas or a photo of the beach. Art is passion. I got really into a series I did a couple of months ago called ‘disposable’. It was about the innocence of women and how easily it’s thrown away in this era, and how it’s not really a thing anymore. I put the pieces up in a gallery and when people asked me what the series was about I would find myself getting so deep and emotional about it and you could see the ‘shouldn’t have asked’ look come across their faces pretty quickly. The pieces were young and vulnerable girls painted in acrylic on paper bags and outlined with fine point pen. The reason for the paper bags was emphasising the idea of ‘disposable’ and I’m already feeling passionate about it again so I’m gonna stop myself right here. I have a blog called candyandconcrete.wordpress.com where I post irrelevant stuff if you ever wanted to check it out. I write too, if that interests you at all.
I spend too much time eating gherkins. It got pretty intense at one stage. I was eating a full jar of gherkins every day. The entire thing. Even the glass and the lid. Okay maybe not the glass but I seriously would sit there and eat through all of the gherkins until I’d be like “damnit Chloe you were only supposed to eat five”. I think you can overdose on things like that. I remember my mum used to give me a ham sandwich and a fruit cup for school every day of my primary school career. I hate ham sandwiches and fruit cups now. I hate them both equally. I hope I never hate gherkins. They are so good.
Home is my favourite place in the whole world. Home is my bedroom. It’s colourful and warm and full of memories. I have a wall that I’ve put up little notes and pictures and things that I’ve accumulated over the years. That wall feels a lot like home. But home is also wherever my mum is. I know that sounds lame and I’m not gonna hide it but I was thinking about this the other day. And nowhere would feel like home if my mum wasn’t there. I don’t know why I’m so attached to her. I don’t know what I’d do without her. We fight until we can’t stand the thought of each other and argue until we’re physically bored. And then she usually ignores me for a couple of hours or vice versa and then we forget about it. We’re both as bad as each other. I try to stay angry at her but then she says something and I laugh and then she laughs and then we’re both sitting there in stitches trying to figure out what on earth we’re laughing about. She means a lot to me. She’s my biggest fan (hi mum). I could be sitting in a cardboard box with her in the rain and I’d be content enough to call it home.
I’m currently listening to Drive Darling by Boy. I found it while lurking on youtube about a year ago and it just doesn’t get old. It’s such a beautiful song. You should listen to it, but only the acoustic version because the other ones suck. People have tried to make remixes of it and I just feel like punching them square in the face. And I’m not even an aggressive person.
It might surprise people to learn that I did gymnastics for seven years and when I turned ten I was offered a spot at the Australian Institute of Sport to train for the Olympics. I trained six days of the week and had no breaks. I quit not long after when I realised that I wasn’t enjoying myself anymore. After that I had no idea what to do with my life and had no friends outside of the gymnastics world. That was when I learned to enjoy my own company, which was a pretty good lesson in the end. It also gave me a good sense of determination that will hopefully stay with me forever.
In the future I hope I’m doing something cool. Like flying a kite or… I dunno… Planning a trip to Africa. They’re both pretty far-fetched at the moment, because well, I’m pretty broke and I don’t own a kite. Depends how far into the future we’re talking. Maybe one day I can fly a kite… in Africa. Woah. Now that’s genius.
Chloe Coles is represented by by Vivien’s models in Australia.
Interview by Bobby Townsend.