Years ago I walked into a small shop in Rockport, MA called Sycamore Hollow, and had the rare feeling of stumbling both back and forth in esthetic time
The shop’s tenor was a sort of vintage 1930’s school room: a couple of large pieces of seemingly button-shop kinds of furniture – pieces with glass cases, slots and crannies displaying a spare collection of objets. Old school maps hung on the walls, pale blues and greens warmed by that band-aid pink color of Czechoslovakia and the tangerine of Poland. There was a collection of modern blown-glass jars that added delicacy and air, with a whiff of apothecary. I’m fairly certain there were branches. Many of the pieces were vintage finds; some were just finds. The way it was all assembled was modern, esthetically pukka.
In some ways there wasn’t actually that much to buy in Sycamore Hollow, but I loved dropping in to feel it, wishing it were a room in my house. I wanted to dress up my home in this arty botanical, formal and natural, vision. I still love the row of tin doves strung upon a wire I bought from the shop, a layer of decoration meant to do nothing more than quietly inspire a smile.
Sycamore Hollow was owner Sarah Kelly’s terrarium of ideas – her collections, her small painted things.
A few years ago, Kelly closed the shop, and reopened online as The Roving Home. In some ways the website is even better than the store, because you can read Sarah’s blog, which makes you realize that part of what made Sycamore Hollow so appealing was what Kelly thinks about. She doesn’t decorate, she analyzes how and why we decorate, what homes and decor mean to us in the most fundamental ways. That’s why the shop’s inventory – from a rough, old oar to a linen pillow with a sailboat tenderly swished upon it in paint – touch at a deeper level. Kelly assembled her visions with respect for the idea of home, its history, and for our imaginations. There was so much more going on in that little shop than just things to buy.
Happily for those of us who love her blog but miss walking into Sycamore Hollow, Kelly will be having a show of her work – titled “Home (re)Cycled” at the Tusinski Gallery in Rockport.
Part art gallery, part shop, because Kelly’s ideas of decoration sometimes blur between provocative commentary and great stuff with a price tag hanging from it, the show will have Kelly’s doll houses – her a darker view of domesticity – her vintage shadow boxes, and some pieces from her online store, including the hand-painted Kelly Chinoisserie for which I’m begging. (Sarah?)
Certain to provoke you to think and/or decorate, the show opens April 21st.
Besides the portrait of Sarah, the beautiful photos in this blog are the work of photographer Esther Mathieu.
Here’s Kelly’s statement on the Home (re)Cycled show:
The influences we have always felt in our homes, a few of which are the natural world, domestic necessity, the intense human desire for beauty and self-expression, are the same as they have ever been. Now we just incorporate an expanded sense of what it means to be human and inhabit a space. In this way we are always recycling the ideas of our ancestors, connecting with them through our interiors — the primitive beauty of prehistoric cave paintings translated into hand-painted chinoiserie wallcoverings, to name just one example. Home (re)Cycled aims to highlight this connection to our inhabited past while allowing us to see some of these influences — specifically the natural world and the desire for beauty — in new ways.
at The Karen Tusinski Gallery
2 Main St.
Rockport, MA 978-546-2244
Here’s Sarah, nine months pregnant, singing with her brother, the artist musician Daniel Dye.