Another adventure in the pipeline

Much of my time lately has been taken up with painting our hallway. Our house is an older Victorian terrace, with a loooong hall — over 11 metres — and ceilings of about 3 metres. It has been waiting to be painted for quite a few years now. Why it hasn’t happened is a story not worth telling…sufficient to say that the Fella and I made the decision in October that we would do the work. And work we have.

My job is the fiddly bits — the edges where the wall and ceiling meet, and the architraves and skirting boards. These were painted in gloss paint, which had to be sanded, undercoated and two coats of the top colour applied. While these boards are not the originals, I did choose them many years ago to closely match the originals I had to remove. So they are fancy, with fiddly curves and dips to sand.

Now we have lovely clean, white walls and slightly off white architraves and skirting boards. Well, the latter are almost all done. They are painted in a colour called “Pale Lady”. Fortunately the colour was perfect, as I think I would have bought the paint for the name alone. I am sure there are pale Victorian lady ghosts lurking in the house somewhere!

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I had a friend’s birthday morning tea, which I set up in the hall to celebrate!

You can see that the floor is still to happen, so the skirting boards are loose until we get that sorted. Now to the last few pieces of board to sand and paint.

But that’s not the adventure I am thinking about…..

The Monday before the Melbourne Cup Day holiday the Fella and I took off down the length of the Mornington Peninsular. It is the eastern arm that circles Port Phillip Bay and we went to Portsea, right at the tip of the peninsular.

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Why? Well, the local council has an Artist in Residence Programme down there. You may remember my Artist in Residency stay on Flinders Island a couple of years ago, and how that began my obsession interest with melaleuca trees. I am very attracted to the idea of having weeks away from my normal routine, where all I have to do is practise my art.

And imagine doing that in this cottage!

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And the view of the cottage from the lookout

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The view the other way, across Port Phillip Bay to the Bellarine Peninsular.

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We had a sneak peek in the cottage….

and I can see myself working here.

To top it off, the cottage is at the edge of the Mornington Peninsular National Park. The environment is coastal heathland, with trees and bushes to excite my creativity. Now, to get the application in, and cross my fingers that it is accepted, so that this sign will mean me!

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Mountain Seas Artist in Residency

You may remember that, before I left, I had little idea of what my Artist in Residency (AIR) at Mountain Seas would involve. Now I have all the answers!

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.

(Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2015)
(Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2015)

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.