Talent galore

[left] Valli, Jenny, Suzie, Sarah, Host Marie, Ursula and Lynley

What a talent pool of artists this festival state of ours has spawned.

When naïve artist Marie Jonsson-Harrison held a girlie lunch for a group of fellow female artists, they were invited to bring samples of their works which revealed amazing diversity in medium and artistic style.

The group has been meeting irregularly for 20 years, and was founded by three naïve artists – Valli Palmgren, Ursula Kiessling and our host Marie (of course), who then invited other artists to attend as guests.    These include Jenni Mumford and Lynley Cooper,  both recognised contemporary artists and Marie’s neighbours Sarah Philips, who is a talented muralist and abstract artist and Suzie Flashman,  whose medium is photography.

It was an exciting, stimulating meeting of talents – and all in an exceptional environment on her large balcony seemingly suspended in the sky with far reaching views up and down St Vincent’s Gulf.  And vegetarian Marie’s table was stacked with healthy foods, too. A wonderful gathering of the sisters!


Are We Any Different? by Cheryl Bridgart

Nadine with Cheryl

Popular textile artist Cheryl Bridgart is delighted at the success of her present exhibition, Are We Any Different?  at the Adelaide Zoo’s exhibition space.

As always, Cheryl presents her artworks with great style and the Zoo is the idea space for her mix of paintings and embroidery which depict the relationship between animals and humans in  vibrant fashion.

Opening night was a wonderful statement  of her talents exhibited in  the ideal venue at the new exhibition centre at the gates of the Zoo.

The space was packed and she sold 29 paintings of the 45 on display on the night.  Cheryl  spent 12 months sketching the animals at the Zoo and Monarto and then used acrylic paint on linen for the paintings, but she embroiders on paper which she has washed beforehand.  “It takes hundreds of hours to have the stitching create the artwork,’’ she says.

Cheryl  is known  internationally for her fine art freestone machine embroidery where she creates portraits and fant

some of Cheryl's "chefs d'oeuvres"

asy pieces, animals and landscapes.

In a recent accolade, the Zoo has extended the term of the exhibition until January 31.

“I wanted to capture that blend of human and animal connection and on opening night many people told me the art brings back childhood

memories of visits to the Zoo,’she says. “ Everyone had their stories and everyone had a favourite animal.’’

Her home/studio is the restored historic Pikes former horse stables in Carrington Street – also an exotic exhibition space where she displays her works.

“I have sold five more paintings since opening night with people telephoning to see what else I have for sale and visiting me here.’’

On Interior Style:


Our colourful entrance foyer

A new home is like a blank canvas waiting for the first brush of the artist’s stroke – it’s a unique opportunity to express one’s personal interior style.

I have never been minimalist – a nice way of saying I have always lived with clutter and Olivier has been the same, so creating a relaxed, simple interior in a contemporary home isn’t going to be easy. Especially as we have two houses of stuff from former lives to accommodate. Without a steady hand, the interior could become a mish-mash of incongruent things plonked around the place in a harsh confusion.  Or our living space could become a wonderful statement of our own evolving style. Whatever. It is going to be fun!

I glean information from many sources, my friends’ stylish interiors, public places and books. Such as my coffee table collection of books – French Chic by Florence de Dampierre, who writes on the art of decorating houses and how the French have honed interior décor into an art form the extravagance of the Sun King Louis XIV. And Simple Style by renowned British freelance stylist Julia Bird, who reckons the essence of contemporary style is simplicity – about clearing away the clutter and streamlining the home to create an unfussy, easily liveable and comfortable environment.

This sounds an awesome task for this bowerbird, until, coincidentally, I find that Lucinda Holdforth includes delightful snippets of French style in her book True Pleasures: A Memoir of Women in Paris.

She writes about Nancy Mitford, one of the famous Mitford sisters, who lived in Paris from 1947 to 1967:  “I know the apartment was neither large nor grand, but furnished with a few fine screens, antiques and fresh flowers.

Here Nancy Mitford wrote her books and letters, wearing her Dior dresses and a small string of pearls.’’

This excerpt pleases me as our antiques sit comfortably within our contemporary home and I always have fresh flowers in the foyer at least. We have a delightful tapestry in our bedroom also, but, I won’t be found wearing either Dior or pearls as I write.




