C is for…
All Mondays need something shiny to start the week on the right foot, which led me to choose copper as the material filed under section C. This ancient metal was named “cuprum” in Latin meaning “from the island of Cyprus”. It is only copper and gold that have a natural colour of such lustre, with grey and white being the other options for all other metals. Its rosy hue is unmatched, and its versatility as a material means that it’s not only prized for good-looks. With my fascination with history, and the way I like to weave a sense of crafted and time-worn detailing into my spaces means that I’ve turned to copper many times as a material choice, and will continue to for many years to come…
A gloomy weather forecast in Sydney, makes me think of savouring a few hours in some of my favourite museums in Australia. Here are my go-tos:
Caroline Simpson Library
10 Macquarie St
The collection, which contains things such as journals, guides, wallpaper and fabric, seems so personal: a real importance is placed on the hand touched, the individual – handwritten notes in a margin or personal references are embraced.
For Bowerbird research, I spent an afternoon here poring over women’s works: pressed fern albums, scrapbooks and handmade albums containing cursive handwritten poems, sketches, portraits, watercolour flowers, pressed flowers and other musings. I love the treasures that unfold with the help of librarians Matthew and Michael.
Gosper Lane off Science Road
The University of Sydney
I have frequented this gem for many years, greeted every time at the top of the glass-fronted stairs by a large pelican. The main room is lined with drawers and glass-fronted cabinets holding everything from mounted finches on turned posts to birdskins and pinned butterflies (the cards attached to the exhibits are often as interesting as the objects themselves). The museum houses the Macleay collection that once belonged to the well-known family of collectors of the same name, some of whom lived at Elizabeth bay House. For explorers, missionaries & naturalists travelling in the Antipodes this was a must – an absolute treat!
Melbourne Museum (pictured above)
11 Nicholson St
A little while ago, when I was horse riding, I stayed at the White family’s Belltrees estate outside Scone, NSW, and was fortunate enough to have a tour of the still-inhabited main house. In the corridor I noticed a handsome cabinets, which turned out to be for H.L. White’s huge collection of Australian birdskins & eggs. The collection was bullocked down to Melbourne in the 1920s after a run-in with the Australian Museum in Sydney.
I flew to Melbourne to have a look and couldn’t get over the beauty of the egg clusters; the huge variety of parrots, lyrebirds and bowerbirds, kingfishers and pigeons; the birdskins, lying flat, stuffed with cotton wool and quietly stitched.
Each specimen is labelled – for consistency, White had labels made approximately 10cm in length and 3cm in width, with room for details. I love the romance of the handwritten notes in ink, the different papers used for labels, as well as their size & shape.
Museum of Old and New Art
655 Main Road
MONA is a very amusing curation, dictated and moulded by its creator’s desires and sense of humour. We need more eccentrics in the world! As artworks are unlabelled, you are supplied with an ‘O’ device on entry, which gives you descriptions, interviews, artwank & ideas. The space is fitted out with honest materials and is full of old & new art. It is beautifully dark & ambient with a labyrinth of mezzanines and enclosed steel staircases, heightening your sense of curiosity. The journey, discovery and sense of lost & found defines this space cut out of sandstone. There is no given or dictated path – it’s choose your own adventure, so every time is different & unique!
Did you catch my 4 favourite international museums to get lost in?
Tender Is The Night, as the name suggests was inspired by the famous novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald. A story set on the French Riviera in the late 1920’s, that tells a tale of a glamorous couple, Dick; a dazzling young psychiatrist & Nicole Diver; a wealthy & youthful glamour. Tender Is The Night is a tragic & romantic story, an insightful analysis of romantic concept of character.
Rorshach was a test Psychiatrist Dick would use on his patients within the novel, named after creator; Swiss psychologist Herman Rorshach. Rorshach is a psychological test in which the persons’ perceptions of inkblots are recorded & studied. It was a test used to examine a person’s personality characteristics & emotional performance.
Rorshach’s deep yet cheerful orange hue is representative of such colours you can see appear in the Rorshach tests. It is reflective of the bright & punchy hues of the French Riviera in the 1920’s, which is described thoughtfully throughout the novel. The deepness to this hue also reflects the mystery behind the many tales within Tender Is The Night.
Bring Rorshach into your interior with a splash on the front of your shed or garage. Alternatively tell the tale through including Rorshach in a hand painted mural on your bedroom wall. Or bring the French Riviera home with a mix of Rorshach, Monarch & Tendril in your outdoor dining area.
noun / ˈɪndɪɡəʊ /
1. a tropical plant of the pea family, which was formerly widely cultivated as a source of dark blue dye. 2. the dark blue dye obtained from the indigo plant.
One of my all-time favourite textiles is indigo cloth. There’s something about that rich and variable blue that I have a strong connection to – my memories of visiting a dyer in Central Asia with my mum, or of scouring Tokyo with the Anthropologie team for a lovely piece of boro. It’s a colour and dye that pops up in several different cultures but the wonderful thing about it is that each place will have its own take on it.
Most indigo is derived from plants of the genus indigofera which commonly occur in the tropics. In Europe using the leaves of woad was the predominant way of producing a similar blue colouring, that is until trade passages between India opened up and allowed the importation of Asian indigo (some European countries passed laws to protect the woad industry, calling indigo the devil’s dye!).
The region of West Africa has some of the oldest methods of indigo dyeing and the most fantastic patterns come from countries like Burkina Faso, Niger and Togo. I’m yet to visit, but the Kofar Mata dye pits in Nigeria is where one can see firsthand the process of indigo dyeing; pits in the ground are filled with water, ash and indigo and once the fabric is placed in this mixture it can be left in there for hours, depending on the intensity of the blue the dyer wishes to achieve.
Shop our collection of West African indigo cloth, each with its own pattern, texture and hand stitching.
B is for…
The silvery trunks of birch trees are bewitchingly beautiful. The ghostly quality makes them a prized material that brings a rough-hewn touch to timber furniture. But taking a look at the history of this material reveals its versatility and slightly magical qualities. The bark alone has some incredible applications; soak in water and then apply to a broken arm as a cast, Native Americans frequently stripped it from trees to make canoes and wigwams, ground bark fermented in seawater was used to season the linen sails and hemp rope of Norwegian ships. The timber itself is prized for its beauty and is used in lots of ornamental woodwork, though its ability to burn slowly is another reason it’s valued so highly. I love this birch bedframe, as it invites such texture and celebrates the natural beauty of the tree, without much alteration. Taking a look at it and you can almost feel yourself in the silver avenues of a serene birch forest…
The Alphabet Of Materials
A is for…
Perhaps it’s because I can feel the early days of spring nipping at my heels – only via my calendar, as the weather is still very chilly – but I’m matching my excitement at seasonal change with a hunger for a freshen up. Let’s start at the front door – so much potential that can be easily changed as you so please. I often wax lyrical about my love of paint, but truly, if you’re itching for a quick update for your home, all you need is a striking tone and some brushes to instantly change things up. The front door is the perfect entry-level paint project.
All you need is:
1 x litre of paint
1 x brush
1 x afternoon
I recommend two coats to make sure your chosen hue hits the right notes and remember that drying time will be dependant on the weather. I’m crossing my fingers that this weekend brings a little more warmth and sunshine!
My top colour suggestions:
Here are my tips for painting.