Albert Namatjira Mt. Giles print, Miniature Framing Company, 1950s, made in Australia Bonzo napkin ring, 1920s, made in Japan
An unusual pairing- I know. But these two pieces are quite iconoclastic in their own way.
Bonzo the dog was the first cartoon character created in England, by George Studdy in 1922. Bonzo has been reproduced in a myriad ways since- and this early napkin ring is now highly sought after.
Albert Namatjira [1902-1959] was born near Alice Springs, and died aged only 57, at Alice Springs. Namatjira was a pioneer of contemporary Indigenous art: his watercolours of outback desert landscapes departed from the highly symbolic style of traditional Aboriginal art incorporating incredibly vivid colours in an overtly ‘Western’ style.
Both Bonzo and Namatjira have been in and out of fashion and are both back IN again in a huge way. So much so that my landscape drawing studio is full of framed Namatjira prints and I am always on the hunt for any more Bonzo pieces.
An ode to 70s designers Fred Press, American artist Lionel Suttie, Australian industrial designer
Fred Press was an American artist, and from 1950 to the 1980s was the chief designer of Rubel & Co on NY’s Fifth Avenue. He set out to revolutionise giftware, bringing his artistic sensibilities to domestic ware. Here we see a cheese/fruit board, in the shape of an apple, with one of his iconic drawings reproduced on the ceramic tile. The tile itself was made in Japan and is set in American teak, and it is signed Fred Press.
Lionel Suttie was an Australian industrial designer, bought in to Bessemer to revolutionise the design of utility ware– butter dishes, sugar bowls and table ware. This was the first time mass produced melamine products were thought worthy of design – or that they could make could make a design statement. In this image- a russet brown lidded condiment bowl, an avocado cup and saucer and a yellow sugar bowl.
Altogether a fine homage to the 70s and 70s designers.
My partner and I had a dilemma faced by many inner-city dwellers: nice couches in the sitting room- BUT no nice side tables. Where to put the martini glass? On what to perch the canapé plate? Am I right? – everybody faces this dilemma.
Space is tight. The couches are expensive and there is NO way that guests are encouraged to rest their drink or antipasto plate on the arms. So- what to do?
Enter- the upcycled telephone table. Long in length and thin in width- the perfect dimensions. Having an upper and a lower level [once for the telephone and padded seat, respectively]- and with an added grill for the old telephone books – these tubular metal telephone tables are just the thing.
Trish stripped back the chrome plating, attended to the rust, and repainted in matt black. Recycled timber was sanded, oiled & finished and screwed to the upper and lower sections and voila- the perfect side table was born.
The table ticks all the boxes: upcycling, recycling and retro styling. Totally loving it!
Just in time for Easter, here is a timber easter egg holder: The cart is articulated and the wheels move as the chick pulls it along. The original pin holding the cart to the chicken has been amateurishly replaced with a pin, adding to the overall charm of the piece.
These egg-holders were made in the thousands, in Japan, and exported to countries who- in the 40s at least- celebrated Easter by the giving [and eating] of easter eggs. It is hand-painted and the egg would be placed in the cart by the country selling the Easter gift.
[Without an easter egg available I have styled the cart with a random racoon.] Given my propensity for kitsch, I love this little piece! and after all easter eggs have been consumed, you can see that it’s quite good for displaying random figurines.
I have a ‘thing’ for Mulga wood- I’ve featured quite a bit of it on the blog. Mulga wood was used in 1940-50s for souvenir works as it is a hardwood –unusual in a native from the wattle family – and was considered ‘export quality’. The timber is cut and arranged to show off its famous bi-colouring, as seen in these ‘beehive’ bookends.
These are ‘beehive’ bookends in the classic shape: it was a popular form in the 50s and seen in everything from knitting guages to car manufactures logos- to –of course- hairstyles.
The hardwood was first turned on a lathe, then cut in half to form bookends with a straight edge; then polished to a gloss. Often example of the bark was retained- as seen in these bookends- to contrast with the high glass finish. And the weight of the hardwood makes for excellent book ends; nothing is going to push these babies over.
Toothpick holder, and Tasmanian pins
made in Australia, 1960s
Don’t you love a good toothpick holder? Obviously no one uses toothpicks any more- but they make such a good vintage receptacle for pins, hatpins, badges- anything on a stick!
This is a stylised bird toothpick holder that I found in Tasmania. Elsewhere on that same trip I found these fantastic Tasmanian pins- and so put two and two together.
I would love to see this birdy put to use displaying hat pins- so collectable right now. The holder is in terrific vintage condition, never having actually held anything before today- so would make a great receptacle for your pin collection. And- if you are into vintage/Tasmanian pins- so much the better!
This guy holds twelve pins: and is for sale: $AU25 [including pins]
Hornsea Saffron condiment set
made in England, 1970s
Here we have a lovely condiment set: mustard pot and salt & pepper shakers- all with teak lids- in a teak tray.
Hornsea is famous for its 70s patterns; always two apposite colours in a geometric pattern. I’ve showcased them all: Saffron, Heirloom and Bronte.
I grew up with this 70s oppositional style: and have only now come to embrace it again. Especially now it’s so collectable! I have styled the egg cup with wattle: it kinda recalls the yolk and i like how the mustard pot can become a egg cup can / become a vase. I have the teak cover, so it can be used as a mustard pot too!
The breakfast set is in great vintage condition, and is for sale: $AU35
I love souvenirware! It’s so of its time – and kitschiness is guaranteed. Here we have two pieces from Queensland. An ashtray- although no indication of such in its form – until you read the text:
Please use this bloody ashtray- its [sic] paid for, the carpet isn’t!
Ah Surfers Paradise! The name says it all- endless beaches of white sand where surfers come to experience paradise. And smoke cigarettes, pausing only to stub them out on the hotel carpet.
And – the rolling pin. Nothing says Kuranda [‘the Village in the Rainforest’] like a miniature rolling pin. Perhaps the pin is made of rainforest timber? Quelle horreur! No, wait, that’s only pine.
These two Queensland souvenirs are for sale: $AU15
Here is my burgeoning brass & timber candlestick collection. You’ll note they all have the same candle [important stylistically] but the only things that unite the candlesticks is the material and the age.
Admittedly, the second one is timber veneer on top of timber, but timber is timber [especially in the 50s!] The first candlestick is ecclesiastical [came from a church]; and the last two are teak, fashioned after Danish pieces. All made in Australia! – another element that unites the collection.
This could be the start of a great collection – or just be four stylish candlesticks to adorn the dinner table. The candlesticks [sans candles- they are from Ikea!] are for sale: $AU55
This is a fabulous wall barometer- and temperature gauge- made from blackwood timber, in the shape of Tasmania.
The barometer was a wedding gift to a couple in the 60s – and has faithfully recorded the air pressure [barometer] and air temperature [thermometer] since then. I particularly like the fonts used for the barometer – it is very old school, where each condition has its own curlicue lettering: ‘stormy, rain, change, fair, very dry.’ That last one is -of course- referring to wit.
In excellent working order, and ready to hang, the barometer is for sale: $AU45