Uncovering fabulous homes in a new city is always tricky, and my recent trip to Brisbane would have been rather fruitless had it not been for the generous assistance of a few very helpful people! Melbourne gallerist Sophie Gannon was particularly amazing – she pulled out some serious detective skills, uncovering a number of unique homes and open-minded homeowners(!!) for me to approach. The one which seemed most fitting for this special week of Brisbane highlights is the incredible home of celebrated artist Michael Zavros, art curator Alison Kubler, and their kids, Phoebe (7), Olympia (5) and Leonidas (18 months).
The phrase ‘power couple’ is perhaps a little dramatic, but it certainly springs to mind when trying to describe Michael and Alison! I get the impression they’re basically like the prom king and queen of Brisbane’s fine art scene. Michael is one of Australia’s leading contemporary artists, he has been the recipient of many awards for his AMAZING photorealistic drawings and paintings, including the Doug Moran National Portrait Prize in 2010, and the inaugural Bulgari Art Award this year – an $80,000 award which results in a painting acquisition for the Art Gallery of NSW. Alongside his incredible drawings and paintings, Michael also creates intricately detailed bronze sculptures. Alison has equally impressive art world credentials – she is is Associate Curator at the University of Queensland Art Museum, and runs her own art consulting business. (Let’s not forget these people also have three young children!)
The Zavros family live and work in this sprawling four bedroom property, where they’ve been based for just over five years. The home is actually in Chandler, around 30 minutes out of central Brisbane, on a generous 8 acre block which also incorporates a purpose built studio for Michael, swimming pool, tennis court and chicken house. Whilst the Zavros’ home itself is still waiting for the ‘big’ renovation, extensive work has been done to two large industrial sheds on the grounds, to create Michael’s studio and a self contained guest house.
It’s clear Michael and Alison are avid collectors of many special things – despite the presence of three very energetic young kids, their home certainly feels museum-like, full of valuable treasures! ‘It’s an unusual mix of antiques and artworks’ says Michael. ‘We have a Bill Henson work that we love, we seem to have a penchant for chairs – more chairs than people to sit in them. We also love our many Chesterfields, probably because they are all about sitting and relaxing, drinking wine and watching good telly. They are our sitting happy places!’
Not surprisingly, given their backgrounds, many of Michael and Alison’s dearest friends are artists, and most of the artworks you see here are swaps or gifts, and hold great sentimental value. ‘Curiously, when gathered together, they all seem to be about portraiture’ says Michael of the collection. Highlights include works by Shaun Gladwell, Bill Henson and Susan Norrie.
Michael and Alison love the serenity of living outside of the city on a generous block – ‘It’s good to not hear your neighbours sneeze’ says Michael. ‘We love that the kids can throw on their boots and just be outdoors all day. At night wallabies bound about outside the bedroom and we have seen several koalas up close. Nature abounds!’
Massive thanks to Michael and Alison for sharing their eclectic home with us today, and to Alison for lots of amazing introductions and other Brisbane tip offs!