Antonia Syme is a woman who has lived her life surrounded by art and beautiful objects. Throughout a career that spans decades within the cultural sector she has worked with Australia’s pre-eminent artists at such establishments as Artbank, where she was director for 10 years. As director of the Australian Tapestry Workshop she continues to work with artists, coordinating and sourcing the perfect works that can translate into extraordinary tapestries for a hungry local and world market. Her selection of favourite objects is eclectic, but all have the same unique quality, that of beauty, authenticity and great design.
1. FINK+CO BOWL
This beautiful bowl was designed by leading Australian designer Robert Foster, who established FINK + Co. He was extremely talented, innovative and a great mentor and teacher. This bowl was given to me by Katherine Kalaf, herself a very talented jeweller and promoter of Australian designers, who gave Robert his first solo show in Sydney. The bowl has special meaning for me.
2. PHILIP WOLFHAGEN, FIRST ILLUSORY FIELD, 1991
This painting was one of five from his first solo exhibition in Sydney at Syme Dodson Gallery in Surry Hills. The exhibition sold out to major collectors, then a few years later I was offered a chance to buy it. As I was renovating my apartment, I asked architect Sam Marshall to accommodate this huge, glorious painting in his design and, of course, my mortgage increased substantially. It is a very beautiful foggy, wild, abstract Tasmanian landscape that brings joy to everyone who sees it.
3. ROGER MCLAY, KONE CHAIR MANUFACTURED IN 1948 BY DESCON IN BROOKVALE SYDNEY
I found a pair in a second-hand shop in Darlinghurst, Sydney decades ago with their labels still attached. A great Australian design, a simple concept and beautifully executed in ply. Timelessly elegant innovative design, and comfortable!
4. BROOCH BY CARLIER MAKIGAWA
I love this very sculptural brooch by Carlier Makigawa. Her use of materials, form and scale is intriguing, and I acquired it in Sydney in the 1980s. It is very precious.
5. CATCHING BREATH 2014, TAPESTRY BY THE AUSTRALIAN TAPESTRY WORKSHOP, ARTIST BROOK ANDREW
Catching Breath 2014 is an exquisite tapestry that is an extraordinary collaboration between Brook Andrew and the weavers of the Australian Tapestry Workshop. It is on display at the Australian High Commissioner’s residence in Singapore. The tapestry has been woven with only the eyes visible through an attached woven veil that can be lifted back to show the powerful portrait beneath. It is an artwork that touches me deeply.
This article originally appeared in inside 94 – available digitally through Zinio.