Friday, December 18, 2009

A Picture Book First and Foremost... and 5 questions with David Bromley!

The entrance to David Bromley's property/workspace(?) in Prahran - a non-descript door opens onto a chequerboard floor... past a giant clock leaning against the wall... and up a staircase to a magical world above street level. Alice in Wonderland or what...!?

Guests mingle at Bromley's book launch in Melbourne last week

Details details - embroidered artwork and uphostered chair with embroidered details... persian rug detail (and high heels a-plenty!)

Discovering an incredible collection of hidden treasures in each room...

Writing this little blog for the past 2 years has brought me so many amazing and unexpected experiences... but I have to say, this one really takes the cake!

Last Thursday evening, I attended the launch of Melbourne artist David Bromley's latest creative project - a stunning trio of three books entitled 'A Picture Book First and Foremost'.

Oh. My. God.

The books are stunning - they span the varied facets of Bromley's career, and are so rich with incredible imagery of his paintings, sculptures and behind-the-scenes. There are some seriously amazing photos by Earl Carter - dark, moody shots of Bromley's work, his models and muses, and his amazing studio spaces.

Pagepreads and photos from A Picture Book First and Foremost (photos by Earl Carter)

But whilst the books are truly beautiful (and are most certainly on my Christmas List!)... what literally had me gasping in wonder was Bromley's incredible workspace/property, where the party was held. It was like NOTHING I have ever seen. Truly an Alice in Wonderland experience - I found myself wandering wide-eyed from room to room, uncovering the most beautiful surprises behind each door - Stunning original artwork and sculpture by Bromley and so many other artists, unique vintage and industrial furniture, ephemera such as taxidermied parrots, antique apothecary jars, persian rugs, opulent fabrics, Moroccan lanterns and Victorian chandeliers... goodness me! Overwhelming! I honestly woke up on Friday wondering if it had all been a dream....

Anyway, that's enough of my gushing... luckily, in addition to attending this truly memorable event, I also had the opportunity to ask Bromley some questions about his incredible career and the latest Picture Book project! Am I the luckiest blogger in Melbourne or what!? Read on for an insight into this truly inspiring creative mind...! (and please excuse my minimal editing... I am so enamoured by the brazen honesty and stream of consciousness in David's answers... couldn't bring myself to paraphrase!)

What initially inspired your latest project - ‘A Picture Book First and Foremost’, and how long have you been working on this long-awaited publication?

i had interest from publishers and interested parties in a book on me and my work

i couldn't quite see it and the thought of a book overviewing my life had me concerned that i would feel like you do when you hear your voice on an answering machine... well i feel self-conscious when i do and i thought i'd feel the same with a book about me and my work... i kept saying to a friend (sally robin) who was keen to see a book exist, if i did something i'd like it to be a picture book first and foremost... then one day i said i'd do it if we did three separate books including one on my spaces in particular as i love interiors and environments and am far more drawn to interior books than i am to art books... then the other two looking at my childrens paintings and the nudes... each separate so as to allow an exploration of each subject in a reasonably concise way or in sort of chapters... letting each book speak about that part of my work... sally had read about david roenfeldt and brett phillips from
3 deep design and their passion for publishing books, she contacted them we got together and clicked straight away... they liked the idea, helped drive it from day one... the wonderfully talented photographer earl carter agreed to do the photographic work for the studio / environments book and away we went... after years of pushing the idea away we met with 3 deep about a year ago, so a year to do it once we decided to...

You are so prolific and your work is so incredibly varied - from painting to sculpture to retail and other creative collaborations. How do you structure your business to devote enough time and energy to each of these varied creative endeavours? When you wake up in the morning, how do you decide whether it’ll be a painting day, and sculpture day, a family day or a business meeting day?

