Anna Charlesworth – ‘Art Edit’


A Light-Filled Artistic Haven

Melbourne designer Anna Charlesworth

For Melbourne designer Anna Charlesworth, the meticulous attention to detail she applies to her metal and glass work, is also reflected in the interiors of her beautiful North Fitzroy home. The double fronted Victorian house was in need of plenty of care and attention when she and her husband, realtor Peter Stephens, purchased it in 2011. The weatherboard building had belonged to an Italian family since the 1960s who gave it a Mediterranean makeover and for the past decade had been rented out as shared accommodation.

Charlesworth and Stephens set about lovingly restoring the house, commissioning architects Meacham Nockles and McQualter to transform it into a hidden oasis within this busy inner-city suburb. Only the ‘façade skin’, one room and the roof were kept, with the main focus being to open up the living spaces to the North and West light. The result is a home that is flooded with natural light throughout and wrapped around by a spectacular lush garden designed by Amanda Oliver, complete with weeping foliage surrounding the living area.

The house is exquisitely detailed with Charlesworth’s industrial lights and bronze door fittings, yet is comfortably adorned with their mid century vintage furnishings, boldly designed rugs and items from their travels, whether they be Turkish bedcovers, chicken wire sculptures from South Africa or a pair of Argentinian salvaged doors. The home has a warm eclectic ambience that is enhanced by an impressive collection of contemporary Australian artworks.

The couple are both art lovers, having built up their collection slowly over the past 25 years, acquiring works from major galleries in Sydney and Melbourne such as Roslyn Oxley9, Sullivan and Strumpf Fine Art, Tolarno Galleries and Helen Gory Galerie. One of the issues in opening a home up to direct sunlight however proved to be that the placement of artworks was often predicated by the need to temper UV damage and fading. They enlisted the help of Phillip Holquinn of InstallArt to assist them in the positioning and hanging of their artworks. “Phillip has a great eye and years of experience in hanging art” says Charlesworth, “He is a great person to bounce ideas off.”

Where possible, they placed works where they reflected the mood of the space. A twelve-panel myriorama piece by Tony Clarke was hung on the kitchen wall.

Charlesworth comments that:

“As this series is a play on a Victorian era parlour card game and provides a continual landscape this was hung to appear as if it continues down the passage leading to the third bedroom.”

A large photograph by Lisa Walker titled ‘Birth Place’ was hung in the main bedroom.

“It’s a dreamy photo of a treed country driveway and it’s lovely to look at from bed.”

The positioning of other artworks proved a little more contentious.

Stephens comments that with his Mike Parr portrait,

“it was agreed that he was not to hang in the bedroom or in pride of place in the living room. Anna has a more refined sense when it comes to fittings and finishes within the house.”

A favourite painting of Stephens – ‘Grotesquerie No. 17’ by Brent Harris was less loved by Anna and now makes a dramatic entrance to the hallway, where it can be viewed from the dinner table, but outside of the dining area. A moody nocturnal photograph by Bill Henson, their first serious acquisition purchased in 1996, is a major feature above the dining table. In the living area, a colourful collection of objects and artworks are clustered together, including a small Albert Namatjira painting on bean tree bark, a family heirloom from Stephens’ great grandfather. The monochrome kitchen is enhanced by delicate works on paper by Tasmanian printmaker Barbie Kjar and quirky portraits on porcelain plates by Martin Parr.

In spite of their assiduous attention to design within their home, the couple strongly believes that artworks should be separate to the design of the house and exist beyond the decoration of the interiors. “Artworks are more personal and evocative” says Charlesworth, “more a point of contemplation and thought.”


Artworks in Photographs
Photo 1, Mike Parr
Photo 2, Ceramic by Naomi Eller (Flight of man) from Tristan Koenig
Photo by Bill Henson
Painting by Judith Van Heeren from Murray White Room
Photo 3, Painting by Brent Harris (Grotesquerie 17) from Tolarno Gallery
Print by Bill Viola
Photo 4, right to left
Painting on Bean tree Albert Namatjira
Painting by Tony Clarke from Murray White room
Painting by Kate Shaw from Sulivan and Strumpf
Drawing by Mira Gojak from Murray White Room
Painting by Brent Harris from Tolarno Gallery
Photo 5, I Still miss Elvis by Lee Neary (Provendence Roade Island, USA)from Hudson Clothes
Photo 6, Nelson Mandela in chicken wire bought in Capetown Sth Africa
Photo 7, Print by Brent Harris
Photo 8, large print by House of Meggs
5 x drawings by Martin Bell from Tolarno Galleries
Photo 9, painting by Sonia Clerehan from Helen Gorie Galerie
Photo 10
Photo 11, Burial doll
Painting by Louise Hearman from Roslyn Oxley 9