Palazzo Margherita inspires Georgia Macmillan
A family stay at Palazzo Margherita, the grand 19th-century palace, inspired the new linen homewares collection by artist Georgia Macmillan. Located in the town of Bernalda (also the name of Georgia’s current collection) in Italy’s Basilicata region, it is owned and operated by Francis Ford Coppola and his family. Luxurious yet approachable, the authentic space has been restored by Francis in collaboration with French interior designer Jacques Grange and production designer Dean Tavoularis.’Everywhere you look at Palazzo Margherita are Italian still life compositions — I loved the iron tables and chairs in the courtyard outside the stone kitchen with local ceramic bowls of walnuts and fresh fruit, small cups of strong espresso and an assortment of freshly baked biscotti’ recalls Georgia. ‘The beautiful overgrown garden of enormous cacti, bougainvillaea and palm trees around the old fountain added to the tranquillity. It was raining when we stayed – which proved an excellent excuse to curl up indoors and watch the entire Godfather series in Mr Coppola’s ballroom-size viewing room. The overcast weather added to the allure – so I have worked with a watercolour palette of deep inky ocean blues and steely greys to represent the clouds rolling in over the village. A touch of peach and burnt orange was added to reflect the Palazzo courtyard colours.’
Originally from Australia, Georgia and her young family are currently based in Dubai. A trained journalist, Georgia returned to her love of art four years ago by painting acrylic works on canvas and various watercolour paintings. In 2015 Georgia explored the concept of digitally printing her original watercolour art onto 100% linen fabric and launched her debut range – The Indigo Series and Grey Days. Georgia was initially inspired by block and screen printed fabrics on the market and began to wonder if she could translate her watercolour art to fabric. ‘I looked to Shilo Engelbrecht, who was paving the way with her magnificent large-scale digitally printed linen fabrics. It was about a year in the making before I launched my first linen range’. Georgia contacted many and varied suppliers around the world, and after reviewing some mixed results from the first rounds of printed samples, she narrowed these down. The next step was choosing linen and determining how the fabric reacted to the digital print. ‘I couldn’t be happier with the final product – French linen digitally printed in China. It still amazes me that these incredible fabrics are the result of a little watercolour painting in my Dubai studio! Having said that, I painted about 300 patterns last year and 200 this year to perfect the collections. Often the print I love on paper doesn’t translate well in a repeat pattern or the colour is slightly off, so it’s back to the drawing board. For example, the paint Prussian Blue is stunning on paper but throws green when printed on fabric, so to achieve a true blue I need to mix Payne’s Grey, Indigo and Cobalt Blue, sometimes with Chinese White. It takes a lot of trial and error. My mother has taught me a great deal about the technicalities of paint and colour. It can be overwhelming making creative decisions and running a business on your own. She’s incredibly talented and knowledgeable and an invaluable ‘second opinion’!’.
Talking about her inspiration, Georgia says, ‘Travel plays an enormous role. The proximity to Paris and Rome et al (hello 6-hour flight!) is such a luxury for we Australians. I always return to the studio with new ideas and a thousand photos of patterns, shapes and colours that appeal to me. Tiles and frescoes, stonework, the patina of crumbling historic buildings – inspiration is everywhere. The hard part is translating this beauty on to paper and making it my own.’
Georgia’s insider tips on visiting Dubai:
‘For dining, La Petite Maison in the DIFC (Dubai International Financial Centre) can’t be rivalled – a classic French brasserie with cool, cosmopolitan twist. Also fun and glamorous with the best people watching. And I love Zuma for Japanese. In the cooler months, sunset in the desert is a must. We love packing a picnic and driving out for drinks. It’s hard to beat – escaping the city, sitting around the bonfire, enjoying silence, the stars and immense space.
Another must is a visit to one of the many beaches: the endless white sand, glistening aqua Arabian Gulf, perfect water temperature and excellent boardwalk make the beach a must.
Also, visit XVA Gallery at Bastakiya. The eclectic gallery is a hidden oasis and comprises a boutique hotel and café serving Middle Eastern food. We love to take visitors for lunch. It’s also a chance to wander to the Dubai Creek and take in the old historic part of town. Stay at one of the beautiful big hotels and lap up the luxurious experience. Four Seasons and The One & Only The Palm are favourites. Perfect for a weekend getaway or special lunch or dinner. I also love Vida Hotel (with its beautiful Boulangerie – best croissants in Dubai) for a boutique hotel experience in Downtown Dubai.’
Georgia Macmillan Paints
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For more detail on the Palazzo Margherita, visit our previous post here.
Palazzo Margherita photography by Julie Adams Photographer / An Affair with Italy @julieadamsphotographer
Georgia Macmillan photography by Abbi Kemp with Styling by Tory Waller