when i first started my commitment to making art after many years in a creative wilderness, well should i say a nothing wilderness... i started working with clay... i soon started looking at the potential of working as a painter and was so excited about it i threw all my pottery equipment down the dump so i wouldn't be distracted (well not my kiln as i was very poor and needed the money from that)... i had a new friend (
rowley drysdale) who was an exceptional potter and i thought if i want to be good at something i have to commit to that discipline to be good at it... i was trying to be a potter and a painter but didnt feel i was really excelling at either... so i made my choice painting... when first only doing this i was obsessed and painted everyday for at least a decade... i do think this was invaluable, but after a while i'd like to think that if i learnt anything it was to tap into a sort of creative core... i became more interested in drawing on many and varied passions to fuel my painting... i've always been interested in many mediums and collected and dealt in antiques and objects and always maintained a love of clay and sculpture... i'd also been interested in interior spaces ever since i can remember... my parents were very tolerant of me turning my room as a kid into a bit of an eccentric world with words handpainted straight on to the walls and pictures collaged everywhere... when they moved house the walls had to be replastered as i'd chipped into them... so after years of painting i started to feel comfortable to explore all these other passions... not saying i neccesarily felt comfortable in doing so i just felt i may as well give these things a shot... i made films, furniture, clothes, sculpture, lightshades, wallpaper, bags etc... for some reason i had a lot of criticism that leaned towards discouraging me alluding to the fact that i should stick with my main game of painting.... i laughed because when i first started painting a lot of people criticised me or tried to intimidate me against doing it but i had no where else to go or no other skill so i learnt stubborness to not turn away from something i wanted to do and nothing's changed...

my process or management of how i fit it all in is one of great disfunction, obsession and desire to explore it all and i have to really try and get a plan together to get it all working in a far more sustainable way.... HELP !

Which other artists and creative people do you admire?

the list is very very very long... to name a few from the past it was first vincent van gogh and a bit of paul gauguin ... van gogh's story touched me so much it still haunts and inspires everyday... van gogh's letters are just frightening and beautiful and irving stone's perhaps slightly romanticised tale lust for life made me want to paint so much... i also just loved so much the painters that followed, especially the fauves and abstract expressionism and expressionism from baselitz to de kooning... then pop art just captured my imagination in particular warhol ... in more recent times jean michel basquiat and julian schnabel ...

i love phillipe stark's thoughts on design or the creative driver... lots of musicians and architects and anyone who lives with passion

Which galleries would you recommend in Melbourne to see the work of local artists?

i am terrible i dont get out enough... i like dianne tanzers gallery in gertrude street... but i don't go to galleries much... i'm more interested in antique shops and junk shops

What are you looking forward to?

i really don't know quite how to answer that... i'm always trying to work out what i am trying to achieve and not sure which path to take... i'm having a big think at the moment whilst surfing in byron bay... when i work it out i'll let you know... in saying that i got some turkish rugs and suzani fabrics from a turkish friend of mine today and i love those and want to get more involved in fabrics... i got an old airstream caravan and want to do that out... my young kids are immensely creative, they've always been encouraged to explore creative things and they blow my mind by how much that's a natural process / vocabulary for them... i say to my 6 year old daughter that i want her to have a studio next to mine and i'll be her assistant.

Huge thanks for David for taking the time to answer my questions so thoughtfully, and for letting me wander around the launch taking all these photos... so kind! Thanks also to Esther at The Project Agency for all your help facilitating the interview!

David's second retail store, A Day On Earth, is open in Armadale today!

A Day on Earth

1223 High st Armadale

Open Thursday and Fridays 11.00am - 6.00pm

Scroll down for more photos than you can poke a stick at. (Come on, how do you expect me to cull these!?)

Very much love those vintage numbers resting on the studs in the wall...

Love the gauzy curtains... long table and table runner and those cylindrical copper bowls(?) and the sculpture centrepeice....

Looking down on guests from the stairs...

Second level. That incredible window on the aged green wall totally made my day. I literally gasped. (loudly!)

More second level

This room on the second level was full of kids playing wildly in that stunning curtained four-poster bed!

A spooky face to greet you at the top of the stairs

Fantastic oversized painted lampshade...

A light-filled room on the lower level, full of Bromley's children's paintings

Lanterns and vintage furniture on the balcony

Artwork in the hallway

The hallway that never ends... love the varied artwork, hanging bare globes - and pinatas!?

More Bromley lightshades


Oh just another room filled with amazing things...

Bromley's nudes grace every room...

A Cheshire Cat!? Am I taking the Alice analogy too far?

Down the chequerboard stairs...


  1. absolutely blown away by the photos. the space looks enchanted, cozy, and like a little wonderland you want to dig into. love the numbers, aged green wall, suzanis, his paintings everywhere — that must have been so fun!

  2. Incredible Lucy...I mean YOU! Thank you again, David is so thankful for your support.

  3. OMG I want to visit this Alice-land too!

  4. Thank you Lucy!! Someone told me that was his studio and ever since if I was nearby I'd gaze up at those lanterns on the balcony and wondered what that amazing window looked like from the other side!
    thank you for the beautiful pictures and insight into Bromley's magical world. Those chequerboard tiles breaking up at the bottom of the stairs...who else?

