I was invited to choose one object for Curators of Cool, but upon seeing the extent of the Natural History departments of Queensland Museum, I decided I would choose one idea that has long fascinated me.
‘Cabinets of Curiosities’ became particularly popular in the 1800s as seafaring types began traversing the globe & bringing back their unusual treasures, seen by civilised societies for the first time.
Well-heeled & deep-pocketed amateur collectors began collating a mixture of natural specimens & other strange curiosities to display & show off to other like-minded types. They were often displayed in glass-topped or fronted cabinets that had easy access, as these collections were all about show & tell, touch & feel – an open arena for speculation & discussion.
As collections grew these cabinets would often expand to encompass the entirety of a whole room. Curiosities would be displayed everywhere, from the more formal cabinets, to the ceiling, floor & wherever they fit. This was before science was science, and there was no categorisation other than the aesthetic & temperament of the keeper of the collection. There was a haphazard casualness to it all that I love.
Although mine are behind glass, imagine them without, for you to pick up & marvel at each precious piece. I have chosen my specimens purely on aesthetic. They are a mix of sizes, shapes, colours & textures that raise my curiosity. They encapsulate a time when specimen collecting was a job for the adventurous, hardy types that travelled up mountains, across seas, through dense jungles in plinth hats armed with all the paraphernalia needed to capture & transport their prize specimens.
The exhibition is on now until July 2013.
I am constantly searching for the expertise of trades sometimes forgotten or lost over time as handmade became machine made and mass produced. So I had no idea that when I met Saul of Coloforge, with a deep knowledge of techniques and skills of a day gone by, I had found what I was looking for. Saul works with zinc and steel and other honest materials, and now collaborates with me on all sorts of projects including commercial spaces and my shop.
I was lucky enough to visit his home and forge over the weekend (which he built himself!), and discovered a magic place, which I can only compare to something from Peter Pan. Saul is soulful and a free spirit who has made an honest living for himself that goes back to the basics; reverting to a time when furniture was bent, or whittled, or sanded with bare hands.
The beautiful packaging and branding alone was enough to get me to Bellocq, so when I tried the unique and evocative tea, I knew it would be the next destination to add to my updated Stylist Guide to New York (online soon). It is located in an industrial area and the front of the building is very unassuming, so upon entering, you are greeted with a beautiful and unexpected world. Walk through the shop to the tea salon out the back. It is filled with soft light, and has a real energy about it, with its plush pink velvet banquettes, wide floorboards and almond branches. The beautiful floral arrangements and hanging plants are a world unto themselves!
There was a tea testing on when we arrived, so we were lucky to try many of the beautiful teas. One of my favourites, ‘White Wolf’ is described as “Prominent notes of cedar, black current and mint evoke expansive Western frontiers, hay and saddle, leather and snow for a truly exceptional white tea blend”.
We left with Gypsy Caravan, The White Wolf and Majorelle Mint. A must if you’re visiting New York.
In this intimate workshop Sibella Court, interior stylist and owner of The Society inc, will discuss the process of styling and how items from our collections have inspired her work.
On an adventure through our historical archives, Court discovered the story of collectors from the 19th and early 20th centuries including Alexander Macleay, first resident of Elizabeth Bay House, and Frederick P Dodd, who created one of the most impressive Australian entomological collections. The story of Dodd’s creative sensibilities and the world and time in which he lived appealed to Court, and inspired her to share the many ways nature and history can be translated into an interior.
Sibella Court is an interior stylist, owner of The Society inc. store., product designer and bestselling author of the books Etcetera etc, The stylist’s guide to NYC,Nomad and Bowerbird. She creates commercial interiors for clients in Australia and overseas, contributes to leading interior and fashion magazines and has a 110-paint colour paint range as well as soap, decorative hardware ranges. She works regularly with Anthropologie and will be launching a clothing, scent and bed linen range with the retailer this year.
Elizabeth Bay House
Saturday 29 June
2.00pm — 4.00pm
General $85 | Member/conc $80 | Bookings essential
The Society Inc. is holding a special ‘Welcome to Australia’ party for the New York duo behind Confetti Systems!
A friendship born from a shared love of communal celebration and craft-making, bought together Julie Ho & Nicholas Anderson to create this special brand. Julie and Sibella have been friends for a long time, and also worked together in New York.
Please join us at the shop on June 19th, 6pm-8pm to celebrate, mulled wine in hand.
There will also be products available to purchase on the night.
We look forward to seeing you all there.
The Society Inc.
18 Stewart Street,