“My whole life has been a love affair with flowers”
This is how Anne Just, the avid painter of plants and blossoms, described the circumstance that gave birth to her Garden at Hune. A childhood brim full of flowers, her favourite motives when, bedecked in beret, her bicycle basket full of water colours, brushes and canvas, she would cycle out to the countryside around her childhood home in Kalvehave, in southern Zealand, Denmark.
Later she would travel the world, soaking up sights and skills with a sole goal: becoming a painter.
In her spare time she studied art history and cookery books. The latter with a passion that met the standards of professional gastronomy at gourmet restaurants, with or without French chefs and hand-painted menus, before winding her way surreptitiously, coming finally to settle at Hune.
Was it perhaps the Duck House that made the difference? In any event, the architect Claus Bonderup designed one for her when she lived at one point at the manor house at Skeelslund, west of Aalborg. The very same Duck House that today takes pride of place in the rainwater basin coiling around Iris Hill, at Hune.
A refusal by the authorities to establish an underground studio at Bonderup’s internationally renowned home in the dunes gave the final impetus. That was in 1991 – a few years after it had become widely acknowledged that the couple were made for each other. From then on, the small wooden house in the dunes became Anne’s home, her space. Here she was free to paint the flowers that shot up from the handfuls of seed she cast casually over the ground.
That she was diagnosed with breast cancer a year later did nothing to diminish her strength of will or drive. Little by little she began to decide for the flowers. Not to rank and file them, but rather positioning them decoratively relative to each other. The at first small plot grew in dimension, steadily, and finally she convinced her husband that he could build a house just there – like the garden – looking as if it had always existed. Things then took off in a symbiosis of nature, decisions and, not least, aesthetics.
With the house came new challenges in the form of the hilly terrain the building had effected. With a sense of surety Anne set about transforming this as well. Her imaginative result, sumptuous floral splendour. If balance were needed, she would pull out her blue palette. For in Anne’s universe blue flowers fashion the same order that the sky achieves in nature. Tirelessly, day after day, she went around her garden all but commanded the plants in place, chasing out unwelcome weeds with the trusty trowel she had designed specifically for the purpose.
As her garden evolved, so, too, at the same pace, her motives. Her flower paintings were for her an essential complement, as were her ceramics, by which to lyrically reinterpret her garden detail.
The inexhaustible will of a life artist to live.
And while she did travel the world and was married several times before settling at Hune, it was here – with Claus Bonderup – that Anne found her place in life.
In the garden, she had herself conceived.
Anne Just was born on the 24th of July 1948 in Kalvehave, Zealand, Denmark. She passed away on the 9th March 2009 at her home at Hune. On the day she died her autobiography, My life in Words and Pictures, was published. This book is at present sold out.
Journalist, Author of House & Garden at Hune
Anne Just’s Garden, The Garden at Hune was published in 2014. Copies are on sale in the garden bookshop.
Its authors include Claus Bonderup, Else Marie Bukdahl, Marian Steffensen, and others.
Photography: Bent Rej
Languages: The Danish original, and English translation by Mary Graham
Published by: Fountæne
Candida kogebogen, 1998, Olivia
Haven i Hune, 2003, Clematis
Havens Blå Bog, 2004, Clematis
Et år i min have, 2005, Clematis
Mit liv i ord og billeder, 2009, Fontæne
Anne Just translated and illustrated several books during her lifetime.