trav . el . er – noun
a person or thing that travels
a person who travels or has travelled in distant places or foreign lands
ma . gi . cian – noun
an entertainer who is skilled in producing illusion by sleight of hand, deceptive devices, etc
a person who is skilled in magic; sorcerer
Travellers & Magicians is a bold and whimsical 10-colour-palette, found in my book Gypsy. Travellers & Magicians speaks volume of my musings and imaginings when planning a photo shoot or decorating a space. One day I’m transported back to a famous and revolutionary dance company in Paris, the next I’m flying through the skies on the wings of a native bird or drawing on my own real life, globetrotting adventures. Eventually my world of make-believe becomes a reality and a new colour palette and styling theme emerges.
Bring some fun into your interior; paint a splash of desert from the floor to ceiling, or make it a dado if your feeling shy in your entranceway, paired with the perfect side board & mirror. OR, dare to be bold? Paint those re-claimed pieces of furniture from the markets you’ve had hidden in storage for the last year, with Ikat, Aral Sea & Attar Of Rose, to brighten up any living room. Have some fun & make magic happen with this magical palette.
noun [plural] /ˈsɪz.əz/
a device used for cutting materials such as paper, cloth, and hair, consisting of two sharp blades that are joined in the middle, and two handles with holes to put your fingers through.
Scissors are often overlooked in their practical and humble nature, yet there’s no reason why such a utilitarian object cannot be beautiful and still serve its purpose at the same time.
They emerged in their early ‘spring’ form in Ancient Egypt, forged of raw materials like iron and bronze and later developed in Ancient Rome and Asia into the pivoted scissors we know today. Large varieties like shears allowed craftsmen and metal workers to display their fine skills with decorative and illustrated blades and handles.
Pinking shears, cord-covered Japanese scissors, herb scissors, wallpaper scissors… I have acquired them all! They all remind me of a place, a trade or specialised task. They speak of the craftsman, be they tailor, wallpaper maker, florist or barber.
L is for…
Well, who can go past this lofty title? A legerdemainist was one who chose a life of sleight of hand to some, and magic to others…depending on your level of imagination. The magic tricks & lucky dips lover in me draws me to this trade. I also have visions of a ramshackle caravan with rattling pots & pans that this arcane trader may have travelled from place to place in. It’s also easy to imagine the bag of tricks and shiny decoys this traveller would have handy at all times – nothing like a freshly minted silver coin to catch one’s eye & distract from the magic at play. Perhaps there’s a little legerdemain in styling…
For me, a home is like a museum without the signs saying ‘Please Don’t Touch’. Think of all the stuff you own that has emotional or historical significance or comes with a memory or tale of where, when and who. It’s just a matter of finding ways to incorporate these things into your surroundings as three-dimensional reminders of your life for you and others to experience.
Consider this list of some of my personal treasures, then start to think of the items you own that could tell a similar story:
I love to pick up a perfectly tossed grey stone with a white stripe and be transported to Portofino some time in 1995 drinking a Santa Margherita pinot grigio.
A religious dharma made of shells that was bought on a trip, made on a whim, to Naples after I ran into an ex-boyfriend in Paris.
A nestled stack of six white ceramic scientific bowls, slightly crusty, with no known purpose, but bought (not even haggled for!) at one of my all-time favourite flea markets, Le Marché aux Puces de la Porte de Vanves, Paris. Every adventure to this market would begin with a jamon baguette from the van on the corner.
A crown of dried giant kelp collected for me by a past love and carefully transported from Big Sur, California to new York.
Beeswax still intact in a much-used wooden pane bought from an amused beekeeper who lived in a caravan on the snowy, hilly surrounds of Tashkent, Uzbekistan. it was early spring, the first blossoms were out and children were selling tiny early tulips, so delicate and fragile.
My grandmother’s treasures: shells we do not see on our shores anymore, jet beads, tiny seed pearls in an old department store box, handmade sandwich signs about one and a half inches high saying ‘watercress’ and devilled egg’, silver napkin rings.
Assemble your mementos with love and care, and use them in your decorative palette. You’ll only enrich your home’s sense of history, and enjoy returning home even more.
