Local shopfronts are beginning to sparkle with Christmas decorations and lights, opening hours are being extended to entice shoppers to stay longer and pubs and restaurants are rolling out the Yuletide spirit with music and festive menus. Shop keepers across Sydney are pulling out all the stops to sell their products and services making the most of this small window of opportunity. Commonly known as ‘the silly season’, it’s a savvy season for both retailers and consumers alike. Bespoke traders especially, have the chance to step into the spotlight with so many shoppers looking to seize a gift with a very personal touch.
After a lively 2013 at That Framing Place celebrating the launch of a new website and a refreshing new logo - AND expanding my collection of B&W photographic prints and giftcards exclusively of Balmain - business certainly looked like it was ‘on the up’. Fast forward to March 2014 when I opened the studio to the public as part of the LOST Art Trail confirming the collection of Balmain in B&W was finally out there being sought and talked about by the locals.
It was with this vote of confidence I took a leap of faith and began my biggest challenge - to self-publish the collection of Balmain in B&W in a book called ‘A Village on the Harbour’.
I thought I had the ‘lions share’ of images for the book having started photographing Balmain 7 years ago. However, I quickly realised more photo shoots were needed to fulfil the content of each chapter. It got me ‘under the skin’ of my neighbourhood and as a result, unearthed some classic local anecdotes and memories. This book is truly a personal experience not just for me as a photographer and author, but also for those that meander through the familiar images of their neighbourhood.
November saw my photographic works exhibited at The Balmain Art & Crafts Show and also served as a soft launch of ‘A Village on the Harbour’. The reception was heart-warming with Balmainians welcoming both my works and the book like an old friend. Later in the month, there was an official Book Launch here at That Framing Place with clients old and new delighted to find a book capturing the very essence of Balmain, a neighbourhood they hold so dear.
A gallery of Balmain images can be viewed and ordered via my website www.thatframingplace.com.au. Stop by and take a look.
My heart-felt thanks go to Orla Tynan for her unwavering support, patience and steady vision for all that has unfolded under the eaves of That Framing Place. It has been an adventure!
Whether a visitor or a new resident moving in, Balmain's history is steeped in it's buildings and etched in it's lane ways indelibly no matter where you wander.
These days Balmain's town centre is defined by Loyalty Square where Beattie Street adjoins Darling Street. Overshadowed by Woolworths, Westpac Bank and the Unity Hall Hotel, it came as a surprise to me to learn recently that the original site of Loyalty Square was just in front of where this picture was taken- Queens Place on the corner of Waterview Street. Complete with the customary flagpole, the Loyalty Square of c1850 was graced by the presence of Balmain's first bank - the Bank of NSW; The Albion Hotel on the corner of Anne Street now occupied by Ciao Thyme Cafe and Balmain's original Post Office pictured here at No.1 Queens Place now a private residence.
The Postal & Telegraph Agency opened July 1,1857 under the care of local grocer Alexander Chape through to 1870 whereupon his death, Chape's widow Catherine became Balmain's first postmistress. Since Balmain's early settlement, No.1 Queens Place has contained other incarnations including a pub and a restaurant. Despite the loss of fourth storey attic window on the Waterview side, this charming icon of Balmain's historical buildings remains an authentic landmark to Balmain's original centre of trade and finance.
( References quoted from "Balmain to Glebe' by Joan Lawrence & Catherine Warne )
Whether visiting friends who live here or relocating to live here yourself - the harbour village of Balmain gives everyone who passes through it's neighbourhoods the timeless sense of it's history. I recently learnt from a neighbour that the original site of Loyalty Square - currently lorded over by Woolworths Supermarket on Darling Street - used to sit squarely in front of my framing shop where Waterview Street meets Queens Place complete with a flagpole in front of ,what was then the first Balmain Post Office.
Officially the Business District of Balmain, this section of Darling Street also housed two Banks and , of coarse - a pub, namely the Volunteer Hotel( c1860-c1930) on the corner of Anne and Darling Streets, the arms of which are still visible today.
Sharing the neighbourhood as I do with other 'bespoke' businesses - namely a Tailor, Furniture maker and a Locksmith. I was delighted to find things hadn't changed much in this small enclave of shop fronts since the mid 18th century when bespoke artisans were abundant and served the community well. Tenures were short but Balmain was home to dressmakers, milliners, upholsterers, boot makers, confectioners and hairdressers to name just a few. That Framing Place ( c2005-2014) was built in c1855 by Waterman, Edward Glover originally as a one storey weatherboard cottage. Balmain stonemason,James Burt became the owner in 1869 letting it out from 1870-1904 to two hairdressers, an oil & colour merchant(?) , a butcher, a fishmonger, a watchmaker, a bread carter and a confectioner. From 1945-1957, Cuthbert Southern Beckett - a musician, ran an antique shop here until his death. After which Michael Bray bought the estate to use as a Printers.
