But no lace!

It’s sad to see the decline of antique shops. I used to spend a lot of time on Sunday afternoons, going through what seemed to be endless rooms of antiques, vintage and junk. I guess eBay changed that somewhat, plus changing tastes and so on.

Still, there are places you can go to browse and recently we acquired a new thing for our house - a Victorian pressed glass bonbon dish! This might seem odd, as I’m always banging on about 1930s this or 1940s that, but there is a link. In the late ‘30s, some designers turned away from the somewhat hostile modernist aesthetic (think Bauhaus, Le Corbusier etc) and picked through the wealth of beauty found in the baroque, the rococco, and the Victorian.

It became fashionable to have the odd bit of Victoriana, usually something slightly grotesque, like ceramic vases in the form of a lady’s hand holding a horn, or large twirling shells on piles of coral. There’s something a bit whimsical about such things, though I admit perhaps a bit arch. But there you are.

So here is our new bonbon dish, and following it, is a Royal Worcester vase, which I purchased online a while back (what was I saying about declining antique shops?).

 WH Heppel & Co, 1875

WH Heppel & Co, 1875

 Royal Worcester, late 19th century

Royal Worcester, late 19th century

Home, Sweet Home

Getting back on track

 The only spot not covered in boxes

The only spot not covered in boxes

We have finally moved back into our house after an extended renovation and I couldn't be happier. Unpacking was a mix of fun and drudgery - fun because there were things I hadn't seen for ages and it was like buying or receiving them all afresh!  Drudgery because, you know, we carry too much stuff. I tried to apply the 'handling each item and seeing what it gives me' thing, but I was more keen to stuff everything away asap and get on with our lives.  Still, I did discard a couple of things, which I'm proud of, and I will continue to cull once we're settled.

And today, I started making again!  It feels like ages and it was such a breeze to get everything ready, made and cleaned up. Just as well, I have a lot to catch up on!  We are booked in to do the Gathered market in August and The Vegan Affair in September.  I will start booking into other markets as they pop up.

In other news, I understand there is an auction to be held next Sunday offering some wonderful items designed by the likes of Jacques Adnet, Andre Arbus and Gilbert Poillerat. Sigh.  Aside from the fact that there is no way I would be able to get my hands on any of the goods on offer because a. the auction is in Rouen, France and b. I don't have a million euros; the auction makes me feel sad. The auction comprises light fittings and furniture from the Palais des Consuls in Rouen, which was built in the mid 50s following the wartime destruction of the previous building.

The Palais des Consuls  was designed by four architects (P Chirol, R Flavigny, F Herr and R Pruvost) and was sumptuously decorated internally by some of France's finest.  The light fittings are incredible, beautiful ironwork, vast bas-relief plaques.  And they're all being taken out and either sold off or rehoused who knows where.  Of course it's Rouen's business, but really, could the local government not live with the spectacular fittings in the more public areas and just renovate the offices?  Such a loss for Rouen, I say.   Here's a pic of the Palais, and an example of some tiny little torcheres you can snap up at the auction:

 Source: France 3 Normandie Gorgeous!

Source: France 3 Normandie

 Source: auctioneers Swoon! But you can see why they would want to rip all this rubbish out.

Source: auctioneers
Swoon! But you can see why they would want to rip all this rubbish out.

Also, speaking of loss, the Glasgow School of Art!  Ugh, what were the chances? Two devastating fires in 4 years? We had the good fortune of visiting the school some years ago before the fires and, well, I can't really add anything, but Glasgow, the world in fact, has lost a monumental work of art.

Study Day at Carrick Hill

Adrian Feint - the man inside the cover

Carrick Hill currently has an exhibition on the Australian artist, Adrian Feint. The exhibition has a few examples of the artist's work, including book plates and oil paintings. It also explores the links with a number of other artists in Sydney during the years between the wars and features a couple of portraits of the gentleman artist, including this one by Thea Proctor:

 The original does not feature the reflections from the glass!

The original does not feature the reflections from the glass!

We were fortunate enough to also attend a study day at Carrick Hill where a number of speakers discussed different aspects of the artist's work, life and associations.  We had a ball, of course! The folk from Carrick Hill put on a splendid show.

The highlights for me were the talk given by the Head Archivist at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Dr Steven Miller, on 'Adrian Feint among his peers', and later in the day, Dr Georgina Downey (University of Adelaide) speaking about 'Stylish Homes'. All of the speakers were very interesting, of course!

