Haefliger's Cottage, Hill End, NSW 2003
Bathurst Regional Gallery offers several residencies to artists in the 19th century gold mining town of Hill End, including Donald Friend's cottage and Haefligger's Cottage, which was the home of artist Jean Bellette and art critic Paul Haefligger.
The cottage has a long history of being used as a retreat for artists and was bequeathed to the State when Jean Bellette died, on condition that it continue to be used this way
It was very cold weather during my residency, with rain, hail, snow, sleet and not much sunshine. A lot of my time was spent huddled in the tiny studio hugging the little fuel stove and watching the rain pour down outside.
Despite the weather, Hill End is a magical and inspiring place. Being there is like stepping back in time. Staying in Jean Bellette's cottage puts you in touch with a long continuum of Australian art history - so many of Australia's great artists have worked in or visited this cottage.
I gave several workshops in the village hall ; one for children and one for adults. The work I completed during the residency and selected works from the workshops were shown as a small exhibition in the Cottage on an Open Day at the end of my residency.
Studio work completed after I returned home, and some of the work completed during the residency were exhibited at Bathurst Regional Gallery in 2005 in the exhibition 'Artful Mining'.
Hill End continues to work its magic on me and years later I am still drawing on material that relates directly to the experience of the residency.
In the small museum in the visitor centre at Hill End are some artifacts from the past- including a dainty teaset. It seems to me that in a place like Hill End, with its cold and isolation, that the sharing of rumours, gossip and company over cups of tea must be a pastime that has survived throughout the history of the village. The cups are made of paper mache and lined with reproductions of 19th Century Hill End newspapers.