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Home Stories: Dave Caffery

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This week* in Home Stories, Ashley and Cass visit the Braddon home of Dave Caffery, champion of Canberra’s creative scene.

Dave Caffery is a legend. And what I mean by that is that he truly owns and lives everything he does.

If you judge Dave by his appearance, you’ll find many clues to what he is all about—but if you have the time to delve into a conversation, you’ll discover the many layers of his character.

Photographer Cass and I had never visited Dave’s apartment in Braddon, though I’ve heard many rumours about it.

I once that heard it’s the home of insane festival-like three-day parties crammed into a three-bedroom loft. On another occasion, I’d heard it was used as a gallery venue. It was time to see if the myths about the legend were in the least bit true.

When Cass and I reached the top of the staircase, I pressed the buzzer to Dave’s apartment and got sprayed by a stream of water. This classic clown-like joke got a few laughs out of us and then Dave opened the door seconds later, with his usual genuine smile.

“You pressed the buzzer huh? It’s okay, come here for a hug.” We entered into a moody space filled with art, 70s furniture and plenty of character.

“So, I’ve been living here for 12 years and recently, my partner Alison Plevey and I refurbished the place to hide evidence of some wild parties we’ve held here. It was also time to remove all the boy toys, which I dearly miss, but we all have to grow up sometime, right Ash?”

He is right—we do all have to grow up sometime, though I’m doing my best to prevent it (mostly with childish humour that embarrasses my fiancée in public situations). But just like that, I discovered that there some truth to the rumours! Perhaps when I eventually do grow up, I could be a historian detective?

You can see from the photos that Dave’s home, which he also shares with flatmate Sam, are representative of Dave’s work, interests and taste.

It’s like an arty den—if ‘den’ didn’t’ have a somewhat negative connotation. It’s a fascinating space that celebrates modern artists, the 70s, philosophical approaches to everyday life and music.

Dave explains that the 70s was “the best design, music and art decade” and even though Dave really pulls off the long hair and pointy-collared paisley shirt like a god, I’m not sure if I agree that fashion was a strong point. Maybe I’m just angry that I can’t pull off flares (you see, with my short height, I end up looking like a primary school clay project).

All the art you see in the apartment Dave either purchased from local artists after shows he curated or picked up after the events he has put together through his agency, Dionysus (Art, Not Apart included).

Speaking of art, one of the most striking elements of Dave’s place are the painted doors throughout—each painted by a different artist including including Yanni Pournatzis, Absyss606, Walrus and Tom Balogh.

“The doors already have a frame around them, so they are such a good canvas for interesting work,” says Dave. “The one in the bedroom glows at night and looks like a glowing universe, so we get to enjoy it with or without light.”

Dave’s art immersion didn’t stop there.

When it was time to repaint the walls, he asked the artist Simon Sawell to do it, who then added small details that make a world of difference.

For example, the skylights are painted a sky blue on the inside to always trick you into seeing blue skies, while the bedroom wall behind the bed is painted with ever-so-slight gradients to give an illusion of a projected light reflection.

In fact, light and shadows play a major part in the apartment, prompting us to plunge into a conversation about the meaning of contrast.

Dave pointed out the distinction between light and dark is what makes our lives interesting. It’s not always having a clear answer but being open to many perspectives and ambiguities.

Art in many ways challenges and offers an insight into new ways of seeing things, but so do people and ideas.

“I always thought of Canberra as having this contrast and it is being defined more and more by its culture, rather than its politics. I live and breathe that through my work, but I can see that Canberra pride running deeper and becoming evident in many things that Canberrans are doing.”

Considering Dave’s love for our city, perhaps I should change Dave’s title from legend to local champion? Yep, that has a nice ring to it. Can you dig it?










Read all of Ashley’s Home Stories series here

Home Stories is brought to you in partnership with Canberra Outlet

Photography: Cass Atkinson

*As this edition of Home Stories was written a few weeks ago, we assure our readers that no COVID-19 precautions were dismissed in the making of this editorial.

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