Tag Archives: artist

Leonardo Di Vinci

Last night, I wasn’t looking for personal inspiration. It was more a case of getting my son to do his history assignment on a medieval/Renaissance leader.If you’re a parent, I’m sure you’ll know all about this. If you’re not, you’ll remember your own parents railroading you unless you were some kind of glowing Marcia Brady.

If you’ve been following my blog at all, you’ll know I’m crazy about history and won’t be surprised that I had more than a passing interest in my son’s assignment and might have some useful resources.

No doubt, that’s why he chose to research Kublai Khan. I had  fantastic, illustrated books on Leonardo Da Vinci and Michelangelo. So, they were too easy. We’ve even been to a superlatively inspirational exhibition in Sydney where they’d built interactive models of Da Vinci’s inventions and you could operate them yourself. Yet, Da Vinci was off his radar and I couldn’t help feeling like he’d plucked Kublai Khan out of a hat!

So, I made a brief but futile attempt to change his mind and retrieved my beautifully illustrated and well-researched book on Leonardo down from the shelf…Ritchie Calder’s: Leonardo & The Age of the Eye. A book, which despite my best intentions, I still haven’t read!

Of course, I know I should’ve read it myself and that it’s been sitting on my shelf for about 3 years making me look smart without actually taking it in…pretty stupid. Yet, aren’t most bookshelves also packed with good intentions????

Anyway, in a serendipitous moment, I opened the book at this paragraph, which really resonated with me:

“Leonardo was the observer with the naked eye and the naked ear. He also had, and never lost, his childlike curiosity which, however much we may specialize in the more-and-more-about-less-and-less, is the essential nature of science. His was not the structured life of the child who having revealed an aptitude for what is scholastically called “science” at some immature age is told that he should be a physicist, chemist or a biologist, and from then on  is academically escorted through the science stream, the science faculty, and the post-graduate course into the learned societies. He learned where he went and where the interests took him.” (pg 261).

While I’m not going to re-write the entire book (especially when I haven’t read it!!), I found this a few paragraphs down, which gives an insight into the breadth of Da Vinci’s “education” and training:

“His science began as a painter. He was lucky to be apprenticed to Verrocchio at a time when perspective had become a preoccupation with artists…among the master’s cronies the subject of perspective was not just a matter of working practice; it was a matter of winebibbing  debate, as well as quasi-mystical dissertations on spatiality. In a way it was putting them, the artists, on speaking terms with the intellectuals around the Medici Garden…

Probably the most powerful, formative influence on Leonardo was Toscanelli, physician, astronomer and natural philosopher. The tracker of the comet, the cartographer and mentor of Columbus kept open house for the likes of Leonardo, whom he encouraged in the systematic study of mathematics, and introduced to astronomy.” pg 261.

Thus, Da Vinci was nurtured in a very rich, yet broad and multi-disciplinary environment, and not simply pushed down one path to become the “performing genius” if you get my drift. While the benefits of a broad educational base bare obvious to some, there’s so much pressure to become that expert. That person who knows that topic in painstakingly intimate detail, even if that means losing site of the bigger picture entirely. Even if it means being unable to tie up your own shoe laces or bake a cake. Indeed, too many experts have travelled so far down their own drainpipe without networking with even slightly-divergent colleagues, and there has to be a price for that. Few of us would even dream of having Da Vinci’s genius. Yet, it was built on curiosity and a broad brush stroke, NOT knowing everything within a very narrow sphere too well.

By diversifying ourselves, we too could reap the benefits…especially as creatives.

I practice what I preach. While writing, photography and research are my mainstays, I also learn the violin and have been doing contemporary/ballet classes for the last six months, which have really intensified my vision.

Not that I’ve become Da Vinci, but at least I’m working on it!

xx Rowena

 

A Visionary Photographer: Three Day Quote Challenge.

“You don’t need to see to take photographs. My eyes are in my heart”.

Joao Maia.

Joao Maia is a visually impaired photographer who covered the Paralympics in Rio.

As a photographer, I was so encouraged that he was still able to take professional quality photographs despite losing muchttp://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/entry/blind-visually-impaired-photographer-joao-maia-paralympics_us_57dabcc3e4b08cb140942178h of his sight.

