I'm looking forward to seeing all my people and the creatures back home but I wish too that I had longer in this Sherman Studio at Bundanon.
I’ve packed up my work on the three projects commenced here: whilst settling in - painting interiors of Bundanon with all their creature things; the daily rhythm of my charcoal impressions of the wombats of Bundanon and; my still life paintings, each with a mix of objects from here and from home. I’ve been pairing the likes of squared wombat poo with measuring ducks; a wombat skull from the paddock with one of my kids toys and an old kitchen scale; and a red kitchen mincer with an old man banksia cone left round the side of the studio from an artist before me - its discovery felt somewhat like a bargain find from an op-shop. Its previsous life a mystery to imagine.
My background in conservation and land management is with me as I create these works, I’m thinking about some of the science: of measuring and weighing, figuring out what’s happening and how to live with this land. I’m enjoying the play of objects and their linkages to science, the domestic and our natural world. And leaving the wombat skull here, where the wombat lived and died, I imagine that Doug too might snippet these remains into one of his works from this place.
Each day Writer Karen Viggers generously checks in to see my progress - another strip of wombat rhythms from the afternoon to the walls. She shares some of her process too, and her immersion in science as well. Being a vet is in her bright mix of tricks. This Bundanon residency is her second, this time she’s working on her fifth novel. And it’s not only fiction and animals for her, she’s up for an essay too. Check out her Mountain Ashed in the Griffith Review …
Along with the mum and bub wombat from the burrow under the Sherman and the plethora of wombats of the paddocks (with over 30 spied in one standing), I will treasure the people from this journey. Thanks to the volunteers and staff, in particular Julie and Jen. and all behind the scenes at Bundanon Trust. Thanks to Authur Boyd and his family and the First Nations peoples on this Wodi Wodi land. And cheers to the other Artists in Residence of my time here. To Karen, Doug, LinRan, Tim, Maggie, Ashley and Wart, it has been so rich hanging out. I look forward to seeing and listening and reading what comes next from you all.
We found ourselves out with the rising of the full moon over the Bundanon landscape, Doug Helsop was plein air thinking … and drawing too, I was in my rhythm of appreciating a wombat, this time following the moon. Doug’s fully responding to and questioning this place on Wodi Wodi land, with its layered histories and linkages to the work of Arthur Boyd and Sidney Nolan too. He's sharing some honest and critical thought. You can check out some of Doug’s work through this link …
With some of the artists here, I have also headed to Arthur Boyd’s studio and into the Homestead, an incredible gift. Brushes still out you get a sense of its use just yesterday. Although I suspect it would have been a tad messier. To respond to Arthur Boyd’s vision and grow its legacy, Bundanon Trust have plans to build a new gallery and collection store, along with expanding the education facilities at Riversdale, the adjoining property. We were treated to the Architects event, a conversation between the Architect, Kerstin Thompson and Carolyn Baum. I was won over by the plans and their connection to landscape, flood and fire and the existing Murutt Art Centre on site – a complimentary difference.
We too were treated to an immersion into the Bundanon Trust Collection by Collections Manager Jennifer Thompson. Gold, were her wealth of stories of and tangents from the artists and their works ... from Joy Hester to Arthur Boyd’s collaboration with Indra Deigan on the West Java legend of Sangkuriang. Sangkuiang clutched my interested, not only because of Jennifer’s retelling of Indra Deigan take and the Arthur Boyd’s depictions of its gripping narrative but also for my imaginations of there. I have just accepted a Professional Practicum in Indonesia for 2020 – more on that later. And generously Jennifer brought out some other Artists in Residence works who have responded to wombats in this place. The poem by Chris Wallace-Crabbe of the Aesthetic Wombat, on the typed paper from when he was here in residence in 2002 was a decent find, just one of the archival treasures of this store.
Pictured here, we are in the Collection spying: Sidney Nolan, Head, 1983, spray paint on canvas. Bundanon Trust Collection.
On impulse I grabbed a few treasures from home on my way out to here in Bundanon. Included were my broken red boots that travelled back with me from my French residency. The idea of painting my red boots back into a new work was cemented when the wind stood still and musician and producer Tim Oxley poignantly sung one night for us his lyrics to his song Boots for my Baby. He had us in stitches too with his goldilocks antics in the musician’s cottage. Launch into some creations from this gem of an Oxley here …
There’s been lots of ducking in to each others studios to check out the progress here at Bundaon. This pic was taken in the Gonski Studio where we were checking out Wart's wall of eyes to be and her Ibis and Flamingos well on the way, an endearing flock, they are.
And I've loved that LinRan has joined my consortium with the wombat’s and painted some of her own on some of the watercolour squares I shared. She has been working here on some exquisite Chinese paper and fans with some surreal imaginations and a kangaroo mention too. Instillation, performance, photography, painting, poetry - she does it all. Check out her website here …
The first night of my wombat followings, my fellow Artist in Residence, Wart came through with the goods, she was on the lookout as I was too for the rising of the wombats out of the burrows all around.
I’ve started some quick gestural drawings in charcoal on series of watercolour squares of these characters. My first muse, spied from my window, was drawn in the cosy comfort of the studio. And then moving too far away, I braved the roaring winds and sat a distance away in the open paddock with my charcoal and paper. I’m sure, I’m not the first of my kind that this being has had to put up with - what are all these people’s intentions?
