Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Fedeterranean Statuary

In Marrickville we love our garden statuary. Fedeterranean front gardens are sadly incomplete without a lion, cherub, Venus or Diana protecting the home. How these emus resting on a bed of pebbles quite fit in I really don't know, but I admire them whenever I pass. And I must admit I'm a traitor to the Fedeterranean tradition myself, as I bought this garden gnome at a garage sale on the weekend. I like him a lot but the problem is he just doesn't fit in with the other neighborhood statues. I hope he doesn't develop a complex.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Shop of the Week - Tibetan Emporium

This quiet and peaceful-feeling shop is owned by members of Sydney's Tibetan community. Profits go to cottage industries run by Tibetan refugees in India and Nepal. Dundub Lama, the manager, tells me that while the shop mainly caters for Buddhist practitioners it does great business with the general community at Christmas time. It's very neat and clean with plain malamite shelves filled with books about Tibet and Buddhism, piles of Tibetan door curtains, prayer rugs, teas, incense burners, brass altars, mala bags, prayer bead counters, bright silk altar cloths, silver & gemstone jewellery, carpets, 100% wool handknitted jumpers (for only $50!), prayer wheels (table and hand-held), gorgeous woollen shawls, chod damarus (little drums that Dundub tells me are "for serious tantric practitioners"), beads, hats and mittens, and "lama bags" which are those cloth satchel-style bags that Buddhist monks and nuns carry. Shown below are some of my favourite items - these funny statuettes of monks playing horns, a little pure wool carpet (45cm square) with a lovely yak decoration, some of the chod damarus, and a box of mittens and socks.

Tibetan Emporium is at 330 Illawarra Rd Marrickville, phone 9559 3422, email emporium@bigpond.net.au

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Fedeterranean House Colours

Here are some more examples of Fedeterranea, all taken around "The Warren" which is part of South Marrickville. I love the colours - so sunny & happy. The yellow house also features the palm trees typical of the style, and in the other two you can see some of the tiling (I have a post planned dedicated to tiling).

Shop of the Week

This greengrocer in Illawarra Road (I don't know the address but he's directly opposite the Centrelink) might be the cheapest in Sydney. The owner unloads each morning - from his open-trailor truck - boxes of whatever was cheap & in bulk at the markets. There's never anything out of season & whatever is in season is here in huge piles, almost free. The shop totally lacks glamour, it's painted about 6 different colours at random & is also somewhat lacking in hygiene. You see the occasional rotting vegetable, and once - yes - I noted what I think was a rat poo (the size of my fingernail, ovoid, glossy brown & smooth) on the counter. But hey, wouldn't you prefer a little rat poo that can easily be washed away to having to brave the hideous fluorescent aisles of plasticated and hugely overpriced fruit & veg at somewhere like the evil Woolworths, and then suffer the indignity of standing in a queue worrying about your credit card balance?

Monday, June 12, 2006

Fedeterranean Houses

These homes are found in every street in Marrickville. They're mostly owned by people who came to Australia from Italy and Greece in the 1960s and 1970s. A mix of Federation and Mediterranean aesthetics, they are a striking hybrid of architectural styles. Columns, stone lions, statues, terracotta tiling, palm trees and/or clipped conifers, olive & citrus trees, variations on the "Marrickville aegean blue" paint, arches, brick cladding... have all been added to the facades of sedate early twentieth-century homes that feature (or featured once) tuckpointing, coloured window glass, tesselated tiling, agave plants & camellia hedges. I plan a series of postings on this theme but to begin here are two fine examples of the column feature.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Street Treasures

The footpaths of Marrickville just give and give. I have collected so many things - my garden chairs, a huge rectangular 1940s mirror, a couple of waste paper baskets, this cast iron candelabra, a complete computer (it worked momentarily), a dog bed, not to mention all the firewood... the suburb is a cornucopia of riches for the picking; all you have to do is look. I don't go in for dumpster diving myself - I like serendipity - but no doubt it's a worthy pastime. Reverse Garbage in Marrickville has been dedicated to recycling unwanted goods for 31 years!

Thursday, June 08, 2006


I hate seeing people chewing gum, but once they've spat it out it can be beautiful. There are thousands of these little globs of chewing gum on footpaths, bus stops and telephone poles all over Marrickville. In 2002 Singapore lifted its
12 year ban on chewing gum, finally acknowledging that discarded gum can truly beautify a city.