Of course, any creative or visionary person knows inspiration comes from the heart and while you might get better results with better equipment, that is no substitute for the soul and what your soul perceives through all your senses. Of course, this isn’t some package which randomly arrives in the mail. It needs to be practiced, experienced, lived and breathed each and every single day. Only then can you truly fine-tune your senses enough to adequately sharpen your vision.

If you would like to read more about Joao Maia you can click on the Link.

  1. Three quotes for three days.
  2. Three nominees each day (no repetition).
  3. Thank the person who nominated you.
  4. Inform the nominees.

Today, I’m nominating:

Cindy Knoke at  https://cindyknoke.com/

Kath Unsworth at Miniscule Moments of Inspiration

Kerry at Her Headache.

I hope you go over and check out their blogs and come to appreciate why I love them.

xx Rowena

PS You might notice that I had a bit of a breather  in between quotes two and three. Whoops!

 

William Blake On Joy & Suffering

Man was made for joy & woe;

And when this we rightly know,

Thro’ the world we safely go.

Joy & woe are woven fine,

A clothing for the soul divine.

William Blake From “Auguries of Innocence”.

Featured image:

“When the Morning Stars Sang Together”

[Book of Job, no. 14]

ca. 1804–7
Pen and black ink, gray wash, and watercolor, over traces of graphite
11 x 7 1/16 inches (280 x 179 mm)

 

S: Percy Bysshe Shelley: A Letter to Dead Poets #atozchallenge.

Dear Mr Shelley,

I apologise for the late hour. Much to my horror, time has escaped its cage yet again and runaway. Since our children are away in Sydney at their grandparents, my husband and I went out for a Mexican feast. After locking myself away inside my cave for many weeks with so many engrossing poets, I needed to spent the night with him before he thought he no longer has a wife.

 Higher still and higher

From the earth thou springest

Like a cloud of fire;

The blue deep thou wingest,

And singing still dost soar, and soaring ever singest.

Shelley: To A Skylark

Coincidentally, as I thought about the To A Skylark, The Cloud and your sailing death at sea, my husband and I walked beside the beach. Voluminous clouds hovered like ghostly galleons out at sea. Serene and subdued, the ocean breathed in and out uneventfully. Indeed, I could almost forget the storm, which ravaged these shores, holding me hostage in my tin can, battered by the hail in the car park. Anyone else, would have known those menacing, dark purple clouds were trouble but I was only thinking with my lens. The storm engulfed me, before I could escape.

 

Yacht at sunset

Yacht at Sunset

You were not so lucky. The storm consumed you, devouring the Don Juan and all onboard like a snack. Your watch stopped, along with your heart while a book of Keats’ poems was hastily shoved in your pocket. Your remains were swept up on the beach.

Shelley Watch

Somehow, you became larger in death than in life. As poet Matthew Arnold wrote: “a beautiful and ineffectual angel, beating in the void his luminous wings in vain.”

Fishing through the many myths and legends, I am struggling to find you… you the man. The man stripped bare. There are so many, many half-spun truths that I almost wonder if there was anyone there.

While the jury is out on whether your death was an accident or suicide, I wonder if you have regrets? As much as I have loved the thrill of being under sail as the whole yacht tilts in a strong wind, was it worth it? Is dying doing something you love, very much like having your heart broken and as Tennyson wrote:

 

“’Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.”

-Alfred Lord Tennyson

Is it better to have adventures and push ourselves way beyond our capabilities to have fun, test our mettle and find out that we’re made of stronger stuff? Is that this thing I keep hearing about called “resilience” or did you take too many risks?

After all, you were only 29 years old.

I don’t know why I even ask. The jury’s been out on this case for a long time and how am I ever going to unearth the truth when I am only passing through.

So, instead I’ll return to the clouds. Or, to be precise, your poem: The Cloud. I decided to illustrate it with some of my own photos. I’m sure you’ll be surprised to see what is possible these days with colour photography.

I hope you enjoy it.

