Wendy and Anne forge a special Anglo-French entente cordiale

Wendy Cox and Anne Bramoulle
Wendy Cox and Anne Bramoulle © MJ Rowan

It’s a case of Britain meets France when Wendy Cox and Anne Bramoulle exchange greetings from their stalls at the monthly Kalamunda Artisan Market. The pair have been firm friends for more than 20 years and catch up regularly in between manning their stalls; British-born Wendy selling her paintings and French-born Anne her homemade seasonal produce.

“I started my business Oohlala Preserves 20 years ago at Kalamunda markets,” Anne said. “It was the first time I had sold my preserves and I remember packing little gifts for Mother’s Day the night before and basically being excited and terrified at the same time.

“I was next to Wendy who, at the time, was making Indian-American stuff such as leather moccasins and bags. I still have the small one she made me that I use at the market.

“We were located opposite to where we are now, so in 20 years we have only moved twice. I think we hit it off straight away. Wendy has a great sense of repartee, she is funny, witty and an amazing artist.

“There is this standing joke between us, people come to her and ask if she is an artist. So I always tease her about it and sometimes say to people she paints by numbers!

“I always look forward to the market, it’s great to catch up with Wendy. We talk about what we have done during the month, travels, movies and television series to watch. We chat with customers, some have become good friends and usually have a good laugh and carry on like two clowns.

“Wendy always makes a point of correcting my pronunciation, another standing joke. I can’t pronounce certain words such as sequins, Emirates, Polaroid, Mediterranean and more. When Brexit finally happened I told Wendy I couldn’t talk to her anymore and that she would need a passport to be in my space.”

Anne, who was a judge at the Perth Royal Show for many years, makes all kinds of preserves jams, marmalades, curds, chutneys, sauces and pickles, all homemade. She also sells her preserves wholesale in shops and cafes.

Anne came to Australia from Alsace in 1989, worked in Sydney for a few months and then backpacked around the country. She moved to Perth via a six-month stint working in a Nullarbor roadhouse, loving the change.

“When I arrived in Perth I worked in restaurants and cafés before deciding that I wanted to work for myself again and give it a go making jams and chutneys. My mum sent cookbooks from the French jam queen and the rest is history. I read books, practiced and launched Oohlala in 2001.”

Wendy has spent her entire life working as an artist. She settled in WA with her husband, now a retired chef, and son in 1991 after living in Northamptonshire and Oxfordshire. She was born in north London and, as a small child, preferred painting to playing with dolls.

“In the UK I was a pictorial pub sign artist, painted coats of arms and also worked as a graphic designer in several studios designing and producing finished artwork for book jackets. I also worked for tee shirt companies.

“I love being part of the Kalamunda market. Sharing and selling my paintings through Wendy Cox Art is so fulfilling and such a joy. We make new friends each time and many return often.

“Anne and I often meet outside the market for dinner and general silliness. I constantly imitate her French accent, her English is impeccable and she imitates my ludicrous attempt at pigeon French.

“We are joined at the hip and refuse to be separated after 20 years at the market. I buy her jams and she buys my artwork, a sort of Anglo-French trade agreement without the gunships.”