At home Ken Done

Artist’s stu­dio view has been an in­spi­ra­tion down the years

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) - Home - - FRONT PAGE - Words El­iz­a­beth Fortes­cue el­iz­a­beth.fortes­ Pic­tures David Swift

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...

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”.

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