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Christmas Decorations at morris brown, in store and online!

Saturday, December 6th, 2014

clown in grapeHave you put your tree up yet?  Ours at home has been up now for two weeks, living with a nine year old that has been asking for the tree to be put up since  Grand Final weekend, things tend to happen!! Lots of different christmas decorations are in store now, and we have even managed to snaffle a few for the Online shop too!  We seem to have a circus theme occurring…

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B. Sirrius- Summer 2014

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014

The ever popular Melbourne range B Sirrius is in store now…The popular Messenger Bag shape is back, as well as wallets, three zip purses, useful for just about everything (!), cute wallets and luggage tags.

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We have the catalogue handy and are happy to order what you would like, if we don’t have it in stock!

Yarra Valley Open Studios Weekend- Interview with Michele Tanner

Friday, September 12th, 2014

Spring has sprung in the Yarra Valley, the grass is green and the skys are clearing as we head into the prettiest season of the year.  Over winter, there was much work happening behind closed doors, with the result being beautiful new places to visit with the opening of  Coombe Cottage and Meletos of Stones. Meanwhile,  lots of the artistically talented people of the Yarra Valley have been working hard to prepare their pieces for the Yarra Valley Open Studios this weekend. Growing in popularity each year, displaying a diverse range, including photography, textiles, ceramics, paintings, and so many more.  To taste a sample of whats’ on offer, Oakridge Winery is hosting an overview exhibition, so you can see what takes your fancy! (and maybe indulge in a little food and wine while you are there!)

In celebration of the Yarra Valley Open Studio Weekend,  morris brown is hosting a wonderful display of curios, collections, prints and paintings, all beautifully framed by local framer, Michele Tanner.  Michele is the one woman show behind Michele Tanner- Bespoke Framing, and her work speaks for itself.  She has had a busy time preparing other peoples work for display, but also found a little time to put together a collection of works that so suit morris brown.  Take the time to study the matching of the frames, to the tiniest detail in what is being framed.  It is truly beautiful. I have already mentally installed several pieces on different walls in my house!  The collections of old watch faces are gorgeous, and become significant pieces when curated this way, and the over the top framing of a tiny Tasmanian Devil swap card is a stand out!

Framing is almost like the accessory to the outfit, and can make or break a piece of artwork in how it corresponds with the piece.  A tricky game… Michele was kind enough to let us explore her world a little more…

            What attracted you to the Yarra Valley, and how long have you lived  here for?

I fell in love with the Yarra Valley when I moved out around 15 years ago, it is ridiculously beautiful here, it’s both energising and inspiring. I feel very lucky to live in the country side, i don’t have to commute and seldom have a need to travel into the city, apart for entertainment…everything is here. I feel a real part of a community here now, it’s full of such wonderful people. Our pace of life seems a lot less stressed than that of the city, there is more time to live, breathe and appreciate an idyllic life.

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The Valley has a vibrant artists scene, what are some of the things you enjoy about it, and how have you got involved with it over time?

