The Age from Melbourne, Victoria, Victoria, Australia on May 19, 1999 · Page 85
Get access to this page with a Free Trial

A Publisher Extra Newspaper

The Age from Melbourne, Victoria, Victoria, Australia · Page 85

Melbourne, Victoria, Victoria, Australia
Issue Date:
Wednesday, May 19, 1999
Page 85
Start Free Trial

lAiNDesign 19 MAY 1 999 THE AGE II Pictures: EDDIE JIM Brush I ' 7 !'.5 Derek Marvelley tells KARIN DERKLEY he had to risk everything to establish his craft in Australia. When Derek Marvelley arrived here in 1964 from Wales, Australian style was obsessed with minimalism. Older homes were being stripped bare of what was then regarded as outdated ornamental frippery. Elaborate fretwork, cornices and ceiling roses were torn out in the pursuit of clean modern lines. What was left was painted in various shades of off-white. Marvelley had spent his early life in Wales mastering the elaborate decorative practices used for hundreds of years to adorn the grand houses of Britain. He had been apprenticed to some of the finest ornamental craftsman in his region and had studied his craft in depth with subjects such as historical ornament, life classes and color theory at the Swansea College of Art. His occupation may have officially been "painter and decorator", but invitations to join renowned organisations, such as the Faculty of Decoration and the London City Institute of Guilds, confirmed his achievements well beyond that of a tradesman. But, here in Australia in the mid-'60s, such accolades counted for little. What clients wanted at that time was to have their freshly stripped interiors painted off-white and perhaps hung with a few rolls of wallpaper. His impeccable professionalism iV-oV v ? "V I nmiisraiinmnMranii.u.i """" meant that Marvelley was constantly in demand, but, as a frustrated craftsman, he became increasingly impatient. "I did it for 10 years or so, trying to convince customers that maybe they could be a little more adventurous," Marvelley says. "But it took a long time. And, after a while, I decided I'd have to take the risk myself and refuse to do anything but the kind of work I knew I could put my heart into." There were a few nail-biting months as he wondered if he'd ever work again, but finally one sufficiently adventurous client agreed to let Marvelley demonstrate what he could do with a brush and a pot of paint. Then the ball started rolling. "It was just a simple wood- is y ante cJAj graining job (which reproduces the texture and grain of exotic woods on to cheaper wood or plasterboard) but, after that, it never really stopped," Marvelley says. "It was one of those things that was impossible for people to imagine without seeing it, but, once they did, they understood the value of what I could do." One job led to another and Marvelley now counts some of Melbourne's grandest homes in his portfolio of work. He has helped restore National Trust-classified properties, such as Ravenswood House in Ivanhoe and Werribee Park Mansion, to their former glory and has decorated numerous homes in Melbourne's elegant older suburbs. What Marvelley creates is more than just clever reproductions of textures and designs - although his painted imitations of patterned silk, marble, leather or wood grain are breathtakingly faithful to the real thing. What he does is conjure up decorative fantasies that turn otherwise plain rooms into sumptuous boudoirs, statesmanlike libraries and magnificent parlors. It's a hugely creative process that sits at odds with Marvelley's description of himself as "just a working man". In fact, while most painters and decorators take direction from interior designers, with Marvelley it works the other way around, with interior designers having to fit their work around Marvelley's grand decorative scheme. Sounding very unlike a regular working man, Marvelley talks a lot about the inspiration and passion that goes into his work. "It's not about doing something from a textbook," he says. "I have a wall full of reference books, but the ideas don't come from there. They come from within. It's a matter of creativity and intuition. It's like music where you are trying to balance and refine the tones and create an effect that will sweep you away as if on an adventure." It's an adventure that Marvelley generously, or perhaps sensibly, invites his clients to be part of. Clients today may be more ready to embrace the dramatic effects that Marvelley can conjure up for them, but he acknowledges they still need courage and confidence to do so. "You have to work closely with the client because you need to be able to find out what their dream is, but also because they have to be able to own it for themselves. "It is an amazing experience to create this kind of environment and it's important that clients be able to participate in that experience." Marvelley Interior Decoration can be contacted on 9729 2485. Derek Marvelley will demonstrate techniques in woodgrainingand marbling at 4.30pm on Sunday at the National Trust Traditional Home Show at the Royal Exhibition Building in Carlton. ri7 m J? Br mm?-: - iii & Seal 4 Rl 5 8. tJLinlS)A I - pressure water cleaning estic Commercial Industrial Improve the overall look of your home a iortune Concrete Paving Bricks Timber Slate Paths Driveways Patios Carparks iOil bMoss Dirt Stain Removal CLEAN & SEAL SrJ1300 36 36 33 lJ

Get access to

  • The largest online newspaper archive
  • 21,100+ newspapers from the 1700s–2000s
  • Millions of additional pages added every month

Publisher Extra® Newspapers

  • Exclusive licensed content from premium publishers like the The Age
  • Archives through last month
  • Continually updated

Try it free