Warm wishes,

 Rowena

                       The Cloud

 I bring fresh showers for the thirsting flowers,

From the seas and the streams;

I bear light shade for the leaves when laid

In their noonday dreams.

From my wings are shaken the dews that waken

The sweet buds every one,

When rocked to rest on their mother’s breast,

As she dances about the sun.

I wield the flail of the lashing hail,

And whiten the green plains under,

And then again I dissolve it in rain,

And laugh as I pass in thunder.

Storm clouds & boat

The Coming Storm

I sift the snow on the mountains below,

And their great pines groan aghast;

And all the night ’tis my pillow white,

While I sleep in the arms of the blast.

Sublime on the towers of my skiey bowers,

Lightning my pilot sits;

In a cavern under is fettered the thunder,

It struggles and howls at fits;

Over earth and ocean, with gentle motion,

This pilot is guiding me,

Lured by the love of the genii that move

In the depths of the purple sea;

Over the rills, and the crags, and the hills,

Over the lakes and the plains,

Wherever he dream, under mountain or stream,

The Spirit he loves remains;

And I all the while bask in Heaven’s blue smile,

Whilst he is dissolving in rains.

Sunset Umina Beach

The sanguine Sunrise, with his meteor eyes,

And his burning plumes outspread,

Leaps on the back of my sailing rack,

When the morning star shines dead;

As on the jag of a mountain crag,

Which an earthquake rocks and swings,

An eagle alit one moment may sit

In the light of its golden wings.

And when Sunset may breathe, from the lit sea beneath,

Its ardours of rest and of love,

And the crimson pall of eve may fall

From the depth of Heaven above,

With wings folded I rest, on mine aëry nest,

As still as a brooding dove.

That orbèd maiden with white fire laden,

Whom mortals call the Moon,

Glides glimmering o’er my fleece-like floor,

By the midnight breezes strewn;

And wherever the beat of her unseen feet,

Which only the angels hear,

May have broken the woof of my tent’s thin roof,

The stars peep behind her and peer;

And I laugh to see them whirl and flee,

Like a swarm of golden bees,

When I widen the rent in my wind-built tent,

Till calm the rivers, lakes, and seas,

Like strips of the sky fallen through me on high,

Are each paved with the moon and these.

DSC_0918.JPG

I bind the Sun’s throne with a burning zone,

And the Moon’s with a girdle of pearl;

The volcanoes are dim, and the stars reel and swim,

When the whirlwinds my banner unfurl.

From cape to cape, with a bridge-like shape,

Over a torrent sea,

Sunbeam-proof, I hang like a roof,

The mountains its columns be.

The triumphal arch through which I march

With hurricane, fire, and snow,

When the Powers of the air are chained to my chair,

Is the million-coloured bow;

The sphere-fire above its soft colours wove,

While the moist Earth was laughing below.

I am the daughter of Earth and Water,

And the nursling of the Sky;

I pass through the pores of the ocean and shores;

I change, but I cannot die.

For after the rain when with never a stain

The pavilion of Heaven is bare,

And the winds and sunbeams with their convex gleams

Build up the blue dome of air,

I silently laugh at my own cenotaph,

And out of the caverns of rain,

Like a child from the womb, like a ghost from the tomb,

I arise and unbuild it again.

 By Percy Bysshe Shelley

Sydney – Newrybar – Byron Bay: Weekend Coffee Share.

If we were having coffee today, I’d be talking so fast, filling your head with so many stories, photos and flashing such an array of treasures at you, that nothing would be making any sense at all.

It would all just be merging into a chaotic, kaleidoscopic blur.

The Kaleidoscope.

Mesmerized by such a kaleidoscope of images. Photographed this at Zakay Glass Creations Gallery, Bangalow.

I can hear you now: “Slow down!Take a deep breath! Calm Down! I can’t understand a word you’re saying…especially with that unintelligible, Australian accent.”

So, bursting with impatience by now, you could well be hitting me over the head with what we Australians call a “lump of 4 x 2” (pronounced fourbetwo”) We’re basically talking about the Australia version of hitting someone over the head with a baseball bat. A fence paling would do the job. Figuratively-speaking, this is how Australians knock sense into a blabbering mess like me.

