Australian Homes

Greg Irvine

by Lucy Feagins, Editor
Wednesday 5th November 2014

OK PEOPLE.  Give yourselves a few moments this morning, if you can, because you’re really going to need it.  This is one for the archives. In all my (seven) years of documenting Australian homes, I’ve never seen anything like this. This truly unique South Melbourne home belongs to artist and passionate collector Greg Irvine.  It’s jaw-droppingly good.  (Also, there’s a video!).

When Eve and I first stepped through the front door of artist Greg Irvine’s incredible South Melbourne home, we were, in short, dumbfounded. We wandered from room to room, mouths open, casting our eyes in disbelief over Greg’s truly remarkable and seemingly endless collections of antique furniture, Victorian ceramics and tableware, glassware, enamelware, tortoiseshell and bakelite objects, vintage fabrics, suitcases, decorative boxes, jewellery and antique purses… the list goes on, and on, and on!  It is a ‘down the rabbit hole’ experience, a truly magical space that feels a little like stumbling absent-mindedly into some kind of alternate universe.  It’s also completely at odds with the comparatively unremarkable exterior of this three bedroom Victorian weatherboard home.

But don’t be deceived.  This is not the home of a hoarder.  Greg’s collections are tightly controlled.  The rule is ‘if I can’t display it, I don’t own it’ – he’s not interested in simply amassing things and squirrelling them away.  Each collection is carefully considered, and artfully displayed.  To Greg, they are installations – curated, and meticulously well kept.  There is not a skerrick of dust to be seen, either, which I know seems unfathomable, but it’s true.  Greg takes ‘house proud’ to new heights.

For Greg, collecting is an extension of his artwork – collecting, displaying and being surrounded by beautiful things is paramount to his practice.  Indeed, there is a great deal of crossover between Greg’s eclectic home and his meticulously detailed paintings.  His favourite household objects often find their way onto his canvases, whilst vintage fabrics often influence the patterns and colours in his works.  If not surrounded by beauty, he reasons, he ‘might as well curl up in a ball and die’.  Passionate words, from a very passionate aesthete!

Greg has lived here for ten years.  The house is heritage listed – a 150 year old weatherboard, and one of the oldest free standing houses built in South Melbourne. Originally, it would have stood on a rural allotment, and was owned by a blacksmith (when renovating, Greg uncovered a mass of various horseshoes beneath the original floorboards!).

When Greg first purchased the home, it was, he says, ‘a dump’.  He engaged a builder to restore the home. and make a few minor updates.  The main living and kitchen area was opened up to form one large living space. The bedrooms and living spaces were painted, but the original hallway and front room were left in original condition with their raw timber panelling and an original iron fireplace.  Greg was keen to retain as many of the original features as could be salvaged – doors, timber floorboards and wall panelling were all retained. Incredibly, the bathroom is also in near-original condition, retaining the original bath, bath surround, shower head and decorative pressed metal ceiling. ‘Every effort was made to maintain the integrity of the house during the modifications’ says Greg.

With such a mind-bogglingly impressive collection of furniture, artwork, antiques and collectibles, it’s not easy for Greg to isolate favourites amongst his possessions.  ‘How long do you have!?’ he says.  He’s particularly fond of his tortoiseshell comb collection, displayed beautifully on his bedroom wall, reaching all the way to the ceiling.  He loves the magnificent antique cobalt blue mirror in the main living area, which he says once adorned an Indian Maharajah’s palace!  The enormous green glass chandelier from India is another treasured favourite –  ‘it miraculously arrived intact as many are damaged en route to Australia, and is a main feature in the dining room’ says Greg.

Having exhibited his work extensively since the early 80’s, and gaining great notoriety in the mid 90’s, Greg’s artwork is recognisable to many Melbournians.  (Who remembers his painted sculptures and mosaics in Acland street, St Kilda back in the mid 90’s!?).  His latest collection of paintings will be exhibited at Hawthorn Studio and Gallery in a show which opens this Saturday, and runs until the end of the month.  Well worth a look!  They are even more amazing in person.