Home Grown Glory

Diana McGregor of Nangare with her landscape plan manifested.

Anyone who has visited French artist Monet’s garden in Giverny will know its beauty and why the great master considered his garden his greatest creative art and painted it so much.

Our new garden is also a living work of art and is beginning to flower to create a soft delicate space. The gerberas, lilium, lavender, daisies, salvia and 400 other varieties spread across the large allotment are a showpiece already after only five weeks! Pinks and purples dominate a colourful palette.

The new garden is designed around the bones of the old garden which somehow survived the building process. The hedge of pittosporum, the 30-year-old weeping Cyprus, husband Olivier’s much-loved pond, tough-as-boots agapanthus  and an old English elm which was savagely cut back to spawn new life.

We gave a simple brief to landscape designer Diana McGregor – a variety of foliage, some bougainvillea, roses and lavender, a kitchen herb garden and several flowering shrubs for indoor floral arrangements. We wanted the garden to be an interesting, ever-changing experience.

A “Windsor Green”  lawn was to be reconstructed around the Cyprus. And there was to be only one new tree – a Gleditsia – because we do not want to cover up our natural environment – a circle of huge gums and pines. And there were some ugly spots to be camouflaged.

Her selection – much of which I have never heard of – is proving to be spectacular, particularly the lush-leafed magnolia, the crepe Myrtle, a wisteria growing up framework and the proliferation of native grasses.  Small flowering shrubs and creeping rosemary create an interesting entrance along the steps and my cottage garden bordering my study is defined by a beautiful border of French lavender – Augusta folia “nana” which Diana had propagated from her own garden stock.   The beginnings of the rear garden has a border of baby bougainvillea, which need to tumble down to cover the huge concrete walling which was required by council.

Ours will be a low-maintenance garden when the plantings have covered the thick mulch and importantly a pleasure in our lives. Such as the young herb garden of parsley, marjoram and thyme as well as borich, tarragon and a curry plant, bordering the winding paved pathway.

Diana has been designing Australian gardens for 35 years and she has played an important role in the development of an Australian garden style, something Holly Kerr Forsyth calls “botanical fashion”. Yet, like its owners, our garden has a touch of Frenchness – a sweet-smelling lavender hedge. Roses, irises and peony will be our own selections over time. Enjoy our photo gallery.




Snippet from Sweden

Thought I would share an email we received for New Year from former Adelaide celeb, Heather Caddick, now living in Sweden.  She had a travel article on her first Swedish Christmas published in The Australian last weekend, and she is happy for me to share her wonderful email.

“Dear Nadine and Oliver,

Sending you best wishes for the New Year and beyond from wintry Sweden, and with 2011 now behind you…there must be only blue skies and sunny days ahead for you both.

We have been living in Sweden now for over a year, and really love the life here, and having family 5 minutes walk away, down the river trail.

Christmas was at the ‘summer’ house, that sits alone on a lake at the edge of a forest..We had 15 family present, including son number two, who came here for Christmas, and wore the Santa suit….

I have been attending Swedish Language school, and in my class of 15, we have Kabul, Somalia, Palestine, Macedonia, Puerto Rico, Germany et moi..represented! It is an absolute privilege to be getting to know this United Nations…as we struggle with learning to speak Swedish. There is huge humour and fun.Fatima from Palestine speaks no English…we have become great friends and manage to communicate in slow Swedish..and the 2 girls from Kabul are inspirational….wicked sense of fun. In Sweden refugees must learn the language and culture before they are allowed to work here. This is all funded, and may take years, but is a clever way to bring multi cultures together.

We shall be visiting France in February (skiing )..wonderful to be close to everything, after years of ‘long haul’!

XXX Heather.”

(PS) Heather was the first female stockbroker in South Australia (a few years back down the track) and more recently before migrating to Sweden was former chair of the Adelaide Zoo. She and husband Alf sponsored the Boma, the mating enclosure at Monarto Zoo for the rhinosoruses.

November Heralds Dramatic News

Three months absent from my website signifies some dramatic events in our lives.  That short space of time, though, has ensured that things for husband Olivier and myself are going to be vastly different from how we imagined our retirement life together would be.

