10 May 2019

At home with Alison Wright

| Ashley Feraude

You know you’re going to see something special when you’re inside a lift and the floor you’re heading to has no more buttons above it. Victor and I managed to hold a lengthy conversation about all the finer points of Nishi at NewActon the way up to Alison Wright’s floor. On arrival, we were greeted with a warm smile and the moment we walked through the front door, the adventure really began. I say adventure because every room, every piece and every detail had a story behind it.

That in itself is not surprising, since Alison, who is the Assistant Director at the NGA, is a real woman of the world. She has lived in Shanghai, travelled widely and accumulated not only a worldly perspective, but also an apartment full of worldly experiences. What is surprising though, is that the combination of her rich style mixed with the apartment’s beautifully simple Japanese-influenced architecture has created a stunning contrast.

When I started going on about the fact that often people tend to match modern apartments with equally modern décor, Alison cut me off. “I really don’t like matchy-matchy shit.”

After realising that she was not referring to Victor and I both wearing grey t-shirts, I noticed that even though Alison’s items may not match one another, the relationships are carefully considered. From the calm arrangement of colours in the bedroom and the skilfully organised table place settings, to the awesome sake cups display, everything has a place, purpose and a story.

It was lucky the caffeine from our coffee had kicked in, because Victor and I had so much to see across the two floors of Alison’s penthouse apartment in our short visit. At some point I got lost in the beauty of the ferns and natural elements in a bathroom the size of an industrial warehouse I went to for a rave party once in the 9os.

I was absolutely mesmerised when I saw the simplicity of the art room, which had nothing in it apart from a desk, art materials and a view that made Victor turn pale with vertigo. This is clearly Alison’s personal space as evidenced by the art on the walls, mostly her own work but mixed with personally important acquisitions and treasured collections. For many people, their homes are a shrine to themselves or their family; for Alison this is a shrine for the love of art, aesthetics and culture.

After seeing all that culture, I desperately tried to think of something intelligent to say on the way out, but of course nothing came. The best I could do was a pun in the lift on the way down.

“You know Victor, I really like having friends in high places.” I think he smiled out of politeness.

Words: Ashley Feraude
Pictures: Victor Tawagi

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