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Date: 13/07/2003
Words: 402
          Publication: Sun Herald
Section: Domain
Page: 74
FORMER art student Freya Stafford gained inspiration from a grand old Tasmanian house that turned out to be her best rental experience.

Stafford, 26, who now plays Harriet in Channel Ten cop show White Collar Blue, shared the 1850s sandstone house in Battery Point, Hobart, with her friend and fellow art student Matt.

``It was a really nice sort of artists' little hideaway," said Stafford, who was then 19 and studying at the Tasmanian School of Art.

Stafford, who grew up in the Apple Isle, said she was not only drawn to the house's age and cheap rent (about $60 a week), but also the address, Mona Street. For the budding artist, it was a constant reminder of Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa.

The house was also something of a classic. Stafford said it hadn't been renovated since the 1950s and had green and gold paisley wallpaper, red velvet curtains, an old deep bath and a fireplace in every room.

``It was very cosy," Stafford said. It was also spacious enough for an art studio, where Stafford worked on her landscapes and cloudscapes.

The actor recalls many evenings in front of the fireplace with her friends, drinking wine and talking art. She also has good memories of playing folk and blues tunes on her guitar.

Mona Street was also where she started her record collection. She went through a Leonard Cohen phase before becoming addicted to Bryan Ferry and Roxy Music for a while.

Most of the furniture in the house was picked up from the footpaths around Hobart. It was about this time that Stafford, who loves old things, started her collection of antique suitcases.

``They were originally what I was living out of and they were what I took to Sydney with me but now they are sort of ornamental," she said.

Stafford lived in the house for 18 months before packing her bags for Sydney to take up acting.

These days she lives in a quaint 1950s fibro in Drummoyne with fiance Nigel Joseph, but admits to missing the beauty of Hobart and the view of Mount Wellington that she had from her bedroom.

She also misses the beautiful flowers she used to pick from gardens, median strips and roadsides around the city.

``In Sydney you can't really do that because people get really shitty with you," she said.

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