Friday, October 31, 2008


I visited the Cloudehill garden in the Dandenong Ranges about a month ago. The planting are quite lovely, the design is beautiful, I find the sculpture rather jarring. The website describes the garden thus:

Cloudehill is inspired by the famous arts and crafts gardens of England: Sissinghurst, Hidcote, Tintinhull and others. These, in turn, are derived from the renaissance gardens of Italy such as Villa D'este and Villa Lante. Our green theatre is a tribute to those magnificent Italian hill gardens. Of course, Cloudehill's location, with its reasonably gentle slopes, the dramatic forest to one side and exhilarating views to the mountains, provide plenty of inspiration and the placing of art works into the gardens give a contemporary twist to a classic design.
The garden has those Edwardian garden rooms that were inspired by Italian gardens. By the Baroque as much as by the Renaissance I might add, these two styles often get conflated, but that is just my own pedantry.

Is this just a garden rule or a personal philosophy? Hmm.

Beautiful yellow magnolias.

The pond.

Fritillaria Meleagris

One of the vistas, the plantings weren't quite as full when I visited, but the gorgeous yellow poppies filled the void.



More poppies en masse.


A garden room and doorway a la Sissinghurst.



Moving from the structured to the naturalistic, a field of daffodils,
one of the ephemeral delights of gardens.


A Rhodedendron.

The Garden Theatre, reminds me of the Villa Bianchi Bandinelli near Siena.


The dog on the counter.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

I was reading The Guardian online and found this feature on 1000 artworks to see before you die.


It is quite fun, but strangely it doesn't tell you where the images are kept, maybe they think seeing them in some form is enough. Not really though, flicking through the latest selection of 21 there are some many problems.
First is size, no difference on screen between a William Blake water colour and a Botticelli. You lose the intimacy of seeing a tiny image, or the impressive size of a huge canvas. In addition you can't see the textures or the material, the screen flattens everything out.
Context, most of these are from art galleries, but nevertheless context still matters. They do have Stonehenge up there and surely that is a completely spatial experience, no one would say they had seen it if they hadn't been there. Hmm.
What else? I don't like some of the one liners such as reducing the Canova pictured above to the phrase "Three little simpletons." Urgh. Makes me want to slap someone. Surely then this

Could be "big fat head in bush."

And this:
Is described as "The tubular chimneys of Venice with their strange terracotta spouts ... " Um. Thrilling.

Le sigh. Predictably modern artists and popular artists like Caravaggio get off better, as timeless expressions of human emotion and the like. So maybe it is 100o art cliches to read before you die.

Anyway it is still fun to go through and tick off. I got 8 out of 21.

Edit to add they do have the locations, click here.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A good coat of paint..

.. has been applied to 245 Collins St, next door to Newspaper House. I don't know much about the origins of the building, I would guess it dates to the 1910s or roundabouts. I also recall before the paint was applied there were some funny sketchy paintings on the side of the building, I'm sure I have a photo but I can't find it.

Before (clearly I was actually taking a photo of newspaper house, ignoring its shabby next door neighbour):


And a last picture that shows how the vibrant green of the tiles now 'pops out', pity about the ugly awning though.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Who says a staircase can't make your life complete?
Palazzo Madama, Turin. Staircase by Filippo Juvarra.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Casina della Civette, Rome

I visited the Casina delle Civette in Rome in March this year. I have tagged it 'Hidden Rome' amongst other things as the Villa sits outside the historic centre in an area that originally was fields and noble villas but has now been absorbed by the suburbs.

It sits in the grounds of the Villa Torlonia, the Torlonia were a family of bankers who were amongst the richest in Rome in the 19th century. Visit the website for the Museum here.
The Casina was originally the 'Swiss Cabin' designed by the landscape designer and architect Giuseppe Jappelli. In 1908 it was transformed into a “Medieval Hamlet”, by the architect Enrico Gennari. The small building became an elaborate residence with huge windows, loggias, porticos and turrets, decorated with majolica and stained glass. It became known instead as the 'House of the Owls' or the 'Casina delle Civette.' It is a strange mish mash of architectural styles.

Inside the house is richly decorated in an art nouveau style, one of the few (maybe even the only) such interior in Rome.

The staircase of the FourSeasons which runs against the building and leads outside. The sequence on the walls (not really visible in this photo) follows the theme of the four seasons: Spring, Summer and Autumn follow one after the other.
The rhomboid panels of glass in the ceiling were designed by Duilio Cambellotti and have the theme of migratory birds: “Swallows”, “Skylarks”, “Thrushes” and “Migrating Birds”.
Only “Migrating Birds” is an original piece; it survived, although in a terrible condition, and was put back in place after restoration. The other three were made in 1997 by the Giuliani Glass Works, based on the sketches on display in the Prince’s bedroom.
The Floor with inlaid flowers.

The Ceiling Fresco in the Room of the 24 hours, painted in1909 by Giovanni Capranesi an art nouveau interpretation of the tradition fictive arbour common in Italian villas.

The house also houses a collection of beautiful stained glass works by the artists from the workshop of master glassmaker Cesare Picchiarini (1871-1943).
Swallows by Cesare Picchiarini (1871-1943)

The magnificent peacock window by Umberto Bottazzi (1865-1932).

The fairy by Duilio Cambellotti (1876-1960)
The Swallows by Duilio Cambellotti (1876-1960)

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