She Spies Retro Futurism By The Seashore- My Favourite House in Portstewart

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Houses like these make my heart soar. Just look at that staircase in the long, completely glazed hall. Look at that totally impractical reverse pitched roof. I always have to slow down to ogle this home when I'm driving past to get to the Portstewart Strand.

I did a little poking about online and found some info on Alan In Belfast's blog. In a post dated 2006, he shares a little history of the building, which he is next door to. The two photos below are his, and show the house in disrepair a decade ago. However the building is listed, and rather than be demolished for apartments, like so many old plots along the coast, today sees it as in the photo above. It's inhabited and all fixed up.

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Alan's investigation found that the reason for its listed status was not the architecture alone, but the large outdoor mosaic adorning the front of the building. It's a piece by the Irish artist Colin Middleton, one of the few surrealists of the early part of the last century hailing from our island. He was heavily influenced by Van Gogh, and spent the latter part of his life living in Bangor, where I'm from.

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The story of how this particular piece of his came to be is an interesting one. The story goes that Middleton had been staying in a house in Portstewart, but didn't have enough money to pay for his board, so he designed this mosaic to pay his way.

The architect of my dream house, Noel Campbell, also commissioned Middleton to create a mosaic for a home he designed in Ballymena, Scandia, seen below. 

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Another of Noel Campbell's houses is just round the corner from Portstewart Strand, Little Rock, on Larkhill Road, below.

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But my heart belongs to the Strand Road beauty! 

Mon Oncle- Retro Futuristic House of Dreams

You've no idea how long I've looked for Mon Oncle. My memories of it as a child are fuzzy. It was on after another cartoon or film my Dad had taped for us, and very often the VHS would just play on long after our part had finished, and this film came on.

Mon Oncle is a French film, but as Wikipedia and my memory tells me, there is very little dialogue. Most of the spoken word is used more as sound effect rather than plot device. This meant it was even harder for me to pin point this film as an adult.

All I could recall was this not silent, but not plotted garden party. It seemed to stretch out for hours when I watched it as a kid, the setting up of the doomed garden party & slapstick comedy which I didn't really get. It was the sort of film that would return to you in delirious, sweaty nightmares.

As a teen and adult I've often wondered about what the film actually was. It seemed pretty hopeless googling garden party film etc, as nothing familiar came back. It was a missing piece of my childhood that I couldn't pin down.

This morning I was reading this article on Buzzfeed about The Powerpuff Girls, and an image shows their home was based on the house in a film called Mon Oncle. Something just clicked. Not the name, but the aesthetic. I googled the film and found it described as I remember, very little dialogue, a garden party. I can't believe I've actually found out what it is after this long. And look at the styling of the house, retro futuristic Eames era, and everything I've ended up decorating my home with. An early implant of kitsch, how bizarre.

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