Archive for category architecture

Clarendon House still presides

IMG_3257The well-known Michelin food guide tells you if a restaurant is worth a stop or whether more seriously it is considered to be in the category of ‘deserving of a detour’ and if you appreciate Australia’s history then Clarendon House in northern Tasmania is definitely worth a detour.  This is a fine example of Georgian Italianate design from Australian architect, artist and author William Hardy Wilson who was considered one of the best 20th century architects.  Wilson – born 1881 and died December 1955. The mansion is set in 7 hectares on the banks of the South Esk River. Clarendon was the centre of a large enterprise developed by James Cox. The Australian Dictionary of Biographies can be visited here for more information about Cox’s holdings and influence in Tasmania’s pastoral history.

The wonderful three legged round table in the impressive wide hall of Australian fauna was painted by Tasmanian based artist Michael McWilliams a former Glover Art Prize winner and People’s Choice for Glover in 2014. Not only did I love this table but another favourite was the metal sculpture of a dog sitting on the sofa in the study, it  frightened the daylights out of me as I walked in to the room.IMG_3229 IMG_3230 IMG_3231 IMG_3233 IMG_3234 IMG_3235 IMG_3236 IMG_3238 IMG_3239 IMG_3240 IMG_3242 IMG_3244 IMG_3245 IMG_3247 IMG_3248 IMG_3249 IMG_3253 IMG_3254 IMG_3255

We were introduced to the house with a brief talk and then left to our own devices which suited us so we could take in the details of each room without being rushed.  I have added a photo of the rear of the house, it is the view minus the ionic columns with trees obscuring the entrance. It was originally intended to be the front of the house. The gardens are being well maintained and as always the house and its outbuildings are in constant state of repair. Based on this beautiful example we decided to join the National Trust so expect more posts as we work our way around Tasmania’s historic properties.



1 Comment

Old houses in need of repair

IMG_0087Old houses require constant maintenance and you have to love them to put up with the cost and then there are further issues to find the right tradespeople and craftspeople to give you quality restoration work.

We have lived in this post Federation ‘Queenslander’ house for 18 years, we only intended to live in it for around 8 years but we liked it so much we stayed. We had tried to sell it two years ago and as real estate is still in the doldrums we took it off the open market.

But in the meantime when there is a problem we get right onto it, like the window that nearly fell out recently after the wind slammed the front door one too many times.

I rang an old friend who used to have a glass business and he had retired so I started searching for someone to fix it. One craftsman I found in the phone book told me he was up north fixing up a church, to send him an email and he would get back to me, well I sent the email but he did not reply. So it was on to the next option of finding someone. John went into a restoration hardware store and was given the number of a fellow also named John. He turned out to be the answer. He came out, assessed it, gave us a quote and once we appointed him he returned with a glass disc he inserted as a temporary measure. I was so happy as it still let the light in the hallway whilst our panel was being restored. The phone book glass craftsman told me he would be inserting a panel of ply so I was much happier with John’s temporary alternative.IMG_0086

Here is John the glass artist with the panel all renewed, the glass is now cleaned and put it back in as though it had never left its home.

The design in our ‘high waisted’ front door, he tells me is a ‘Dog Rose’ but I cannot find any other examples of Dog Roses. The style is a really a combination of the Art Nouveau and Art Deco styles. All the original glass is still there but with one more slam all that glass would have landed on the floor.

IMG_0089The white version door the view from inside hallway. The Black version is the front door entry from the verandah.



Bathroom design Bay of Fires style


Finally our new bathroom is ready for some photos. It has been a year in the planning and has taken around seven weeks to build.


I love the shafts of light that pouring in each morning.


I designed the bathroom and had local Michael Eastwood of Onshore Designs do the drawings and submission to the Council. Our builder was Peter King from Scamander, great attitude from him and all his workers.

The wall mirrors hide recessed shelving and there is a magnifying mirror in the centre with light for the close up work. We added some luxuries like underfloor heated tiles and three in-wall heated towel rails. My favourite is the bathtub but I also love the tall stainless steel cabinet with its one mirrored side next to the toilet. It  rotates to reveal glass shelving for storage of bathroom cleaning products and toilet paper etc.


