Saturday, 27 April 2013

Torte Aux Pommes

This is a dessert that is a favourite among my family and friends.  .  I thought it was a flop when I first made it, just seemed thin and  there didn’t seem to be much to it.  My sister was more positive and  when Pam is positive about something I am happy to give it a second chance.  I have been making it for years now and everyone enthuses.  This is the cake I make to celebrate my daughter’s birthday as is her request.

Torte Aux Pommes

Torte Aux Pommes

½ cup or 120 grams of butter

¼ tsp vanilla

1/3  c sugar

1 c plain flour

Cream  butter, sugar and vanilla.  Blend in flour.  Spread on bottom and partly up the sides of a 9 inch springform pan

1 pkg cream cheese

1 egg

¼ c sugar

½ tsp vanilla

Combine softened cream cheese, egg, vanilla and sugar.  Mix well.  Pour into pastry.

1/3 c sugar

½ tsp cinnamon

4 apples (I use Granny Smith), peeled and sliced

Toss apple in the sugar/cinnamon mix.  I arrange the apples on top by:  I first put a layer of the non round slices (bits) of apple.  Then I cover these with the large rounds of apple slices overlapping around the perimeter and the smaller rounds of apple towards the middle so it looks lovely.  You don’t have to do that but it does look great.

Bake at 450 degrees F or 200 or so C for half an hour.  I put some almond flakes on top before finishing so they are toasted.

Serve with whipped cream or ice cream.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Abstract Artist- Margaret Dredge

Dredge in her studio, Sandringham, Victoria, 1972.  Richard Beck vn3533012, National Library of Australia

Margaret Dredge is an artist who quietly went about the business of art making and was an important figure in the development of modern art in Australia.  She has been introduced to me through her retrospective which is currently being exhibited at Shoalhaven City Arts Centre in Nowra.

Margaret Dredge was born in Victoria in 1928 and she had quite a challenging childhood.  Her mother died when she was born.  Her father was a WW1 veteran and the two of them boarded in 17 different houses.  As a teen she was very interested in art and wished to study it but her father wanted her to have a more conventional education and a steady job.  She became a secretary and married but then did begin her art education in the mid 1950’s.

Margaret Dredge’s early work was figurative or still life and this lead to abstraction which was to be the focus throughout her art making.  She exhibited regularly in group and solo shows throughout the 1960s and 70s.  She was well received, winning prizes and critical acclaim. Margaret then withdrew from exhibiting after the 1979 solo show.  The reasons were many but included the pressure she felt to produce more of the same style of work as well as issues regarding art politics and attitudes toward woman artists.

Margaret continued working after 1979 but exhibited only a handful of times.  In this retrospective it is fascinating to see the development of an artist.  Margaret was beating her own drum but was, of course, influenced by the time, the trends and the work of other artists.

Death of Patroclus, 1964
I cannot begin to discuss Margaret Dredge’s paintings and etchings except in the most simplified terms.  Max Dingle and Rhonda Dredge have discussed her work beautifully in the essays included in the catalogue for this exhibition and I would encourage you to read them.
Here are a variety of paintings from the exhibition throughout the 1960s, 70, 80s and 90s. 

 If you have a chance to go to Nowra to see the work of this important Australian artist please do.  The exhibition is open until May 21.  Please find the details on the website

St Joan, 1964

The Huntress 1969

Rainlight Interior 1978

Avenger 1984

Untitled (red and grey) 1993

No's Doorway, 1997

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Swedish designer- Stig Linberg

Stig Linberg
I must say, I am a great fan of Stig Linberg (1916-1982).  He was a Swedish designer who is very well known and much loved by Scandinavians.
Stig studied painting at the Swedish State school of Arts, Crafts and Design in Stockholm.
Much of his working life was at the Gustavsberg studio designing colourful tableware, and textiles, He designed children's books and even televisions.  He also made pieces for the glass companies, Kosta Boda and Holmegaard.
There are many desirable designs by this wonderful artist but for my money I go for the Karnevale series made in the 1950s. They are whimsical, colourful and entirely charming. Here are some examples of this series below.
There is a vendor at the Antique and Collectable Fair in  Sydney (first Sunday of the month at Wentworth Park in Sydney) who has been selling a few Stig Linberg pieces. It is well worth a visit.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Chair Tale-Parker

Parker Chairs-ink

Australians are pretty familiar  with Parker furniture.  It is a Sydney company which was established in 1935 and was successful right from the beginning..  One of the owner's sons, Tony Parker, studied design and also worked in London before developing their mid century range in 1951.  He was very much influenced by Danish design and was responsible for introducing teak furniture to Australia in the 1960's.
I have a teak Parker table and chairs which you can see in the first chair post early in the week.  These Parker chairs are a set of two which I found on the side of the road before Xmas.  I love the design of these ones and although they are stored in the garage most of the time, they are happily brought out for any soirees where more chairs are required.
They are in their original white vinyl upholstery and the wood is solid teak.
Well, that's it for the chair posts.  I do have more chairs but I'm sure you have had enough of them by now..

