Friday, April 30, 2010

An Ode to Lauren Child

(Lauren Child's kitchen, with white piano and specially built shelves to display her crockery - after all, she says, noone really needs 20 mugs do they, so they may as well be on display.)

An Ode to Lauren Child
I have this little daughter Imogen
She is small and very funny.
She is a philosopher like you, Lauren Child
She wants to know why, why, why and how come?
She thinks grown up rules,
especially hypocritical ones about spelling and going to bed, are silly.

She can mark a green vegetable never tasted at twenty paces
and not ever never eat it.
She has an imaginary bestest friend called Wormy
who has a birthday most every day and
is almost always responsible for breaking her little brother's toys.

She has sticky outy hair like Lola
and a don't mess with me hands on hips stance when feeling brave.
Like Clarice Bean she wants to save the Planet of Earth
But she still worries about things which cannot be changed,
such as whether the size of her feet are acceptable in the scheme of things

(an amazing home made Charlie and Lola house, go to Sweet Sweet Life to see it all)

But for me, I love Lauren Child for different reasons.  I love her use of pattern and colour and wallpaper in her illustrations:

(Hubert Horatio Bartle Bobton-Trent)

(from Who Wants to be a Poodle)

(Princess and the Pea)

(Pippi Longstocking)

(Pesky Rat)

And I love her ability to articulate life's chief worries. Including this one (from Clarice Bean):

"Worry no 8: What to do when someone is boring you to nearly utter death. Give them the slip and run like crazy".

Oh to be a Running Away From Boring People child again.

(Images: (1) (2) -(4) Sweet Sweet Life, all others copyright Lauren Child)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Drive By Houses - Sarathon and Joseph Brown

The 1881 Italianate home of the late Dr Joseph Brown, AO, OBE, is for sale.  I have previously written of my love for Italianate tower houses, and Melbourne has a preponderance, including this one, known as Sarathon.

Located at Grandview Grove, Prahran, it has a completely untouched back area which is very unusual and many intact features.   Here is one of the rooms.  

Guess what kind of person resided here? 

It's not hard to guess - someone who lived and loved art.  As beautiful as this house is, perhaps it is most interesting for its owner, Joseph Brown, who died last year

This portrait of Joseph Brown was painted by Sir William Dargie in 1975.  Doesn't he look like a wonderful person?  I imagine him as slightly gruff but charming, and fascinated by all around him.   (Apologies for tiny size of image).

Here are some hight points of his incredible life.  

Josef Breun arrived as a Polish emigre with his father and siblings in 1932, aged 14. He left school at 16 and found a job working in a fashion house.  This was also the age at which he purchased his first artwork (with his first wage).  He established a fashion business making wedding and evening gowns but still loved to paint and scupt.

He served in World War II for his adopted country, and joined the 13th Light Horse Regiment.

He gave away fashion eventually and opened an art gallery in 1967.  He rediscovered forgotten artists (such as John Glover, whose colonial works fell out of fashion in the 1950s) and mentored young artists (such as Sidney Nolan, Arthur Boyd and Rick Amor). 

He realised early on he could not afford European art and instead over decades amassed an incredible collection of Australian art, spanning centuries.

In May 2004 Brown donated most of his collection of art to the National Gallery of Victoria.  This collection of 150 works ranged from Aboriginal to Heidelberg school works worth $30 million was the most generous single gift ever made to an Australian gallery.  Included are these works:

(Phillipine Girls by Ian Fairweather, 1935)

(Yall-y-Poora Homestead by Eugene Von Guerard, 1864)

Dr Brown kept 300 paintings from his collection.  You can see some of them on the walls of Sarathon.   He repeatedly said he was not a rich man, and emphasised the friendships he had forged with so many outstanding artists. He said in 2004 that he would keep painting himself as long as he could hold a paintbrush. 

((1)-(3) Marshall White (5) and (6) NGV, other sources The Age and Wikepedia).

And thank you all for those who left such nice comments about my friend and her tragedy.  She is doing okay, and you are all very kind to be thinking of her. xoxo

Monday, April 26, 2010

Two Perfect Green Courtyards and a Lemongrass Marinade

We do not have this kind of garden, but one domestic fantasy I have had is to live in a two or three up one across kind of house, with a little potted brick walled back garden.  To me, in Australia, this means a Victorian terrace, in the US a brownstone like the ones in New York, and in London, this means those Georgian houses which sit in a neat white row. 

