For nine years David Graham has loved living in his modest apartment overlooking Newcastle. His wife, Genevieve, moved in five years ago, and they were married in 2015. The pair continue to enjoy their sweeping views over Newcastle and the quirky comforts of their home on Church Street.
David jokes he enjoys looking down and surveying his estate.
“I really just wanted to live in town as a uni student.” David says on his decision to rent the place. “Compared to the dingy lightless apartments, this one was totally amazing. Strangely, everyone else looking at it was disinterested.”
After a few debaucherous years at uni, the couple are now working hard and are having an impact individually on the creative scene in Newcastle.
David works for Hunter Writers Centre as a youth projects officer. He also works for Maitland City Council and entertains the idea of being the poetry laird of Newcastle, as he regularly hosts a spoken word poetry night in town, Word Hurl Anti-Slam. Genevieve is a uni student and artist and works for both Newcastle Art Gallery and Maitland Regional Art Gallery.
Their block of apartments was built in the 60s or 70s, and their two-bedroom, one-bathroom space is unique, not just in its architecture. David and Genevieve’s eclectic styles and stories have morphed their home into a fascinating space.
The low archway doors and columned entryway is noticeable once you’ve made it up three flights of stairs to their unit.
“The brick entryway doesn’t serve much of a purpose beside a little bit of privacy so you can’t see the entire room straight away,” Genevieve says. “I just think it’s kind of odd.”
“I still think that it was kind of a shrine. I call it the antechamber. I love it. I like the tiles on the floors,” David says.
Genevieve describes their home as a collection of special items, a treasure trove. She has a few priceless items from her nana and pop, including the amazing clock in the lounge room, her Singer sewing machine and the roll-top desk.
“I think having the contrast is really cool too when you’re living in a smaller space and you don’t have the space to spread things out,” she says. “All these stories start piling up on top of each other. It’s just a fun mishmash idea which works well. Next to the WW1 dagger are my plastic Barbie plates from when I was two.”
She added she was still eating off them at uni, but she’s since decided to let them rise to seniority in her glass cabinet. She and David are a big fan of handmade things too.
In the past, David regularly wrote about a mythical and mystical psychedelic warrior, Batman Jaundice Horse. At one stage David was even making him in doll form. He used to sell them for $5 each; he’d make them out of an old white holey t-shirt and stuff them with cigarette filters. They still keep one on their bookshelf.
Also on the bookshelf are all of Tolkien’s books, as David is a big fan of the author. It includes a book Genevieve gave him on the history of Middle Earth. As David writes and loves poetry, his collection includes a section of Australian beatnik poetry. (That’s what he did his thesis on at the University of Newcastle.)
“We have lots of Scottish cookery books in our kitchen, which is mostly just how to cook root vegetables,” Genevieve says.
David is very proud of his Scottish ancestry, and it’s reflected in the the kilts he wears regularly and the tartans in the house. He and Genevieve even had a Scottish themed wedding complete with bagpipes.
“When the Grahams come to stay, every crevice is filled with Grahams,” Genevieve says. “They rearrange my furniture, which is ... great. I love having them.”
Though their space isn’t huge, the two love hosting people as much as possible. Their fridge is always filled with an array of cheeses in case there is an opportunity for entertaining.
It’s clearly a home with lots of memories, both physical and emotional. Adorning the space are works created by Genevieve, friends, and other artists whom the Grahams admire. David has instruments he regularly plays and they have a bowl of fish, Bock, Tick and Tock.
“Every corner has something that we relate to. It’s functional, but we have a lot of memories too,” Genevieve says.