The tiling is the same on the floor as the walls and covers all walls to the ceiling. The top on the vanity is a Caesarstone slab, another quartz product. The bowls are Dado white quartz stone with a matt finish, made by same company as the bath. We bought  basins and bath through Christiaans bathroom shop in Brisbane and were shipped to Tasmania from Queensland although I see on the warranty it is a South African company.IMG_9371

The opening from the bedroom does not have a door so it opens up the area and we can view the sea from the bed. There is a skylight, two opaque glass sash windows, one smaller window above the bidet and with the large floor to ceiling corner window we have light pouring in all day long. For privacy at night we have installed electric roll down blinds. We installed a ceiling fan above the bed, after years living in Queensland we like to have a fan awaiting a rare hot night in the Bay of Fires.Master bedroom 2

The Flos wall sconces, a Philippe Starck design we bought in Brisbane at Euroluce, and they were sent directly down to us from the Sydney warehouse, thanks Peter – all arrived in excellent condition. The covers are in aluminized bronze, they swivel and have inbuilt dimmers. A bit of trivia, we noticed on our recent visit that a reading area at MONA has the same lights in the silver finish. We bought a ceiling hung version for the bathroom. I relocated the screen print by Australian artist Janet Dawson ‘Parts of Fortune’ from the house entry to its new position above the bed. We had the linen bed-head made in Launceston last year. I cannot show you the walk in robe yet, the room is there, just empty until the cabinet makers return from Xmas holidays.


Penultimate Post Ensuite Reno

IMG_9164It is nearly coming together but always a few unforseen delays and little dramas, not sure whether we have a big Grand Design in our future. Like all painful events it does ease over time and maybe one day we will embark on a major new build.  The dust factory I am living in is of no benefit to anyone and I am over trying to remove a few layers each day. The blue floor is waterproof sealer, the light on the floor is reflected from the skylight above.

IMG_3856_2Here is the previous bathroom, so you can see why we are embarking on this project. Old fashioned shower cubicle, basin taps that never turned off properly,  not enough storage and worst of all, something you cannot see here, the bathroom door opened straight into the living room. Guests had to use its toilet so I was forever trying to keep it spotless and it was not sound proof!

OOPS  –  the tap outlets against the wall are in the wrong place. They had to be moved –  simple just cut out the panels, get the plumber back and start again. We have a builder with an even temperament and his workers are also good-natured so it is a good environment no matter what glitches occur.


The lines here are under floor heating cables


Bedroom fan installed and wall scones waiting for top shades

John doesn’t seem to mind this cleaning, going in after the workmen leave to remove rubbish.

IMG_9216Another stage is reached as the floor is laid.

Our bedroom is not habitable

Our bedroom is not habitable


The wall tiles are now up. Hoping for the grouting today and then the plumber can return. I am meditating to acquire the virtue of patience and more patience.

No matter what happens the next post will be the result, I am not prepared to lose my friends and followers over any more boring renovation photos.


Beach house bathroom design in Tasmania

This is the second post on our new bathroom construction and it is making good progress. Builders have just put in the corner floor to ceiling window frame. In addition to the sea I enjoy looking at our neighbours red bottle brush which I can see from my pantry every morning. I will still see it flowering again next year from the pantry window straight through the big corner bathroom window.

The heavy stone bath is carried by six men through the opening before it is closed off. It is now sitting in the adjacent bedroom so that it is accessible once the walls are closed – it would not go through an ordinary door. John’s idea, for an impractical man he had a brainwave.

The tub is now sitting in the bedroom and it will be easy to move it into the bathroom as the bedroom will have wide opening.

Glass panels arrive for the big windows. For a very small town we have some very good local suppliers.

Oh dear…the bathroom toilet arrived cracked. The plumber was not happy. More worried about telling me I think. No one panicked, we rang the supplier who said another will be on its way.

The big window is in at last.

We are now in the unglamorous phase of the addition, next post I hope we have some more aesthetically pleasing photos to post.

, ,


Donna Marcus Transformation

Title: code-xiv-122-cm-h-x-122-w  Photo Roz MacAllan

Donna Marcus is an Australian artist whose work is frequently inspired by objects that have been taken for granted as kitchen gadgets. Most of the objects and utensils she transforms have outlived their original usefulness. Some of the components are instantly recognizable whilst others become compelling sculptures that are such an intelligent reworking of found and garnered materials that they take you a moment or two to decipher any original purpose.

I am drawn to her work on various levels, as sculptures in the media of assemblage and for such an evocative use of domestic objects of which I am very familiar and fond of.

Donna resides in Queensland with a studios on Mt Tamborine and in Brisbane. Her art training was undertaken at the Tasmanian School of Art, more background can be found on her website.

