Art and soul
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.”
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.