Parker chairs on teak

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Chair stories-Victorian chair

Victorian chair, ink on printed page

This is a Victorian chair which is quite low, small yet, comfortable. It's upholstered in a a yellow/brown leather. which looks a bit better than it sounds.  I first saw it, years ago, at a favourite used furniture store in Dulwich Hill and the fam bought it for me for Christmas.  We lived in a Victorian home at the time and it fitted the décor.  It was the chair I usually sat in and the dog often sat beside it so I could pet him.  Now this chair sits in the studio.

My chair, pen on medical dictionary page

Chair story-Air Chair

Air Chair by Jasper Morrison

I had been on the look out for some outdoor furniture when I saw these chairs in a charity shop.  They were stacked up but triggered a little bell in my head that quietly said "designer"..  I had a look on the bottom of one of the 6 chairs and it said Air Chair, Made in Italy. 
I bought the chairs and did some research when I got home.  The designer is Englishman, Jasper Morrison, and these chairs were designed in 1999. They are plastic with fibreglass in it,  My chairs are a pale orange colour which I have grown to like very much. 

Monday, 15 April 2013

Chair stories-Knoll chairs

Knoll chairs, gouache on printed page by me

These Knoll chairs were designed in the 1950s.  Knoll is an American company but these were made under license in Australia.  I would guess that these chairs were manufactured in the 1990s.  They were originally purchased by the Sydney American Club and there is a numbered sticker underneath with this information.
I bought these chairs on E-Bay.  Each chair was in a separate auction and I bid on the two.  I left bids on each chair and returned home to find I was successful buying one and missed out on the other.  Luckily,the seller informed me he had a third chair and did I want two.  I did and bought them for $500. each  That is a hefty sum but to buy them new would be nearly $3000 each.
These chairs have their original red felted wool upholstery which is in beautiful condition.  They add a splash of colour to my room and are comfortable too,

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Chairs, chairs, chairs

Parker Chairs
I have been thinking about chairs since going to the exhibition at Defiance Gallery last weekend and thought I would post some of my own paintings and drawings which included seating.  The drawing above was done last year and I was considering negative spaces when I did it.  The other ones have been done over the past 10 years.
I thought I would do a chair drawing every night this week and post them daily.  Please keep a look out.
Pastel done in 2001, dining room in the Victorian dining room in Marrickville
Claire in lane 2009, note dog shadow, oil on canvas


Claire, oil on canvas, 2007

Claire in conservatory, 2007

Friday, 12 April 2013

Artist who loves to paint but not with a paintbrush, Hong Yi or RED

Hong Yi, also known as Red

Red's adaption of Edvard Munch's 'The Scream"
I came across the artist/architect Hong Yi (nickname is Red) while looking around on the internet. Her background is Chinese but was born and raised in Malaysia.  Red studied in Australia and works for an Australian architecture firm in Shanghai.  She is inspired by everyday materials and creates art using ordinary things. Hong Yi is known as the artist who loves to paint but not with a paintbrush.  Her works have been featured by media around the world. 
I emailed Red and asked if it was okay if I showed her work in this forum and she said "go for it".  I thought that was pretty nice.  Her website is
The art she makes using food is quite fun.  I especially enjoyed the ones which were inspired by  well known works of art.  She made one of these works of art using food each day as she was having a break from making the more time consuming installations.
You can see her make the portrait of Tan Sri Francis Yeoh on video.  Her medium is that ring from the bottom of your coffee cup. The final portrait is at the end of this post.

Please also have a look of this video of Red making a portrait of the 1991 Nobel Peace prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi.  She made it out of 2000 white carnations and red food colouring.  Each carnation was in a container of a different amount of food colouring so that a tonal representation was created.  The flowers and red colour have significance to the sitter.

'sonny if anything, just stay away from Colonel Sanders

Giant Squid attack with squid and squid ink

Adaptation of Hokusai's 'The Great Wave', long grain rice and nori

Goldfish in my Consomme`, made of picked ginger, eyeballs of century eggs, grass made from dill and jelly made from chicken consommé and gelatine
Owl-nion! made of onion and mint leaves

Olympian Lee Chong Wei-portrait made out of shuttlecock feathers

Coffee Cup Stain-Tan Sri Francis Yeoh



Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Eileen Gray

Eileen Gray

I am ashamed to say I knew nothing of the important woman designer and architect Eileen Gray until earlier this year when we happened upon something about her in an antique shop.  My friend knew of her and suggested she was worth investigating, I did and I agree, she’s a fascinating woman.

The Eileen Gray story has everything....wealth and austerity, fame and obscurity, youth, beauty and style, love and love lost and overall, extraordinary talent and style.

