Wendy Whiteley talks with Verity Magdalino about her home and garden in Lavender Bay, NSW
Wendy Whiteley, artist, muse and rebellious gardener has not only transformed her home overlooking Sydney’s Lavender Bay into a light-filled bastion of creativity, but also the derelict railway site fronting her property, which is now the very model of an enriching public space. Verity Magdalino visits her remarkable garden and home in issue 13 of Habitus.
When she first discovered the Federation era building with her husband, artist Brett Whiteley, they had just returned from living in London. It was 1970 and they were visiting a painter friend who lived in what was then one of two dark and very dingy flats.
Wendy Whiteley still lives in an inventive, light-filled home lined with windows on two sides of a small but very public corner site making it as open as her honest and forthright personality.
But it’s the public garden she’s created on disused land below her house, which she now finds most fulfilling.
“I go over there for five minutes and five hours later come back. I try not to do that now, but that’s my obsessive nature.” Wendy’s transformation of a derelict railway site into a lush, semi tropical garden dotted with sculptures and an eclectic mix of planting from Bangalow palms, Moreton Bay figs and native grevilleas to lavender, rosemary, camellias and citrus trees is the very model of how public spaces should be: an aesthetically enriching experience.