The Yarra Valley has a large artists scene and I really enjoy working with them. I appreciate the way artists can communicate emotions visually, I have found them inspiring and encouraging. I can relate to them as I am a creative soul and love to hear about what they do, how they do it. I think its fun to bounce around ideas with them, framing their work for them is doubly fun!
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Often, we find our “thing” by accident, was that the case with your framing business, or was it something you always had an interest in?
My first Picture framing job was an employment add I applied for out of the blue after I had to leave my hairdressing job due to dermatitis, so many more chemicals back then! Framing Forum was the most fantastically creative job, I worked for a clever, enterprising artist, Janne Kearney and we had so much fun, it didn’t seem like work at all! After that business was sold I worked for a number of framers but never really enjoyed that much freedom and creativity, some were like supermarkets and some quite conservative and stiff. Then I started my own business and rediscovered my passion for design.
 I have worked as a picture framer for around 14 years, strangely I found a majority to be absolutely boring, (sorry) but they are lacking any personal interest in art and were not what you would call creative personalities. The choice of mouldings offered was really limited… homogenised even. I think if we are encouraging people to spend once on good products we don’t at sometime regret and want to replace, we should have a real choice. There is no love in mass produced “stuff” it may be “cheap” but it has no love in it. (It also often turns out to be morally expensive)
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 In some ways framing can either make or break a great piece of art, by giving it the finish that elevates it to a higher level, or detracts and distracts from the piece itself.  how do you ensure you find the balance and compromise required?
 I always like to find out if customer has an idea of what they want…a style, an era, a colour, feel or texture…then I usually set up samples to view, including some fairly out there alternatives. Sometimes the combination that works is the last thing you expected, it is always good to view a lot of choice to be sure it’s just right. My consultations are free and there with no obligation and I am always happy to show people the different possibilities without any pressure.
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I am lucky, I seem to have a good eye for my work. I have seen so many pieces framed over many years and I have a very clear view of the finished piece by looking at a corner sample. From this  experience I can see if it will be over whelmed, underwhelmed or sit comfortably and honour a piece. Generally, I like to keep things looking fairly contemporary but I do enjoy going over board with particular pieces, it can take it to another level to treat an image in a special way. I have included in my work for Morris Brown a number of examples of this – another level…the tripple framed Tasmanian Tiger is by far the most elaborate, this inexpensive little swap card is treated very seriously and this extinct animal is honoured .
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 Favourite artist, alive, or not, local, or not (!) and why?
I don’t have a favourite artist, I do like being affected and feeling inspired by art. I enjoy a number of different art forms such as short films, mixed media- I really like films like Švankmajer’s Alice, sculptures like Lisa Roet’s with her huge Chimpanzee’s bust, Bernault Smilde and his man made indoor clouds, Julia deVille with her dark decorated victorian taxidermy. I am keeping a keen, appreciative eye on the Australian contemporary artists – Sandra Hill paintings stands out, currently at Tarrawarra’s BIENNIAL 2014 “Behind my Mask”. I also think Michael Cook’s photograph “Majority rule” is pretty special.
Framing is obviously an art form in itself, but outside of this, do you pursue any other creative passions?
 I have always been very creative and I feel totally driven now (after exposure to artists around me) to pick up a brush and get painting but I’m still not quite sure where to start…I guess picking up the brush would be a start. Time to do this would be great!
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 Favourite places and spaces in the Valley; what do you enjoy doing here?
My favourite things to do in the Yarra Valley is to be outside, to bike ride along the trail with my kids or recently I have ridden up to Toolangi with friends. It is rather special to and walk around the weir’s or the Maroondah Dam, or spending time at the Healesville sanctuary with kids and visitors. I also can’t help but enjoy the fabulous food around the valley and it’s the wonderful, farmers markets, cafés, restaurants, cool wine bars and wineries. I couldn’t live anywhere else, it’s absolutely wonderful.

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Thanks Michele for sharing your life and beautiful work with us.  It has been great to  watch people respond to her work with such enthusiasm.  We wish everyone involved in this weekends Open Studios a very happy weekend, and with blue skies predicted, the Yarra Valley will be looking its sparkling best!!

Drumroll please…. And The Winners Are…

Thursday, June 12th, 2014

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We had a great response to our birthday competition. Thanks so much for all your liking, sharing, popping your heads in to say happy birthday , the emails and lovely comments so many of you made…

As promised, we drew the winners of the seven $25 morris brown Gift Vouchers today, and they are~

Bernadette Lewis
Leanne Davey
Jen Stone
Joanne Morris
Michelle Hall
Karen Jizba
Vicki Guppy

Please contact us via email, info@morrisbrown.com.au to arrange to collect your voucher from either our Heathmont or Healesville stores!
Stay tuned, we will be having other giveaways in the coming months, you all seem to like them, and so do we !

