Photo - Sean Fennessy, production
Lucy Feagins / The Design Files
Today’s ‘Best of’ home is hands down one of my personal favourites of all the homes we’ve featured on TDF, EVER. It’s not often you come across a home quite so unique, and so intertwined with the creative practice of its owners. Nestled in a pretty street in Kyneton in Victoria’s Spa country, this home belongs to celebrated Australian sculptor Peter Cole (or as he is professionally know, Peter D. Cole), and his partner Helen, a painter. In a way, the home is almost like an extension of Peter’s work, bearing many of the hallmarks of his distinctive, angular sculptures. Read more
PETER D COLE
Landscape Studio Space Form
On a clear night the southern sky over Kyneton is huge, indigo dark and bright with stars. This is where the Australian artist Peter D. Cole chooses to live and work, in a house and an adjoining studio which is built from the local bluestone. The interior walls, rough, are painted white as a backdrop to the primary colours of his sculptures. One could be in Spain or Morocco.
Cole loves the harsh, rock-strewn landscape with its great canopy of sky, fiercely. It is a constant reminder of the most fundamental division of landscape into ground-plane and sky, heaven and earth and the interconnectedness of things. He was drawn to it instinctively because it felt like the landscape of his childhood, that locus of memories, in the country town of Gawler in South Australia. Many of the elements of that terrain now form the basis of the artist’s visual language.
It is also a language forged from an essentially modernist vocabulary first hammered out by artists such as Miro and Calder, and Cole’s own student observation during the 1960s of the minimalist aesthetic employed by Americans Sol LeWitt. One can also detect references to the ‘style moderne’ of popular furniture and domestic objects in the 1950s, the period of Cole’s childhood, and to Giotto’s treatment of the landscape in the late thirteenth century.
Cole has been described as a ‘landscape sculptor’- not in the usual sense of the way an artist might look at how this particular tree is juxtaposed with that particular outcrop of rock to create some specific field of visual interest, but rather in the way he distils the separate elements of his native landscape into a series of readily understood archetypes-moon, sun, starry sky, tree, rock studded hillside and so on. While his use of colour is deliberately seductive (we are drawn to it like bees to flowers or like children to brightly coloured toys), it is also archetypal; fierce red for fire, intense blue for sky and yellow for sun. The earth elements are symbolized by his use of patinated metals and the linking linear rods serve to bind the individual elements and to guide the viewer towards finding and making connections.
At the centre of this elemental universe is the artist in his work place. His bench is lit by that man-made sun, the simple light globe- both comic strip signifier of blinding flashes of insight and, for the artist-maker, a symbol (as it was for Philip Guston) of the long nights’ vigil in the studio. The curtain is drawn back from the window, revealing and framing the landscape beyond. The artist observes and makes notes and drawings in his sketchbook, the fundamental record and source book for the process of making.
Cole has talked about his interest in this simple notion of ‘making’ and cites the example of the sheaf of wheat. More than a bucolic rural symbol, by its being bound and shaped it becomes the symbol of man, the maker, attempting to transform nature into something of his own devising. Cole sees the knot as possibly the first, primitive man-made shaping device and points out that in Japanese, to tie and to bind mean the same as to make space. This notion, together with a philosophical sense of place, is two of the strongest underlying concepts in Cole’s work to date.
Peter D Cole Landscape Studio Space Form, Melbourne 1998 pp.3-4
PETER D COLE
Landscape Studio Space Form