Sunday, October 24, 2010

Stacks of stuff

Wood stack at base of driveway ... taking some of the old to provide fuel at the new

Shelves becoming empty ....               


'Keating and the arts' from a Stephen Murray-Smith lecture 2010

An excerpt from The State of our Creative Nation, the 2010 Stephen Murray-Smith Memorial Lecture that Anne Summers delivered at the State Library of Victoria on Thursday 21 October:

“When it was over, the performers joined Keating on stage in an exuberant throng.  The newspapers the next morning showed a photograph of the Prime Minister, wearing a trademark light grey Zegna suit, standing close between two Bangarra dancers who were wearing not much more than a laplap and a bit of body paint.
It was an endearing – and revealing – image of contemporary Australia.
Paul Keating was a very different kind of Australian from the hard-drinking, womanizing, sports-loving Bob Hawke. (Although both excelled in their profane use of the Australian vernacular.)
Keatng’s nationalism – his Australianness – exhibited itself in spectacularly different ways.
In his kissing the ground at Kokoda, with his two most famous speeches – the Redfern speech and the one on the unknown soldier, and in his inventive and often inflammatory aphorisms.  He thrilled his admirers with such outbursts as: ‘If you’re not living in Sydney, you’re just camping out’, or, ‘A soufflĂ© does not rise twice’, ‘All tip and no iceberg’ and, memorably from a few months before this Arts for Labor event, when John Hewson pestered him as to why he would not call an early election, he said: ‘The answer is, mate, because I want to do you slowly’.
At the same time, the leader of the country was urbane and elegant, a man whose tastes ran to Regency furniture, Georgian architecture and the late-Romantic Austrian composter Mahler. And, now, here he was that Sunday in Sydney, embracing the Indigenous descendants of one of the world’s most ancient cultures.
How great our arts will be, Keating had said in his speech, when we are as one with Indigenous Australians, ‘when we say sorry for the murders and the dispossession and mean it, not just write a cheque off the budget’.[1]

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Friday, October 22, 2010

Newspaper wrapping 2 - 'Love Clarence' stamps

A few weeks ago I posted some beautiful Indian newspaper that had been hand stamped to be used as wrapping paper.

I went back to Clarence as I'd had a few comments and questions about it.

It's hand done by a womens collective in India. Clarence sell the actual hand carved wooden stamps as well as the paper. 

You could do some yourself!

Clarence with Love - Flowers and Fancy Goods

217 / A Maroondah H'Way
Healesville Vic 3777

Ph: 03 5962 4226

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Designed In Brunswick

Things are happening in Brunswick these days. The amazingly multi talented couple behind this new venue are certainly setting the pace.  

Aisling Gallagher and Neil Hargreaves can cook, sew, paint and now it looks like they can also print amazing fabric (Ais) and design fabulous cups (Neil). 

A website is coming soon but for now check them out on Facebook. 

Be in touch and be the first to own a little bit of Brunswick.

I'll be doing an interview with shots from 'where the work is done' next week .

Monday, October 18, 2010

'The Red Parasol' hides a retail delight

So - I found a little oasis in suburban Croydon yesterday. They assure me they have been here a while (2 years) but why they've been hiding under their 'Red Parasol' I have no idea. This is a shop for those that love merchandising, love 'stuff' and are excited by detail.

The displays were - well everywhere. Every corner of this shop has been thought about .... carefully. It's as though the owners and people that work here actually walk around their space and look at it from all angles.End result - as a customer - everywhere you look there is something exciting for the eye to explore.

With giant bursts of colour at different height placements the space is vibrant without being totally retro. It's done against a backdrop of muted vintage charm, but please, the "vintage charm" is by no means twee and does hold wit and the whimsy of fun.

Nice bum!

Also - what vintage? 'Red Parasol' seems to blend and crossover quite a few vintages with very little clunky, clumsy culture clashes. You can buy new, something from last season through to something your very groovy grandmother wore on her first date. Most of the decades in between will have a showing also.

The dressing rooms are an adventure in themselves. As I said earlier - the entire space is fitted out with things to look at.

