1. Favourite Artist and Sculptor
I have two all-time favourites and I became transfixed by them in this order. Firstly, Edward Hopper, the great American artist who captured with a unique realism, American social and domestic life, during the inter-war period. His use of light and shadow is as haunting as it is moody and if one were to look for similar Australian visions the artists, Badham, Wakelin or Smart in his early period would all be interesting points of comparison. Clement Meadmore, the great sculptor and designer, trained at RMIT but who found demand and bigger audiences in the USA for his often monumentally large sculptures, is my other favourite. His minimalist, highly geometric and often large-scale sculptures of twisted steel draw me in every time I see one in the flesh. His book is a must-see for anyone sceptical about just how beautiful contemporary sculpture can look in garden and landscape settings. I look forward to visiting the first major survey of his work at The Ian Potter Museum of Art.
2. Favourite Object or Jewel
I would have to say that Faberge’s Winter Egg of 1913, gifted by Tsar Nicholas II to his mother to celebrate Easter, remains in my mind one of the most beautiful jewelled objects ever created. The egg itself resembles frost and ice crystals and was one of the few imperial Easter eggs designed by Faberge’s only female work master. It was said to be inspired by the maker, Alma Pihl’s, time spent staring through frost and snow-laden windows during Russian winters. Whenever I look at it, I’m reminded of what a Russian Disneyland may have looked like if such a place had ever been created in pre-revolutionary times.
3. Where do you go to feel inspired?
I wish I could say I had an impressive or grand environment that I escaped to for inspiration but in reality, I find it in strange places and for different reasons. As mundane as it sounds, I find deadlines and time pressure inspire me because I do subscribe to the view that one’s best work cannot be produced in advance of its deadline. However, I have no proof of that the theory is correct! And bizarrely (given that I’m a nervous plane traveller) I find long flights where I am contained generate some of my best thinking and ideas when it comes to Leonard Joel. I have often wondered whether I’d be more productive if I turned my office into an aisle seat resembling 13C.
4. What’s Your Favourite Coffee / Wine?
My favourite coffee is a soy latte and I fluctuate between weak and normal strengths. I’m very fussy when it comes to soy milk brands and I was devastated when Vitasoy removed their original green label from production. When I am “coffeed out” I happily shift to powdered chai lattes (yes, I prefer the powder version) or peppermint tea. In terms of wine (and my parents would think I’m self-indulgent saying this) I have progressed from New Zealand and Adelaide Sauvignon Blanc to Sancerre and Chablis, both can be purchased at a reasonable price!
5. Your ideal day in Melbourne?
Begins with an hour long walk with my dog Buddy, then breakfast at one of the many Melbourne cafes offering exceptional egg offerings and in terms of seasons I’m often heard saying that Spring and Autumn in Melbourne are, in my opinion, the periods that best reflect our beautiful city. But if there was a period in Melbourne that I could replicate more than once a year, it would be that strange quiet and emptiness that descends over hot Melbourne between Christmas and New Year. During this interim, I love walking, wandering and exploring the city.
6. Favourite Book?
I’m embarrassed to say that I’m not a good (or rather consistent or regular) reader of books. I find I often need a connection to become interested and then consumed by a book. When I was assisting Ron Barassi with his sporting collection, I read his definitive biography and I was hooked. After visiting Boston, I read a brief history of that beautiful city and wanted to return even more, and when I want a global politics “fix” I simply love reading anything, Chomsky.