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.