Living/Loving: Clash of the Walls


SJB director of interiors Andrew Parr standing in front of Hazel Dooney’s ‘Dangerous Career Babe – The Terrorist’.

THE ENTRANCE HALLWAY of Andrew Parr’s old Victorian home in Prahran, Melbourne is cotton pink. Low-hung portraiture pieces adorn both walls, among them a Mike Parr etching that Parr fell in love with when it was used in one of SJB’s display suites. “Some pieces like that have really talked to me; they stay in your brain,” he says.

In the hallway, Irene Wellm’s ‘Siren’ hangs behind James Cochram’s ‘Self Portrait’.

A founding member and co-director of lauded Australian design firm SJB, Parr has always been attracted to art. He believes his foray into collecting is nothing but a natural progression.

“Furnishings can be quite generic, as we know. I like the idea that art changes how people respond to the room. It personalises a space and imbues it with character,” says Andrew.

This fondness for character recurs throughout every room of his home. When Andrew and his partner purchased the house ten years ago, they embraced its existing personality. Inspired by the 1980s extension out back, they endeavored to fill the home with colour, decoration and art. “It had a good energy to it when we bought it so it just felt like it was a house that could take a lot of collections but also a house that can keep changing,” he explains.

This interior evolution occurs concurrently with Andrew’s art collection. “I started collecting when I was 20-something. Now I’m 52, so there are three or four different personalities in there,” he says. In his early years, Andrew mainly purchased sculptures and smaller works as they were easier to move around when was renting. This provenance stands as a fair contrast to the Prahran home, where high ceilings and ten-metre-long walls give him the space to collect and display larger pieces.

“I like the feeling in my hallway,” says Andrew. “It has a nice layered richness to it. It’s a happy space for me when I wake up in the morning. I like the way it’s so busy; I like the fact that it’s cluttered – full of art, full of interesting things.”

His collection cannot be reduced to a specific theme or style. It is a contextual mix of mediums that reflect the pieces he has been drawn to over the years. And each time Andrew purchases a new artwork, he changes everything around it. In this sense, the rooms work compositionally and the pieces are in constant conversation with one another.

“Art brings a joy to the house. It brings a little bit of discussion; it brings a bit of notoriety. It expresses different parts of our personalities, and how art expresses that in our house makes it actually feel like ours.”

The living room is a medley of mediums, with a wall-hung Dion Horstmans sculpture providing a graphic offset to Nicola Loder’s soft-edged ‘Tourist #1 The Blind Child’ above the fireplace.

Christopher Langton’s ‘Swamp’ lends a glistening, textural edge to a sitting space.

Monochrome meets a bold modern palette in the kitchen.

Irene Wellm’s ‘Lysis’ lends a moody edge to the bedroom.

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Related Artworks

Kate Bender, Into His Fiery Heart. Oil on canvas, 84 x 152cm.
Kate Bender, Only the Wind Sings