Fine Art as Furniture is an exciting genre, combining the sophisticated gesso technique of densely layered paint with classic handmade elegant carpentry to produce unique, rare and highly collectible pieces.
Indonesia’s diverse and exotic wildlife, in many cases endangered, comes alive in an exquisite new collection of handpainted fine furniture pieces. They are designed by Mary Justice Thomasson – founder and owner of Mary Justice Designs.
Mary Justice has been a passionate collector of decorative arts from a very young age. A new joy in the discovery of the natural world has led her to create decorative arts that bring awareness to our endangered world. After researching indigenous flora, fauna and deep-sea marine life in one of the most biodiverse parts of the world, Mary Justice Designs preserves the natural world in heirloom pieces that can be passed down for generations.
The collection has been years in the making to ensure that each piece is a sustainable, collectible work-of-art designed to immortalize the extraordinary natural beauty of a country Mary Justice has come to love.
Mary Justice is an adventurer and her joy in the discoveries made in the Indonesian archipelago both East and West of the Wallace Line, including the deep oceans of the Indian and Pacific are captured in her designs. The debut collections include the Panthera, Flights of Fancy, Certainly Simian, Flora and Deep Ocean.
A unique story is woven into every piece of this exclusive decorative art. They capture precious moments of biodiversity and give rise to an old-world style of elegant, engaged entertaining.
Painted in intricate detail, the pieces feature exotic and endangered species, each bound to evoke fascinating conversations and become the pride of any social space.
This timeless fine art celebrates the natural wonders of Indonesia. It offers a glimpse through the eyes of Indonesia’s early natural history explorers with an element of whimsy.
The creative process is guided by a desire to turn finely designed functional furniture into coveted conversation pieces. Each reflects and re-imagines the natural treasures found in the “Age of Discovery” by using the Renaissance’ gesso’ technique of painting on wood as opposed to natural history drawings and actual specimens.
The inaugural collection has five aesthetic themes. The Panthera featuring big cats, Certainly Simian with a focus on primates, Flights of Fancy which is centered around our avian friends Fauna and Flora - artwork featuring the floral life and vegetation of Indonesia and Deep Ocean a kaleidoscope of marine life.
Across this first collection, you’ll find several different styles of furniture. The first is a tilt-top or occasional table with a removable top that can serve as a tray. There’s also a butler tray with two nesting trays, a folding table with nesting trays and a ‘Lazy Susan’ for easy at-home entertaining. They are multi-functional works of art; each piece makes a party and enlivens any space.
Mary Justice’s design ideas are gleaned from specific natural discoveries, then hand-drawn and watercoloured in the studio by our in house artist. These original drawings are then painstakingly painted onto the gessoed wood, a Renaissance technique, which takes 9-12 strokes of paint to create the equivalent of one paint stroke if working on canvas. The bases are slowly chiselled from one of two types of sustainably sourced Indonesian wood using original hand-held tools that are passed down through the generations. Machines play no role in creating our artworks.
Our Certainly Simian collection features ebonized mahogany which is then finely polished in hard wax with plenty of “elbow grease” for a supremely elegant finish. The Flora collection features waxed natural antiqued teak with a flawless patination that improves with age, and the Panthera is finished in “stormy hand-painted mahogany” that is an artwork in itself.
Every piece of this fine decorative art takes three weeks to a month to painstakingly complete. As such, we can only make 10- 15 pieces in a numbered limited-edition run to ensure the highest quality for these exclusive and very collectible artworks.
The multi-layered nature of the imagery represents MJ’s years of study abroad and her 32 years in Asia delving into the cultures and art of the silk route and the Malay Archipelago. Her thirst for knowledge has been combined with the artists she works with an immense personal desire to portray Indonesia’s ethereal biodiversity at its finest.