A visit to the Heysen estate, The Cedars, brings the lives and works of this artistic family vividly to life. Set on the outskirts of Handorf, a Lutheran German colony in the Adelaide Hills, the property nestles into the undulating pastoral country that Hans Heysen obsessively reconfigured in his landscapes. With its screened verandah, stoves and inglenooks, the homestead is a northern European house in Peramangk country. Heysen’s studio is left as it was during the artist’s working life: tubes of colour, sketches, props. Family memorabilia hints at the complex relationship of father Hans and daughter Nora, both painters.
Studio of Hans Heysen, a chalet in miniature. Photograph by Jose Morales on Flickr.com. Some rights reserved.
If, like me, you’re intrigued by the history of the French exploration of Australia, then the South Australian region known as the Limestone Coast will be a revelation. Outside the small fishing port of Robe, ragged cliffs demonstrate the relentless push of the sea, suggesting the many dangers faced by Baudin, de Freycinet, Lapérouse and other men of the Enlightenment who were curious and foolhardy enough to make the long journey south to the “Terres Australes”. Some of the place names they left behind (Fleurieu, Vivonne, Lacepède) are still scattered along the Australian coast, like abandoned shells.
Photo by Catherine Howell, 2007
Brunel’s bridge over the Tamar River is spectacular. No doubt about it. But Tinside Lido wins my heart every time. Sunny (even when Britain isn’t), extroverted, elegant, it speaks of the short-lived social optimism of the 1920s and early 1930s. A leisure complex like this offers a total environment (a familiar concept today), and it envisions and demands a confident and hedonistic society. When lidos went out of fashion in the late twentieth century, Tinside suffered years of neglect. S. Wibberley’s design is now Grade II heritage listed, and was reopened in 2003 after extensive renovations.
Photograph by Catherine Howell, 2006.
The InspiringPlaces Mini-Project
For the next few weeks, once per week, I’ll be posting a short description of a building or a place that I’ve found intriguing, beautiful, or thought-provoking. One place, one photo, 100 words or less. I’m hoping this small set task will be a discipline that will help get me into the practice of regular writing. I’ll keep doing it until I start repeating myself or feel that the project has run out of steam. OK, so now for the first InspiringPlace (…drum roll…):
Grace Nicholson Building (Pacific Asia Museum)
I discovered the Grace Nicholson Building on a visit to L.A. in 2004. Walking in Pasadena, I was intrigued by its swooping roofline and inviting archway. Begun in 1924 by a local architectural firm, the building stands as a monument to a unique woman, Grace Nicholson (1877-1948), an art dealer and anthropologist who specialised in Native American arts and culture. The design is not kitsch; it is a carefully-researched example of traditional Chinese architecture and a peaceful sanctuary for the arts that is extraordinary in the context of L.A.’s glitz and grit.
Note: there are some atmospheric historic photographs of the building, some from the mid-twentieth century, at the Pasadena Digital History Collaboration.
Entrance to the Pacific Asia Museum. Photo by Catherine Howell, 2004.