At home Ken Done
Artist’s studio view has been an inspiration down the years
Ken Done gazes out his studio window at the tangle of bright green foliage tumbling downhill to picturesque Chinamans Beach on Middle Harbour.
“This is pure Matisse and pure Bonnard,” Ken says, referring to the leading deities in his artistic pantheon. It’s a view the artist never takes for granted. “Chinamans Beach has been an inspiration, and I hope will be an inspiration, for many years,” he says.
Ken’s studio is on one side of the big white house where he lives with his wife, the designer Judy Done.
At first, it’s a surprise to find he no longer uses his waterfront cabin as a studio. He first fell in love with the quaint cabin as a boy growing up in Balmoral and after fulfilling a dream to buy it, began using it as his studio from the early 1970s. But daughter Camilla and her family moved into the cabin during their home renovations, and Ken shifted his paints and canvases back up the hill to the main house. The cabin is now his retreat.
“Over the years we’ve repaired it to keep it as it was, because it’s an example of a fisherman’s or holiday cottage from the early ’20s and (is) very rare in Sydney,” Ken says.
The main house, he believes, is one of the great Sydney Harbour homes: “It underplays everything and doesn’t dominate the land.”
In spite of exhibiting his artworks all over the world and building a successful business, Ken says his greatest achievement is a harmonious family. Daughter Camilla and son Oscar work in the family business and are regularly at the home where the wonderful views are immortalised in art.
Who Ken Done is one of Australia’s most successful artists. His early design work made him famous. Today he concentrates on making paintings for exhibition
Where Lives and paints in a 1950s house overlooking Chinamans Beach
Favourite thing My painting chair. It belonged to my father, and my mother knitted the covers for the armrests
Inspiration The wonderful views, both from the main house and from the heritage-listed cabin on the waterfront below
Home is At its most wonderful when all the family are there
Photograph My first date with
Judy. It was at Mother’s Cellar in Kings Cross in about 1959. We’ve been married 48 years.
Cabin sign It was originally at the end of the little laneway coming from the cabin. I took it off because I was worried someone would steal it. Loafers My daughter gave e me these blue suede shoes for Christmas. They haven’t got paint nt on them yet.
Trumpet (Musician) (Mu James Morrison M wrote seven se pieces of music m to seven of ofm my paintings. He gave me the trumpet he h played on
the album he h recorded.
Plastic spades It’s amazing how many plastic spades are left on Chinamans Beach after people have gone home. They make great paint palettes. Then they become a piece of sculpture in the way they are arranged on the studio wall.
Gnome My daughter Camilla gave me this farting gnome. When I’m painting furiously and really happy with what I’ve done, you pass the farting gnome and it brings things back to reality.
MuMug O Oscar ( (my son) ) gave this mug to me when he was at school. It’s painted by him. It says, “a very
special cup for dad”.