By Aaron Peasley
Illustration Allan Goddard

Australian entrepreneur, designer and wallpaper alchemist Florence Broadhurst led a life as vibrant as her designs. She was a woman of pure self-creation, leading a life where fact and fiction were often tangled. She was, as they say, a piece of work.

By contrast to her rather regal persona, the designer grew up on a cattle ranch in remote Bundaberg in Queensland, Australia. Broadhurst was first and foremost a shapeshifter, engineering many reinventions throughout her life: she left the ranch as soon as she could and traveled to Europe where she worked as a performer, seamstress and waitress.

It wasn’t until she was 60 that Florence Broadhurst founded her eponymous Wallpaper studio, with vibrant Roscharch-like prints that quickly achieved popularity in the market. This was the seventies – an era where more was more – and Broadhurst’s graphic, often flocked, wallpapers, were an essential for any truly groovy city home.

In a short amount of time, Broadhurst had created more than 500 unique designs, including tapestries, geometrics, florals and chinoiserie. Given her peripatetic existence before beginning her studio, the papers tend to be vibrant and international in feel. Among the most iconic, is a paper of graphic Japanese fans, gently unfurling oriental florals and – in one nod to her home – a hand painted design depicting a cockatoo silhouetted amongst tropical foliage.

  “I create so I know I’m living

In the late seventies, just as her studio was thriving, Broadhurst was killed mysteriously in her Sydney studio. The case remains unsolved, a sad ending to a rich and colorful life.
Today, Florence is more relevant than ever. Once the late nineties minimalism faded, her designs were unearthed and embraced once again. Wallpaper, derided for decades, was cool again and so was Florence. In the years since, Broadhurst’s designs have gone international, with licensing, furniture and fashion collaborations. Broadhurst’s indomitable spirit lives on 

Signatures Prints
The home of Florence Broadhurst Wallpaper/Textiles. E-commerce website+ Distributor info  www.signatureprints.com.au

A Must Read!
Florence Broadhurst: Her Secret & Extraordinary Lives
By Helen O’Neill
(Available on Amazon)

Film: Docu/Drama
Unfolding Florence: The Many Lives of Florence Broadhurst
Dir. Gillian Armstrong