Mountain Seas is nestled at the base of the Strzelecki Range, on the southern end of Flinders Island. Every time I looked out the window, walked out the door I was enchanted by what I saw — the huge granite boulders, the shapes of the trees, the view way off to the middle of the island, the wallabies and blue wrens. Instead of traffic there were the sounds of the wind, the surf on the beach a few kilometres away, the birds.
Our room was warm and cosy, and we had the use of a communal kitchen and sitting area. A car was provided for the artists’ use, a generous but necessary part of the residency. The supermarket in Whitemark is about 20 kms away.
The Fella and I had the first few days to ourselves. Eleni Rivers arrived on Monday. She is a very fine contemporary watercolour artist. The following week we were joined by Christina Harrison and her partner Karl Richardson. She is a multimedia artist. They have an exhibition currently touring Queensland, “We are all one under the skin”. Of course we had some interesting discussions over dinner about art, artists and politics. I only know how to do botanic art, so I was fascinated to see how these much more experienced artists worked. Both created their paintings on larger sheets of paper, and canvas in Christina’s practice, building up broad washes. I am used to working on smaller areas, so it was an eyeopener.
There is a strong art community on Flinders Island. David and Lila, who run Mountain Seas, want the AIR programme to build connections to that community. Youdit, the person in charge of the artists in the programme, set up a Sunday afternoon catchup with four artists from the Island. What a great experience to sit around the warm fire, chatting to other artists about their work and their life on the Island. At another time I met up with Maria La Grue and her art buddy, Pip and talked to them about botanic art and my process. Such a warm and welcoming group of women.
There was no expectations on me, just to use the time to develop my artistic practice. What a privilege! However, Youdit took up my offer to do a tonal drawing workshop at the school. It was a great way to see another slice of Island life, and to remind me that kids are kids, no matter where they live! I had two sessions, one with the Grade 2/3 and the other with Grade 4/5/6. The art room was bright and airy. I got a buzz being back in the classroom and the kids seemed to take in my talk about my work and the importance of tone. Then they were into their own drawings.
Our time there was made even more comfortable by Helen, the Property Manager ~ nothing was too much trouble for her. She knew so much about the Island that I learnt something every time I chatted to her, and enjoyed every chat.
So if you are looking for an interesting place to holiday, add Flinders Island to your list. Looking for an Artist in Residency Programme? Mountain Seas would be a great one to apply for.