There’s a good reason for the adage that moving is as stressful as a divorce, but it was exhilarating, too,  to move finally from Hindmarsh Island back to Belair on September 27.  Olivier would agree that our stylish new retirement home has been a source of great joy to us. We have wallowed in a wonderful sense of achievement, unpacking countless boxes and finding a place for everything we love.  Many hours have been spent pondering on where to hang our art, especially my favourite pieces which have been stored since our marriage almost four years ago! The new kitchen is a dream, the lounge a stylish home theatre with window walls giving the appearance of living among the tall gums. My study is a work in progress and so I write in Olivier’s “bureau’’ with its high angled ceiling, defined with Oregon beams.

However, a sadness surrounds us like a heavy morning mist that descends upon our hilly suburb in Autumn. We cannot get away from it, even as we watch young blokes with wheelbarrows, picks, shovels and myriad other tools shape the remnants of the old garden into a lovely new and different landscape.

Last week, Olivier  returned home from a long stay in Ashford Hospital and together we have struggled with the news that the chemotherapy which seemed to show promise in July has become ineffective.   It happened on the day he was scheduled to have his last chemotherapy treatment and we had planned to stay in a hotel in the evening to celebrate. Instead, he didn’t have the treatment and he was hospitalised. Intense pain heralded this turn-around and instead of strolling along one of Adelaide’s glorious beaches hand in hand as we had planned, I have had to learn how to give my lovely Frenchman morphine injections.  It is amazing how easily I have slipped into the unfamiliar role of carer.

Now it is November, “Movember month’’ the Cancer Council of Australia’s initiative to raise funds for prostate cancer and my son Tyson is growing a black, bushy  moustache to support the cause.  The least I can do is return to the keyboard and tell you how this deadly disease has invaded our lives over  the last three months .

Friday last week, Olivier was discharged from hospital after four days of radiotherapy and we celebrated with afternoon tea at the home of good friends Danny and Helena Kotazek.  They have a strong connection to the situation as their son, Dushan is the head oncologist at Tennyson Centre for cancer treatment, but he is not treating Olivier because he does not treat family or friends.

We sat together and I listened as the old friends spoke in French and we dined on pumpkin soup spiced with ginger and helped ourselves to a plate filled with delicious French pastries from The Red Door bakery down the road in Croydon.

“He is a French patissiere,’’ Helena told us proudly.

It was a delicious event, shared with their daughter Eva, who came to visit Olivier.

Yet,  Monday began with a home visit from “prof’’ the palliative care expert, Professor Ian Maddocks, who had seen Olivier in hospital.   Had we wanted to dwell in the land of denial, he was not the right audience. Instead, he ordered RDNS services to the house to help continue the pain management forged in hospital.  Olivier could not be in kinder hands. Professor Maddocks is the architect of palliative care, pain management for life limiting disease, and has devoted his life to alleviating suffering.

Ten months after husband Olivier was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer – we have  been faced with the reality of planning for his palliative care.

So this is the week Donna, the RDNS nurse begins to call and the week the occupational therapist comes and assesses the home recommending independent living aids for Olivier. This is the week, he has become more disabled on his left side and it is the week he decides to use a walking stick.

“Well, they say I’m a chalkie, so I can’t fall, can I?’’ he says.

It is now four months since we were first told darling Oli was dying and we are so thankful for the medical technology – the chemotherapy – which has scrounged enough time for us to move (on September 27) and settle so comfortably into our new home.

Today we entertain another eminent professor – Ross McClelland, who is the newly-appointed head of prostate cancer research at the Flinders University’s $200 million Cancer education and Training unit,  which will open in 2012. He is married to former Advertiser Newspapers colleague and journalist friend, Jill Pengelley and he pops a bottle of Chandon Brut to toast our new home. However,  in retrospect, we should have also “cracked a coldie’’  for a cure for cancer from the research laboratories of the new facility.

Which brings us to the future.  Like Jimmy Stynes, who is also facing secondary bone cancer, Oli may not win this battle. But on Monday,  Olivier begins the next round. . . another regime of a different chemotherapy to try and stem the cancer once more.  It is not a cure, but, around the corner, with generous donations for research into the cause and treatment of prostate cancer, there will be a cure.