My Friend the 7ft Obelisk


Now not many people can say they have a seven foot obelisk in their garage! But I can and the reason it is there is that it’s resting in between homes. Many years ago in the 1990’s I was invited to exhibit at an interior decorator’s fair at Earls Court, I was offered a one metre square space on someone else’s stand. Now what can one exhibit on one metre square? I decided on a seven foot obelisk because it would serve not only as an area to demonstrate my marbling skills and finishing but also  function as a display module for leaflets and photos of some of my other work. The base which is hollow of course, has a panel that comes out allowing me to use the interior as a storage space for putting my coat and bag out of harms way.  I designed it and drew up the proportions on a plan myself and took it to some colleagues who make and restore furniture. They made up the module out of mostly MDF ready for me to paint. I am quite proud of my obelisk and it is certainly impressive in the flesh.

Originally I decorated it in green, my colour of the time, with lettering up the sides of the top part. A few years later a customer of mine wanted to use it as a display in his antique shop and asked me to paint it with a black surround with Sienna marble panels and detail. It did look a great improvement , I wished I’d thought of that colour combination for the exhibition.Even later it was displayed in the foyer to a restaurant.

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I had a period in my furniture decorating career where I designed and had made, lamp bases, which I then painted according to customer’s requirements. One of these designs was an obelisk based on a classic design used in interior decoration. Obelisks are very architectural, originating in Egypt as far back as 2484 BC according to the Archaeology site. In Napoleon’s time there was a great revival of all styles Egyptian  although these styles have been used in architecture since the Renaissance. Obelisks were reproduced  as small decorative objects for interiors of houses to adorn  mantlepieces and shelves often out of marble.Following this practise, I had some reproductions made from wood and decorated them in various marbles and simulated woods, from malachite to porphyry to satinwood. I was even inspired to decorate a pair in the style of Fornasetti. Piero Fornasetti was an Italian painter, sculptor and interior designer  who died in 1988. He designed pieces of furniture and objects, decorated in black and white mostly. The majority featuring one particular face of a woman who inspired him. Other works featured the sun and time. But the furniture that I found fascinating were the pieces that featured decoration that was  sort of trompe l’oeil in execution. Cupboards were created and decorated to look like miniature buildings with openings that looked like windows and doors. I read that he was inspired by Greek and Roman architecture.  I decorated my obelisk with black ink on a cream background, with a selection of Palladian style  windows making them look a bit like towers with a door on the bottom floor. I was really pleased with the result and had great fun doing it. Sadly I didn’t take a photo and I wished I had kept them for myself but gave them to my sister ,who is an architect and so too is her husband, also a fan of Palladio.

As I am sorting through all my belongings at the moment with the thought of moving I am trying to find a home for my 7 foot obelisk. I am very fond of it and if I had the space would happily keep it in the house but alas my house is very small. So far I haven’t had any takers on ebay but I will keep trying.