Conversation with Claire Lloyd of Bushy Summers
Oftentimes we travel for relaxation, to be amazed, or to reunite with those we love. For designer, photographer and author Claire Lloyd, who also owns Bushy Summers, a cozy waterfront shack on Tasmania's west coast, it was for a bowl - a very special piece of pottery to be more exact – made by Zsolt Faludi.
She wound up in Zsolt's studio, but left Tasmania with a greater purpose: to bring her partner, artist Matthew Usmar Lauder, to see a part of the world that stirred her soul. He followed that next year. On Lloyd's second trip, the two magically found Bushy Summers, an old miner's shack that they lovingly restored: he with his burgeoning carpentry skills, and she with her bare hands and signature knack for light-drenched, soulful spaces that echo her years working for Australian Vogue, Elle Decoration and The World of Interiors Magazine (the couple also has also brought their special touch to their other homes in London and Greece).
TELL US ABOUT THAT CERAMIC BOWL, AND WHAT YOUR FIRST TRIP TO TASMANIA WAS LIKE.
CL: "It's really quite a sweet story! There's a really brilliant florist up the road here in Potts Point called Grandiflora and the shop next to it sold beautiful homewares. I went in to get a Christmas present for a friend and saw two bowls: little and big, mother and baby. They were so beautiful - I bought both. I was told that they were made by somebody in Tasmania, and that he had no website but was on Facebook. I found him and on New Year's Eve, I sent him a message, asking if I could come meet and photograph him and see his work in person. Just as the fireworks started, he messaged me, 'Oh, how lovely. Of course you can come.' So I jumped on a plane, hired a car and drove all the way around the east coast and back up to Launceston. It was just fabulous, so amazing and completely unspoiled. I was staying with the sister of Saskia, who owns Grandiflora and lives in Hobart - she took me to meet Zsolt in the Huon Valley on one of the days."
HOW DID YOU FIND BUSHY SUMMERS?
CL: "So I came back with my husband and we stayed at Captain's Rest, which was on the West Coast - where I hadn't been yet. When we got to the area, which is a cluster of 30 or so old miner's shacks, I stood there looking around and said to Matthew, "What do we have to do to get a place here?" It's stunning.
"Matthew actually wandered off and came back 15 minutes later and said, 'I think I've found it. I've just met a man and he's got the shack next door. I was suspicious, but it ended up all being fine and we just went for it - without even seeing the interior of Bushy Summers, we were only able to look in the windows."
DO YOU KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT ITS HISTORY OR THE PREVIOUS OWNERS?
CL: I do actually! A lovely woman contacted me about six months ago to say that she had seen photos of the house on Instagram and wrote 'I think that's our dad's shack.' She told me that her dad had built it with a friend named Bushy Sommers, which obviously ended up being our name with a spelling change. The father had three girls and they used to spend all their summers down there because he and Bushy both worked in the mines in Queenstown together.
"All of the homes in this cluster were built for that purpose - holiday homes for the Queenstown miners. They were built with anything they could get their hands on - when we pulled ours apart, we found tea caddies, old newspapers from the 40s and 50s used to line the floor, bits of tin."
WERE YOU ABLE TO PRESERVE SOME OF THAT ORIGINAL CHARACTER?
CL: "We wanted to keep elements as many elements as we could, that we could live with, to keep the same feeling. One example is the tin ceiling - it was in the room as you walk in. We kept that and then I found a place that sold tin, so we continued it by covering the whole bathroom and even a wall behind the bed in the bedroom.
"Also, the home is listed as 'heritage', so you have to be sympathetic, authentic, and get creative. With the windows, we found old ones and brought them back to life. But I was concerned about the one in the bedroom being so small and on the side next to the road - that it wouldn't get enough light. Luckily, when we found a window to replace it, there was another that was exactly the same size. So we took that and put it between the bedroom and the sitting room. So now you can lie in bed and you can look out through the two windows. The bathroom sink was found in the shed - I believe it was pink and we had it reenameled and paired with garden taps."
WHAT ABOUT THOSE AMAZING BLUE AND GREEN DOORS?
CL: "Those are from Mr. Wolf in Devonport - they are our friends. They have lots of eclectic pieces for the home. Those doors go into the bathroom, and they're powdery blue on one side and a Greek green on the other side. They originally didn't fit but Matthew added about six inches to the bottom of them. He used to work in film, TV and theatre as a scenic artist so he was able to match it so you would never know.
"We also got the oyster shell chandelier from Mr. Wolf - it's fantastic. It casts such beautiful shadows on the ceiling."
I READ THAT YOU BOUGHT AN OLD CARAVAN AND PARKED IT NEXT TO THE SHACK, SLEEPING THERE FOR MONTHS. ANY SURPRISING LESSONS OR MEMORIES?
CL: "I spontaneously bought the caravan because we needed to be in Tasmania for at least a few months to restore Bushy, but we had no place to stay. We were there in September through December, and it got unbelievably freezing! There was rain, hail and wind and some nights the caravan shook and I wondered if we'd end up in the water. But Matthew did lots of painting and drawing in there and some days you'd look over the water and see a rainbow or a beautiful cormorant bird. We also met another couple who was renovating a shack at the other end of the cluster and we'd have dinners together. One night we even went back to Captain's Rest again as a treat!
AS A MULTI-HYPHENATE CREATIVE, WHERE DO YOU GO TO UNPLUG OR GET INSPIRED?
CL: "I go to nature to be inspired, and I love films. I just saw a wonderful documentary on the artist Hilma af Klimt. Some of my favorite films are The Piano, Hairdresser's Husband and Babette's Feast... I am very much drawn to the visual, especially beauty. The first word I spoke was ‘Pretty' in fact. I am also drawn to humor and the human condition which some of these films represent.
"I also go to galleries - I love the White Rabbit gallery in Sydney. David Walsh's MONA is fantastic - you absolutely must plan to go when here."
WHAT WOULD YOU RECOMMEND GUESTS DO WHILE THERE?
CL: "You've got to go on the cruise up the Gordon River, or do a helicopter ride. Go boating... anything to do with the water is wonderful. There are lots of fabulous walks and there's a steam train. But my favorite thing is to just wander around the bay.
"The ocean beach is about 25-35 kilometers long and there's nobody on it. It's very lovely. Cozying up, sitting out on the deck. Chilling out and being in nature, those are the best ways to experience this beautiful place."
To book a stay at Bushy Summers, click here.