Put similar materials together- a metal postcard holder sits with a metal mesh lampshade. It’s a place for cards, postcards, invites & other ephemera collected on your travels. Adorned with coasters, wrapping, matchbooks, napkins, maps etc as mementos. This becomes a living mood board within your own space which changes & inspires travel and new adventures. This still-life brings together a montage of myths and inspiration derived from expeditions in Naples, Salerno, Positano & Sorrento. And shows ways to create an organised environment which can still be beautifully arranged.
Shop the look here.
A few years ago I was working with the Queensland Museum. I was designing my very own Cabinet of Curiosities using their vast archive of natural histories for an exhibition. It was here that I discovered Emma Lindsay’s work hanging in company with an owl in flight & various other antique specimens. We share a love of Australia’s beautiful birds & animals.
Recently I commissioned Emma to paint a portrait for one of the dark blue rooms at Henry Deane, the lounge bar located on the 4&5 floors of Hotel Palisade. As the Hotel Palisade boasts 360 degree views of Sydney harbour we decided on the threatened Little Penguin colony that resides at Manly, the only breeding colony on mainland NSW.
You can help save this colony of the smallest penguins in the world by donating to National Parks & Wildlife
Describe your studio
My studio is a white room in my house facing the northern light. The studio window looks out to a sea of blue sky and green leaves from my garden, which lets me know the weather and often features regular bird visitors. Within it are stacks of canvases, cacti and maidenhair ferns, shells and rocks from my beach and desert travel, brushes, paint, low white metal cabinets that function as canvas supports and storage for materials. Until recently there was hardly room to move, with the work of 2 shows filling every wall. At the moment, the studio is bare as I begin again from scratch.
Best art supply store
Art supplies are like candy stores – so many to love. My fav in Australia is St Luke’s The Colourmen (Melbourne), in New York Dick Blick’s.
I’ve always loved animals, wild remote places, and have planted out my garden to attract native species and birds. I’m in love with biodiversity and paint. The subject of extinction and species endangerment has allowed me a creative focus in my studio paintings that allows me to connect to a critical environmental and cultural issue of our time. My interest in endangered and extinct species first became a passion after I visited the Queensland Museum in 2007, to check out a recently discovered headless night parrot specimen, a critically-endangered desert bird species of which little was known. When I went there, seeing the whole zoology archive moved me in a profound way. I began painting the beautiful ones, birds with brilliant plumage, but then started to wonder about our other endangered and extinct birds. I found the QM, like many Australian and global museums, does not have a complete record of species under threat or lost. Looking in depth into museum collections and available visual literature into where remaining extinct and endangered species could be found or seen led to the development of my practice-led research PhD Extinction project. This 8+ year labour of love on our lost birds became an exhibition of 29 extinct full and sub species Australian bird specimen portraits. These birds are held in museums in Australia, England, France, and the USA, and the final exhibition of this work was shown as part of the recent World Science Festival Brisbane 2016. It felt fitting that the Queensland Museum should be the place to show the final PhD project as it is where it all began. The Extinction project is ongoing.
My favourite land animal is the cat. In the sea, the great white shark. But I dream of seeing a flock of bright pink flamingoes in the wild.
Latest book purchase
‘Georgia O’Keefe and her houses: Ghost Ranch and Abiquiu’ by Lynes & Lopez. I recently visited O’Keefe’s studio in Abiquiu and drove out to Ghost Ranch in New Mexico. The architecture, cacti, and landscape out there is incredible, the weather and the environment unforgiving and starkly beautiful. This book is the only way to see the original rooms, furniture, and styling in her adobe dwellings up close and personal, as photography is not allowed while visiting the inside of the house.
Go-to for Colour inspiration
The natural world is the perfect palette for colour inspiration. The plumage of birds, the foliage of plants, the ocean, the desert, the sky, the weather, the translucent layers of human skin. The trick is trying to translate often transient delicate colours the eye can see and reproduce it through the ‘mud’ of paint…
Top 4 museums in the world
The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York).
The Musee National d’Histoire naturelle (Paris).
The Louvre (Paris).
Queensland Museum (Brisbane).
The greatest tool for creativity is music. It inspires me beyond everything else.
When I have time and $ my number 1 great escape for inspiration is always New York. It is the ultimate city for me that has everything I love on one island- art, music, culture, books, dance, fashion, performances, food, museums. At home, I head to Byron Bay at every opportunity, especially after punishing deadlines. There is no better place to unwind, walk beautiful beaches, and remember how great it is to be alive.