So here are two divine examples, for sale in my area:

These little sheltered green boxes are perfect for edible gardens, and the best example I have seen of that lately is Nigel Slater's garden, which he depicts with love in Vol 1 of his opus 'Tender'.

These shots show his garden in each season.  It is hard for me to imagine gardening in the snow. 

This is a book to treasure with photos so exquisite I found myself having to stretch out a trembling finger to touch them.  It is a celebration of garden to table cooking, written with the verve and enthusiasm of a convert to something quite life changing.    (As it happens Nigel Slater could write a summary of the current Australian tax legislation including recent ATO guidance notes and still be interesting.  He is some writer, as I pointed out here). 

A vegetable garden is on my to do list this year, once I find the spot.   In the meantime here is my completely accidental lemongrass bush which I planted expecting it to die (as you do). Instead it has flourished.  I was so ignorant about lemongrass I didn't even know how it would grow, and whether the lemony roots would be entirely underground or visible. It turns out they stick up and out, and for a long time they looked like a weed.    I was tempted to yank them all out weeks ago but my mother cautioned me to wait until they were stronger and fully 'ripe'.

Today, a lemongrass and mint marinade, for lamb chops:

This requires bashing of the lemongrass with lots of mint, olive oil, garlic and salt and pepper.  Marinate for a few hours, then grill quickly.   A perfect Australian recipe. 

First I have to find some lamb chops, which may not be easy given it is a public holiday today and all the shops are closed.   

Here's to those brave ANZAC soldiers.

(Images: (1) and (2) Kay and Burton (3) (4)-(9) Jane (10)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

From Nirvana to Coconut Sambol

Last week the husband of a very close friend died suddenly.  He was just 40, a sensitive, kind soul, and he leaves behind a little girl not yet one year old and of course his darling wife, a person full of love and enthusiasm for all things who has been a loyal friend to me since I was 5 years old.   

They had been married for only two years and no doubt imagined a long life together, slowly growing grey and wrinkly and doddery in tandem. 

(sunflower from Prahran Market 20 April 2010)

I cannot begin to imagine what my friend is going through.   We all know that grief takes many forms, and takes time, and that after the first stage, the need for support and love goes for years.  As it will for my friend, who I know is strong enough for this pain. 

In my younger days, this is how I dealt with sad events and even grief - I bit my fingernails. I smoked pack after pack of Dunhill Blues.  I got stuck into the sparkling wine.  And stayed out late.  And listened to Nirvana and Faith No More and New Order very very loud.    And watched a lot of Krystof Kieslowski (or equivalent) films.

Now, I am different.  When I learned this dreadful news I almost immediately and automatically headed for the kitchen.

To cook.  

I chopped and used a mortar and pestle, and made the shapes very even and very fine.  

I find it helps, and in the same way  kneading dough, rolling pasta, podding peas, stirring risotto and mashing potatoes helps.   Slow, repetitive, brainless actions.   And that helps remind me how fragile and arbitrary life and death are. 

(mango chutney - mango, garlic, vinegar, sugar, cumin, caramelised accidentally when I left it on the stove top for too long)

(coconut sambol - with yoghurt, green chillies, coconut, curry leaves and mustard seeds)

I think I might take a little break for the rest of the week.

(flowers at Prahran Market 20 April 2010) 

Saturday, April 17, 2010

House Tour on Apartment Therapy

Apartment Therapy has posted a tour of our home.   

Thanks so much Jenny Butler for the lovely post and the photos.  You were great!  xoxo

You can see the tour  here.  I am thinking that I should do this regularly, in the interest of getting unvarnished opinions on the way I do things!    Much better than asking a friend what they think... 

Have a great weekend. 

Friday, April 16, 2010

Burn baby burn

Today is a beautiful clear crisp day, with a forecast for a chilly evening.  A perfect day for the first fire of winter.   I love our fireplaces with a passion.   Part of the joy of living in a city with reasonably coldish winters is sitting in front of a fire with the rain pouring down outside. 

