Art and soul

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - FRONT PAGE - Jes­sica Howard Any­one in­ter­ested in putting their own amaz­ing home up for con­sid­er­a­tion for house of the week can email jes­

PART art gallery, workshop and com­fort­able home, vis­ual artist Chan­tale Del­rue’s West Ho­bart res­i­dence is a whirl of colour brought to­gether by her love of re­cy­cling.

Per­haps her big­gest re­cy­cling project to date was the re­ju­ve­na­tion of the 1940s art deco house, or “the bunker”, as Chan­tale nick­named it when she bought it 21 years ago. “It was a dump,” she said. “I knew the shell was good and it was solid but it had three lay­ers of car­pet, was badly painted and it had mould ev­ery­where.

“It was on the mar­ket for a long time be­cause of the con­di­tion, but I could see I could make some­thing of it.

“I like see­ing some­thing and chang­ing it and I do the same thing with my re­cy­cled fur­ni­ture.

“It gives me plea­sure to re­new things. So I put in a bid on the house and to my sur­prise I got it. It was my lucky day.”

Orig­i­nally from Bel­gium, the world trav­eller put down roots in Tas­ma­nia in 1980, fi rst in Launce­s­ton be­fore mov­ing to Ho­bart per­ma­nently in 1999, to live in this home which she had been rent­ing out.

“I came to the main­land in 1974 and left never want­ing to come back to Aus­tralia,” Chan­tale said. “I didn’t like Syd­ney, it was too big and my English wasn’t that good then.

“Af­ter that I lived in Mex­ico and Cal­i­for­nia be­fore go­ing back to Europe.

“A friend of mine from Bel­gium wanted to come back to Tas­ma­nia where he’d lived pre­vi­ously but he didn’t want to go by him­self so I went with him.

“I’m still here and he’s not.” The home has an un­con­ven­tional lay­out due to the kitchen and liv­ing room be­ing added on later.

Chan­tale said her un­der­stand­ing is the home was to be mod­elled on a house lo­cated di­rectly across the road but the own­ers de­cided to build out in­stead of up.

Re­mov­ing a dodgy lean- to at the rear of the prop­erty was one of Chan­tale’s first or­ders of busi­ness and per­haps the most sig­nif­i­cant change is the ad­di­tion of a bal­cony at the front.

Many of the re­main­ing changes were cos­metic.

One of the bed­rooms, which she turned into a spa­cious stu­dio, is utilised by Chan­tale as a space to cre­ate a wide va­ri­ety of art­works, in­clud­ing paint­ings, ceram­ics and tex­tiles, many of which are dis­played through­out the home.

The artist says the cre­ative process of ren­o­vat­ing a house is not dis­sim­i­lar to cre­at­ing works of art.

“It’s sim­i­lar in prin­ci­ple, be­cause you’re work­ing with colours, work­ing with shapes and com­po­si­tion,” she said.

Her lat­est ex­hi­bi­tion Wait­ing for Mr Banks dis­plays a se­ries of draw­ings in­spired by the plants col­lected by Sir Joseph Banks.

An art­work in it­self, her pro­duc­tive sub­ur­ban gar­den also show­cases the same plants col­lected by the fa­mous botanist.

Over­look­ing West Ho­bart right down to the city and River Der­went, it is easy to see why this is such a sought- af­ter area.

“It’s a very cre­ative and green com­mu­nity,” said Chan­tale, who is also a mem­ber of the West Ho­bart En­vi­ron­ment Net­work.

“In the sum­mer­time we of­ten get to­gether on Satur­days and ex­change food. I once had a sour­dough mak­ing workshop here and I’ve given work­shops for any­one in­ter­ested in learn­ing more about art.

“This is where I want to die. I loved Launce­s­ton and I know peo­ple rub­bish it, but I al­ways thought that wasn’t where I wanted to die. This feels right. I love the ac­cess to the town and you can walk in the bush in the other di­rec­tion.”

WORK OF ART: Vis­ual artist Chan­tale Del­rue in her West Ho­bart home. Pic­ture: ROGER LOVELL

CRE­ATIVE SPACE: Chan­tale’s stu­dio at her West Ho­bart home.


HAPPY HOME: Above, Chan­tale’s sew­ing ma­chine; be­low the liv­ing room of Chan­tale’s home, dec­o­rated with many of her pieces of art.

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