When you've been collecting as long as I have, you start to see familiar faces and glittery traces. Here's a look at how my childhood collections appear in my grown-up interiors.
One of my first memories is of beach combing for shells on the wild shores of Siletto Beach, on the NSW coast. The collection of pink kelp shells, which I gathered from huge drifts washed up on shore, sits proudly on my cabinet of curiosities. I’ve bought many fancier shells over the years and am as fascinated by the real thing as by beautiful studies, drawings and lithographs of them, and also by things made from shells. I am forever searching out shell museums & collections to pore over and use as inspiration for my own displays as well as to see what beautiful shapes, sizes & colours the world’s shells have to offer. They can be divided into so many themes, studies & families, but more often than not, I like to group them haphazardly with no thought whatever of their scientific classification.
Ribbons were also one of my first collections and I have never grown out of them. Although I do not sport them in my pigtails anymore, I use them for colour inspiration, making a package special, tying a placecard on a napkin, or have them simply because they’re beautiful. My ribbons are now housed in yellow vintage labelled shoeboxes, each colour in a different box, all special and all treasured. My mother used to buy me two lengths of ribbon, each a metre long, so I would always have one for each pigtail. I continue to buy two metres at a time, a leftover habit from childhood, but have no need to cut the length in half these days.
Another of my early collections, along with ribbons & shells, was beads & sequins. As a child I loved to separate and organise, by shape & colour, the seed beads my mum would bring me back in packets from her South-East Asian jaunts. On our trips to the city (a time when we would have to dress up and catch the bus) we would head to the fabulous ballroom dancing suppliers, Photios Bros, which continues to thrive today. Although you are not allowed to peruse the floor-to-ceiling shelves of stencilled cardboard boxes, you can choose your desired strand of sequin, bags of beads, colours & things sparkly from the catalogue at the front counter.
These elements are a couple that I turn to without fail. Not only do they evoke rich memories of my youth, but offer a never-ending variety of different shapes and sizes. And because I have built such a strong collection, I have great confidence in these materials, so I have no qualms about adding them here & there to my spaces. It's as easy as A, B, C.