Simon Baigent at Montsalvat
Simon has lived and worked at Montsalvat since 1973. He is tightly woven into the fabric of the place. Staff at The Meeting Pool (Montsalvat's restaurant and cafe) can make his perfect coffee with their eyes closed. His studio is full of treasures collected over decades and lovingly arranged and rearranged in groups on every surface. His little garden grows herbs for use in his kitchen. Gardenias are plentiful. He loves cooking and tells me he makes a mean risotto. But it's his jewellery making that he is most passionate about. When I ask him about himself, he tells me it's his work that's important, nothing else matters. When you see his exquisite jewellery you understand. He uses the very best of stones and precious metals. He finishes each piece with unsurpassed attention to detail. In acknowledgement of this, Simon participated in the making of Prince Charles and Princess Diana's wedding present, where originality and quality were paramount. A commission from the Australian Government. His brief was to create the sterling silver handles hinges and corners for the Tasmanian blackwood box that held handmade silver plates by Hendrick Forster.
These chopsticks also look like they could grace the table of royalty. Simon won the Eltham Art Award with more beautiful table ware... a caviar spoon made of ebony, rubies, pearls,18k gold and mother of pearl.
Several signatures mark out Simon's work from the rest. There's a diamond on the inside of this 22k gold ring, invisible while the ring is being worn. Sort of like exquisite ladies underwear. Simon calls this his "lingerie". How gorgeous is that!
This beautiful hand painted wing suggests one of Simon's other signatures. Each piece of jewellery is signed with a stylised wing to suggest Simon's middle name- Icarus. This artwork appears on his business card.
Simon works on a commission basis. Each piece made according to the buyers specific needs. Each piece a one off. If you have a yen for an exquisite piece of unique, handmade jewellery, contact Simon on 0418 567 693
The Highline is a brilliant piece of New York urban recycling. It's a very clever use of a disused overhead railway line. It runs along the west side near the Chelsea Market. Due to it's elevation, the views to the west across the Hudson and to the east across the New York skyscrapers are stunning. It's a sort of elongated, parkland/public space. I'm told that there are great crowds there in the summer. The day I went in December it was very cold and windy. The wind was coming across the Hudson. Not so many people there that day. The old railway line is still visible. There are places to sit and take in the views and catch some fresh air and sunlight.
The plantings are designed to look like the side of a railway track to maintain the original character.
New Yorkers are very proud of this project. There are plans for several extensions.
From Montsalvat, back, briefly to New York. I know it's a stretch but stay with me.
The New York subway experience was in the main noisy and smelly and overpopulated. Two things saved it from unpleasantness. The busking, particularly at Union Square, toe tapping was often the order of the day... and these cute little figures. They were dotted around the subway in little unexpected places. I managed to snap these pics on my way to other places.
PS. If you're itching to get back to Montsalvat (incidentally so am I), dont fret. I'm still on the case and will bring you more Montsalvat Magic next week. I intend to intersperse those blogs with more New York and local posts over the next month.