on 16 November 2012
I love Sibella Court's books - tactile, dreamy, eye candy - total escapism in 200 pages. Bowerbird is as gorgeous as all of the others and the photography of Chris Court is inspirational and lovely.
If you are looking for lots of display ideas for a single collection then this book is not for you. It's not her style anyway, Sibella isn't one to present a lot of solutions, she prefers to show you her solution and allow that to inspire your imagination which, if you're like me, can lead you to finding your own imaginative approach.
It's a nice book because although Sibella doesn't go into great detail describing several ways to display feathers, she does simply show a single way and then moves on to the next collection of show and tell. I find it simple and refreshing because it's not overwhelming or bossy - I personally appreciate her very well curated, edited ideas.
Also, her style of of writing in Bowerbird, in my opinion, is the best of her books so far. It feels much more grounded and easier to follow. It takes a lot of strength and talent to show such restraint in the ideas she presents and that is what makes Sibella one of Australia's best stylists.
Overall, a beautiful book, from the paper to the leather embossed spine and the gorgeous cover. Five stars.
on 9 February 2013
This book looks great, substantial and 'vintage-y' so it's very current (end 2012). It's also much more than just a collection of pretty photos: its quite a substantial read for someone who likes Sibella Court's style, and really helps you learn how to create your own version. My daughter chose this book for me for Christmas and it made a lovely gift. Inspirational; and helpful in a practical sense too.
This is a magical, inspirational, extraordinary book by a true artist. When most books which sell themselves as about interiors are a re-hash of a dozen other "clones", this one breaks the mould. It is NOT, most emphatically not, a book about how to display your collections. It a book about how to make your living space a changing, fascinating work of art that will entrance or appall your visitors.
Sibella Court is not, as I first thought, American, but Australian. There seems something completely international about this book; it is as much British or Japanese as it is American or Australian. Court uses 'found objects' - anything with appeals to her, hence the title - to create pictures and sculptures which are only in the most technical of senses "displays". The fact that the sculpture is a piled arrangement of objects on a shelf should astonish nobody these days, and the idea of a picture as a number of disconcerting items (don't know about you, but I did find the arrangement of human teeth disconcerting) in a satisfying fashion is no longer novel. What is fresh and inspriing here is that it is done within the home - and without (as in some books on "display") making the home impossible to live in.
In some hands - I've seen examples in magazines - these detail-filled, eclectic, occasionally surreal assemblages could be visually indigestible. Court uses natural materials and natural objects; the textures and subdued tones bring everything into harmony. Many of her arrangements - some just the laying out for use of practical materials - have the beauty and Zen calm of Ikebana (google it). I feel a particular sympathy with her belief that the functional and the ornamental should not be separated; that one can choose the functional to be beautiful, and ornament with things of charm and grace whatever their original purpose. Again, done badly this could look dreadful and make the house an inconvenient showcase. I know collectors of kitchenalia who have their vintage treasures proudly shelved on view but conceal a microwave in the cupboard and have a freezer full of ready-meals. Court claims more integrity, but did she really type the text for her book on that veteran typewriter? If we are to be truly authentic we have to regretfully deny ourselves this level of humbug. However, we're none of us superhuman and it is, indeed, a very beautiful veteran typewriter; perhaps she uses it for special letters.
This book is, in itself, a beautiful object of the type Court espouses. Looking through it (she says, flick through the pages and absorb the atmosphere, don't copy slavishly) is enough to inspire anyone. I am not surprised that one of her favourite places is the Pitt-Rivers Museum in Oxford; look at this extraordinary institution for more inspiration. And, if you're in North Norfolk, don't miss the tiny Shell Museum at Glandford near Cley - it's pure Sybilla Court!!!