The well-loved Brisbane abode of designer, collector/curator and , and jeweller / sculptor , beautifully reflects the artists’ diverse pursuits, and blurs the lines between work, life and play. This is both a domestic haven brimming with intriguing collections, and a fully functional studio and showroom for their shared business, .
In the early 80s, with his first wife, Malcolm bought and moved into this charming Queenslander style house, originally built in 1906. Meanwhile, Barbara was busy sailing up to Brisbane from Sydney in a yacht she’d built with her then-partner (as one does!). The relationship ended, but Barbara decided to stay and set up a jewellery studio in Brisbane’s CBD. Similarly, Malcolm’s first marriage ended. Eventually, the two met at a 1986 exhibition of New York graffiti art co-curated by Malcolm, and romance ensued – little did they know how creatively fruitful their long-term union would be!
After ten years as a couple living separately, Mal and Barb moved in together in 1995, initially renting an apartment (fondly referred to as their ‘love nest’) and keeping Mal’s house as his studio. But apartment life felt congested for these two artists, and after a year they decided to move to the house with its lush rainforest garden and extra space.
Mal had renovated the cottage before he and Barb met, gutting a centrally-located third bedroom and replacing it with an open plan, west-facing kitchen with views to the surrounding treetops. The kitchen is the hub of the home, connecting to all the main living spaces, which also function as display areas for the couple’s fascinating collections. Over the years, the upstairs rooms have housed colonial pieces, then later Mal’s vast contemporary art collection, and now an impressive antique clock collection set amid Australian and English Georgian furniture. There’s also a library room with books piled from floor to ceiling, everywhere you look.
Mal’s collecting interests have evolved throughout his life and it’s clear he dives in ‘heart’ first, immersing himself in a field of passion, actively seeking out specialised resources, researching intently, and then solicitously collecting and displaying – or in the case of the clocks, collecting, restoring and displaying. In recent years, Mal has also become a skilled horologist as a result of his clock collecting (but that’s a whole other story!) ‘Malcolm’s collector’s/curator’s eye is everywhere here… objects and furniture always get moved about, creating new contexts,’ Barb explains. ‘It’s playful what Mal does, and I love it. We really do inspire each other through our shared love of objects and their stories.’
When Mal and Barb first moved into the Wilston cottage together, they set about creating a home-based studio for their custom jewellery business. They built a large studio area underneath the original house, featuring a wall of west-facing glass that looks out to the garden. Half of this space is dedicated to client displays and inspirational resources, and the other half to the workshop floor. Now, over twenty years later, on a typical work day you’ll find three makers perched on their stools here, pushing metal around with their hands and industrial tools.
Mal and Barb make a great team, and their home is a wonderfully unique set-up imbued with their shared love of craftsmanship!