The other amazing thing it doesn't "smell" like a second hand shop AT ALL. Maybe it's the delicious soy scented candles they sell?

Enter the dressing rooms and try not to forget why you're there with so much to look at

Handwritten dressing room etiquette. 

They must know how good they are. They even supply sweets so you have enough energy to keep going. Could easily miss a meal you spent so much time here!


Bits and buttons

Beautiful old lace in front of great retro wallpaper


This ribbon is SO beautiful. If you are expecting a little parcel form me any time soon it just may have a bit of this wrapped around it. This heavy woven ribbon alone has made me a friend for life. They sell it by the metre and there may be none left by the time you read this (depending on my schedule tomorrow).

They also sell wrapping paper by the metre.Beautiful heavy weight printed wrapping paper by the metre - just makes you want to buy someone a gift. This is a personal favourite piece of the shop for me. The idea of being able to buy quality paper and incredible ribbon in lengths I want is pure retail decadence. 

Original old woven ribbon ...LOVE!
Whether it's a fabulous one off dress, an earing or a simple but brightly coloured scarf you are sure to be able to find something pretty special here. It's well worth the drive. If this shop was in Melbourne city area the prices would be double and the stock would be running out the door. Lucky for us it's based in Croydon so the while it's busy - it's still a bit hidden from the hordes of quirky fashion lovers. 

This shop has been one of the biggest retail surprises I've had in while and I can't wait to get back. Nice work!

Bag for the races ladies?

 'The Red Parasol'
New - Recycled - Designer - Retro
Quality clothing and extras
163 Main St, Croydon VIC 3136
03 9724 9744

Or any number of hats.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Last of the tulip season ...

We bought these driving home from Cloudehill.
Last of the season as it's about to get to warm.

Very hard to believe as the wind whipped the rain and stung our faces while we chose the colours we wanted.

Cloudehill - not just any old garden in the misty mountains ...

It may be the middle of spring but in the Dandenong Ranges it's 7 degrees and looking like snow. Incredible! The rain has been constant for about 36hours at this stage so you could say it's a bit damp around here at the moment.

Even with this as the current weather report we drove up the hill to one of the most beautiful places in the world - Cloudehill Garden in Olinda.

The only snow on the ground today was a coating of magnolia petals. It looked magical.

Cloudehill began in the 20's as a 'flower farm' and sold into the Melbourne city markets. Today it is an extraordinary space consisting of 24 'rooms' connected by winding paths, stairs to climb and a mixture of hedging styles.

The formal use of stone walls and structured areas is punctuated by the use of modern sculpture, mosaic pieces done by local artists and "windows" left to take in a hint of another secret space to look at. There is a green theatre here and many areas you can imagine all sorts of things for yourself but you can find Jazz bands here and the space littered with picnic rugs in summer apparently.

My 4 year son is off to find treasures.

Shakespeare is always in the park ....

It's gardens like this where the love of the creators has an exceptionally good result. As an adult you feel you are transported miles away from your everyday life. It's definitely restorative. The beauty is actually filling your lungs the air is so clean and mountain sweet. With so much to take in you simply must sit down. Luckily they are kind enough to have quite a few 'rest' spots to simply take it in.

The rain didn't dampen our spirits ... just made it more of an adventure!

The Cloudehill Nursery & Gardens also has a wonderful cafe / restaurant on site. We had lunch there today and I already want to go back for the Braised porkbelly with cabbage, potatoes and stewed apple next week. The cafe is called 'Seasons @ Cloudhilll' and they are blessed with an enormous vegetable garden that is lovingly tendered to by the amazing nursery staff. They use it well. My dish had perfectly cooked pork but this was complemented by a really substantial amount of home grown vegetable. This is something I miss in a lot of modern cooking where meat is king.

If you simply wanted a coffee or pot of tea it can be accompanied by a sweet thing. The cakes are generous, home made and it's worth a visit for them alone.

This is a place you can just keep coming back to. If you need a bit of escape, you want some 'time', you need to buy a plant or you want a meal and a glass of wine.

