Saturday, 25 June 2011

winter fires, but not the heart-warming type

How sad to hear and see the news that part of the fabulously restored New Acton precint has been destroyed by fire (Thursday 23 June).

(image from Canberra Times)

I love a good heritage building, but what I love more is a heritage building that has been sensitively restored for adaptive re-use - i.e transformed into a place where we can be surrounded by a sense of the past, a nod to our history and heritage but without all the dust and must of old style museums and historic houses where you can't touch and might not learn much. New Acton does this well because you can stay in luxury, or dine in the fancy establishments, or try to mix it with the hip folks having drinks and tapas at the Parlour Wine Room while you get your dose of heritage. I hope the affected businesses all recover soon, and have a smooth path to re-opening.

Fire's not a new theme, the Canberra Servicemens Club in Manuka burnt down in April, 

(image ABC news)
and then last year it was vandalism at Lanyon Homestead. I got a sinking feeling in my stomach when I heard this news and then saw the old out-building...

Lanyon is one of my favourite historic properties in the ACT. -
When we moved from the Blue Mountains to the suburbs of Canberra, and found ourselves missing the sense of history we had taken for granted, we would often just go out to Lanyon and wander around the garden, stop for coffee or devonshire tea or wine depending on the hour! I reckon there is no better view of the Brindabellas than from a table out in the sun, facing west and looking across to the range, past the paddocks and windmill...

One of my favourite pics ever of my littlest, was taken at Lanyon - pure serendipity...just a happy snap but it caught a moment and goes some way to illustrating his personality!

Anyway, Lanyon has not fully adapted for re-use - it still retains the musty museum feel,  whilst allowing us a closer look/touch in the outbuildings...

Another place that does the adaptive re-use really well is Canberra Glassworks, formerly the Kingston Powerhouse.
 It should be done well, it was refurbished by an excellent firm from Sydney (Tanner Architects) who specialise in this type of gig. I do love the old power station building, so will no doubt dedicate later posts to it, but in the meantime here are some of my fave pics...

(first first two images courtesy Derek Ross)

I hope there are more friendly fires that you are warming by...ducted gas heating perhaps...

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

late breaking news

Well...this was breaking news...a few days ago! From the Canberra Times on Monday 13 June.
It is always a bit startling to see yourself in the paper, but I took consolation in the fact that all our accessories matched! Pictured with the lovely Markus Gibson-Huck and Sara Freeman.

A very unexpected addition of one of my pieces in the top border of the article too, though more unexpected was the reference to Snugglepot and Cuddlepie. Whilst it certainly wasn't a conscious influence in this recent work, those who know me can vouch that I definitely have a soft spot for gumnut babies and all the creatures of May Gibbs' imaginings.

I love them almost as much as I love her former home Nutcote - the dreamy 1920s house and garden overlooking the harbour from its gently sloped hillside posi in Neutral Bay.

 Now open as an historic house museum , Nutcote features the trowelled render finish, open porticos and shuttered windows which were elements of the fashionable Mediterranean style of the time. And of course all of May Gibbs' tools of the trade, still in situ for the voyeurs among us.

If May was alive today and perusing my portfolio for wedding flowers, I like to think that this would be her pick - one of my all time favourites - a wild and cascading bouquet of roses, gum blossom, flannel flowers and vine, finished off with the most incredible frosty-looking macrocarpa gum nuts.

Good night, sleep tight...dont let the big bad banksia men bite!

Saturday, 11 June 2011

pondering pins

Welcome to my first ever blog...I hope it entertains or inspires you in some small way. I'd like it to retain a strong botanical thread, but do forgive me if I wander off into other territory!

This past week I have been pondering pins as I have been lucky enough to be part of an eye popping exhibition on at ANCA Gallery, Dickson called PIN Wonderwall. The miniature art works range the full spectrum of available materials and media - paper, glass, metal and precious stones, found objects, fabric, ceramics, wood and fur!

For me it was a wedding floristry a PIN is a corsage or buttionerre, fully wired and constructed, originating from the Ancient Greeks who used flowers and herbs to ward off evil spirits during wedding ceremonies In Victorian times nosegays were used by finely dressed women - they were a fragrant bouquet of flowers, a flower bud, or a bow placed on the corset between the breasts, hence the name corsage for a cluster of flowers worn around that general area! And of course, the boys get in on the act now, with matching blooms...

So my recent pins have been made with plant materials and a few found objects like paper and beads...when I looked at photos of them I was surprised to see some echoes of previous miniature works...dug way, way out from the archives!

Thanks for visiting!