Cooking extraordinaire Poh’s other great passion, art, is evident in every corner of the home she shares with her partner Jonathan. “Even when I was a poverty-stricken artist, I always had beautiful artwork because I’d do swapsies with my artist friends,” she says. Here, a wall is dedicated to some of her favourite pieces, with a ‘Great Britain’ sofa and armchair from Bay Leather Republic providing a warm, slouchy spot for art appreciation.
A splashback of vibrant Turkish tiles sets an upbeat tone in this chef-friendly kitchen. The mosaic border of tiny brick-like tiles was customised by Poh, who couldn’t resist adding her own touch. “They were tiny square mosaics and I wanted a brick pattern so I had to cut them all in half,” she says. “I nearly lost an eye or two doing it because they ping in weird directions when they shatter!” A Smeg oven and cooktop takes centrestage.
An artwork by Betty Pumani provides a colour-drenched talking point in the dining area, above a quirky bird-shaped timber bench that houses Poh’s extensive cookbook collection. To the right is a hand-carved stick, crafted especially for her by internationally acclaimed Italian chef Antonio Carluccio. “It’s really precious to me,” says Poh. “I’ve shot twice with Antonio in Adelaide and we fast became friends – his TV career also came about after coming second in a cooking competition. The last time we met, I painted a tiny portrait of him and he carved this stick for me.” The fabulous rug satisfies Poh’s penchant for pattern.
Poh’s light-filled studio is a hub of creativity and also a spot for concentrated calm. Clippings and cuttings embellish the wall while much-loved collections sit close by, providing inspiration for Poh as she gets to work turning tiny budgie feathers into gorgeous works of art. After a recent exhibition that featured her budgie Trevor’s colourful feathers, charitable budgie breeders started donating feathers from their own birds.
“The way I collect is very undisciplined,” says Poh. “I don’t curate, I hoard!” This antique-style cabinet plays host to a framed photograph of Poh’s grandfather and a doll from her childhood in Malaysia. ” I really go for it when I collect and decorate. Every nuance of my home is an opportunity to express myself”.