I don't much like empty fireplaces.  I try to keep mine filled with wood during summer so it doesn't look like such a gaping hole in the wall.    And I love the way stacked wood looks.   A bit like these: 

Our house had a couple of fireplaces when we bought it, and when we renovated we included one in the back part of the house.   The funny thing is, our architect tried to talk us out of a fireplace (too messy) and into one of those thin line of flame things, which were big in the late 1990s.  I am so pleased we said no!

Images (1) (2) (6) Remodelista  (3) Elle Decor (4) House and Home (5) living etc, (7) Paul Massey (8)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Pomegranates and Parrots

My mother has a pomegranate tree which fruits prolifically.  And each year, as the pomegranates blush pink, a horde of King parrots flies down from the north and spends a few days denuding the tree of its bounty.

This year to deceive the parrots my mother has picked the fruit before it ripens. 

But who has tricked who?   I couldn't eat them when she gave them to me as they were not yet fully ready.  So they have sat in this bowl for two weeks, slowly ripening.

(pomegranates from Benalla in a 17th century oak bowl)

But maybe that doesn't matter as I suspect pomegranates may officially be the most pointless fruit there is. 

Many many years ago, Aussie New Yorker hosted a dinner party down at the beach on the eve of an important Federal election.  It was a bacchanalian long table dinner, to which we were required to atttend in character as a Greek or Roman god or goddess.   I was Persephone, the goddess of Underworld who was dragged down there by Hades after bursting through a cleft in the earth where Persephone was picking flowers with some nymphs (Hades made an appearance at the dinner - he was my boyfriend at the time - very apt as it happened).  

Daughter of Demeter and Zeus, Proserpina in Roman mythology, Persephone was eventually saved by Hermes, but as Hades had tricked her into eating pomegranate seeds, she was bound to return to the underworld for at least a season each year.

One of these pomegranates would have done rather well at the dinner.  At the time, pomegranates were not in season. In fact, as a 24 year old, I barely even knew what they looked like. 

I have found it hard to find many useful pomegranate recipes.  Of course you can sprinkle the seeds and make juice but these seemed a bit simple.  In the end I made this, a roasted beetroot, goat's cheese and pomegranate salad.

Looks a bit like a massacre, I know. But it tasted piquant and lovely.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Drive by Houses - Gates to Hausmann

This house, just renovated, and for sale around the corner from me:

has an imposing set of gates leading to the white gravelled driveway. Driving by, I have always thought that the gates were perhaps a little too grand for this house.  There is a reason for that.

The gates do not really belong to this house. ...

They in fact originally sat at the entrance to this house:

Wombalano, built in 1884 to a design by James Twentyman for John Munro Bruce (father of Stanley Bruce, who became Prime Minister of Australia in 1923).   The Bruces sold the house to the Baillieu family at the beginning of the 20th century, who renamed it the more palatable Heathfield.  It was then sold to Sir Keith Murdoch who moved his family, including little Rupert Murdoch in 1933.  (Can you imagine Rupert Murdoch as a baby? I can't).  It was demolished in 1951, after use by the US Army during WW2 and as accomodation for nurses.    

(One day, wrist slashing though it may be, I will do a post on the many houses in the area, Just Like This One, which were demolished in the 1950s and 1960s in our mad rush to modernism.)

But really the surprise to this house, perhaps built originally as stables, is this amazing central room.

Quite Parisian.  In fact I am certain the owners of this house are either French, or have spent time in France.

The house reminds me of this little boite of perfection, in a Hausmanienne building in Paris.

Everything about this apartment is wondeful.   From the well chosen little tribal artefacts, to the incorporation of key modern pieces in a way which is casual rather than 'look at me'. 

(suprising Hans Wegner chairs)

(1950 Zora Starck painting, chairs by Francois Liguri)

to the curved hidden door in the hallway with th elight fitting which looks like a coven of mad white albatrosses have come to nest (in fact the light fitting, by Ingo Maurer, is called 'Bird's Nest');

to this magical magical ceiling - how wonderful to nap under this:

(Images (1) to (3)  Kay and Burton (4) Stonnington Historical Society (5)- (8) Cote Maison France)
Related Posts with Thumbnails