Book Review: Life of a Bowerbird by Sibella Court
I was delighted when Sibella’s publisher, Harper Collins, sent me a beautiful advance copy of her new book, Life of a Bowerbird, which releases October 9th. If you do not know Sibella Court, she is an interior stylist, shop owner and author from Australia who has 3 beautiful books (this one being her 4th) that are all dedicated to her passions: styling, shopping and world travel. When Life of a Bowerbird arrived, I immediately made myself a cappuccino and sat by the window in my kitchen to flip through but a funny thing happened… As I was perusing I felt this overwhelming urge to grab my camera so I shot a few pages so you could share the experience of reading Life of a Bowerbird along with me. Ready to take a seat and follow along?
What is a Bowerbird, you ask? If you’re not familiar with them (I hadn’t a clue, but suspected it was something like a crow), a bowerbird is a bird native to Australia that builds its nest on the ground and collects everything it can to create a cozy home from shells to bones, stones to brightly colored objects, always found or stolen, always collecting and building.
Sibella is often referred to by her dearest pals as a bowerbird because she is a passionate, curious collector. She believes in building ones nest over a period of a lifetime, day by day, object by object, and as passions change, to rotate in (or out) collections, or perhaps to give them a new home and begin again with another series of collected treasures. I believe in this too.
Many of us collect things but aren’t always certain how to arrange, store and display our prized collections. In Life of a Bowerbird, Sibella shows us everything from scissor collections to feathers, eggs, antlers, taxidermy, porcelain and maps, for example, and how to do interesting things with them. As I looked through the book, I found with each assortment of things both a close up shot of it (for instance, ribbons) with at least one idea for how to display the collections creatively in the home as a larger shot nearby. For instance, you can find a macro shot of ribbons on page 152, and then Sibella advises on page 153, “Velvet embellished ribbon lengths are easily tacked over a doorway. What a lovely entrance to a room or a beautiful visual as you peer down a hallway, with ribbons catching in the breeze“, along with a larger photo showing more of a room view with ribbons in the doorway. While it’s not a DIY book, these simple ideas are ones you can do yourself simply by reading Sibella’s captions and applying her advice. For me, her words and images challenge my thinking and ways of doing things – so while I may not apply her idea to hang ribbons in my doorway, it did lead me to think that perhaps hanging them across a window as a sort of curtain would be amazingly lovely…
Of course, no Sibella book would be as amazing as they are without her talented brother, Chris Court, who is a photographer and shoots her beautiful arrangements of things. I love his aesthetic – his eye is brilliant and he sees so many lovely details and approaches objects from the best possible angle. I also like how he shoots using natural light because it makes everything feel so much more cozy and natural.
I must add that this book isn’t one that will appeal to the masses looking for a step by step guide to styling or collecting – you really have to have a creative soul or be open to her more abstract ideas — you have to “get” Sibella and her artistic take on things in order to fully appreciate this book which is really a poetic work of art. She is so creative and this comes very naturally for her, it’s her gift, but this book isn’t for those who want detailed instruction, long lists of ways to show each collection or perfectly perfect storage ideas. What Sibella does well is present creative, more artistic ideas that aren’t textbook, boring or overly planned – her ideas are very organic – they aren’t fussed about – and come from the truest place of all – her heart. For me, this is why I still buy books, for unique perspectives and beautiful imagery that isn’t being pinned to death all over the web. This is such a special book – well done, Sibella!
(images: holly becker for decor8)