Yarra Valley Sunday Drive- Clare James “She Hides in the Ginko & Weaves Through the Night”

Friday, June 6th, 2014

It is  fitting that our Sunday Drive in the Yarra Valley this weekend of our seventh birthday, is to visit the exhibition of local Healesville artist, Clare James.  Clare has been a constant visitor to morris brown in the years since we opened, and it has been with great delight ,we have gotten to know Clare and her little family.  It has also been a pleasure to see her work feature on lovely cushions, and on beautifully made bags by Melbourne based Nancy Bird, which we have been fortunate to sell, but more importantly it has been wonderful to spend a little time  looking to the world as Clare does.  A passionate environmentalist, creator, gardener and so many other things, her current work is a joy- the words below are taken from Clares’ reference to her exhibition, now on show at the beautiful Yering Station, at  Yarra Glen.

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“I thought I needed to escape. a yearning to leave behind stories in the news of a changing climate, of war, and of nature being destroyed. My anxiety felt bigger than me. Run to the mountains, disappear into the desert, go and clean my mind in the ocean? I have a family I need to protect. I decided instead to sleep in my garden. Get to know another side of this place that calms me and is seemingly familiar.  Meet her micro world and her nocturnal world, her star world and her weather world from a little tent on the lawn.  So I disappeared into nature, in a tent, in my backyard for 31 nights.”

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Just a few snippets of what took my fancy!  Such a lovely space to be in.  A great weekend for a drive, the Valley in winter, with its foggy mornings and chilly air is gorgeous.  Wander past and see us at morris brown, under the elm tree in the main street of Healesville, just hanging about as we have done for the past seven years!  Put your name in the draw to win one of seven $25 Gift Vouchers… After all, you don’t turn seven every day!!

 

Change of seasons in the Yarra Valley…

Wednesday, June 4th, 2014

The last days of Autumn were beautiful here in the Yarra Valley.  Winter has arrived suddenly, and I took the chance to treasure the last roses, still bravely flowering.  To fragile to enjoy inside, instead saved for a lasting memory…

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This week…

Saturday, May 17th, 2014

It has been such a lovely week of weather in Melbourne, blue skies and sunshine…

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Bits from from the back streets of Healesville, and things that took my fancy this week at morris brown.  Have a lovely weekend!

Introducing Youki and her Sugar Bee Flowers…

Thursday, May 1st, 2014

First, we need to begin with a warning- if you are in a hurry, do not click on the links listed through the post below… you may loose several minutes, which seem to turn into hours in a blink of an eye, meaning mundane events, such as cleaning, cooking and vaguely acting like a responsible mother doesn’t happen, and chaos can occur!

In my next life, Id like to be a stone mason who does floristry – or a florist, who does stone masonary…either way, my hands would be pretty trashed !  A strange combination, one so permanent, hard and definite, and one so soft, delicate and fleeting.  But both immensely creative and detailed, both looking for that perfect piece to finish off the jigsaw…Both Jen and I love arranging flowers for the shop- Jens’ flowers are always amazing and sourced from her garden. This is the type of creativity that appeals to us, the much more naturalistic floristry that is gaining in popularity, championed by Henry Hudson Blog, Miss Pickering and others.  So imagine our delight to find another like minded soul hiding right under our noses…

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Coldstream is one of those places all to common  in Australia, where the main highway allows people to fly through, windows up in their own world, on their way to who knows where.  Sometimes its these places, that turn up nuggets of gold,  and Sugar Bee Flowers is one such find.  Located in the Gateway Shopping Precinct of Coldstream, Sugar Bee is in good company next to Cunliffe and Waters, the Yarra Valley Tea Company, etc.  ( and the fish and chips aren’t bad either!)  I was completely blown away when I drove in one day and saw her sweet shopfront ( appointment only) and her simple, yet rustic display- ladders, watering cans and Billy Buttons  get me every time! All things we love, here at morris brown.   So, I decided to find out more about who was behind the window…and lo and behold, I found Youki.  Below is a little of her story; we hope you enjoy reading it as much as we enjoyed asking stickybeak questions!

