Florence “The Bowerbird” Broadhurst

A friend sent this book after I expressed an interest in Florence. Enamored with several wallpaper designs attributed to her, of course I pored over the patterns showcased inside (courtesy of Signature Prints).  I also quickly learned that Broadhurst was a frequent name-changer and determined game-changer.  She only needed four to five hours of sleep a night.  It appears that the triumphant bold colors and grand scale of many of the patterns are fortuitous outcomes largely due to her failing eyesight. Author Helen O’Neill noted that Broadhurst’s involvement in the wallpaper business occurred at a time when Australia was having a building boom, which left “acres of blank suburban walls begging for some form of artistic individuality.” Oh, how I love that line!

But the description of Florence that interests me most is buried midway through the book: “As she travelled, she collected, bowerbird fashion — picking up anything that appealed and bringing it back to her studio.”   She was quick on the uptake, and realized variety, arrangement and personalization were key. Therein may lie the greatest treasure she bestowed upon the design world of all.

Photography by Barbara Franceski

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