Monday, November 30, 2009

On Country: Stories of Nyrlotte

Written by Fiona Doyle
Reviewed by Jennifer Kemph

On Country: Stories of Nyrlotte is a collection of charming tales featuring a young Aboriginal girl and her developing involvement in the women’s business of her mob. Author, Fiona Doyle, integrates traditional words from the moribund Alngith language – spoken on Cape York Peninsula - with familiar contemporary dialogue. The result is an authentic link between traditional speech and popular culture. A glossary at the back of the slim volume ensures Doyle’s language choices can be accessible to all and invites readers to consider the importance of preserving our unique language groups.

Each story focuses on Nyrlotte and the teachings of her Granny as she discovers her unique connection with her land. In a sense the stories convey some of the ideas of the Dreamtime, and Nyrlotte is a vehicle through which young readers can come to hear these stories. Her connection with the landscape is profound and Doyle’s description of Ornyawa (Swamp at Wathaniin) is absolutely magical. There is a sense of spirituality inherently built into each of the stories as Nyrlotte learns the skills and develops a deeper understanding of her culture and her role in society.

The title is pitched at an 8+ audience, but I would argue that these stories could be successfully studied right through to the latter primary level. The concepts of development and growth are coupled with adventure and magic to ensure young reader engagement. Additionally, the stories are complemented by a range of line drawings which are elegant and subtle.

Not only are the stories delightful in their spirited adventure, but they are, in my opinion, essential reading for all Australian children in their responsibility to recognise the stories of our Indigenous peoples. I look forward to more from Fiona Doyle and will share these stories with the small people in my life.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

I feel summer coming on...

I woke to a beautiful morning on the Gold Coast. Blue sky, a hint of a breeze and a calmness around.

Frangipanis and Hibiscus always lift my spirits, so when I came across these on my way home from the beach this morning I thought I should capture their simple beauty on camera.
Have a wonderful week!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


I know wallpaper has been making a comeback for quite some time, but the possibilities are so endless I can't help but get caught up in the buzz. The images above are from Apartment Therapy who have featured some fantastic new designers whose contemporary aesthetics are making their mark in design circles around the globe. Check out the feature and enjoy the splash of life wallpaper can bring to a room!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

I'm loving Shannon Fricke's beautiful book Sense of Style: Colour + Space. I ordered this from her website last week and have been consuming every word and image with admiration. Her writing is very natural and the images are divine.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Dusty Days

An eery shade of orange shrouded the blue waters of the east coast.

Mum's Living Room

The beautiful light and shade of Mum's apartment. It's a warm space in a very modern complex. I love curling up on the red leather lounge with my mum for a girly TV session.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The White Woman on the Green Bicycle

The White Woman on the Green Bicycle

by Monique Roffey.

Monique Roffey’s second novel is set against the fertile and dynamic backdrop of the West Indian island of Trinidad. It is a story of political unrest and personal isolation. Evidently, Roffey’s birthplace is today a significant influence on her work and the novel, like its setting, is humming with feminine breath and life.

Cleverly, the narrative is broken in two halves which take the reader from present to past in a couple’s experiences as expatriates, each with a very different set of expectations and attitudes. George and Sabine are poles apart. He is completely comfortable being an outsider in this strange groaning land, while Sabine yearns to understand the people and challenge the status quo. Both halves of the book work well independently as the characterisation is both powerful and honest. The relationship between Sabine and George is fraught with unspoken bitterness and feelings of resentment and loss. Yet, the power of their shared experiences is too strong and intoxicating for any real separation to take place. It is a husband and wife carved into the undulating hills of painfully beautiful prose.

Roffey’s great strength is her incredible ability to bring the island to life. The personification of the hill behind George and Sabine’s home is so convincing it is not at all strange that Sabine speaks to the mighty land before her.
Sabine drifted out onto the grass, staring up at the hill above the house, the hip of the green woman, a woman lying on her side, never any doubt about that. A woman trapped in the mud, half sculpted from the sticky oil-clogged bedrock, half made. She was also stuck. Half out, half in…You, Sabine addressed the hill. All you do is watch. That’s all you’ve ever done. Sit back and observe the disaster going on.

Sabine’s observation of the hill in the shape of a trapped woman is evocative of her own feelings of isolation and disappointment with her lot. As a young bride in the 1950s, her love for George and the reassurance of his three year contract with Forbes-Mason to the West Indies saw Sabine wheeling her green bicycle off the Cavina frightened and unsure.
This passionate novel is a celebration of life and death and love and hate; where human emotions are fully experienced for better or worse.

A recent long weekend spent in beautiful Angourie in northern New South Wales highlighted that style can be affordable.

I've always loved the look of the Eames chair with the Eiffel base combined with a solid timber table. While these Ikea chairs are not as stylish in design their clean fresh appeal in a high traffic holiday home ensures a classic look that is not too precious.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Interior Design Course

I have decided to do an Interior Design and Decorating course to help me gain the knowledge and experience I need to take this love of writing and interior design to the next level.