Every evening since, I have headed out with the wombats and followed one or another, or a mum and bub, or simply sat on the veranda as I sketch their nibbling and scratching. Sometimes they are still enough that they almost become a ‘still life’. Especially when they sense something - they embody statue mode, nose raised and body poised. But mostly they’re constantly moving a little as they munch and scratch. I hear they have a treatment program here for the mange … they share with foxes, whose wafts haze the walk here to Haunted Point.
I’ve also spent time just hanging out with the wombats during the day, sometimes in the paddocks as they munch away with a superb view to pulpit rock, the landmark repeated through so many of Arthur Boyd’s paintings. But even if you were not communing with the wombats here, you would not be able to miss their presence, or absence even, for they leave their mark - their squared poos … strategically placed on the fallen branches over the path, on the low plinth of the bronze sculpture, Genesis by Lenore Boyd in the homestead garden, on the time ravaged wombat skull in the paddock and on the welcome doormat to the writer’s studio. Where there’s an audience, there’s a way.
Inside that writer’s studio, is Maggie Haertsch. She cooked a most delicious roast and shared some of her everyday at the moment. Aptly, with her work, she’s writing on her phone in her bed and her morsel shared has left me on the edge of my seat. A Bundanon regular, her last time here, she produced work with Centenarian Eileen Kramer, the writer, dancer, painter, costume designer and choreographer. Through Maggies eyes, here is day 5 of Eileen at Bundanon …
To settle in I started a few small paintings situated in the interior of the studio, getting familiar with this place and its things, moving them around, watching the soft and startling light, thinking of the others who have shared this place and bringing some of me in too.
I found some old man banksia cones collected no doubt from somewhere near here for someone others project of this place. They were left around the side of the studio, laid with the time ravaged droppings by the resident wombats. I’m surprised a wombat hadn’t already left one of their squared treasures on top. Any way too good to pass by I bought them back into the studio – they may just weave their way into my work too.
And it’s the people too that settle one right in. With a message out for a get together on Wart and my balcony, what followed was studio visits. The first to Ashley Frosts. Such a treasure to see how others work and respond to a place. I loved how he was capturing some of the light of this place and we aligned a time for a combined portrait session later. You can see a little of his project here ...
But our portrait session was not to be for my ducking off to my open studios at UNSW Honours became an extended affair. The fuel pump decided to go in an underground car park – not a recommended thing to do. Extraction, I have learnt is what roadside assistance call this complicated scenario. But luckily for me a saviour was nearby. And so, as car time panned out, I lapped up the treat to draw Louisa Chircop whist she worked in her studio on her next exhibition. She too has had a residency here at Bundanon. Head here see some of her masterful works of painterly surreal imaginations with their layered collisions of representation and disruptors ...
I have arrived for my Bundanon Artist in Residence stint. Serendipity weaved its way on the waves on 702 as I drove across the land, with a segment about just one of the creatives in the artistic dynasty of the Boyds - Arthur Boyd’s cousin, Architect Robin Boyd. He brought architecture to the fore mid last century with his innovative small house designs and the book The Australian Ugliness, criticised at time for being unpatriotic. Now, its legacy is much regarded.
And also, in the folded time of that drive was an interview of an artist and scientist collaborating. It offered me a moment of reflection upon the art science project that I am currently involved in, Art of Threatened Species (AoTS) and my connections with my science specialists Deborah Ashworth and Michaela Jones. I went out monitoring brush-tailed rock-wallabies only last week with them again. Incredible, they have both worked with this population with a few others for the last twenty years. The population of these creatures at Jenolan has grown from less than 10 to around 100 during this care of theirs. On that trip, I spied a quoll too and named one of the new brush-tailed rock-wallaby’s, a T name, as is the convention, so Tegan with Tiko and Trish now bound out there. And just this morning on the drive here, I pulled over the side of the road to hook in for the latest AoTS meeting with some of the other players. It is a collaboration between (the then) Office of Environment and Heritage and Orana Arts. In November there will be an exhibition stemming from project opening at Western Plains Cultural Centre. You can check out some of the project here ....
It links to my project here at Bundanon, along with my project at Honours at UNSW. Really all my work links in some way or another to each other. My specific plan here is to be open to influence – to be influenced by my time in Bundanon where I’ll continue to paint and draw, and start a new body of work, a snap shot from this place and time drawing upon my work to date and feeding into my work of tomorrow.
Of here, I arrived about the same time as Wart. We are under the same roof and I feel a descent level of comfort and warmth through the laughs and shared stories already. You can check out a little of what she’s up to with the Ibis here …
Of first impressions, there is a book on the coffee table Wombats of Bundanon Twenty Australian Poets (eds. C Kelen, S Zijiang) and a mother and baby wombat have just wandered out from the burrow under our building, checking us out nonchalantly as the newbies in this place. In my first happy snap here of this place you can see a mum and bub - the wombats in residence. Nim, my four legged friend left behind at home would be beside herself. And of home I’ve also left lots of meals cooked with love back in the fridge and freezer for my loves left there. I miss them all already.
This Bundanon Trust Artist in Residence program is at Bundanon in the Shoalhaven, on Wodi Wodi land, a generous gift from artist Arthur Boyd and his family. I am with him when he said “you can’t own a landscape”. There are four visual artist studios, a writers cottage, a musician cottage and a dance studio. If you ever want to check out this place it’s open to the public every Sunday …
Thanks for having me Bundanon.