One of the more obvious questions is how does a Japanese Girl find herself immersed in life in the Yarra Valley?

Ha ha, that’s a funny question. Well, I came to Australia when I was 11, grew up in Sydney, then moved around the East Coast then settled down in the Yarra Valley 2 years ago. It is THE very best place I have ever lived – beautiful scenery everywhere you go, beautiful people, beautiful food… I really can’t compliment enough about the Yarra Valley. I just love it.

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Traditionally, the Japanese style of floristry flower arranging, is far more structured and formal, yet one of the reasons we admire your work so much is thatit is so free; are you self taught or did you work with someone to learn the skills you have today

Aww thank you! It really means a lot when people recognise me for free, loose floral designs. I studied floristry back in Sydney where I learned all the basics, did work experience in several florists, then the rest is I guess self taught! I love it when the flowers look like a piece of nature.

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Your arrangements see to focus on the seasonality of the flowers, using what is available at that time.  In today’s world, consumers are accustomed  to having what they want, when they want it.  Do you find it difficult to convince clients that this is a great way to go, or do most people accept this?

I am very lucky because most of my clients understand that flowers ARE seasonal and what’s not there, is not there. Also, there are cases that flowers we were planning to use are not available due to weather, etc. While brides get disappointed, they understand and are happy to go with the alternative. I think Melbournians have a really good understanding of nature, which I really appreciate (trust me, I lived in NSW and QLD and VIC is the best flower state).

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I know it’s like asking a mother what is her favourite child, but if you only had one flower to work with, what would you choose and why?

That is a tough question but I’d probably go with David Austin roses. They are pretty, they are fragrant, and their stems are often not straight which always makes it interesting to work with. They look nice on their own, and with others. It’s just the fine sharp thorns that’s the problem! I’ve had one stuck in my finger for 2 weeks now.

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You work and have a family: how do you juggle all that needs to happen in the day.

It is a constant juggle, and it’s a common struggle for many, many mothers out there. I’m lucky because I leave for the market at 3AM while hubby and kids are sleeping, and I work mostly on the weekends while hubby is at home with the kids. I do miss out on the family weekend fun but that’s fine – I’ve got the winter wedding off-season to enjoy that.

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Favourite Yarra Valley destinations and why?

That’s so hard!! There are so many beautiful places I would visit on my day off. I love visiting the cafes and beautiful wineries and I love enjoying a little walk at the dam and the Badger Weir… There is so many things to see and do!!

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Where do you go for inspiration- what magazines, blogs or other sources of inspiration do you turn too?

There are many different blogs that I follow including wedding blogs like http://www.polkadotbride.com,  ruffledblog.comhellomay.com.au; and my favourite florists’ blogs including my absolute favourite saipua.com, and few others like floragrubb.com/cutting,  www.floretflowers.com/blogtenthmeadow.blogspot.com.au, http://ariellaflowers.cometc.  We also can’t go past Pinterest for some beautiful pictures! I can’t look at beautiful flowers for too long though, because my heart will literally start hurting and I run out of breath (it sounds so stupid but it’s true) so I keep it to checking 2 or 3 per day.  ( Have to agree, I lost hours looking at them, when I was meant to be doing the links, oops!)

Recently, in the January edition of Belle magazine there was a feature highlighting several Australian florists: if you could work with any floral designer / florist who would you choose?

It was a great article. There are many admirable floral designers/florists in Australia with great skills and talent and I would love to work with any of them! I’m going to have to give you a really boring answer and I’d say there is always things to learn from others, and there is no particular one that I’d like to work with; I’d love to work with any of them!!

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When you look at a posy, like the one featured above, it looks so simple, yet perfect.  There in lies the talent.  Because it is never so simple, and while floristry has such a creative pull, the reality is it is loads of hard work, some not so glamorous…No doubt, sometime in the near future, if you attend a wedding at one of the fabulous venues scattered across the Yarra Valley, you may just be admiring the handiwork of Sugar Bee Flowers, one of the amazingly talented people that call the Valley home.  Thanks so much Youki for sharing your stories and your photographs of your beautiful work with us.  Youki has a lovely blog where she documents many of her weddings, and you can find it here, if you’d like to see a little more flower power!