New Paintings by Greg Irvine
November 8th – 29th, 2014

Hawthorn Studio and Gallery
635 Burwood rd
Hawthorn East
Victoria 3123

ALSO.  We are thrilled to launch a brand new VIDEO to accompany today’s story!  We’ve collaborated with talented local filmmaker Paris Thomson of SIRAP once again, to produce this 3 minute motion snapshot of Greg’s home, his collections and his artwork.  You’ll find it just below.  We couldn’t imagine a more entertaining and inspiring subject – and how about that voiceover!?  Thank you for your patience Greg!

Greg Irvine

A FILM BY PARIS THOMSON / SIRAP, PRODUCED BY THE DESIGN FILES


by Lucy Feagins, Editor
Wednesday 5th November 2014

71 comments

  • Amber 2 years ago

    That film was fabulous!!! Ps I want to own those beautiful sketchbooks of his.

  • Cathg1g2 2 years ago

    Wow!
    I will be popping into the gallery for sure

  • Jackie 2 years ago

    Incredible!love the video-what a contagious laugh!absolutely agree-if you home truly reflects who you are and someone doesn’t like it,I don’t like them either!

  • Kate Forster 2 years ago

    Incredible! You could be lost for hours in this curiosity cabinet of a home. I bet everything has a story and it’s thrillingly told by Greg. Well done Lucy et al. You found a jewel.

  • I couldn’t live in this house but it has such personnality and it’s beautiful loking at ! I would like to meet this artist because when you have a house like that, your spirit is specific and interesting of course !
    Great great post !

  • Camilla 2 years ago

    Wow! What a totally brilliantly kooky, personality & passion filled home! I love it!!
    Love the film too – it’s a house I wanted to see more of!

  • Lara Millsteed 2 years ago

    That was AMAZING!
    I love being able to hear his voice. Greg Irving just came alive on my computer. Even if he doesn’t like computers.

  • Susie 2 years ago

    Everything about this was amazing , there was such spirit in this home ,amazing photos and beautiful video . I wanna go and hang out there days on end .Thankyou !

  • This made my day! Absolutely fantastic! It was lovely hear hear Greg in the video and get such a great sense of his personality. I also love the distinct difference he makes between being a collector verses a hoarder… it’s all about beauty.

  • Oh and that sketchbook?! Mindblowingly beautiful. It would make an amazing coffee table book if published.

  • Jane 2 years ago

    Love the house, love the collections (especially the combs), love the painstaking bathroom rebuild. But the sketchbooks just took my breath away. Incredible!

  • evelyn 2 years ago

    Wow! What an extraordinary home and what an extraordinary person. The film gave me a great taste of this wonderful character and space. We are so lucky to have people like him in Melbourne – and even more fortunate to have TDF introduce us to them. Will check out his exhibition for sure.

  • Vanessa 2 years ago

    Oh this is amazing, thank you for sharing it :)
    As an artist I totally get his collections, so lovely to see ,as sometimes we can be a bit hermit-like!
    And those sketchbooks!

  • jane@liberte.com.au 2 years ago

    Thank you team for taking me on a journey through a truly amazing home. The video really made it all come to life – I hope he manages to embrace the computer at least once to see the beauty of this film!
    xx

  • Jessica Tremp 2 years ago

    Mind blown!

  • Anna 2 years ago

    omg those sketch books… soooo beautiful!

  • lorro 2 years ago

    Wow loved the film ! Great house

  • Chrissie 2 years ago

    Amazing home. Amazing artist. Amazing character. Amazing pics. Amazing video.
    Just all round amazing.

  • Jane 2 years ago

    Fantastic story and the best video ever! Those tortoiseshell combs look incredible on the wall. Greg made the house come alive even more – I hope you’ve made him sit at a computer to watch it!

  • Evie 2 years ago

    Wow what a magical wonderland Greg has created as his home! I could happily sit in each room for hours taking it all in. Thank you TDF for sharing this treasure of a find with us, and to Greg for letting us in. To echo other comments – that sketchbook is divine! And loved the video addition.

  • Renae Barrass 2 years ago

    I quickly scanned through the photos and scanned the text – I think I was a bit overwhelmed by the sheer amount of ‘stuff’ in each photo (maybe a bit too close to the bone as Im a bit of a collector as well!) and I felt like the home was a bit of a shadowy depressing space…
    BUT
    The link to the video piqued my interest and I clicked….

    AH-Mazing!!
    Seeing Gregs fantastic home in ‘real time’ totally changed my perception of the space and the person who created it. Without him its just a museum – with Greg’s dapper outfits, rich voice and infectious laugh and of course artworks, it comes alive in its own right.

