Archive for October 16th, 2016

2 weekly roundup 16 October 2016


Last weekend my mother and I flew to Adelaide for a few days. Our main focus was visiting places related to Hans Heysen, an Australian painter of the early to mid 20th century who really captured the light and space of the landscape, in particular gum trees.

The afternoon of the flight was spent at the Art Gallery of South Australia. The next day we drove down to ‘The Cedars’ near Hahndorf, Heysen’s home for over 50 years.

Hans Heysen's studio, The Cedars

Hans Heysen’s studio, The Cedars

Heysen loved the trees – he termed his paintings their portraits – and a committed conservationist. The property, including home, studio and trees, has stayed in the family and remains a beautiful, peaceful backwater. The purpose-built studio sits up the hill from the residence, far enough away for some space from a large and busy household.

It was interesting to see the management of light in the studio. The south-facing back wall is almost filled by windows, all frosted. This was virtually the only source of light. Inside the studio you are almost entirely closed away from that beautiful landscape. Heysen would paint with the light coming over his shoulder, flooding the canvas.

He also worked en plein air, but many major works were done in the studio, based on sketches and studies, enlarged using a grid system. We saw a series of sketches – some very sketchy! – investigating form and values as part of developing a composition. Heysen was also very careful about the framing of his works, often painting framing lines on the mountboard to harmonise with and enhance the works.

Nora Heysen, one of Hans Heysen’s daughters, worked mainly with portraits and flowers.

Carrick Hill dining room

Carrick Hill dining room

On our second full day we visited Carrick Hill. The house was built by a wealthy Adelaide couple in the 1930s, designed around seventeenth and eighteenth-century panelling, doors, staircase etc from a demolition sale of a Tudor mansion in Staffordshire. As well as the timbers, the house was fitted with all the latest 1930s technology, including a lavish ensuite bathroom and a wetbar integrated behind the paneling of the library.

The Haywards then filled their home with an eclectic mix of art – in the photograph can be seen Matthew Smith’s Nude with pearl necklace (1931). They were very active in the Adelaide art community and were friends with the Heysens. For many years Hans Heysen and Ursula Hayward served together on the Board of the Art Gallery on South Australia.

The house, its contents and the extensive gardens were bequeathed by the Haywards to the people of South Australia. The house, the grounds and the cafe are all well worth a visit – by car. Mum and I took the bus, and the long walk up to the house, through the rooms and to the current special exhibition (Stanley Spencer) and then around the gardens was a bit much. I was trying to call a taxi when my 88 year old mum used the simple expedient of walking up to a young family in the car-park and asking for a lift to the bus-stop. In the end they insisted on going completely out of their way, taking us right back into central Adelaide to our accommodation. So if you know a couple with a young daughter, recently arrived from Cardiff for a year in Adelaide, please thank them again from us.

Our final morning took in a local market, then the Ediacaran fossils at the South Australian Museum. More mum’s field than mine, but certainly beautiful and intriguing.

Helen Campbell, the curator of Art of parts: collage and assemblage from the collection at AGNSW, gave a floor talk in the exhibition. Some quick notes:

  • Collage important to modern art as it blurred boundaries between drawing, painting and sculpture. My thought – a link between folk and high art as well??
  • Transformation – from found/fabricated to part of works of art
  • Power of objects to communicate directly to viewer
  • For Robert Klippel sculpture and collage were symbiotic. Note to self – more to research!
  • Could combine aesthetic arrangement with the highly evocative, for example Rosalie Gascoigne
  • Over the time since I’ve been working on a collage based on my 2nd October notes on Elwyn Lyn, his “clues” of themes, and my sketching at the Queen Victoria Building bus-stop. I’ve tried many slight variations, taking photos to “see” them, little pieces of sketching, then rather annoyingly wasn’t accurate in placement when doing the gluing.

    QVB bus Collage 20161016

    QVB bus
    Collage 20161016

    The base is hand-made denim paper, gifted to me by Claire (see for more on her process).

    The photo’s not helping, but it doesn’t look too much better in real life. I’ll need some space and time to think about what’s not working.

    My second day with Basketry NSW this week. You’re meant to take a project to work on. Under pressure, I came up with an idea about a spiky basket.

    The materials came from my stash, anonymous, but the consensus on the day was the fine fibres were monofilament nylon.

    More experimentation with coiling, using a new-to-me stitch and first experience with multiple strands in the coil. Lots of technical flaws, some of which I can see, some I’ll probably see in the future when I know more. Still, it’s pretty close to my idea and it makes me smile 🙂

    There was a Collections lecture this week, but it’s getting late so I’ll roll that over.


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