Eileen Gray was born in Ireland in 1878 to a wealthy, privileged family.  Her father was a painter, her mother a baroness and their fifth and last child was always encouraged to be creative.  She was one of the first women to study at the Slade School of Fine Art in London and she also studied in Paris.  France became home for much of her life.

What I would like to do is to continue the Eileen Gray story from it’s middle because I can’t get this romantic tale out of my head.

Eileen was becoming reasonably well known as a designer when she met a struggling Romanian architect named Jean Badovici.  They became lovers and he encouraged her to become an architect despite her having no formal qualifications.  Her first real project was to design a holiday house for Badovici.  She was  very serious about this and spent weeks travelling up and down the coastline  of the French Riviera  in her MG roadster trying to find the perfect site for the home. 
Veranda to enjoy view of Bay of Monaco

 She had been looking all one summer day in 1926, driving up the narrow winding mountain roads from Menton to Roquebrune-Cap-Martin. She parked at the railway station, deciding to have a swim, grabbing her suit and towel from the car and walking across a narrow path and then along the cliffs until she came to a platform which she realized would be the perfect site.  She bought the land and had the deeds put  in the name of her lover, Jean Badovivi.

Eileen designed the home with particular regard to the wind and angles of the sun at different times of the day.  The rooms were designed so that the private rooms were at the back, facing the woods and the public rooms for entertaining faced the sea.  The building was like a ship using forms which were long and narrow with many decks for the views.  Eileen named this house E-1027.  The E was for Eileen.  10 was for Jean (10th letter in the alphabet). 2 was for Badovici and 7 was for Grey.

Eileen stayed on site for the 3 years it took to build, living alone, supervising the project.  She also designed all the furniture for the home.  E-1027 was a huge undertaking for an architect of little experience and she did not stray from her vision of the home.

E-1027 house, note the life preserver ring hanging off the veranda
Upon completion she and Badovici, as well as friends, would enjoy the beautiful house and location.  One of Badovici’s friends was the famous French architect and designer Le Corbusier.  On an occasion when Eileen was not at E-1027, Le Corbusier painted 8 murals in the home.  Eileen was furious as the large art works  did not fit her vision of the house and she wanted them removed. This did not happen however and Eileen never returned to the house.
 The relationship with Badovici broke up and because his name was on the deed he was the recipient of a very expensive gift from the independently wealthy Gray.

One of 8 LeCorbusier muras in E-1027l
 During WW2 the house was occupied first by Italian soldiers and then by the Germans.  Eileen was not disappointed when she found that the Germans had used the Le Corbusier murals as target practise!

After Badovici died, there were a series of  owners who stripped the house of  furniture, selling it ( known to be valuable) and the home fell into disrepair.  The valuable Le Corbusier murals and the realisation that Eileen Gray is an important modern architect have now encouraged the restoration of this wonderful building.

Eileen Gray died in 1976, in Paris, after a fall. She was 98 years old and still working until the end.  She was a pioneer in the modern movement of architecture. 
I will write another blog post about this designer as this house was only one part of her very interesting life.

E-1027 House

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Please be Seated

Renata Pari-Lewis, untitled, mixed media on board

Chairs are part of modern civilisation and maybe we are sitting too much but we all love a good seat.  I know my house is full of them, one person lives here yet I  could find seating for 25.  Yes, lots of chairs but I continue to be interested to see more, always testing them. Does it support the back? Is it the right height? Is it stylish? etc etc.
 Artists have been including chairs in their imagery as long as we have been gotten off the floor.  I saw an exhibition at the Defiance Gallery in Newtown (Sydney, Australia) today called "Please be Seated" and it features works showing chairs from a variety of contemporary painters and sculptors. These artists happen to include chairs as part of their visual imagery.
Renata Pari-Lewis's mixed media work (above) is a colourful jewel.  I have a painting by this artist from a previous exhibition and it is always great to see more of her work.
Below is a painting by Carole Griffin, one of two in the show.  She has shown at the Defiance before and I enjoy seeing her beautiful dogs as well as how she explores the effects of light.

Carole Griffin, Chooky's Compostella,, oil on canvas
Helen Gauchat, Light in the Courtyard, acrylic on canvas

This painting by Helen Gauchat has the viewer standing inside, outside seducing us with the promise of warmth, perhaps food and comfy seating.  It's interesting to see the full spectrum of bright white to completely black in one picture.

Ulvi Haagensen, 
There is a handful of works by this artist in the show.  It is good to see craftsmanship in drawing.  Those swift ink lines  have to be right, and are, as there is no way to fix them up later.  I enjoy seeing the addition of collage in drawing too.

There are many other interesting paintings as well as quite a few sculptures in this exhibition.  I particularly love the actual chair by Anita Larkin which she has made from collected objects and of course, the gorgeous Peter Godwin paintings.
If you are enjoying the great food and fascinating shops in Newtown, it is worth heading up Enmore Road for a look at this gallery, there is always a good show on.  You could also check out their website at