Those gardeners are my new hero's and Jeremy Francis, who is credited with much of what goes on here in this green space, is amazing. We bought a copy of his 'just released' book - the little version for $10 - for our son to look through and for us to keep for him. The hardcover is to be coveted and should be part of any collection dedicated to gardens, design or specifically a combination of both. The love and respect, maybe obsession, he holds for his craft is unmissable.

I can't imagine it would be possible to ever get tired of watching the seasons do their dance here. The selection of plants, both new and old (some trees are 60 or more years old) provides natures drama and conversation in colour. We will be certainly popping back regularly looking for ideas for our new garden space - or maybe simply to sit and relax.

Cloudehill Nursery & Gardens
89 Olinda-Monbulk Rd, Olind 3788


Packing up my wall of love ...

Sunday, October 10, 2010

MORRIS BROWN - Retail style that is perfect every day

Morris Brown

Jenny Morris O'Donnell & Louise Brown make up the team behind this loveliest of stores. If they were ever in doubt as to whether their concept for a retail space would work all they had to do is listen to how well the name works. Perfect!

That's how this place feels - a natural, instinctively chosen range of quintessential items. The new 'country' - nothing twee, international inspiration but a perfectly pitched local tone.

Things as simple as just the perfect ball of string, an old metal whistle through to things as exotically beautiful as ostrich eggs from South Africa. Who expects to walk into a space and find a 'nest' of enormous eggs the colour of creamed butter? Well you just may here - right next to the antlers but behind the old polished silver teapot you've always wanted.

These eggs are about 30cm tall and round. Honestly, they feel as though they are made from porcelain - so fragile but strong and incredibly tactile - if you're game to hold them!

Of course I'm trying to work out how to use one (or more) in the new house.

Louise and Jenny met through a shared love of the garden and this shows through in the choice and focus of the shop. In amongst the homewares you can always pick up a pair of Sprout gardening gloves, English garden tools by Burgeon & Ball and some luxurious Syrian olive oil soap to wash the soil off after all your hard work. Oh don't forget the fantastic wellies ..... the red looks fabulous!

It's all about choice here with bits for everyone in the family and you know you will always find something you have wanted. Even if you only realised a moment ago just how much you've always wanted it.

Writing a note can be done with a well turned pencil that feels great in between your fingers. Pencil sharpeners don't have to be plastic rubbish. They can be wooden and beautiful in their own functionality.

The product mix is really brought together by the mix of old and new. Right next to that new wonky white ceramics you're contemplating may be a fabulous second hand jug that has been a treasured find reinvigorated just for you.

Morris Brown also hold a range of clothes, scarves and a wonderful childrens area. The perfect place to find an exciting mix of books, puzzles, clothes and games all aimed to stimulate the imagination, be naturally tactile and fill a life with fun not with land fill.

Brightly coloured gum boots and wooden yo - yo's can often be found here plus I have word the fantastic Makedo products have arrived for Christmas.

Makedo is the perfect product to get our kids using the stuff around them for play and creating. I will certainly be getting some of these for the little ones around us.

This is a truly lovely shopping experience. They have opened another in Heathmont that I am yet to try - but you can be sure I'll get there.
Thinking about where to do your Christams shopping?
I vote you do it where it feels good for you as well as the people receiving the presents. Loads of choice, ethical indulgences, up-cycled and brand new. It's all here and to top it off - they gift wrap superbly. Does it get any easier?

It's shops like this that remind us we have the ability to fill all of our lives, even the mundane tasks, the "jobs" as well as the events we create - with beauty. Also - that true beauty is a functioning part of our everyday lives - not something that sits out of reach. All it takes is a bit of thought and time and we can create the lives we imagine - everyday.

Morris Brown
264 Maroondah Highway, Healesville, Victoria. Australia
03) 5962 4042 www.morrisbrown.com.au

The most recent item purchased here by me:

A fantastic red Bonox clock.

Where we live we loose power ALL the the time so we need things other than electric clocks to enable us to get places before 10am on time.

This is probably part of their 'cheap and cheerful' selection but gee it is great. It's made of plastic so it's light - good thing for postage if you are considering sending things.

We love it and can now sleep easy. Not with one eye on the the electric clock to see if it's blinking!