When I am developing a room design, there is usually a simple idea or theme that sparks my imagination and starts the process.
Facing a blank slate is the most difficult challenge of all; with nothing to guide us, and a world of colours and patterns and furnishing styles and accessories from which to choose, the task can be paralyzing.
Fortunately, there are always one or two clues that narrow down the possibilities. It could be an awkward layout or a wall of windows, an oversized chair or a pair of antique lamps . . . each situation shapes what can be done. It is sometimes the most difficult spaces that lead us to an “aha” moment and a great finale.
Our outdoor spaces are no different. I have an acquaintance whom is blessed with a huge backyard, perfect for her busy young family.
But there it sat; a mishmash of overgrown gardens, weedy grass and little else. “I’ve absolutely no interest at all in mowing and planting, I’ve a black thumb, the kids can do what they like out there,” she said.
But it could be so much more, and I nudged her enough that she sought some professional advice and now has a backyard that is a combination of reading room, relaxation pit, play space and entertainment centre, beautified by container gardens that have little upkeep, a wood and stone patio, and a grassy play area for the kids. OK, to be honest, that acquaintance is me.
But, something was missing. I did some research into water features and discovered a most exceptional artist, Douglas Walker, who creates fountains from musical instruments. I just stared at the photographs. In one, called Triple Threat, a trio of saxophones, some copper pipe, a collection of long-legged birds and a pair of glass flowers are woven together and spout water in a quiet pool.
In Honkfest, shown here, it’s fascinating to see how many bits of horns you can find, from trombone slides to tubas. Each sculpture is one of a kind, fused from recycled copper, brass, silver and glass. The musical instruments are recycled mostly from the school system. Instruments have a shelf life, but when it becomes too costly to repair them, they are sold as scrap . . . or in Walker’s case, artists’ supplies.