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THE FACES OF LEURA
Creativity may be a common thread that runs through Leura shop owners. Like a bushfire it may skip some but tie others together. Creativity is what they do; unusual is how they do their work and joy they bring to those they encounter.
We talked with three proprietors (not pictured) who bring their unique personality to Leura. Each brings an unusual love of life and a love for their business and for Leura. We'll introduce them over the next three months.
Today, meet Deborah Whitford, owner of Quidditas Arts Gallery on Railway Parade and the Quidditas General Store on 199 The Mall – near Megalong Street.
A Gardner at heart: The gardens surrounding the Gallery showcase Deborah’s love and skill. In an age of material things, a garden retrieves her and she reclaims the link to her English heritage.
Textiles & Design: Deborah's mum was a dressmaker who loved clothing and the seeds for Deborah’s career were planted by age 12. With the HSC behind her, Deborah bumped into the limitations for women in architecture. But the door was open in design – at least for some. Only 40 placements were available in design school and Deborah won a position. After graduation, a costuming job in a Sydney dance theatre brought about the next learning to this young designer. She had skills unthought of for many women – entrepreneurial and persistence. And like many, she was not sufficiently political for the primarily male design world. Striking out on her own, a design label – her very own – of textile design and fine silk printing opened a window on the world.
The World of Many Cultures: Trendy is for the masses and is usually short lived. Exquisite, unusual and atypical is recognized by only a few -- somewhat a misfit in the world of celebrity and social media. The design scene has its limitations and its imperfections. Trade fairs in Paris and London and more recently Ausgtralia offer quality items for good value from many designers and an introduction to many cultures – here she found her milieu and her scene.
Often cultures outside the most developed are ignored or appropriated by others – the best skills pilfered. Skills laid by the wayside, remote cultures disappear and are eventually forgotten. Yet. the linkages or interdependencies from one culture to another remain in Deborah's mind and the love remains in her heart.
A museum she created:
In past years the museum exhibits of beautiful laces – ‘A Holey Textile’ Works that require strength and skill and patience. ‘India Wow!’ a display of beautiful craftsmanship and the excellent understanding of colour and design.
Avoid the bandits (early-day pirates) ‘Textiles along the Silk Road” is currently on display. A fascinating story in the history of trade and what we now call international trade. Slow and arduous, the silk road is a series of routes. Think sixth or seventh century (BC). Not only difficult but also unsafe. The route to and from China and let to silk, then paper, then tea! From Afghanistan, the deep and gorgeous lapis lazuli. Exotic Istanbul, the gateway city between East and West. Routes were often the centre of conflict, of minor and major wars and transport changed from horses to dromenary camels to ships, to planes. It’s a fascinating story and the link below, Deborah has uploaded beautiful images of the exhibition pieces:
The Gallery Shop offers unusual items we can purchase. Not on the beaten path of Leura Mall, the shop offers some of the best and best priced items in Leura. Without moving into sales jargon, we recommend you find your way to Railway Parade if you want different, exotic and long lasting.
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We've looked at the forcasts and while not promising, we cross our fingers for the weather gods to hold off the rain! However, bundle up -- chilly weather is in play -- as you enjoy the annual Leura Village Fair.
In addition to The Mall vendors, you'll find some great shops open and doing a brisk business. Ainsley Fine Jewellery (175 The Mall) will delight you lovers of bling -- Fine Bling! Rings, diamond, gold, pearl and gorgeous amber will capture your attention. Open daily.
Nearby on 177-179 The Mall, Teddy Sinclair claims a high run on the ladder of great shops -- two shops under one umbrella. Teddy's 'man cave' is stocked with modish leather jackets and gorgeous wools or cashmeres for me. The women's side of Teddy offers exquisite apparell and luggage, but it is the jewellery that keeps loyal fans returning to this wonderful shop. Open daily.
For the kids and for grandparents: a stop at Leura Toy Store is a must! 167 The Mall, just steps up from Ainsley and Teddy Sinclair. You won't go home empty-handed. It's a petite shop, but toys line the shelves from floor to ceiling! Open daily at 10am.
For Nature's stunner and human's delight, The Rooster French Restaurant 48 Merriwa Street (Katoomba) ownes it all! The most open view of the escarpment is yours at The Rooster. Out front, tables and umbrellas arethe setting for a casual lunch for all you trekkers and backpackers. A la carte and fixxed-pricelunch menus are a favourite if you've tired feet or needing a bit of warmth from the Leura Fair. Here a 'served all day' bar menu is a hit. Formality is reserved for evenings. Open Friday - Tuesday and for school holidays, stop by daily through the week.
FINGERS CROSSED FOR A GREAT WEEKEND!