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Art From the Hearth - David Roche's Cottage Ornée Collection

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by Jenny Esots (subscribe)
A freelance writer and traveller who likes to explore the spiritual, literary and hidden gems of Adelaide and beyond.
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Adelaide has many people and places that need to be sought out. They don't seem to advertise their worth, or aim for high circulation or exposure.

To this end I came across the viewing gallery of the David Roche Foundation.

The gallery space is a little hidden behind a solid fence on the street frontage of Melbourne Street, North Adelaide.

It also has somewhat limited opening hours:
Friday to Monday: Closed
Tuesday to Thursday - 10am to 3pm

Entry by donation ($2)

Entrance to the Viewing Gallery
Entrance to the Viewing Gallery

The visitor enters through an open gate and must wait for the door to be opened to the gallery by the guide. The visitor then writes in the visitors' book and pays the small entrance fee.

Photography is not permitted, but a generous, well set out catalogue is available for only $10.

The guide is most helpful to answer any questions on this enchanting collection.

Entrance to the Viewing Gallery
Entrance to the Viewing Gallery

Art from the Hearth - Current Exhibition
The current Art from the Hearth exhibition is devoted to the decorative arts from the kitchen. As such this is an accessible introduction to the delights of decorative arts. These are often useful items on display.

The kitchen collectables are displayed in elaborate display cases. But the original old wooden dresser from David Roche's kitchen is included. This seems to meld the collection into a place of the warmth of an old farmhouse.

There are so many items that have been chosen for inclusion. But sourcing pictures of the original kitchen, one sees a lot of effort has gone into choosing items from a massive collection. Also that reflect the era of the 1800's.

The exhibition contains a surprising display of items removed from the shelves and walls of David Roche's much-loved kitchen.

This truly is a unique display of collectables.

From the table David Roche sat at for breakfast, to his favourite chair.

Plus a sample of his collection of nursery pottery, string boxes, novelties, toys, mechanical money boxes and kitchenalia and more.

I was quite taken with the intricate money boxes from the era of the 1800's. Including Jonah and the Whale, Punch and Judy and a milking cow to name a few.

It is said that Mr. Roche rarely let a day go by without adding another "essential" piece to his collection. It was his heartfelt wish to gift his collection to the people of Australia with a hope that visitors would leave having found a favourite piece to remember.
The Butcher shop diorama
The Butcher shop diorama /

My most intriguing piece that fascinated me was the diorama of a butcher shop. It was quite elaborate and intricate in design, which is saying something for me, as I am a vegetarian!

What is a Cottage Ornee?
The exhibition takes its inspiration from the kitchen ornee.

A cottage orneé was an acknowledged place of tranquility, one far removed from most people's usual daily cares.

It was also a place where you could go to and pretend that you were something you were not, and that your tastes were simple and rustic, when in fact they were very sophisticated indeed.

David Roche understood this when he formed one aspect of his amazing collection, displayed with great dash in his kitchen.
He fully embraced the idea of collecting unique and special objects for your very own 'cottage orneé' as revealed by this earthenware timber-framed house, oozing the charm and appeal of Tudor style 'black and white' cottages in England, for which there was a great demand c 1820.

Info on Cottage Ornee from Carolyn McDowall, The Culture Concept Circle, 2014

David Roche
David is credited with having the greatest collection of European 18th and early 19th century antiques in the Southern Hemisphere.

He was a devoted collector of antiques and fine art and was acknowledged both in Australia and abroad as a renowned collector.

He was able to spend his entire life acquiring a vast collection of decorative art.

The House
Next door to the current viewing gallery is David Roche's house.

This forms part of his extensive property holdings on Melbourne St, North Adelaide.

Mr Roche, who did not have any descendants, announced in 1999 that he was forming the David Roche Foundation as a not-for-profit organisation to maintain and develop his collection and open it to the public.

Following his death in March 2013, his entire estate was gifted to the foundation. This is an amazing bounty for South Australia and art lovers everywhere.

I was told by the guide at the viewing gallery that the house adjoining the viewing gallery would be open next year (2015).

Standby for news on this opening, which will surely be another great asset to the art world and viewing public.

Art from the Hearth – Current exhibition
29th April – 16th October 2014
Viewing Gallery 
237 Melbourne Street
North Adelaide, S.A. 5006
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When: On now until the 16th of October, 2014
237 Melbourne Street
North Adelaide, S.A. 5006
Cost: Entry $2
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