Unfolding Florence

It’s been 35 years since Australian wallpaper designer Florence Broadhurst was murdered in Sydney, possibly a victim of a serial killer who preyed on elderly women and was, with grim inevitability, dubbed the “Granny Killer” in the Australian press.

Broadhurst’s life was at least as colourful as her designs. Born in the glamour-free surrounds of outback Queensland she became a performer and opened a school of music and dance in Shanghai in 1926, later moving to London where she reinvented herself as a Mayfair fashion designer under the name Madame Pellier. Returning to Australia after the war Broadhurst took up painting, but was well into middle age when she became a wallpaper entrepreneur. Her exotic, flamboyant interior adornments have been undergoing a revival in recent years, marked by Gillian Armstrong’s 2006 documentary Unfolding Florence which re-enacts key scenes in the eccentric designer’s life:


One comment

  1. sunbad

    It was a handsome looking documentary but to my taste a little too arch – given the colour of Florence’s life it hardly needed more. But it was great to include direct quotes, footage and interviews with staff and her son. The Sydney journalist Helen O’Neill wrote a great biography of Florence a few years ago, just before the film came out – I think she’s interviewed in it. Another great film using similar animation techniques is Alec Morgan’s wonderful Hunt Angels, starring Ben Mendelsohn as Rupert Kathner, Australia’s Ed Wood.

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