    And those ‘sketch’ books look incredible.
    Cant wait to see his exhibition!!

  • Sheree Dornan 2 years ago

    Wonderful. Just wonderful! I love your house Greg Irvine !

  • Barb 2 years ago

    Oh Greg, your house, paintings, glasses and laugh are all Devine. And you have made me want to throw my mobile phone away.

  • Esz 2 years ago

    Holy sh*t look at that Bakelite collection!!!!
    *faint*

  • Jeffo 2 years ago

    Cool as

  • Emma 2 years ago

    Truly AMAZING and INCREDIBLE. sorry to shout but in this case emphasis is definitely necessary!!!! Love this house so much. When I watched the video and he was turning page after page of amazing drawings in his notebook my jaw dropped. So beautiful. So glad there are people like Greg in the world.

  • Alana 2 years ago

    Stunning article and video! Wow – what a subject and piece! Great work x Alana W

  • Fiona 2 years ago

    Love. All. Of. This…..especially the bathroom sink :)

  • DKSY 2 years ago

    Oh my! And Wow! What a beautiful collection and gorgeous house!

  • Josephine 2 years ago

    Serious Bakelite and sketchbook envy. Magical space and I love his thoughts on the modern age.

  • Jane 2 years ago

    What a beautiful approach to eclecticism and materialism without a hint of guilt.

    Such an inspiring talent, honesty and attitude.

  • Tess 2 years ago

    Amazing! Love the added video… TDF grows another arm and comes alive again – awesome!

  • liz 2 years ago

    what a wonderful man and home. and those sketchbooks are splendid.

  • Ashleigh 2 years ago

    This house is absolutely beautiful. I just want to jump through the screen into it!

  • paula mills 2 years ago

    Beautiful!!

  • Sarah Kelk 2 years ago

    Totally jaw dropping house! This is by the far the most amazing house Ive ever seen!

  • Soula 2 years ago

    Greg do you lend your teapots to kindred spirits for still life painting?
    Blown away, this is a doozy Lucy even the second time around! Nothing more inspiring than viewing someone living and breathing their many loves. That’s what I call an honest life. Certainly what I aspire to.
    Thanks for sharing.

  • Liesl 2 years ago

    Awe-inspiring. Greg and Lucy and team, this post and video were just superb. Keep on keeping on… you all get it right and do it so well. Bravo!

  • Lucy 2 years ago

    Just wanted to take a moment to say THANKYOU ALL for your beautiful, encouraging, uplifting comments about today’s story, Eve’s beautiful photos and Paris’ wonderful film. We spend such a lot of time producing this content and it’s so incredibly rewarding to be inundated with such kind words when we try something new! It reminds me of the very early days of writing this blog, and it’s a great feeling!

    THANKYOU ALL! We are truly grateful for your support and enthusiasm!

    …And please do get along to see Greg’s show this weekend if you’re in Melbourne… we’ll be checking it out too!

  • picturette 2 years ago

    What a wonderful character! Absolutely love his sketchbooks and his collections.

  • Tess 2 years ago

    Bloody ripper, loved the voiceover!

  • Fi Richardson 2 years ago

    Beautiful job Lucy, Eve and Paris – so evocative and moving. I love many of the homes featured on TDF but the ones that stay with me are the ones, like Greg’s, that could not belong to anybody else. The film was stunning – what a personality – and I have to say it has given me a greater appreciation of his work.

  • Andrea 2 years ago

    What a great video. I loved Greg and his house. That Bakelite collection was to die for.

  • Kim 2 years ago

    WOW! Best house yet. Stunning. Uncovering Melbourne gems like this, real people, real talent with pride in themselves who don’t follow others. Love it!

  • Sophie 2 years ago

    WHAT THE ACTUAL EFF, SO SO SO GREAT.

  • Rebecca 2 years ago

    Amazing! Love this house, it is so eclectic with so much character and life – one of your best photo shoots ever. The video was wonderful – more please.

