Sunday, January 30, 2011

Wendy's Secret Garden
About ten years ago I read the biography of Australian artist Brett Whiteley and thus began my continuing fascination with him of course, but mainly his wife Wendy.
I wish I knew Wendy. I wish I could knock on her door and have a glass of wine with her in the late afternoon. I'd be wearing something black and baggy...and a turban, so we'd kind of match.
She is often called a 'cultural icon'.  While she is probably most famous for being Brett's wife and muse, she would have probably been well known, her own right, without him.
She comes from a long line of notable and creative characters. Her grandfather, Sir George Julius was the co-founder of the CSIRO, and her great-aunt, Kate O’Connor, was an extremely eccentric and larger-than-life painter who lived in Paris most of her life and wore a bright red wig.

If you don't know much about Brett and Wendy Whiteley, look them up. They are insanely interesting.
Brett died in 1992, but Wendy still lives in the house they shared in Sydney's Lavender Bay.
Originally, I was trying to find photos of Wendy's house. It has been one of my influences with high white walls and ceilings and timber flooring, to create a backdrop like an art gallery. However, I couldn't find any. Her house was photographed a few years ago for Vogue or one of those magazines. I remember she had a gorgeous zinc coated table in her kitchen.
While looking for pictures of her house I came across photos of her garden. The garden has been established for quite a while now. She built the garden on public land near her house after Brett died, then later their only child, the very beautiful Arkie. Brett and Arkie's ashes are in the garden somewhere, but only Wendy knows where.
Since I have discovered my new fondness for gardening, Wendy's garden interests me more now, and I'd just love to visit it.
Here are some photos. Can you believe the view?!

This is Wendy with her house in the background.

She always wears a turban or some sort of head dress. It reminds me of Little Edie with her perpetual skarf.
I will visit this garden myself one day soon. That's an excellent list actually - 'Places to Visit'. I'll write it down.


  1. This is one garden I've been past a hundred times. I used to work in Nth Sydney, (with this being my window view... back in the day!) and I have seen Wendy pottering in her garden with turban many times, when walking down to the harbour. Indeed the garden does sprawl onto public land, however it's a fairly discreet set of steep sandstone steps, and if you're not local would not use them. It really is a bit like a secret garden, and enticing with it's sculptures. I often used to have lunch at the park below her house overlooking that view, and can only imagine what her house would be like inside?! Would love to see too.

  2. I remember reading an article about that garden-it looks amazing. Wendy was so beautiful in her youth. I always imagine it would be the worst thing ever to have to bury your child. Arkie was gorgeous too. Remember the photo of them on the deck of the ship to London?

  3. I currently live very close to where the garden is located and had forgotten all about it - now I will go and seek it out and spend some time enjoying it - thanks for reminding me!

    I have been there once, very briefly and the view is indeed amazing - in fact I had my wedding reception just up the road :)

    Love the blog BTW, and your house :)