Dr Miller has previously published a book called "Degenerates and Perverts", and as fun as that sounds, it is actually about Australian culture between the wars with a focus on the 1939 Herald Exhibition of French and British Contemporary Art. I have put in an order for this book of course and I hope it's as full of interesting detail as Dr Miller's talk!

Dr Downey's talk was largely based on fresh research, specifically for this event, and focused on Adrian Feint's involvement with that wonderful Australian magazine 'Home' and also rare insight into the artist's own residences. I hope Dr Downey takes this further and publishes the research!

There was no chance of eyes glazing over at this event and we ensured we had an extra swell time with a drop of sparkling white! I highly recommend a trip up the hill to Carrick Hill to see the exhibition, it's a charming and inspiring place, just look at this:

 'Hibiscus' - Adrian Feint 1945

'Hibiscus' - Adrian Feint 1945

Another lovely thing that happened this day was we bumped into a lovely customer who told us of her own plans to start up selling her own creations! Great to hear!

And finally, here's me at the first time we visited the exhibition a few weeks ago. Maybe I am enjoying a glass of sparkling white or maybe not, it's not important...



French Bronze 1930s - 1950s

A Small Collection

We have recently purchased some fittings for our home and we wanted to use vintage fittings to soften the newness of everything else. Adding vintage details seems to make a room more lived in, avoiding a showroom effect.

It was fun hunting down various bits and pieces, though of course everything we found which was, in our minds, perfect, cost more than the house itself. But we found that we didn't have to compromise too much in finding some lovely things which suited our budget and our taste in French 1940s interiors.

Choosing a warmer palette than usual, we chose a couple of bronze light fittings, which are warmly golden with the patina of age.

 Four arm bronze and alabaster ceiling light by Petitot. 1930s. Glamour.

Four arm bronze and alabaster ceiling light by Petitot. 1930s. Glamour.

Maison Petitot started in the Paris in the 1870s, but it is probably best known for its art deco light fittings from the 20s and 30s. Specialising in bronze and other metal fittings, it teamed up with a number of fancy glass manufacturers like Sabino and Mullers Freres for the shades.   I love this fixture because of the heavy stylised drapery.

 Maison Leleu. 1940s-1950s. Looking sad without shades.

Maison Leleu. 1940s-1950s. Looking sad without shades.

We also needed a couple of sconces and we found these bronze and glass (I wonder if the glass is actually lucite because they never feel cold like glass, and also, lucite was a modern and chic material to use at the time) sconces from Maison Leleu (I should say attributed to as they aren't signed).  I wondered whether to clean these up a bit by polishing them but it turns out that they have been lacquered (whether at the time of manufacture or since, I don't know) and to clean them risked damaging them. It's fine, of course, I'll take the patina.

 Bronze key plate. Vadim Androusov. 1940s-1950s. Love.

Bronze key plate. Vadim Androusov. 1940s-1950s. Love.

My final purchase was a small key plate by the Russian/French sculptor, Vadim Androusov. Androusov was known for his terracotta, stone or wood figures from the 1920s but later created bronze fixtures for grand cabinet makers like Andre Arbus and Jean Pascaud. While I am waiting for the people from xlotto to send me a giant cheque, I am not in a position to purchase any such furniture, so when I saw this little key plate, I was more than happy to buy it! It's a small thing, I know, but it's a lovely piece of sculpture in its own right and resonates 1940s-1950s French interior design.

Who Wants to Live in a 1949 Farming Pavilion? Me.

Optimistic Architecture

 from The Penrose Annual 1951, photographer Alfred Cracknell

from The Penrose Annual 1951, photographer Alfred Cracknell

Some things are designed to give such joy. I came across this small photo of a pavilion in an old advertising industry journal. A quick check reveals it was designed by Sir Misha Black (1910-1977) on behalf of the Hulton Press 'Farmers' Weekly' magazine for the Bath & West Agricultural Show in Bristol, 1949.

It has all the elements I love - stripes, white metal fretwork, stairs, angled roofs, glamour! So yes, I could live in this, even with the flags (which in my house would each be a primary colour and green for the fourth, with a central motif, like a crown, a pine cone, a palm leaf and a trident. Or something).  And the stripes? Maybe cadmium yellow and white! It's a happy looking building.


A Sirk Moment

Daydreaming after Christmas

I hope you had a lovely Christmas and a restful break. I decided to do absolutely nothing during the few days after Christmas, which is just what I needed!