  • Jo anderson 2 years ago

    Dear Lucy , story..when I was 15 years old I was in a car accident …sent from the beach to Melbourne..so far away from home..one of my friends mums came to visit me in hospital and / back then the only magazines was home beautiful…there where 3 magazines….it opened my whole world…Greg Irvine was in one of them…..Mirka mora ….and William white……in my life I have thanked and meet 2 of theses people…when I just read your story of Greg ..I was besides my self…I would love to meet him….he has been a big inspiation to me….xxx thank you for his story…wow / I’m just a girl who sings and skips jo

  • Amanda 2 years ago

    Amazing!! Any chance of seeing more of the garden?

  • joanna 2 years ago

    Greg Irvines artistic expression of his objects of beauty is truly a gift. The attention to detail of the arrangements was mindblowing to the graphic designer/ interior designer in me. It’s the beauty in the overall effct that induces an effect on the viewer of complete transformation & serenity. It could have the opposite effect on someone, because of the ecclectic nature of the display, but for a like mind it balances the senses & creates equilibrium in the mind.
    It will be hard for you to beat this one !!! I want more !!!
    Joanna.

  • Heidi Crawford 2 years ago

    Absolutely dumbstruck at such an amazing collection – full of admiration to live without the trappings of modern life too!,

  • Nell 2 years ago

    OK, new ipad glitch. I can’t see any photos at all. Most frustrating when the comments are whetting my appetite.

  • this is my very first stop at your blog and – WOW – what am impression! greg was wonderful – i love when a person and their surroundings are one in the same. he’s so colorful and fun I could get lost in his home. thanks so much for this video!

  • Barb Fisher 2 years ago

    Mind blowing! What an amazing personality and an amazing home. Like others, I just loved hearing Greg’s voice telling his own story, it really made his home and his story come alive. And those sketchbooks definitely need to be published as coffee table books, as Lisa mentioned below.

  • jannah 2 years ago

    Hahahah…what a legend!
    I love his art, those colours are stunning and his home is an absolute treasure trove. Maybe the best thing about this gent is his laugh after every few sentences…so cool!

  • Jen 2 years ago

    The film is so well done and captures the spirit of this house and Mr. Irvine in a really lovely way. Hope to see more of these in the future.

  • Jaye 2 years ago

    Wow Lucy!!!! Thank you so very much for this brilliant tour of Greg’s home. I recall going to his earlier St Kilda home (just around the corner from the Espy pub), back in the early 80’s and it was also richly interlayered with textiles, curiosities, exotic collectables and sublime artworks. Even then, it was such a delightful treat to recognize particular pieces incorporated in his paintings. I have always adored his art, but those painted journals are supremely desirable…what wouldn’t I give to own one of those? Dream on, dream on…
    and again, Thank You from the very depths of my humble little self who will remain obsessed with Greg’s passion for beauty.

  • Mary 2 years ago

    I LOVE this home. What a treasure trove of finds and the COLORS! So rich and bold and yet, a tranquil home.

  • Anna 2 years ago

    Love this post! what an amazing character and incredible home, I would love to meet him some day. I have one of his paintings that I bought at auction just last week and I absolutely adore it.

  • LOVE THIS SO MUCH! I can’t get over his sketchbooks! WOWIE! And I LOVED the music too! Go Digging Holes (is that Marty’s new band name?) xoxox

  • gil demoyencourt 2 years ago

    long life to you greg from a cape town junk dealer

  • Emilia 2 years ago

    WOW!

  • Rosie 2 years ago

    Stumbled upon this via Miss Moss…and have never come across a home so wildly intriguing until now! I am so taken aback by his collection of eclectic things, I would love to visit his home. Thank you so much for sharing.

  • Annie 2 years ago

    Didn’t want the video to end…his sketchbook is beyond fabulous…wonderful food for the eyes

  • Janice Kelemen 2 years ago

    I love you, Greg Irvine. Marry me.I don’t remember when I’ve smiled as completely. Let me wash your brushes, dust your bakelite, dance under the green glass chandelier.

  • ChrissyInk 2 years ago

    Thank you for showing a house that is so full of the personality of the owner who isn’t swayed by trends of the day as so many are. Yay for Greg Irvine. Especially love the hair comb wall. Wow!

  • Leonie Mansbridge 2 years ago

    WOW I want to visit, I could wander around all day and am sure I would have to come back again.
    ps love the film

  • Kendall Manz 1 year ago

    Those sketchbooks! What a gem.

  • Barbara Rechtfertig 11 months ago

    I would love to see more. Any chance of a book of his works and home (same thing)? I am a bit handicapped and far, far away in California.

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