Claire Lloyd and Matthew Usmar Lauder first met 26 years ago.  Claire is a photographer and design director and has created beautiful living spaces in Sydney, Greece and London. She is the author of 2 books Sensual Living published by Conran Octopus and My Greek Island Home published by Penguin Lantern and Clearview Books.

Matthew is a celebrated artist exhibiting in London, Sydney, Leipzig, Cologne and Basel. His work has been shown in The National Portrait Gallery and the Newlyn Gallery. Collectors of Matthews work are the Museum of Contemporary Art in Israel, The British Government Collection and a number of 'important' private collections. Home is between Sydney and the Greek Island Lesvos.

C: I knew we had a soul connection early on. We met working on the second issue of Elle decoration. I was a freelance art director and was putting a colour story together. Matthew had just gone freelance from working as head of the Scenic Art department at the National Theatre. I gave him the difficult task of painting different sized coloured stripes around huge clear balls. I knew he was a gem immediately because he didn’t say no, didn’t give up when it became clear it was virtually impossible and he revealed his sense of humour and he successfully completed the job.

M: I think one only knows if you have a soul connection
retrospectively - whether it's half a second or 26 years...

C: Every relationship thrives with a balance of ying and yang. I am more impulsive and more outgoing. I also like clarity so would be happy to live in one big empty white box with lots of light in a minimalist home. Matthew is more considered, lives more in his head and is a thinker. He loves surrounding himself with things he loves and objects that stimulate him. He is a collector and a hoarder but the balance works with us.

C: Love feels safe, caring and encouraging but sometimes it can feel wobbly. It’s evolved with time and age and now it feels more permanent but it should never be taken for granted.

C: Our careers are such that we probably spend three months apart a year. I think it’s healthy for our relationship. It gives us space and allows us to move through life as individuals. Time apart makes me appreciate Matthew more.

M: We give each other positive space and freedom. That said, we live in a small village and during the winter and autumn months we can spend 24/7 together and that feels perfectly natural.

C: Our shared sacred rituals are sitting down to enjoy a meal together in one of our favourite restaurants.

M: A treasured ritual is cooking and consumption of fish fingers, fried eggs and peas. It’s a guilty pleasure we both enjoy, born out of necessity on occasional mornings after some pretty feral evenings.

C: The best piece of relationship advice I have ever received was from my mother, who told me never to forget that our partners usually come from a completely different background and upbringing and so see the world through very different eyes to our own.

C: A quote that resonates… "don’t go where you are not loved".

M: In an attempt to summarise the advice of close friends and confidants… I would reflect that honour and respect for your partner and yourself is uppermost, trust is key and finally keeping an objective eye upon balance and equilibrium.

For more on Claire and Matthew’s work visit and

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