One of the 'nothings' I've been doing is watching movies! It's odd, but I usually feel like I don't have the time, and I'm restless, flitting around doing one thing or another, but this time, I just allowed myself the time to watch movies, and do nothing else.  We re-watched one of my favourites, All That Heaven Allows, with Rock Hudson and Jane Wyman, directed by Douglas Sirk and released in 1955. I love melodrama, I love the saturated colours of this film, the unpleasant children, the gossips and scandal, I love it all.  The sets are fabulous, of course. All very WASPish and New England-y, but it has its charm.  Anyway, I'll leave you to look it up and find out more about it.

So, I have also been going on some nice walks (mainly to walk off all that food...), and I have come across a couple of houses which remind me of All That Heaven Allows in that cosy, comfortable way. Here are a couple of my snaps:

 Make mine Pimm's.

Make mine Pimm's.

 OMG they've only got  one  porte-corchere!

OMG they've only got one porte-corchere!

Wishing you all the best for the new year, and I look forward to bringing you more Shanghai Lil & The Scarlet Fez joy in 2018!

1950s Dream Venue

Wouldn't it be nice...

I don't know why but some places just really grab my imagination. I might see some building and my heart skips a beat, making my pupils as big as my eyes. I go away but the ghost of this building will haunt the dusty vaults of my mind. That's how I came to live in our current house - I saw it one day and bought it the next. It was the atmosphere; it was easy to see what it could be (under the sad neglect) because its atmosphere just sings! 

And so it was, when I passed this building in Plympton. I have seen it before, and I read something about it a while back, so when I saw it again, it easily occupied my imagination.

It's hard to get the whole feel of it in a photo. Huge curved picture windows, balconies, terrazzo steps.  And the circular window you see above is a sort of addition to the side of the building and comprises about 4 shops, which extend down a side road (angled windows, terrazzo, but sadly in need of love).  Inexplicably, someone has painted this a filthy grey colour.  I can't even imagine what possessed them to do this, it looks truly awful.  The condition of the whole building is tired.

But, tantalizingly, I remember the bits of information I read about it ages ago (and I have since been unable to locate that source). I remember a photo of the place in the 1950s, the main building appeared to be a cafe or icecream parlour, there were striped umbrellas in the garden in front, under the palms.  Of course, I could be wrong, but I'm sure it was this place!

You can see the remains of what appears to be a shallow pool.  In the photo above, near the bins, stands a black broken statue: a seal!  There's curly ironwork and crazy paving (heart beating, pupils dilating...).

Here's a view from the front. Gorgeous double front doors. It's such a glamorous building. It appears to currently be divided up into flats. If only someone had the imagination and, well, probably most importantly, the money, to restore this place. Can you imagine it as a restaurant, with a beer garden out the front, terraced in crazy paving and shaded by yellow and white striped umbrellas?  Sigh. Still, at least it still stands, so there is always the possibility of it being fully re-loved.

Further 1940s Interiors

My lastest finds!

I had a few quiet moments a month or so ago and decided to go looking for some books. Ok, I'll be honest, I was procrastinating. But now I get to reap the rewards, so procrastinating can be worthwhile after all!

Here are my lastest purchases. Apologies for the bad photos. In fact there would have been more but my battery went flat (the camera's, not mine).

I love Taschen - they're great. Where else can you see an entire decade of magazines assembled in one spot? Domus, the worthy Italian publication, from the 1940s - a strong emphasis on the modern, following on from the International style.  I like it, but I'm more in the mood for this:

I love this book. I know I love it, because I already have it! Ugh, I get impulsive when I see something like this and lunge at it. A simple google search would have shown this is the French version. Anyway, pretty cover!  But then THIS arrived. I haven't got this one, and there is so much in it (including a lot of very formal French, which is stretching my memory, a lot), so it is my current favourite. As I said, my battery died, so not so many pics!

So, yes, I am happy with the fruits of my procrastination. Now I just want everything in these books!

1950s Colour Bonanza

A New Find

I came across this book recently and had to snap it up! I love a good '50s style kitchen, though so often you find photos in old magazines and books and they're in black and white.  But not so in Interiors in Colour by Roger Smithells (1960)!

I love the lino, the vivid, clashing colours, the mix of simple lines with over-the-top ornament.  I still have a tendency, other than the kitchen, for a late 1930s-1940s feel. The theatrical appeals:

Yes, I like a bit of Dorothy Draper too!  I'll stop babbling and show you the rest of the pics from this wonderful addition to my book collection!

This book is a good antidote to the raw, minimal interiors that still seem to be popular. I like natural wood, marble and glass, but sometimes I find stripes, florals and quilted satin (especially if faux!) far more compelling! But each to their own, yes?!


