Thursday, 27 June 2013

Hill End: In the Studio

The residency at Hill End provided the opportunity of four weeks to dedicate to my art practice. Leading up to the residency I thought four weeks would be ample time to work through my ideas and concepts. As it turned out, the time passed way too quickly, and I left with more ideas than when I arrived!

The purpose  built studio is at the back of the cottage and has the most wonderful natural light. It is heated by a small pot belly stove, which although smoked like billy-o was great for heating up water for my cups of green tea.

 I had the opportunity to teach myself how to make 2 part plaster casts and from these I made a collection of porcelain slip cast bottles.

The fences and gates in Hill End are fascinating (a post about these can be found here), and I spent time documenting them in my sketch book. I decided these would translate well into etchings using the non-toxic method I learnt a year or so ago. 

Without access to a potters wheel it provided me with the opportunity to explore making shapes using hand building methods.

The studio was just a delightful place to be in: great light, sizeable working space and surrounded by interesting objects.
Studio view
I just love the big old gilt mirror 
And the studio storage
Even the reflections are picturesque

The creativity was not contained in the studio and often spilled into the kitchen

and lounge room where I worked if it got really cold since it had a wonderful fire that I kept going day and night.
Im really looking forward to finishing this body of work, which will be exhibited at Barometer Gallery in Sydney later this year.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Hill End: Life in a slab hut

Beautiful morning light filters through the old front windows

Ive just returned from a month artist in residence at Hill End, staying at Haefligers Cottage, where artists Jean Bellette and Paul Haefliger lived on and off during the 1940s, 50s and early 60s. Hill End became an artist community in the late 1940s and the isolated landscapes inspired many Australian artists including Russell Drysdale,  John Olsen, Donald Friend and Margaret Olley (to name a few). The cottage was built in the 1860s during the first gold rush in the area, part is built with wattle and daub construction (mud and sticks) and the kitchen is slab construction. 

I arrived just on dusk. It had been raining all day and the road from Bathurst was steep and windy. Beautiful scenery, amazing hills that look down into deep valleys, but I did not have time to stop and look, wanting to get to Hill End before dark.

Thankfully I did. I was advised to arrive early so that I could get to know the quirks of the house. There are a few. One of them is that there are no overhead lights in the cottage. Lamps illuminate everything, in the corners, near the front door, there is even one in the kitchen.

I love the old door handle to the loo

The loo
This means that at night (in winter 5.30pm) its dark outside. The lounge and bedroom (a wall has been removed so that the bedroom is raised a step and part of the main room) is illuminated by lamps which throw a lovely light, but are not so good to work by. There was also no electric lights in the purpose built studio. I quickly learned to adapt to the house, waking early to make the most of the day, and then settling down in the evening in front of the fire. This was when I read information relating to the pioneering history of the area, knit or simply to gaze at the fire and think.

View of the bedroom from in front of the fire place in the lounge  room.
Another quirk is that the house has absolutely no reception for mobile phones or internet. Before I arrived I was planning to do all sorts of things on the internet, not to mention my morning ritual of getting up, making a coffee and catching up on my emails before the day gets underway. All this changed and I relinquished my grasp on the outside world. I discovered that this was a good thing and gave me time to focus. The house also has no clocks, and since I only have my mobile phone, which in the city is many things as I can check maps, emails, time, temperature, not to mention make calls, in the bush it was just a clock - and even it stopped working!

View from the studio looking down the valley at the Post Office
The countryside was timeless and without the constant interruptions/diversions provided by technology I observed the world around me. I began to learn to tell the time by looking at the sky and shadows..... I could almost accurately guess how cold it is... (we had a serious frost one morning and to tell how cold it was I walked on it. The grass crackled underfoot and my guess was it was about -4 to -5 degrees, which was later verified through chatting the with locals in the village). Another thing was the stillness. There was hardly a noise in the valley with the exception of the abundant bird life. I could hear the geese honking across the town common and the chattering of magpies out in the garden.

I enjoyed all these things. It was quite liberating and I think it was the cottage's way of saying 'slow down, take time out and relax. Enjoy and notice your surroundings'...

The kitchen - the ceiling is so low that I could easily touch it. The cottage is gorgeous with loads of character especially being full of beautiful old furniture belonging to Jean Bellette and Paul Haefliger.

Lovely soft light filters through the kitchen windows

One afternoon I was doing a lino cut in the kitchen with the wood fire oven going to warm the room. The wiring in the cottage is so old that if you plug any two appliances into the one socket, ultimately the fuse blows. And of course, I was trying to use the iron and lamp at the same time. The lights went, which took all the electricity in the room. I was left wishing I had an old iron that could be heated on the stove!

In the studio - note the little pot belly fire in the corner

The entire place is magical and full of inspiration.

A big thank you to Bathurst Regional Art Gallery for selecting me to participate in this most amazing opportunity and an experience of a life time. I have so many ideas they will continue to inspire me for many years.

Further information if you are interested:
- An article other Australian artists who were inspired by Hill End.
- Textile artist Julie Ryder wrote a great article about her residency in Murray's cottage - the other cottage in the residency program. 
- Other artists who have participated.
- Article by Inside Out

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Nova Scotia Residency

O my goodness!
I have just found out that I have been selected to participate in an International Artist Residency in Nova Scotia in July and August this year! How very exciting :)
Whilst I am there I will learn scrimshaw (traditional carving of whale bones) that I plan to translate to carving ceramics, learn how to make large traditional pots whilst working in the shared studio space of the Nova Scotia Centre for Craft and Design which has weaving, wood working, pottery, glass and jewellery. This is a fantastic opportunity to learn new skills and meet new people. In September the work created will be exhibited in May Black Gallery, the Centre's exhibition space.
Further excitement as this is a rare opportunity to develop my skills and bring them back to Australia to enrich our own craft and design community through workshops, talks and an open studio upon my return. Whilst in Nova Scotia I will be promoting Australia's cultural facilities, particularly Canberra where I have strong connections with many arts organisations.  

I am very flattered and super keen to attend the residency, participate in the exhibition and take up this incredible opportunity to promote my work both verbally and physically on an international level. The catch is it's all happening super fast, from the 1 July to 31 August 2013... just over three weeks away!
This is where my first attempt at crowd-funding comes in! If you can help by pledging any amount no matter how small you will be helping me promote my work on a scale I could never manage without this opportunity. Ultimately I hope to see this experience build a more solid, fulfilling and sustainable future for me as an artist and for those who benefit from my work. Should you decide to choose a reward in return for your pledge I also hope this will benefit you as much as your generosity benefits me.
Because Pozible uses an "all-or-nothing" funding model I only get your money if I reach my target. So to ensure I get at least enough for my flights I've chosen a $3000 target. But please don't stop pledging once I reach $3000 because my total costs are much higher! Other costs include travel within Nova Scotia, food, accommodation, materials and studio rent which is estimated at over $5,000.
If you would like to support me please visit the crowdfunding site pozible.

Thank you ever so much for pledging, it is so appreciated!!!

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Hill End: Fascinating fences & gorgeous gates

Ive been admiring some fascinating fence and gorgeous gates lately... here are some of them


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