Anyway, just to put you in the picture, we’ve been on holidays at Newrybar.

“Newrybar? Where the heck is Newrybar?” You ask.

“What do you mean you haven’t heard of Newrybar?? Where have you been hiding????”

Okay. Get your passport. Take the first available flight to Sydney, Australia. You could just catch a connecting flight to nearby Ballina Airport but why miss out on all the fun of a 10-13 hour 800 KM drive? After all, taking the Pacific Highway up the coast is such an Australian experience?!!

Just a friendly reminder to you peoples in the Northern hemisphere that heading North in Australia means it is getting warmer…we fly North for the Winter and definitely try not to fly South!

So, I naturally recommend hiring a car from the airport and driving. By the way, make sure you drive over the Sydney Harbour Bridge, instead of taking the tunnel under the harbour. You definitely do not want to miss The Bridge and the stunning harbour views, which also take in the Sydney Opera House when you crane your neck. Yet, somehow, you’ll need to keep your eyes on the road while taking in these views and if you’re not used to driving on the left hand side of the road, that will even complicate matters further and you could well be having a nasty accident.

There are further sights along the way. You can take the Sommersby exit near Gosford and visit the Australian Reptile Park and don’t miss out on the Big Banana at Coffs Harbour, which is roughly halfway to Newrybar and when you see the Macadamia Castle you are almost at Newrybar.

I don't think this quite puts Newrybar on the map.

I don’t think this quite puts Newrybar on the map.

Located half an hour’s drive in Byron Bay’s lush green Hinterland, Newrybar’s main claim to fame at this time of year, is the snakes. It’s currently mating season and the grass is full of amorous Romeos and Juliets, just waiting to strike at any unsuspecting feet. After spotting a deadly black snake slithering through the grass while eating my Weetbix the other day, you can take it from me that you need to look where you’re going.

However, in addition to the snakes there’s the Harvest Cafe, which is well-regarded, an antique shop and a few B & Bs…and a petrol station and small grocery store. Definitely, no major anythings, which is such a part of it’s natural, unspoiled charm.

This week has simply been too much for me to compress into anything coherent.

I have been feasting with my eyes. Pigging out. Gorging myself. Eating, Eating,Eating. Stuffing myself eyeful, after eyeful after eyeful. Surprising even myself how much I could somehow stuff I could keep stuffing in without somehow triggering the regurgitation switch. Through some absolute incomprehensible miracle, my eyeballs just kept expanding and expanding like an exceptionally generous, elastic waistband and I’m completely mystified about why they haven’t exploded…just like Mr Creosote’s unforgettable effort in Monty Python’s: The Meaning of Life: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aczPDGC3f8U

My eyes are even fuller than my over-packed, set-to-explode suitcase.

That says it all!!

With eyes the size of thunder thighs, I’m now needing some kind of specially –designed, see-through “eye bra” . Or, perhaps it’s already too late for that. An eye mask ensuring complete darkness, could well be required by now.

The kids near Byron Bay Lighthouse.

The kids near Byron Bay Lighthouse.

Yet, this incredible, sensual smorgasbord hasn’t simply been visual.

Nature’s music is just as breathtakingly awesome. The sun has set and right now, I’m soaking in the chorus of croaking frogs outside. Yet, that’s not all. There’s the budgie’s chitter-chatter and the flutter of their feathered wings. My in-laws also have Guinea fowl, the strangest sounding birds you’ll ever come across. All week, we’re been debating how to best describe their call. Suggestions have ranged from “constipated duck”, “donkey” and a “squeaky gate”. Finally the penny dropped and Geoff and both agreed they sound like a “duck impersonating a donkey”. That’s a very weird noise!

Wategos Beach, Byron Bay.

Wategos Beach, Byron Bay.

However, while we’ve been awestruck by stunning beaches, lush green pastures, birds and butterflies fluttering through the leaves and such incredible artistic inspiration; these “roses” haven’t been without their “thorns”.

The morning after our arrival, I was half-asleep and hadn’t quite adjusted to my new surrounds, when I spotted a deadly, venomous Black Snake, slithering over the grass and over the wire fence into the cow paddock next door.

