‘This is going to sound funny, but the stuff in this room really has nothing to do with why it’s my favourite space,’ says Robert Sherwood matter-of-factly. The space in question is his living room, appointed in the considered casualness that comes not so much from having a remarkable collection of art (which, rest assured, he has) but an extraordinary eye for sociopolitical intertextuality and downright good taste. ‘It’s all about the view,’ he explains. Standing in front of the wide window of his Bantry Bay living room, there is no denying this unequivocal truth.
The expansive view dominates everything on the periphery, blinding you to all else. The Atlantic relentlessly batters the rocky shore below, stretching all the way to where it meets the sky, a view interrupted only by flamingo-pink clouds. It has a kind of painterly drama that’d really please an Aivazovsky collector. But the living room, with its gracious sixties wood panelling (installed by the previous owner, an architect, to cleverly hide the bar and cabinetry) and generous proportions, isn’t to be outdone. ‘Nothing here is contrived, everything in the space has a story, collected over the years, and it just works,’ Robert says. In a way that encapsulates his style – it’s not about design axioms but about surrounding yourself with objects you love. The result is unfussed and eclectic, one of Robert’s worst descriptors. (Fair enough, it is the definition-evasive adjective of the decor dilettante.) ‘I believe in throwing things together. The art changes all the time. There’s nothing prissy about it.’
‘Everything in the space has a story, collected over the years, and it just works’ – Robert Sherwood, homeowner
He’s right, of course, but also modest. The artists on his walls wouldn’t be out of place in a contemporary art gallery. A captivating Nandipha Mntambo takes centre stage above the fireplace and Otto du Plessis’s ‘Dolly’ is there, too, as well as Kudzanai Chiurai’s provocative ‘Popular Mechanics’. The furniture further adds a sense of vibrancy. ‘The metal table is one we’ve had forever and the chairs were bought years ago from the American consulate – I kept them just the way they were.’ Closer to the window is a chaise that looks out onto the ocean.
‘I’ve always wanted to live here,’ Robert says. ‘As a kid cycling to school, I passed this house every day – a beautiful, modernist house with interesting architecture and large proportions – every day and I always thought that the view must be spectacular. It’s funny how the wheels of life turn.’ The self-same house, whether by serendipity or fate, is now his home.