Thursday, July 19, 2007


The second page I have done for the "Ancient Architecture" fabric book Round Robin features the Georgian architecture of Norfolk Island. The buildings associated with the penal settlement at Kingston would be, without a doubt, the finest and most unspoilt collection of Georgian buildings in the Southern hemisphere. They include the homes along "Quality Row", many still used as residences, but others now used as offices, museums and even a golf clubhouse. There is Government House perched on a hill, larger two and three storey buildings used for government, administration and judicial purposes, and the 3-4 storey Commissariat store which is now All Saints' Church. Some of the other structures are in various stages of "ruin", such as the water and windmills, the Salthouse and the Lime Kiln, and various prison buildings, but these are still well-maintained "as is", and the tall walls surrounding them all are still intact. Compared to, say, Port Arthur in Tasmania, the Kingston convict settlement area can only be described as magnificent and pristine.

Over many years, both the Norfolk Island and Australian governments have directed considerable resources to the restoration and preservation of this historic area, and an application to have it World Heritage listed is underway.

My page for Mary Anne has a background of stonework which I filmed with my digital camera and printed onto fabric. The typical Georgian window frame was created from Vilene, onto which I plastered thick acrylic paint. Visible through the panes is the Kingston vista, looking down towards the sea. The stamps are from a very lovely series that was produced a few years ago here.

There is something quite aesthetically pleasing about a Georgian building. There is a balance, a symmetry and an integrity about them. The style is classic and timeless.
However, living in one would be a different story. They do not adapt well to alteration or change. Nor do they take kindly to any attempt to embellish, modify or extend. While you may be able to change a doorway or two internally, the idea of changing or adding windows on the outside, and destroying that classic symmetry, is a definite no-no. The rooms are beautifully proportioned, and defy you to try and divide or extend them. They do not take kindly to an adventurous colour scheme, and stubbornly refuse to move with the times! If you have a Georgian building, then you must accept it as it is, and adapt your needs to suit the building, rather than the other way round!

Funnily enough, all this reminds me once again of holidays spent on the Isle of Sheppey as a child. I had an aunt who worked as a live-in maid/housekeeper for a rather aristocratic old lady who lived in one of a beautiful row of Georgian terraces in Marine Parade in Sheerness. I still remember those lovely deep sash windows in the front rooms, and the elegant staircase. When I went to stay with my auntie Nell, while my parents were packing for our move to Australia, I stayed up in one of the attic bedrooms. Aunt Nell lit a "nightlight" for me - a small candle something like a tealight - so that I would not be frightened of sleeping in a strange place. And in that part of my brain where sense of smell and memory are so closely linked, I can still smell the wax of that candle, and it makes me feel special and secure.
My final picture is a collection of plans and drawings of our Kingston buildings which I collected together, intending to use them for my fabric pages. But I was overly ambitious, and did not end up using any of them on this occasion! You just have to balance out the information, the techniques and the aesthetic aspects of these projects!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Mary,

I read your blog nearly every day here in Rhode Island. It's wonderful! How lucky you are to live in such a beautiful place. But I'm sure you know that!! I'm curious about the fabric book that you're working on. I've done a sampling of crazy quilt squares, and I'd love to make a book out of them. But I haven't a clue about how to bind them together. Have you given that any thought as yet? I hope you'll continue to blog about it and let me in on any binding plans you might have. Thanks in advance. And thanks so much for your wonderful postings!

Warm regards,
Lincoln, R.I.

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