Please note, all photographs displayed are property of Sugar Bee Flowers

 

 

New Clothes in store @ morris brown…

Sunday, April 27th, 2014

As we feel the chilly winter winds, in store we have some cosy clothes appearing…

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Lovely gentle colours…

 

Some a little brighter!

Some a little brighter!

 

Immensely wearable, instant classics..

Immensely wearable, instant classics..

 

Come and play dress-ups with us!!

 

Yarra Valley Sunday drives- Maroondah Dam Reservoir Park,

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

 

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This Sunday Drive sees us packing up the Esky, picnic rug and walking shoes…

The leaves are turning in the Yarra Valley, as autumn settles in.  A perfect destination sits just above the town of Healesville,  the beautiful Maroondah Dam . While the now defunct Board of Works may have had its critics over the years, one thing they did do, with wonderful foresight, was to set aside huge tracts of land across Melbourne, that we can all enjoy now. Places like Yarra Valley Parkland, Jells Park, Wattle Park, and then of course the much older series of reservoir parks, such as Yan Yean  and Silvan Dam, and many others that all play host to a multitude of people enjoying the great outdoor experience.

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Planning for Melbournes’ permanent water supply began early, with the  Maroondah Aqueduct  built in the 1880s to move water to the Preston Reservoir , via the Watts River. Maroondah Dam was third in the construction chain of water supply systems for Melbourne. Construction commenced in 1920 for the current  Maroondah Dam and continued until 1927. Some of the amazing statistics include a surface area 486 acres,  a depth of 125 feet, while the wall itself is  16 foot wide at the top and broadens to 104 feet at the base, to hold back such the huge volume of water behind it.  The Dam sits in a pristine forest, of mountain ash and tree ferns, which cover approximately 10,400 hectares. All the forested areas are closed to public to ensure the quality of the water supply.

Lucky for us, there was also an area designated for public use which sits below the 41 metre high concrete wall. Its mind blowing to think all this was built without the benefits of modern machinery, or computer programs! No wonder the fellows in the historical photos look proud !

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Once the dam was completed the gardens were designed and planted and have been slowly maturing as the trees and shrubs have grown. As a child, I can remember looking out the window of the car as you drove down a amazingtunnel of rhododendrons and azaleas in full bloom during spring. Sadly, the gardens lack that wow factor now, but the remnants of the gardens that were once there when labour was cheap, still exist; in the stonework, pavilions and mature European tree plantings that are scattered across the Park.

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Climb up the eighty four steps along the Rose Stair walk and you are rewarded  with an absolutely stunning view across the dam itself. Just near the top of the dam wall walk is an information area with historical photos and general info.

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Stroll across the wall and in the distance you will see the original pumping station jutting out into dam, and eventually you will find yourself crossing over the spillway, a more recent edition. In times of high rainfall (obviously not now!) the spillway is a spectacular sight with tonnes of water thundering over it.

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Every day, the view changes, influenced by the weather …but always so beautiful.

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From here there are a choice of other walks. For more information log on to www.parksvic.gov.au

Old fashioned wood bbqs and concrete tables, a child friendly playground and a multitude of friendly birds make Maroondah Dam a great place to visit on a Sunday drive! or, seeing that it’s the school holidays, it’s a great place to have a wander around and run off a bit of excess energy!

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If you would rather a picnic lunch, than a BBQ, the Main Street of Healesville offers a multitude of choices for all palates and budgets, including Beechworth Bakery, K&B Butcher, The Healesville Hotel, Innocent Bystander, and a great choice of cafes to grab a coffee or cake.  Of course, we are also located in the main street, right next to the Commonwealth Bank, so call in to morris brown and have a potter around!