A Woman to Know: Florence Broadhurst

If you don't do whatever you do with enthusiasm, don't do it. - Florence

Florence's wallpaper patterns celebrated the colorful, the geometric and the zoological (you can pour through more examples here). Polka dots. Peacocks. Trellising vines. Her favorite subjects changed all the time.

Florence first opened her hand-painted wallpaper shop in 1959 — at the age of 60. The institution was almost instantly celebrated as "the only studio of its kind in the world," and as she commissioned custom wall coverings for world-famous artists, eccentrics and even royalty, its reputation grew.

Florence printed her wallpapers on a vinyl finish and installed large drying racks throughout her factory, all to maximize production capability and ship her designs around the world. At the height of its success, Florence Broadhurst Wallpapers Ltd. was screening more than 800 patterns in silk, canvas and fabric. She was the belle of the Sydney art scene, renowned for her larger-than-life designs — and her equally luminous personality. She continued working well into her old age, once remarking to a friend, "How do I know I am living? I create, so I know I am living." Up until the day of her death, Florence oversaw production in her factory and churned our award-winning design after award-winning design in her studio.

And that's where she died in 1977, the victim of a grisly murder in her studio, one that remains unsolved. "There has always been a lot of interest in Florence, her life and the way she lived it," wrote biographer Helen O'Neill. "And then the way it tragically ended — it has always fascinated people." Add to your reading list:

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