I tell you what, TDF has introduced me to some pretty amazing people over the past five years, but meeting sculptor Peter Cole, and his partner Helen, a painter, really was something special! You know those people you meet who just have so much wisdom and experience to share… you feel like a wide eyed kid, asking too many questions? Peter and Helen are one such couple – both so incredibly talented, so generous and friendly, so entertaining and lovely to chat to. Photographing their beautiful home in Kyneton recently with Sean Fennessy was just a DREAM SHOOT. Perfect weather, brilliant company, and such a beautiful outcome, if I do say so myself!
Peter, or as he is professionally know, Peter D. Cole, is one of Australia’s most well known contemporary sculptors. He is amazing! In his purpose built studio adjacent to their home, Peter creates the most incredible sculptures, characterised by their angular, architectural forms, minimalist lines and bold, very distinctive colour palette (as you can see here, he has a thing for RED!). His work encompasses large scale public works, as well as smaller pieces, utilising a variety of sleek materials including powdercoated steel, brass, aluminium and marble. He also makes beautiful abstract watercolour paintings. He has won numerous accolades and awards over the past 40 odd years, and his work can be seen in many public and corporate collections throughout Australia, including the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra’s Parliament House, and at Brisbane International Airport.
A testament to Peter’s incredible skill and creative vision, he designed this home from scratch (!!), with the assistance of an experienced draftsman to produce the necessary drawings and details. Peter and Helen were then fortunate to find a young local builder, Toby Williams, who took approximately eight months to build the home, from demolition to occupancy. It was completed in late 2010.
‘The design of the house really came from the brief we gave ourselves’ explains Peter. ‘That included high ceilings, large, almost gallery style living, and the ability to capture the cool evening breezes that the Kyneton climate offers most of the summer’. The style of the home, in particular the exterior, came from looking at Tokyo houses, with their minimal aesthetic and contemporary details. ‘The house is built on an elevated, almost floating platform with a simple set of steps at the entrance’ says Peter. ‘This is in a sense like the way you enter a Japanese temple.
The home’s interior is a light-filled, generous space, which does indeed feel like some kind of cross between a gallery and a house. In designing this home, it seems as though Peter has created the most perfect backdrop for his own work. Or, I guess some might say, he has created an enormous sculpture to live in! Many of his pieces feature throughout the home – though, he says these are always on high rotation.
‘Most of the work is of our own making, so this is a changing experience, due to the fact that this our livelihood’ says Peter. However there are a few pieces that he and Helen would never part with. Amongst them, ‘Impossible Alliance‘, a piece displayed in the living area, which is an early work of Peter’s from 1979, made from Australian timbers. It depicts the Pentagon being transformed into a Mosque, and was inspired by a trip through Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan in 1974.
In addition to designing the home and most of the artwork you see within it, Peter has also designed and made many of the less obvious details too. Most of the door handles and drawer pulls were made by Peter, along with many of the light fittings. These modern details sit happily alongside Peter and Helen’s collection of modern furniture and favourite antique pieces. ‘We have always enjoyed the juxtaposition between antique furniture and the modern’ says Peter.
Other treasured pieces here include artworks by close friends, including work by Peter and Helen’s son Oliver, who is a photographer and stylist. The Mark Newson pieces they have collected are also special – ‘they remind us of times spent in Tokyo’ says Peter, explaining that Helen and Oliver once had a shop in Richmond called AMO (Artist Made Objects), during which time Oliver met Marc Newson! Um, AMAZING! These pieces were sourced from the Idee shop in Tokyo, which was owned and founded by Teruo Kurosaki, who helped Marc Newson produce a number of his earlier products.
MASSIVE thanks to Peter and Helen for sharing their very special home with us today! DO visit Peter’s new website to learn a little more about his work. He’s also very entertaining (and can be quite political!) on Twitter! Peter is represented by John Buckley Gallery in Melbourne.