  5. WOW! What a totally amazing place - I love it! Do you think he'd notice if I moved in!?....

  6. Yes I KNOW amazingness amazingness.... :) thanks for reading and for all your lovely comments ladies!

    Especially Esther! Thankyou SO much for this opportunity! :) Greatly appreciate all your efforts and feel very lucky to have met not just David but you too! x

  7. holly molly fantastique___I need not want that second level aged green wall window___oh my super special post lucy lucy

  8. wow! i'm a huge Bromley fan. you are so lucky!

  9. holy moly! what an incredible space. wonderful photos of it, thank you for showing us!! and i also would have gasped aloud at that window and aged green wall. lucky you;)

  10. Congrats on making it onto the list of 50 best design blogs in the world by the NY Times! I'm a regular anonymous reader and was delighted to see you made the cut :)

  11. AMAZING! The last time I was in Melbourne I spied the balcony from the other side of the street and wished that I could go inside and explore....thank you for taking me for a visual tour.

  12. BA. NA. NAS!
    I. Die. I literally think I just died.
    Lucy, what an amazing post. You have totally SHUT IT DOWN!

    (been watching way too much Rachel Zoe, sorry!)

  13. jesus. that place is freakin' amazing.

  14. oh- incredible, what a beautiful and amazing house and not to forget bromley himself, his work is magical. i can't get enough of it. the green wall is truly breath taking. wish it was ALL mine... thank you for sharing all this loveliness.

  15. It's so good to see this on your blog! I've been through before and wished I had a camera... How good is that ostrich-skin Featherston chair??! And to make THAT green wall even more special- I believe it was a studio used by Howard Arkley and you can see the over-spray on the adjacent wall. It is a magical space.

  16. I can second the serious gushing and disbelief. I too have had the amazing opportunity to be at that property. It is literally at the top of one of my most amazing experiences....

  17. WOW! ... is all I can say. Thank you Lucy for this post and those amazing images ...

  18. Yes you are the luckiest blogger in Melbourne maybe the universe!!! Gobsmacked, enthralled, blown away, sppechless ... it's OK you gushed, OMG a visual feast ... words don't express it, Thank YOU for taking us with you!!!
    I'll be linking back to you ... triple WOW!

  19. Beautiful Lucy what an amazing window into another world! Thankyou x

  20. what an incredible space! i can see how easy it would be to just spend hours upon hours in there... thanks for sharing!

    xo katherine aka. urban flea :)

  21. I was so in awe of this post that I dreamt about it. Big congrats for making the top 50 Times list.

  22. Oh god... I've always wanted to explore up there; thanks for the voyeuristic peek! I am almost seething with envy. He has an amazing collection of stuff, and fantastically put together.

    I believe that used to be Howard Arkley's living & studio space?

  23. thanks for your comments everyone... Sorry to gush but I'm glad you share my enthusiasm! :)

    Lauren - your comments made me laugh out loud! Love it! Thankyou! (I have not watched any Rachel Zoe but maybe I should!!)

    Ben Barber(!!) - lovely to hear from you!! Have a fab Christmas break..! (and yes to Howard Arkley... I think?)

  24. Oh wow. Quite easily the most desirable home I've ever seen on any blog, and what an amazing man. I loved reading the interview. :)

  25. thanks for featuring David Bromley, my favourite artist. Each photo was better than the next. Brilliant Lucy! I am lucky to have a Bromley Lithograph nude, have just hung in in our living room. Simply fabulous...

  26. An INCRDIBLY inspiring man!! I only hope that I will be as creative and laid back AND successfukl one day!

  27. far out what a spectacular space. blows me away. so wish i was there. I just love his work so much.

  28. have always peered through the window and wondered what tresures hid within, thanks for the lovely pictures

  29. Oh My! Thank you so much for the many photos of this amazing space by an amazing artist. I recently took a trip to Daylesford and gazed at the wonder that is "A Day on Earth" and that was just from the outside !(It was closed the day I visited.)
    I am very envious of you but thankful that you have this wonderful blog to share your adventures and visual treats.

  30. oh. my. bloody. god - sorry for the cursing, hon, but what to say?????!!!!!! un-freaking-believable! and i too noticed the featherstone chair just sitting quietly with her good self. and that window! and that green! i wouldn't get a thing done in that house....
    i need to get my hands on one of those lampshades, but where to put it?!
    great, great work, lucy. i loved your five q's.