Artisans and Craft makers are less visible on the main street these days. But a stroll down any side street or alley of Balmain will uncover a quiet industry of 'Makers of things' with a shingle on their door stating their name and their 'trade'.
[ Statistics available courtesy of Leichhardt Historical Journal No.21]
These aren't just any heels people! Resting it's entire fashion identity on what is underneath the shoes rather than on top. A Christian Lou Bouten pair of heels is a 'bad ass' piece of footwear in any language.
So when I was presented with a pair of shiny black 6" Lou Bouten heels with the question -
" How would you frame these?" My immediate thought was - " Why would You?!"
As the story unfolded I could see these heels were certainly meant for more than just walking or strutting or gracefully gliding across a ballroom floor. The, already lofty Lady who purchased them online wearing them for only 35 minutes before realising they just did not fit - then had to face the disappointment of not being able to return them as the precious and highly revered shiny Red under sole was now 'Used'. You'd think after investing a packet on these heels, you'd chalk it up to experience. Not so! Another identical pair was purchased though a little bigger. Greater care was taken in the trial 'walk' this time but they were also found an uncomfortable fit. Returning them in an unblemished state would be successful. They were repacked in their box and stored underneath the desk of the twice thwarted wearer where, not long after, the office space was flooded, soiling the second pair of Lou Boutins!
The result you see is befitting of heel Royalty. If you can't wear these pieces of Art, then show it in all it's splendour and grace- on your wall and not on the floor!!!
To say 'We frame anything. No job too big or too small' is enough of a challenge in itself. So when I received a somewhat desperate call from a guy asking - " Do you frame shovels?" Followed by - " How much?" And - " How soon?"
There are some jobs which aren't a one-size-fits-all approach. And this was certainly one of those unique customised framing jobs that needed a great deal of discussion and interpreting before a quote could be teased out. Especially,as it turned out, this 'no ordinary' shovel would be silver plated and presented to Frank Lowy, the CEO of Westfield upon the completion of the Westfield Tower on Pitt Street in the CBD by the entire Team that contributed to this architectural flagship of Mr Lowy's. Two engraved pewter plaques to contain up to 195 names in order of seniority. Spell check was a nightmare! And every action of the project had to be green lighted by about half a dozen Directors. 'No Pressure!' This was a unique project that called on my inventive, practical and creative skills. As well as my patience in negotiating the final outcome and the agreed budget. Basically the M.O. was it had to be ' Awesome!'....his words, not mine.
And- it was! Presented to Mr Lowy at the Opening of his Tower with great fanfare and ceremony. This is one project forged into my 'can do' list. But not a job I would leap at in one single bound next time I get asked - "Do you frame shovels?".
I've lived and worked in Balmain for the past 26 years. Primarily as a custom framer but with my real passion anchored in Photography. In 2001 that all changed by way of an invitation to exhibit some of my colour works in a group show with artist, Denise Barry at the Watch House on Darling Street. Denise said to me - " Lynn- you can't hide this beautiful work under a bushel. Give me 10 images and I'll show you!". Denise gave me my first break as an exhibiting photographer and I have never looked back.
The highlight of my exploration into film was to turn my hands and eyes to Black & White photography, hiring a darkroom for 6 months and resting my sights on my town - the harbour village of Balmain. With it's history steeped in the working class, still evident today in the 'shoulder-to-shoulder' workmans' cottages nestled in Balmain's side streets. Balmain begged to be photographed in B&W. My first exhibition entitled 'Landmarks 2041' showed me just how much the locals really love where they live. That was 7 years ago and remains a body of work that continues to unfold with new businesses opening, new generations coming through against the back drop of a village that seems to hold it's timeless character in the face of it's homes and rambling lane ways.
This image of 'The Working Barge' embodies Balmain's spirit as the hub of a working harbour. In particular the industry of Ship Building in the late 18C. I'd set myself up to capture the Harbour Bridge in a serene morning mist at the pre-commute time of 6am only to be distracted by the 'putt-putt' of this working barge returning from a night shift. It was a Hero shot for the taking.
An accomplished photographer for more than 30 years specialising in urban and landscape photography in both colour and Black &White. Lynn's current exhibition of black & white images is a reflection of Balmain's eclectic character capturing its working class past still evident in it's buildings and meandering lanes,to it's current status as 'the biggest little village on the harbour'- timeless, quirky, friendly, local and vibrant.
Having built a 30 year profession as a custom picture framer, Lynn's steady and considered approach to her other craft - Photography - now spans an impressive 35 years of dedication.