I’ve come to see that artists and designers have different attitudes to walls. For artists walls are a gallery space for works of art. For designers they are an element used in creating a mood. I wish I did have an amazing art collection for the old schoolmasters house, but it’s going to have to be a mix of textures & collections – a sleight of hand that evokes an atmosphere.
As a set designer, the aim is always to avoid plain freshly painted walls. I’ve been on the lookout for wallpaper for the old schoolmasters house and am thrilled to have found a sweet trellis design featuring Australian parrots for one of the bedrooms. Looking through wallpaper sample books it is so easy to be seduced by magnificent toiles and glamorous European scenes – you can forget it is just an old house in the Australian bush. It comes back to discipline, a sense of place, and thinking of the house as a whole. Back to simplicity.
The idea of a mural is now set for the dining room.. A room used only at night, there is a theatrical ceremony in lighting the candles, choosing a record to play from the collection, and all sitting around the table. I want to cover the walls in an Arcadian scene; lots of vertical trees, simple monotone colours and something representing Australiana. Strongly influenced by the mural in LaMill café in Silverlake in Los Angeles.
Wall colours are proving another challenge. How to be bold but not garish. Have started on the guest bathroom, a strong shade of green, based on a bright table napkin. To offset a wonderful collection of hummingbird prints, a series of five left over from a film set. Birds have become an inescapable theme in the old schoolmasters house, in spite of the Portlandia sketch of ‘Put a bird on it”. Birds are just so much part of the experience of the area, you want to have them inside as well as out.
For the sunroom I am planning a naturalist wall. To get some printers’ boxes and little wooden shelves and create a pinecone collection and space to put the pinky yellowy rocks gathered on early morning walks. Mixed in with the most special of all design elements – handmade craft and artworks from friends near and far.