— observations from the Blue Mountains Design Bureau —

The Boho Phenomenon

This year the Blue Mountains Music festival is celebrating its 20th year, having grown from a fledgling Blues and Roots event, into something so grand it is attracting the likes of Macy Gray and Jon Butler to the stage.

An integral part of the success of the festival flourishing and growing to the size it is today has been the active and creative parent community of Katoomba’s Primary school. Volunteers spend hours preparing the nine stages, pouring beers and tidying up late into the night, to make the festival seamlessly come together.

Set in the midst of the happy and precious sounds that make up our annual music festival is the “Boho Bar”. With its eclectic retro style, the Boho Bar is a peaceful place to sit, collect some thoughts and enjoy a few, while reflecting on that last great musical find.

This evocative little spot evolves each year under creative direction of stylist, furniture restorer and origami virtuoso, Amanda Nelson. Amanda and her school community take great pleasure in scouring the local waste collections, to reupholster, repaint, restyle and reinvent new furniture in time for each upcoming music festival.

And it is whilst enjoying this funky decor that each new year musical collaborations have begun, romances have been born and merriment flourishes.

We spoke with Amanda Nelson about the Boho Bar and her passion for turning trash into classy furniture for Katoomba’s most loved temporary bar.

CS: What initially drew you to the Blue Mountains?

AN:I moved to the mountains over 10 years ago and love it for the wonderful community, spectacular national parks at our doorstep and the fact that all my family live here now is a bonus.

CS:How did the Boho Phenomenon begin?

AN:The Boho Bar all started with a throwaway suggestion from Toni Clark…’It would be great to have proper furniture rather than plastic”. It was until then, white plastic tables and chairs on…usually very muddy grass in a small tent.

AN:That first year I found a fantastic, ornate heavy glass table and a lovely three piece vintage lounge suite from the tip and nabbed some old sofas from the YHA. The feedback was great, people loved the eclectic furniture and bright colors. From there it grew and I had a particularly good year finding things during council clean up week. Neroli is a great scout who calls me with finds, and Don is a very helpful mover of big items.

AN:I now have a ‘team’ of maybe five people to call on each year with set up and pull down which makes life a lot easier!

AN:My favourite piece of the moment is probably the string art. Very underrated in my opinion!!

AN:I make all the ‘covered’ coffee tables at home, the majority of the furniture is stored at the school where my handy men, Tony and Don, and I do the repairs each year.

AN:I’m really into paper art, in particular with my vintage atlas, maps and music note collection, so I suppose that drives my creative direction.

AN:I escape work by really enjoying being at home in our wonderful garden….a little bit of paradise. My perfect mountains weekend would be either, coffee and breakfast at the Red Door, some local markets thrown in and pottering at home or going hiking for a couple of days followed by a hot bath with a glass of red! Next I would like to start making things for myself, rather than for the boho bar!

WORDS: Freedom Wilson  PHOTOS: Ann Niddrie



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