Adrian Feint - 1894 - 1971

We were in Sydney for Christmas and we decided to pop into the wonderful Art Gallery of New South Wales. We like, among other things, to seek out the AGNSW's collection of one of our favourite Australian artists, Adrian Feint.

I won't regurgitate his biography here, but the Australian Dictionary of Biography has a nice summary and there's a short (and not particularly helpful) mention on Wikipedia. He was known for his woodblock prints (he studied under Thea Proctor and Margaret Preston) and his commercial work (some wonderful covers and content in Home and Art in Australia magazines). But it is his post war paintings (oil and watercolour) from the 1940s and 1950s which we find especially appealing.

We were happy to see that the AGNSW has acquired a new work:

 Adrian Feint - The Striped Petunia (1939)

Adrian Feint - The Striped Petunia (1939)

We didn't find many of his other works on display, as it happened, but we know that the collection includes this painting:

 (courtesy of the Art Gallery of New South Wales) Adrian Feint - Flowers in Sunlight (1940)

(courtesy of the Art Gallery of New South Wales) Adrian Feint - Flowers in Sunlight (1940)

While in Sydney, we were staying in Elizabeth Bay, a picturesque part of Sydney near Potts Point and heavily populated with beautiful art deco apartments. We found that Adrian Feint lived in Elizabeth Bay for some time and so we put on our deer stalker hats and tweed capes and went to find out where.

The AGNSW also has in its collection the following painting, which provided us with a clue because we could see this building from our apartment:

 (courtesy of the Art Gallery of New South Wales) Adrian Feint - Del Rio, Elizabeth Bay (1944)

(courtesy of the Art Gallery of New South Wales) Adrian Feint - Del Rio, Elizabeth Bay (1944)

The Del Rio apartments are glamorous, in an old Hollywood way, and sit nestled on the hill looking down to the bay. It turns out that Adrian Feint lived near the building and we think we pinpointed the address, but we weren't able to confirm this. There is a beautiful park opposite Del Rio, which we understand was vacant at the time the painting was completed. Here are the apartments now:

 Glamour lives here.

Glamour lives here.

We understand that Mr Feint moved at some stage to another apartment in Elizabeth Bay, on Elizabeth Bay Road, so we tracked this down too:



We suspect Mr Feint lived in one of the rear apartments as these would have had the view of the bay, which is often featured in his paintings.

So, there you have it, some pleasant and diverting detective work from our holiday.  We hope your break was relaxing too, and we both wish you all the best of the new year!

A Magazine Rack for Cool Cats

This is what I do on days off

We had a few chores to run on the weekend but we made sure we popped into a couple of junk shops along the way.  As you do. We're not going to buy anything, we said.  We have enough stuff, we said. Let's wait, we said. But look at this:

How could we resist? It's only small and has some great 50s graphics on it.  So, here it is, our new magazine rack:

But it's back to work for us.  We will be at the Wattle Street Market next Saturday, and the following Saturday, we will have our final market for the year, at the Makers and Shakers Market. Our store will be closed from 15 December 2016 until after Christmas.  Any orders placed during that time will be processed on 27 December 2016, so if you are buying for Christmas, my advice is to not leave it until the last minute!

A Visit to Baroona

Open Garden Scheme

Last Sunday, it was a miserable day and we needed a bit of cheering up so we checked to see what was happening and came across a property in St Peters open to the public as part of the Open Gardens South Australia scheme.

The day before, at the Wattle Street Market, a lady was standing near our stall and appeared to be in deep thought.  We had a chat and she told me that her daughter had brought her to the market "under false pretences". Apparently, her daughter had convinced her to come out and visit a garden as part of the Open Garden scheme. I suggested that she was in a garden and that it was open, but she remained sceptical. I am happy to report, her daughter was enjoying the market. The garden they were intending to visit was Baroona, in St Peters.

So, Baroona it was. With respect, the garden was lovely, though the cool weather this season held back the prize irises and roses, but it was the house which impressed us. A rambling pile with a tower and windows all over the shop.  There was something untouched about it, free from the painful alterations of the 70s, 80s and 90s (and etc!).  Our information sheet indicated it was built in 1901 in "Federation Art Nouveau style" for a successful wool merchant. Such a lot of atmosphere! Here are some of my snaps - excuse grim sky:

According to our information sheet, the house went into gradual decline until the 1940s when it was purchased (I assume) by the Jehovah's Witnesses for members of their congregation. Gossipy types assumed the new pacifist residents were spies and there was some sort of case which ended up in the High Court where the Jehovah's Witnesses won the right for religious freedom. 

We will keep an eye out for another 'open day' at Baroona, it's worth a visit!