June 2, 2015
Jason Kontos reviews an old friend and mentor's new form of creative expression.
by Jason Kontos
An often forgotten design tool, the folding screen's look-at-me stance belies its functionality. Screens can quite nicely divide a room, give the illusion of high ceilings as they draw your eye up, and hide unsightly architectural details or those pesky suitcases and boxes of winter clothes that don't fit in the two tiny closets you were lucky enough to get.
I'm a big fan of incorporating screens as a design element. So imagine my surprise when in the midst of pondering the layout for a new issue, an email comes through from John Rosselli Antiques featuring a former colleague's Kyoto Screen. Margaret Kennedy, the former editor of House Beautiful, Victoria, and Elegant Bride, is a mentor, a great friend, and one of the most incredible visionaries I know. While I was initially surprised, Margaret has always been an artist at heart. She was always attracted to locations that had a painterly aspect to them. I remember her ironing sheets at a shoot in Venice and an hour later sitting at a fabulous dinner as a proper Italophile would. She was such an inspiration to me and has continued to be an incredibly influential presence in my life.
As for the Kyoto Screen...only an artist or editor would think to create a standing folding screen that can be disassembled to become a triptych painting. Remove the back and hinges from the panels and you have yourself a triptych. Loosely inspired by landscapes seen in Asian art, the colors of nature shine through with painterly applications of platinum leaf to offset them. Layers of pinks and sand radiate through when the light hits them. Margaret once told me: "Once you stop experimenting, you might as well throw yourself out a window." She's right, of course. Margaret is constantly moving with the times. She's gone from editor to artist, to decorative art, and now to creating screens. What's next? A feature wall mural should be on the horizon.