Once while riding through beautiful Centennial Park, I discovered a white gum forest & was determined to do a guerilla-like shoot here at some stage. Shhh! Don’t tell the council. The opportunity arose when I dove into my dress-up box to shoot my portrait for my upcoming book, The Biography of a Bowerbird.
I donned several outfits and grabbed my brother/photographer Chris. It was a glorious early morning – although extremely muddy after heavy rainfall. Here are the results.
I met my sister at the Q Station recently on a magical Sydney Summer day. It is part of the larger historical Quarantine Station that now has a cafe and restaurant. The buildings have been gently restored & are beautiful. Just wander around & look at the brickwork & lovely hardware & doors. In the rock face, shields & flags have been carved with dates & names. Otherwise just bake on the sand & swim in the harbour. You can catch the shuttle bus up & down or as I did, tackle the stairs & check out the glasshouse near the bend.
Whilst researching my next book, Biography of a Bowerbird at the Macleay Museum, I stumbled upon Mr George Rice. Intrigued, I delved into my research by contacting the Caroline Simpson Library. I poured over old surveyor’s maps from the late 1800s and discovered he owned The Curio Shop, 232 Lower George St Sydney from 1860-1877.
Pics from the National Library of Australia archives.
Around the corner on Pitt St was Mrs Palmer & Sons, a furrier & taxidermist. I have used this research & inspiration for the latest bar I have designed with Kelvin Ho. It is opening in April and is called Palmer & co.
Do you ever grow out of exploring rockpools? The discoveries that can be made at low tide. My first attraction is usually the lovely worn rocks that are the structure & house for the creatures, broken shells, seaweed trapped fish, crabs, starfish, anemones. They are little worlds of wonder that house an entire universe.
For women in particular, the plant-hunting phenomenon (including the Victorian Fern Craze) became a hugely popular & socially favoured pastime. It allowed women some aesthetic & scientific pursuit otherwise denied. Although it was considered a leisure activity rather than a ‘career’, they did contribute to the advancement of study & understanding of botanical nature through handmade, mounted & illustrated albums, most notably of seaweed, algae, fern & wildflowers. These books were one-of-a-kind and often with little regard for Linnaean specimen order or categorisation.
Considering this fieldwork was taking place in the countryside & at the seashore, it was mostly conducted by the educated middle-class who had leisure time for ramblings & combing their locale.
As research for my next book, Biography of a Bowerbird, I spent an afternoon pouring over & conversing about women’s works at the Caroline Simpson Library: pressed fern albums, scrapbooks & handmade albums containing cursive handwritten poems, sketches portraits, watercolour flowers, pressed flowers & other musings. A variety of seaweed collecting manuals as well as the very personal albums are reflective of the time & creator. All housed at the resourceful library where I enjoy the treasures that unfold with the help of librarians, Matthew & Michael.