Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Flamingo Park

When I first moved out of home at twenty I briefly shared a house with Richard Neville who in those days was still trailing shreds of notoriety behind him because of his involvement with the Oz obscenity trial in London. It was a lovely old house in Bondi Junction with a black and white marble hallway. Although it was the height of summer it was never too hot because in the afternoons a sea breeze blew through the upstairs windows and cooled everything down. On the stairs were stacked old copies of Oz magazine gathering dust.
Richard never seemed to be a disturbing or wicked character and I put that down to the cardigan he used to wear in the cool of the evening. It was hand-knitted in thick wool and had lots of cuddly looking koalas all over it. He had bought from from Flamingo Park which was a terrifically expensive shop in the Strand Arcade run by Jenny Kee and Linda Jackson. I desperately wanted a cardigan like that for myself but because of a shortage of money I decided to make my own. The design I came up with was somewhat simplified but I was happy with it for a few years. It had wattle on the front and a cockatoo on the back. Here I am with my sister at Campden Park in Sydney:

She's trying to make the cocky say something.

Much, much later, not long before Flamingo Park closed, my friend Kate and I both bought jackets there. They weren't the top of the range like Richard's but they were very useful and comfortable garments to wear.
This is Kate's

And this is mine - the only picture I could find.
When I moved to the Blue Mountains, one damp and misty day I went to a garage sale at Jenny Kee's house and finally bought the highly decorated jumper I'd always wanted. It wasn't new and it still wasn't cheap but it was the real thing.
I haven't worn it very often because unfortunately the colours don't suit me. However, one day when I was wearing it I was walking through the carpark at Blackheath and Jenny Kee, who was perched halfway up a ladder nearby painting a mural of parrots and cockatoos and looking not unlike an exotic bird herself, screeched at me, "You're wearing my jumper!" It must have looked a lot better on her but nevertheless it's one of my most treasured possessions.
At the same garage sale I bought this which gave me some insight into her design process:
Here's the book

and here's what was inside it.

And in an op shop in Oamaru I found this - the book with the final version of my jumper design in it:


And many thanks to you, Jenny.


Lydia said...

I enjoyed reading your post very much. Way back in 1970 I lived in Palace Gardens Terrace, Notting Hill. Richard Neville lived a few houses down - I never spoke a word to him but did go to a few Oz Benefit Concerts - his Courtcase must have been in full swing. I always loved Patricia Roberts designs and even applied for a job at her design studio but in the end remained where I was at the BBC. I have all those early magazines too. I loved reading about your Jenny Kee cardigan - I have that book as well. These are the little personal stories of a moment in history....

blodeuedd said...

One of my favourite jumpers was a Patricia Roberts one. I must see if I can find a photo of it.
After I post one of these little stories I ponder over the accuracy of my memory. Were they koalas or kangas on Richard's cardigan? I spent plenty of time peering into the shop to absorb the designs so I might be muddled. I do vaguely remember that Richard paid extra for his design to be a one-off and was slightly peeved when more of them appeared in the shop.
It's quite nice to view these moments in history from a comfortable position on the sidelines.

jeckmac said...

Your designs are beautiful, i am saving upfor the lady franklyn and the rose tam and socks. Your donkey is lovely too!