by Anthony Aitken
When I was a boy, I’d listen to my father recount the history of our house – the salvaged remains of Brisbane’s history- and roll my eyes.
I couldn’t have cared less about our house. In fact, I preferred the straight lines and modern feel of my friends houses- what my father calls “machine made houses.”
I think it was because I would notice that people would either love or hate our house; they either appreciated the beauty or it was too rustic for them.
I started to pay attention to what my old man was saying around 32. I finally understood my Father wasn’t ‘weird’ but an artist and sculptor and Landscapes were his medium.
Dad thought of landscape design “as a three-dimensional piece of space that people walked through. This space changed with time as it grew and changed with the time of day: shadows vs. sun patterns, boulders, colour, plants, trees, earth-forms, solid structures and water. “
He would sit for hours in the bush and rainforest watching and understanding the interplay of these subtle elements. These mediations informed his practice and the organic form and content of his brushstrokes.
So, in 1979, on this 5-Acre block, he built a “handmade house”, created from elements that were being thrown away to make way for new concrete and steel buildings.
According to my mother Harriet, Ken was adamant that not one tree was to be cut down to make way for a house. The design had to work in with nature, rather than impose ones will over it. Thus, as he studied the landscapes he added to the house a series of “Garden Rooms” that blurred the lines between the interior/exterior. “Where does the house begin and end” Dad would often ask people, to much bemusement.
But more than anything, this place is Home- a place that nourishes the soul of everyone who gets to experience it.