Books + Magazines

Book Review: Life of a Bowerbird by Sibella Court

October 5, 2012

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?

Book Review: Life of a Bowerbird by Sibella Court

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.

Book Review: Life of a Bowerbird by Sibella Court

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.

Book Review: Life of a Bowerbird by Sibella Court

Book Review: Life of a Bowerbird by Sibella Court

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…

Book Review: Life of a Bowerbird by Sibella Court

Book Review: Life of a Bowerbird by Sibella Court

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.

Book Review: Life of a Bowerbird by Sibella Court

Book Review: Life of a Bowerbird by Sibella Court

Book Review: Life of a Bowerbird by Sibella Court

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)


  • Reply Caroline October 5, 2012 at 2:15 pm

    Sounds like the books I like to “read”: the pictures.

  • Reply Ella October 5, 2012 at 3:37 pm

    It is beautiful! Thank you so much for a peek into her world~ I enjoyed you sharing this new book, with us~

    I love the natural light and how it makes you feel at home. I think of books like these as springboards, for us to be delighted and see what gathers our attention. Being a military spouse, I know the bird like feeling of gathering and recreating a nest. I love that you remind us, the organic charm of following our hearts~ Sibella’s birds eye view, along with her brother’s eye cast an enchanting spell~

  • Reply Yelle October 5, 2012 at 5:35 pm

    I adore Sibella Court! Her books are always on my holiday wish list! It’s kind of a tradition that I will always receive one of her books for Xmas. I am so looking forward to this one, thanks for sharing a sneak peek! I’m also looking forward to her Stylists Guide to Paris, which she is researching now! I’m totally instagram stalking her every move.

  • Reply Juliette October 5, 2012 at 6:17 pm

    I like your phrase ‘poetic work of art’ b/c that really does capture her books. I do believe there’s such a thing as visual poetry and I think it’s really cool that she and her brother seem to be able to create that together!

  • Reply Tricia Rose October 5, 2012 at 6:39 pm

    Youtube has plenty on bower birds Holly – the male builds and decorates a bower, sometimes stealing from other males and favoring blue, they are fascinating.

    I think I need to get the book, Sibella Court has such a refined sensibility.

  • Reply Callie Grayson October 6, 2012 at 12:51 am

    I will need to add this book to my collection! The photos of the book are as lovely as the book itself!

  • Reply Joey Thomas October 6, 2012 at 5:53 am

    Wow it looks stunning. Lucky you!

  • Reply Kate @ Songs Kate Sang October 6, 2012 at 6:15 am

    OH, i am in love with the title. Stunning.

  • Reply Anna Kirsen October 7, 2012 at 5:10 pm

    It’s like when we reminisce about out childhoods, it’s always the natural and outdoorsy memories that are the strongest.
    The book reminds me of those little hoardes we used to gather as children that, at the time, we thought were the most wonderful thing in the world.

    ~ Anna@BohaGlass

  • Reply Juliane October 9, 2012 at 1:28 am

    Adoring the collections she creates and the lovely photography. I love all the small details, from the organic collections to her choices of wall art.

  • Reply dervla @ The Curator October 9, 2012 at 10:39 pm

    Huge fan of Sibella Court. Dying for this book….

  • Reply Molly October 10, 2012 at 2:23 am

    I love Sibella’s aesthetic. It is so eclectic and chic.

  • Reply kaari October 18, 2012 at 2:12 am

    If you happen to live in Los Angeles, or be visiting this weekend, stop by
    French General where Sibella will be visiting from 5-8 on Saturday, October 20th to sign copies of her new book, Bowerbird.

  • Reply Roseanna December 6, 2012 at 3:05 am

    Oh I so “get” her esthetic…I have been a fan for a while now. This new book is also a must have for me.

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