Choosing which course to do is the tricky bit. The Interior Design Institute seems to offer a very professional and sleek online course, while there is a new Design School in Varsity Lakes offering short courses on campus on Saturdays. The contact with real people does appeal to me, but I would have to wait until next year before I could start that, whereas the online course I could start anytime and pace myself.

The commitment of attending each week is probably a good thing for me as I sometimes have a tendency to start things with great gusto and then lose momentum somewhere around teh halfway point. Adam thinks the on campus course is the way to go and is fully supportive of the idea. So I guess next year I will embark on the course and in the mean time continue to read and read and read!... and sometimes write!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Welcome to Home and Book

I have finally decided to get blogging! As a writer it seems so obvious but the commitment to daily blogs is something I have only just accepted. Until an hour ago I didn't even have an internet connection at home. I mean I have had the internet before but as a savings strategy my partner and I decided we could live without the internet at home. With daily access in my day job it hasn't been a problem until now.

Today is the day I start my new career. I am inspired by beautiful homes and beautiful words so today I bring you Home and Book. I will blog those that intrigue fascinate and enchant me and hopefully share some beauty in the world with other home lovers and book worms.

Most recently my mother's apartment has shown me that an eye for colour and a combination of new and aged is a recipe for success. Here's my article featuring her beautiful apartment in Queensland.

One Perfect Day

Ten years ago the owners of this modern apartment in Queensland, had no intentions of scaling down their living space. With a combined family of nine children plus an ever increasing number of grandchildren, retirees Pamela and Ken Parnham were sitting pretty in a large open plan home complete with a traditional English garden, a workshop for Ken and an impressive lap pool which all of the children enjoyed.

The couple, who love to travel, found that a large house and lawn require full time attention and the generosity of a neighbour. Pamela had always dreamed of water views and a drive one Sunday through the quiet beachfront streets of Scarborough brought them to their new address at Scarry Street.

Set on a generous corner block, the complex of four luxury apartments is a contemporary nod to the minimalist designs of U.S firm, Kanner Architects. Windows and glass dominate the entire front aspect of the building inviting the morning sun into these homes, while the combination of polished concrete and bamboo flooring provides an interesting contrast of warm and cool underfoot.

The lower level of the Parnham’s apartment was originally a huge double bumper to bumper garage. However, Ken, who is a skilled craftsman, transformed this large empty space into a highly usable workshop with toilet, laundry and sewing room plus a child friendly entertainment area. All of this functionality was achieved without the need to sacrifice a car space. Pam and Ken comfortably fit their two cars side by side in the new, more functional space.

Arriving at their door via the apartment’s private elevator or by the three flights of stairs, one’s eye line is constantly drawn to the beautiful blue waters just across the road. Inside the apartment Pamela’s eye for colour and unique style is evident as the eclectic combination of original artwork and pieces picked up locally bring life to the open plan living area. Again the eye is drawn to the view and the concertina glass doors allow for virtually uninterrupted views across to the tranquil waters of Moreton Bay.

Perhaps the key piece of furniture tying the room together is the oversized cherry red leather chaise lounge by Rubelli. Pamela, who adores luxury, couldn’t resist the outrageous piece as a focal point and for its practicality. “With fifteen grandchildren, Ken and I are often babysitting and the practicality of leather allows me to relax while the children climb on and off time after time”. Additionally, the lounge’s comfort is extremely important as Ken has had some recent health problems and spends much time recuperating on the chaise while watching his beloved Brisbane Broncos on the large LCD television mounted on the wall.

The open kitchen, living and dining area connect by just a small step down into the large open sunroom, the perfect place to sit and read or simply take in the view. This is where Pamela also likes to play her upright piano or entertain friends for coffee.

Despite downsizing from a four bedroom home to a two bedroom apartment, the guest bedroom is regularly booked by one of their children for a weekend seaside getaway. Therefore, Pamela has furnished this room in softer shades reminiscent of a more traditional beach house. The colours taupe and pale blue feature in the soft furnishings, while a print above the bed is a reminder just before sleep to take an early morning beach walk. However, for those more interested in a leisurely lie in, the aluminium shutters provide great blockout to snuggle in for hours. “We wanted our guests to feel comfortable and relaxed here. This is not a pretentious home. We are ordinary people who simply enjoy a few of life’s comforts and like to share time with others”.

And share they do! The couple are involved with several charities and Pamela raises awareness for the Smith Family’s Learning for Life programme, which provides extra funds for disadvantaged school-age children who otherwise would miss out on textbooks and fieldtrips that are additional to the state government provided education. Pamela feels passionately about the education of children and having raised four of her own, she wants to continue to provide opportunities for other children. This love of children is evident in their home. Pamela and Ken’s combined families feature on wall space and shelf space throughout the apartment reminding us that, in spite of the modern exterior, this is a home with a warm heart.