Title: Plat du jour (after Escher)195 h x 170 w x 10d cm Photo Donna Marcus

The kitchen has been a great source of inspiration and some tools and appliances may have outlived their usefulness and ended up at garage sales but Donna has put them to work in another guise. At the same time her clever adaptations helps us preserve the memory of many family gatherings. I obtained one of these very same fish moulds over thirty years ago, alas it has only been used once. I made a salmon mousse in the tropical summer, certainly not one of my best ideas – unless you live in a fully air-conditioned house. Her ‘Plat du jour’ brings back memories of my pink mousse oozing in a most unappealing way under the Queensland sun.

Title: 360 degrees  Photo: Roz MacAllan

Abstraction inspired again from the back of the kitchen cupboard.  The title 360 degrees refers to the oven temperature (before Australia changed to metric measurements) and 360 indentations.

Hearts on mirror in Donna’s bedroom Photo: Roz MacAllan

Marcus is more familiar with op shops than art material suppliers. She frequents auction houses or anywhere there is likely to be household objects. Once again I have two of these heart-shaped cake tins but I am happy to say they have been used regularly in our household to more positive effect than the fish moulds.

More of yesterdays treasures –  colourful anodised  ashtrays Photo: Roz MacAllan

‘Slither’  Photo taken outside studio window: Roz MacAllan

Title: Slither-160-cm-w-x-120-cm  Photo: Donna Marcus

‘Slither’ mounted for exhibition, it totally transforms the original reading of the objects.

Photo: Donna Marcus

This beautiful shape was derived from a humble citrus juice squeezer and as been the inspiration for many more sculptures created in a range of sizes. Some have been cast in bathroom quality (industrial) ceramic and traditional sculpture material of bronze.

Title:   Photo: Donna Marcus

Donna’s website link is at the end of the post. There will see macroscopic bronze versions in vast public areas.

Title: Dissolve 120-h-x-192-w  Photo Donna Marcus

Another skilful composition of a re-purposed collection of lids.

Title: Earthed  Photo: Donna Marcus

Can  you guess what these objects were in a former life.

If you are visiting the city of Brisbane look for Steam, it was the first major public artwork by Donna Marcus. 7,000 aluminium vegetable steamers were cast to build 15 aluminium spheres comprising 2 large spheres @ 2488 mm diameter and 13 small spheres @ 1303 mm diameter. Not hard to locate, they are scattered randomly in the plaza area of Brisbane Square.

Steam was based on Fall, an earlier work made of vegetable steamers. These works referred to the geodesic domes of 1940s architect and inventor, Buckminster Fuller. The company Cheras was engaged to fabricate 7000 steamers; Queensland Spinners pressed 480 plates; a hole-drilling machine created a million holes; and Everything Metal bolted the plates together and welded the steamers in place.

Title: True north canopy 3  Photo: Donna Marcus

The small city of Mackay in Queensland acquired several of her large-scale works this year.

Title: Big red and white blue water trail  Photo: Donna Marcus

Title: Blue water trail pieces Photo: Donna Marcus

Find out more about Donna Marcus and her work on her website.

, , ,


Beach Houses of Binalong Bay

Some of the houses in Binalong Bay are well designed and some are not. We also have many simple shacks here that I prefer over the suburban pre-fab cottage that was recently brought in on a truck.

One of the newer style beach houses – this one is near us. Not sure I would place the gas bottles at the front.

This is the suburban pre-fab cottage,  it is a shocker.I love this beach house, its the quintessential shack that characterises the 50’s and 60’s in Binalong Bay. There are still many empty blocks of land.

This shack had a makeover and is a popular rental.

You need to build two storey homes in some areas to capture the views.

On Main Road, it has sold.

No imagination, no style but they know what colour they like.

Nearly finished. And the builder bought the green grassed block next door so his view would not be built out.

One of the paths that conveniently lead between streets for the walkers.A new house built by a Pyengana resident as their beach house escape.

The gate sports a coat of arms, maybe we have an aristocrat in our midst.

One of the original shacks built here – typical of the one room shacks fishermen erected so they could have a place to rest between long periods at sea. These shacks are few and far between now and cannot be purchased as they are so close to the boat ramp. They are leased to the original occupant’s descendents. The road in the foreground is not attractive but that is because it is used by locals to park their cars and boat trailers after launching their boats.

We could be in Noosa.  Maybe Binalong Bay is the Noosa of Tasmania, only the size of the population is vastly different.

There is lovely garden around this cute weekender.

Above – the old fireplace is getting a new skin.  Below a dizzying clash of styles. Remember those Besser blocks. The balustrade is grand, don’t you agree.

Leave a comment

%d bloggers like this: