December 31st, 2015
Flanking the chimney in Malplaquet House – the home of Tim Knox and Todd Longstaffe Gowan – are shell candle sconces in the Baroque taste made by Belinda Eade almost 20 years ago.
As a pupil at Marlborough School Belinda had helped to restore the tumble down grotto in its grounds. In the 80s she studied jewellery at the Central School of Art and Design, and joined up with Diana Reynell and Simon Verity to restore the very elaborate shell grotto at Hampton Court House (built by the second Earl of Halifax for the Drury Lane actress who was his mistress and designed by the Georgian architect Thomas Wright), and then to build a new one at Leeds Castle. ‘Grottoes are huge jewels,’ she said then. She has been designing and building shell encrusted rooms and grottoes ever since.
Belinda is also a stone carver and sculptor, designer of gravestones and cutter of monumental letters.
When we first met she was making stark, experimental metal candlesticks from old tractor parts and others cast with a small bronze bird, but to my continual regret I never bought one then.
Belinda carving in a grotto that she designed and built in Spain. Her earliest grottoes were encrusted with limpets, clams, oysters, mussels, and cockles and glittering black anthracite, gathered from the embankments of disused railway lines.
This is a gloriously Brutalist fireplace of slab and shuttered concrete that she built in a former studio about five years ago, modeled on those invented by the sculptor Lynn Chadwick for his manor house Lypiatt Park.
Belinda has lived with her husband and two children in an old stone hilltop house in Somerset for about 10 years now, set amongst fields and the gardens that they have created.
Still life of kitchen sink with array of hanging pot and bottle scourers
Hearth in the long room, once the principle room in the Elizabethan house, now mainly for dogs and ping pong.
Ruby the rescue greyhound drowsing.
Paneled Drawing Room.
Biscuit coloured linen curtains.
Guest bedroom, the most comfortable bed
And hanging next to it her glorious shell pier glass with blue mussel shells and a limpit shell embellished table lamp
Belinda in shell tiara, styled for a Vogue photo shoot in the 90s by the late Isabella Blow, from a tattered magazine cutting.
William Morris Willow pattern in the second guest bedroom.
Telescopic feather duster in the spine corridor.
This is the ‘sister’ urn of another that was one of four garden pieces carved with Virgilian texts, made by Belinda for Christopher Bradley-Hole’s ‘ Best in Show’ Gold Medal winning Chelsea Garden in 1997. The Latin inscription reads Inter peritura vivimus (We live among things which will perish).
The topiary yew hedge sunk garden that Belinda and Patrick designed and laid out below the house. They are both very good gardeners.
The walled kitchen garden designed and built about eight years ago. Totem pole by artist and garden designer Tom Wood of Kalnoky Wood Garden Design. Tom’s other website is here.
Galvanised zinc and corrugated iron corner of the kitchen garden.
Memorial stone carved by Belinda to her family pet killed by a fox, the rabbit ‘Curious Brown,’ d.2002.
The designs for a shell temple on Belinda’s desk.
Belinda in the grotto that she built over a year of Sundays, in the back garden of her west London house in c.1990, from The Sunday Telegraph, April 28, 1991. The materials – fossilised limestone and thousands of shells supported on a wood and metal armature – had taken years to collect, and later the grotto-work was extended into the laundry room at the back of the house. In those days she collected all the shells herself, gleaning along the Devon coast for oysters and the east coast of Scotland for mussels and picking up grey and white flints in the fields of Hertfordshire. We all contributed too, giving her exotic Nautilus and spiky Murex lifted down from dusty bathroom shelves and bags of native specimens that we had picked up while beachcombing. The deep blue of mussels shells and the nacreous insides made some of the most beautiful shell work of all as well as good eating. The fly-speckled moon shells which made up the central arches of this grotto were served up to Belinda for lunch on a bicycle holiday in Normandy, and carried back, reeking of garlic.
The slate stone given to me by Belinda in memoriam for my Battersea dogs home cocker spaniel, buried at the foot of this wall in my back garden.
Above and below, two more of the Virgilian inscriptions carved for Christopher Bradley Hole’s 1997 Chelsea garden.
To contact Belinda about a potential commission please send a message via the bobt – all messages will be promptly passed on.
Thanks to Belinda and Patrick.
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