Bruny Island Mulberries
Brunyfire first came across mulberries whilst collecting several bins of gravel and sand for building ‘the Shed’, an extension to our Bruny Island shack, designed to house the ever growing collection of clay cooking pots. Having never been acquainted with a mulberry before, I wasn’t sure what to expect. These immature specimens were found at Males Yard in South Hobart during early summer………..……..and were pretty poor specimens, inevitably coated with dust from the yard and quite unfit for human consumption. The whole tree was in a sad state of ill health and will only get worse in time given its location. However, a most serendipitous occasion occurred through the purchase of some of Brunyfire’s porcelain ware from the gallery, Art at the Point by internationally renown architect, John Wardle that highlighted a more local source of mulberries, on Bruny Island itself.
John Wardle has put Bruny Island on the architectural radar when he was awarded a National Architect Award in 2012 for his Shearer’s Quarters a bespoke family residence on the Island, situated next to the historic site of James Kelly’s 19th century home on a working sheep farm. Wardle’s Shearer’s Quarters houses family and friends during holidays and the various retreats and tree planting sessions he holds annually – 7,000 trees have been planted to date and are nurtured by a number of spring fed dams on the property.John, his wife Susan and Polly the dog……….……….made us very welcome when we delivered the pieces to the site.
John’s love of timbers is evident as soon as one enters the building – the smell of Macrocarpa pine is strong. These have been sourced principally as individual trees from old rural windbreaks……..…….a stunted specimen can just be seen from the kitchen window. The giant slab of a kitchen table is as rustic as it is welcoming. John is a keen collector of old cooking pots, and Brunyfire was very generous in disclosing her many Vinnie and Op-Shop haunts – maybe not such a good idea!!!!…. The bedroom walls are lined with recycled apple box crates, found from the many old orchards around the Huon Valley where the timber has remained stacked but unused since the late 1960s and collected over many years – for just this occasion. The interior of the building exudes a warm glow, with the heat of the day (recently in the 30s) kept at bay through hinging louvered windows at the rear of the house in the bunk room that creates a filtered aura – reminiscent of a zillion dust motes suspended in the still air – and in all bedrooms, a collection of fabulous wooden chairs.Outside, the iconic Aussie farm building materials of corrugated steel and horizontal timbers, clad the exterior with a robust modesty, the angles of the structure being echoed in the landscaping……..………that features a beautifully constructed rock wall and sandstone pavers. Another major feature that reflects the building’s and its owner’s hospitality is a giant white gum slab of a table. (For further reading on The Shearer’s Quarters check out Stephen Loo’s article).Almost as good as all these great design features, were the 150 year old walnut and mulberry trees that Susan and John have lovingly restored from near extinction. The Wardle’s had recently picked a batch of these succulent beauties, and delivered them in person to Ray at the Jetty Cafe at Dennes Point.
John Wardle also designed the cafe/gallery at Dennes Point as part of a community project. His design again showcases the use of timber and corrugated steel, this time with soaring, cantilevered roof lines that provide both shelter and a sense of dynamic movement.
Inside the cafe, more timber in the form of natural plywood with varnished floorboards and tabletops……………..that emit a golden light.But of course, ultimately, it’s all about the mulberries – and Ray had concocted a delicious creamy desert on a crusty pastry base topped with the sharp sweet taste of the mulberries………
A postscript: Check out jetsetvagabond’s (aka Aaron Smith) article on John Wardle’s design for the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies: Putting the Science in the shed – a nice reference to the role that designing the Shearer’s Quarters has had in the development of the IMAS building – the building designs occurred at the same time.