Caroline Simpson Library & Research Collection

The Caroline Simpson Library, although not a collection museum in theory, always has an interesting array of related things from journals, guides, souvenir & scrap albums as well as other ephemera & furniture. Their collection always seems so personal, a real importance is placed on the hand touched & the individual- here, handwritten notes in a margin or personal references are embraced.

The Caroline Simpson Library & Research Collection is open to anyone with an interest in the history of house & garden design & interior furnishing in New South Wales. The collection supports the Historic Houses Trust’s work of interpreting & managing places of cultural significance in NSW and provides a specialist research resource for scholars, heritage & conservation practitioners & museum professionals- & me!

It includes material across a wide range of formats: architectural pattern books; architectural fragments; wall coverings; floor coverings; manufactuirers’ trade catalogues & sample books; garden ornament; fittings (including curtain & blind hardware, door & window furniture); soft furnishings & trimmings; personal papers & manuscripts; pictures; photographs; books & periodicals. The scope of the collections is broad, covering houses & gardens of all kinds and ranging from the 19th Century to the present day. They also record significant houses, interiors and gardens in situ, usually on the point of change, through photographic survey & sometimes through oral history.

The fern book photographed here, is housed at this resourceful library where I enjoy the treasures that unfold with the help of librarians, Matthew, Megan, Annie & Michael.


A Moet event!

I recently installed this Moet pop-up event. With a limited budget & the help of my contacts we embraced this very intimate space. To create & represent all that is Moet, I used red velvet, black bullion thick fringe, gold collapsible tables, turned wood wine tables, classic bentwood chairs & installed drawn panelling & sconces painted directly onto my own ‘Pirate Black’ chalkboard paint walls.

For the finale I sourced high & low for vintage gold framed bevelled mirrors which my handy carpenter attached to the ceiling. Every surface is manipulated in some way in the space. For the floor I designed a hand-painted ‘rug’ in jester diamonds with the M&C logo at the entrance. I brought a bit of 70s kitsch back by converting magnums of Moet into lamps with burlap shades for ambient lighting (yes, I did drink the champagne!).

In the end, we have a cool space that I would definitely like to celebrate with a few bubbles.


Laura Baxter Design

Laura Baxter is my A-MAZ-ING web designer & friend. We meet over my website & she is not just an inspiration but illustrator & bottomless box of innovation & ideas. I love that I could let her own the project of building my website to represent me, my brand & my shop in the best, most beautiful way.

I let her have her freedom when developing my site which has made not only the most amazing site EVER but built a respected relationship that I cherish. Here’s to you lovely Laura.

P.S. Look out for our revamp of www.thesocietyinc.com.au launching on October 1st (my birthday!!).


The Collector’s Sidewalk Show- tomorrow!!

Rain, hail or shine (well, perhaps not hail)- the Collector’s Sidewalk Show shall go on! As grey & wet as it is today I am sure that it will be lovely tomorrow. We will be posting on Facebook, twitter & website if it must be postponed until next week!

Bring all your things! For sale, swap, up-cycle, free-cycle, to look & admire. Like-minded collectors & passers-by join us for serious amateur discussion & a sausage sizzle & coffee. Remember: your collection does not need to be expensive, it does not need to be of the norm, it simply must be what you are mysteriously drawn to. If you are too shy to bring your treasured box of rabbit foot key rings then bring yourself & curiosity. Can’t wait to see you there!

If you are unable to check online please call Hannah (0423 115 603) or Leah (0423 645 615) to check.


The Society inc. Collector’s Sidewalk Show

As a way to encourage people’s interactivity with museums and to ignite excitement & justify one’s own collections (amateur as they may be), in the 90s museums began to hold ‘The People’s Show’. This was a form of public exhibition where everyday people could bring their own treasured collections to the local museum and show them off to other like-minded collectors and passer-by’s.

As my extensive collections at The Society inc. have often been referred to as a treasure trove I have decided that it would be the perfect place to hold a People’s Show. All of my favourite artists and friends will bring along their favourite collections, and you can bring some of your treasures as well! Items will be available for sale or for swap. Or just to show off if you can’t bear to part with it. Your collection does not need to be expensive, it does not need to be normal, but it must be what you are mysteriously drawn to.

Just like our fleamarkets, we’re setting up shop on the footpath! We’re going to take it a step further with our People’s Show: bring a blanket, fill your carboot with goods and open your trunk toward the shop. The Society inc. Collector’s Sidewalk Show is all about generating discussion and conversation- a modern day collector’s salon.

Come along- bring your stuff to swap, sell, show-off & discuss with other like-minded people! BYO

8am-Midday, September 10

18 Stewart St, Paddington, 2021


Not quite a day in Melbourne: first half

9.15am flight from SYD, such a nice & friendly time.

I arrive by cab to Melbourne Museum at 11.30am to meet with the Manager of Collections (of birds, mammals & eggs), Wayne Longmore.

I had coordinated this appointment with some trouble to view the H. L. White collection that was donated by the Whites of Belltrees in the 1920s. Supposedly there was some break down of relationship with the Museum of Sydney & White had his purpose built cabinet bullock-ed to Victoria as a result of the dispute.

The H. L. White collection is made up of an impressive all Australian bird skin & egg cluster collection, all housed in custom built cabinetry. The egg clusters contained in oak cabinets about 1.4 metres high & perhaps the same across, are individually carved with the alphabet A – H. The letters are carved on a shield & surrounded by wings & feathers allowing White his classifying & cataloguing system. His collection was maintained by curator, Sid Jackson.

The eggs are kept in the cluster, as collected, protected in cotton wool & contained in open boxes. They are then nestled together by bird specimen in a pull out glass covered drawer. Look at the picture of the amazing Jacana eggs- stripey & squiggly they remind me of a Cy Twombley! The ledger, impressive & beautifully heavy in itself, is kept in the bottom drawer of H. L White’s cabinet & indicates the whereabouts of where each egg was found.

The bird skins are no longer housed in the original black cabinets made for them. Other than difficulty with preservation, they were very cramped & needed airtight storage to maintain them (i.e. keep the bugs out!). They are now in large airtight black vaults (powder coated in black as a nod to White’s original cabinets) and consist of drawers that are laid out with the bird skins by species.

A birdskin is not mounted. They are stuffed with cotton wool or tow and quietly stitched generally on their chest, but this can vary. They lie flat & display the name of collectors & collections they have belonged to & in.

White did not only obtain his skins & eggs personally climbing trees with his slingshot (he may not have done this), but bought from other collectors. Each specimen is labelled with where, when & who and then again when it reached the White collection. White had labels made for consistency that were approximately 10cm in length & 3cm in diameter, with room for details. I love the romance of the handwritten notes in ink, the different papers used for labels as well as their shape & size.