Today is “Pink Ribbon Day” and in honour of the late Wendy Mattern, and with the permission of her family, I would like to share this interview with you. This article was intended to be published earlier this year, however, due to the complexities of the print publishing world, was not published.
When Interior decorator Wendy and her husband Rob decided to downsize after their daughters left home, they were looking for a house that would incorporate modern open plan living with the ability to house the grandkids for sleepovers.
Their single level elevated house is located in a quiet cul-de-sac in the western suburbs of Brisbane, and allows enough space for entertaining as well as showcasing the collection of memories from their travels, and careers in Interior Decorating and Styling.
Wendy began collecting miniature containers and other silver boxes, when she was given her Paternal Grandmother’s Hobnail Glass perfume bottle. This she says, “sparked a life long love of all things miniature, including hat pins, “Netsuke” and a collection of “Limoges, which was a gift from my mother”.
Upon entering the combined lounge and dining area you are immediately struck by the careful curation of oriental pieces, seamlessly integrated with charcoal sketches, and family heirlooms.
Wendy, a Brisbane girl and Rob from Pennsylvania met and married in Los Angeles when Wendy was on a working holiday in America. During their time in LA they met Charles Phillips, who assisted clients sourcing special features for movie and television sets. Wendy joined him on some of the forays into interesting haunts in LA. Charles became such a good friend that he even sketched the design of Wendy’s wedding dress. The sketch, however, no longer exists as it was left with the dressmaker.
Ten years and two children later, they returned to live in Brisbane. Charles sent them many hand drawn charcoal sketches as Christmas cards during their life long friendship, and some of these are now framed and hang on the walls.
The antique furniture in the lounge area was collected in Los Angeles and brought with them when they moved to Australia. Wendy’s mother’s hope chest, one of an original three, was sent out from Hong Kong. On it sits a delicate collection of Easter themed miniatures. There is a pair of antique Chinese porcelain lamps of “Kwan Yen”, the Goddess of compassion and mercy beside the chaise.
Many locals of the western suburbs of Brisbane will remember when Wendy and a friend ran the highly successful “Shop 91” at Indooroopilly Shopping Town. “There wasn’t a significant birthday or wedding gift that wasn’t purchased from us in the area”, Wendy laughs. Shop 91 allowed Wendy and Rob to keep in touch with trends in collecting and enjoy continuing to collect themselves.
After this, Wendy began her career as a stylist, preparing homes for sale. Many of her clients loved her so much that when they moved to their new home, they hired her to purchase and decorate and design their new interior. Husband Rob, began the management of the trades people involved in the design and decoration projects.
Bronwyn, Wendy and Rob’s youngest daughter has begun to follow in her mother’s footsteps, launching her styling career on Instagram. “It’s been really interesting listening to mum talk about all her collectables today. You take things that appear in your family home for granted- it’s been wonderful to hear the background stories of so many of the objects, that until now, I have not stopped to think about the significance.”
Bronwyn can be found on Instagram at BRONLOVESDESIGN.
Note from author: Sadly, Wendy Mattern died as a result of secondary Breast Cancer June 5, 2015. It was an honour to have met her, and I will be forever grateful that even when terminally ill, she took the time to tell me about her life, and graciously allowed me to photograph her house.
I spend a lot of time helping people cope with grief as a result of death. Grief is seen as the nasty stuff that accompanies the loss that no one wants; the death of a loved one.
But have you ever thought about good grief? This is the grief that accompanies happy changes in life; like your child graduating from school, or moving to a new job.
Rob Bell introduces the concept in a recent RobCast (episode 24- available on iTunes). I was introduced thanks to Elizabeth Gilbert who interviewed him in a recent Magic Lesson’s podcast.
I am empowered by the concept of good grief. It simply says, that the reason that we feel resistant to change, even happy change, is that we have, if we really take the time to investigate, a sense of loss. So in the case of good change- like your child moving to high school instead of primary school, the loss you feel is real. It’s just not really spoken about. You’ve spent seven years getting to know the school, the teachers, and you’ve developed friends.
But you’re excited that your child is moving on in life and happy about the new adventures that they will have in high school. So why the tears at graduation? It’s your body’s way of reminding you that you feel attached to the school, and the way of life that you have been accustomed to. When you actually acknowledge this, and take the time to grieve (appropriate to the circumstances), then you can move forward with relish.
The same concept can be applied to your new job. Look back at the great times you had, the results you accomplished, the new colleagues you met, and shared both the good times and bad times with. Take a moment to really savour it. Feel the joy, and the sadness. Then exhale deeply.
The future is ahead of you and it’s exciting!
If there’s one thing that I love in life, almost as much as photography, it’s TED talks. So today I’d like to share some words of wisdom from someone who I admire – Steve Fraser. Steve is an internationally acclaimed landscape photographer.
You might think that taking photographs is a simple task, and that those who are earning great incomes out of this would continue to be inspired by what they find. It’s harder than it looks and it is no surprise to me that Steve believes that photography has many life lessons to share.
In the following TED talk, released today, Steve explains how his travels to seek the most beautiful locations and moments in life have transformed him, and provided many great lessons that we can apply to life. (Please refresh your browser if the TED Talk image does not appear)
- Getting out of bed is the biggest challenge when you want to be at your location before the sunrises, and it involves a four mile walk in the dark just to set up.
“There is no prize for staying in bed”.
- Waiting: Photography requires waiting and patience. The right light at the right time transforms the ordinary into the extraordinary.
- Bring your own unique perspective to each shot. Capture something unique by looking deep within and examining how you want to see the scene before you.
“We get trained to follow the rules, to apply the principles and to stay within the guidelines. And all of that helps us to achieve mediocrity”.
- Make sure your perspective is constantly challenged by the people you meet- it will affect your life and your images positively.
- On disappointment:
“Sometimes the moment just doesn’t happen…These disappointment are just a test. The reality is that disappointments will come, we can’t avoid them, but it is how we respond to the test, how we are able to move on from that, and how we learn from that matters.”
- Perseverance means that eventually you will pass the test.
- Risk is not a negative.
“Breathe, let go and take a risk. Risk is an essential part of life… my best personal moments come from when I step out and take a risk“.
- Chase the Inner Light. Look for a sense of significance, of making a difference, of belonging.
“What I’ve come to learn is that this dream that I have of chasing colour, and of finding the illusive light, has to be about more than my images….And working with people who are the poorest of poor…. has brought colours into my world than I could have never imagined.”
Go on, swim out towards that shadow.
You can follow Steve Fraser here. Please share this blog with someone who might also be inspired.
It’s no secret that I love to read. I read to learn, to understand, and to be inspired. I also read to relax. It’s not something that I consciously do, it’s just a way of life for me. If you come to my house you will find piles of books beside my bed. My shelves are not full, because I pass my books on, hoping that others will be touched by them as I am. So I am excited to share a book with you that I found inspiring, both for my personal and professional life.
My review for ‘Daring and Disruptive’ by Lisa Messenger is now live on the Profitalist. Please note that I do not have a physical copy of this book to share, as I read this as an e-book. If I had purchased a physical one, it would be covered in highlighter pen, as I always mark books with post it notes and highlight passages of prose that inspire me.
Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book for the purpose of reviewing it from Profitalist. This has in no way influenced my review, and I am eager to read other books by Lisa as a result.