Hill End Artist in Residence, Haeflinger’s Cottage 1 – 28 May 2016
The Hill End Artists in Residence Program is based in Hill End, NSW and made possible by the Bathurst Regional Art Gallery in partnership with the Department of Environment & Heritage NSW Parks and Wildlife Services.
BATHURST REGIONAL ART GALLERY
70 – 78 Keppel St, Bathurst, NSW 2795 | (02) 6333 6555 | www.bathurstart.com.au
Images at end of page
As is often the way, it took a couple of weeks to settle in, to get to know my way around and to think about the work I could make during this time, and only in the last week did I feel I was really starting to get somewhere. I was also inspired by the beautiful colours my fellow resident Sally Blake at Murray’s Cottage made through her ‘dye diary‘ research using local vegetation. I have a wealth of new material and look forward to the process of editing and making new work. My next exhibition is October 9 – 30 at Woodbine Art in Malmsbury, Victoria. The area has a similar gold-mining history and it is my intention to exhibit the Hill End work there.
Big thanks to the Bathurst Regional Art Gallery for continuing to run the two residencies and manage the cottages, Haefliger’s and Murrays, left by artists for artists to experience the extraordinary landscape and township of Hill End. Special thanks to Sarah Gurich, curator at BRAG who ensured that everything ran smoothly, the firewood supply was kept up and who came out for a studio visit. Lastly thank you to the people of Hill End who made me feel so welcome, I will be seeing you all again!
My last week at Haefliger’s, and I feel I have gathered enough material to continue working with back in my Melbourne studio. I am hugely indebted to the local community who have been so welcoming and generous with their time and friendship. Together with the exploratory work I am making, the history, stories, coffees and meals they have shared, I have been able to piece together a deeper understanding of the history of Hill End, and the connections that link the older residents and draw the newer ones here.
I am rereading The Poetics of Space, and never more has it seemed more appropriate. The cottage has many dark corners and hidden spaces, and the building creaks as the temperature drops at night. Whilst the days are sunny and beautiful, coming from the inner city, the dark evenings can be confronting. Outside, the wildlife runs like clockwork, shift work of noise-making marking the time of day or night. Inside traces of the former owners remain all around, and I am increasingly drawn to investigating this in the work I am making here. The underlying thread running through all my work is the search for connection, attempting to recognise the past and connect it to the present, to make sense of the layers of history that connect us, and my place within that.
I am still working with images based around Haefliger’s wisteria arbour, working with a mix of ink, graphite and watercolour, but have shifted from the direct experience or observation to a more indirect view. Looking out from inside, the windows frame the view and I can connect with the same scene that Jean Bellette and Paul Haefliger would have seen every morning from their bed. The wisteria wraps around the cottage and the play of light and shadow, the contrast of light and dark contains both mystery and revelation echoing my thoughts and feelings.
 Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space (New York: Orion Press, 1964).
The morning light is beautiful. I have been waking early and heading out to photograph the light catching the edges of the landscape, and again in the evening when the kangaroos are out and the last of the sun disappears behind the hills. Although the nights are cold there still is no fog or mist happening. The colours are seductive and in the absence of more atmospheric conditions I am tempted to reconsider my usual monochromatic palette.
These works in progress are looking at the arbour which runs along side the house, it is the first thing I see in the morning, and during the day from the studio. In the catalogue for Jean Belette’s retrospective there is an early photograph of Paul Haefliger leaning against it, before the garden became a jungle. Running East – West it catches both the early morning and late afternoon sun, casting linear shadows and dappled patterns from the wisteria across the ground.
 Unknown photographer c.1954, National Trust of Australia, NSW catalogue Jean Bellette Retrospective (2004).
My first week at Hill End has been spent getting familiar with Haefliger’s Cottage and the surrounding area. It is such a privilege to be in the beautiful home and studio of artists Jean Bellette and Paul Haefliger, and who bequeathed this property to the Bathurst Regional Art Gallery for other artists to enjoy. I am constantly reminded of the former owners, sleeping in the room they once slept in and waking in the morning filtered light through the wisteria planted outside, sitting at Jean’s desk in the studio looking out to the same landscape, and the garden they created. The worn steps and door handles are the result of all those who have been here before, and there is a rich history of artists that have been through this home.
The intention of this residency is to focus on the more ephemeral aspects of the environment, early morning and late afternoon light and shadow, weathering and decay in relation to both the landscape, the remaining traces of the many buildings that once populated this area, and to attempt to trace a path between the past and the present through drawing, however I am drawn to the intimacy of the home and it’s history and may include some elements in the work produced.
The drawings at this stage are at an experimental stage as I try to find the materials that will work for me. Working in oil is not logistically possible and so I am using watercolours, ink, pencils and water-soluble pigments on paper.