For some strange reason, even though the kids were outside picking mulberries, for some strange reason, I didn’t raise the alarm. That said, they were out of sight and further afield.

However, as soon as Geoff saw the snake, he was out of there, letting them know. Not that the kids were scared of the snake at all but for some strange reason, they immediately decided that they’d “picked enough mulberries”!

Updating our annual family photo at the Byron Bay Lighthouse.

Updating our annual family photo at the Byron Bay Lighthouse.

Getting back to the beauty of Byron Bay, what you might not appreciate is a local phenomenon known as “Byron Time”. This has nothing at all to do with traditional time zones or being on “Holiday Time”. Indeed, when it comes to Byron Time you could say the region has fallen off the grid and gone AWOL. You just throw your watch out the window of your Kombi when you drive into town and succumb to the more intuitive forces at work around here… or, more likely, not at work at all. The other night, when the fish & chips shop was closed, we were told that “it only opens when he feels like it”. Although you might wonder how you can operate a business like that, he’s been in business for years. That said, his fish and chips are incredibly good but it’s not the first time we’ve missed out!

Loved this quote spotted at Poet Bookshop in nearby Bangalow.

Loved this quote spotted at Poet Bookshop in nearby Bangalow.

However, perhaps the greatest tragedy of Byron Time isn’t missing out on fish & chips. It’s having to go home and Byron Time stops just as tragically as that broken antique fob watch, filed at the back of Grandpa’s drawer.

Tragically, we’ll be leaving early tomorrow morning to drive home.

Speaking of clocks, time and tomorrow, at midnight tonight NSW switches to daylight savings time and we gain and hour, lose an hour or just get thoroughly mixed up. Either way, the start of daylight savings means: “It’s Summer”.

Bring it on!

The kids eating the mulberries they'd picked on the farm, while I spotted a snake.

The kids eating the mulberries they’d picked on the farm, while I spotted the snake.

Just before I head off to reload the coffee cup, just a last word of travel advice.

Don’t forget to pack your SLR camera charger. I’d charged my camera up before we left like a very well-prepared Scout but managed to leave it behind. After visiting multiple camera shops in two different cities, we couldn’t find a suitable replacement. That forced me to use my phone. There I was a serious amateur photographer, looking like Maxwell Smart using his shoe phone. Oh! The humiliation of it all! However, worse was yet to come. I put the phone in my pocket to go to the toilet and the next thing I knew, it had done a kamikaze dive straight to the very bottom. Following immediate CPR, it spent the next two days in a “rice spa” to dry out while I fretted about whether all those precious photos had been lost, not to mention my contacts. Fortunately, it recovered but meanwhile I was using the kids’ i pads. While, I’ll begrudgingly admit the photos weren’t that bad, I won’t be hanging up my SLR any time soon.

Meanwhile, the kettle calls. Dinner is boiling over and it’s time to go!

By the way, the Weekend Coffee Share is hosted by Part Time Monster.  You can join this week’s Coffee Share on her blog or by clicking on the “Linky“.  In fact, I encourage you to click on the “linky” to see what’s been going on in the lives of other bloggers and even join us if you haven’t before!

I also came across this great post by Corina at Wasted Days & Wasted Nights where she talks about the Love Rocks she makes and gives to people grieving or going through a hard time.  https://corinajoyc.wordpress.com/2015/10/03/rocks-stubborness-other-tough-things/

Hope you’ve had a great week!

xx Rowena

Self-Portraint in Rainbow Paint. Day 5: Five Photos Five Stories.

It looks like Mister reinterpreted what it means to paint yourself and painted on himself instead.

Actually, this shot was taken in the lead up to Christmas 2005 when we were1 making Christmas cards to send to the family. For his first Christmas, we’d pretty much stuck with footprints but it looks like we became a lot more ambitious for his second Christmas. You can see paint all over the paper as well as the boy. Howeever, even though it was so incredibly messy and it felt like I hasd to scrub out the entire house by the time we’d made it through the bath, we had a fabulous time taking creative self-expression to new heights.It also reminds me of the value of letting creativity run its course and actually flow rather than being caugyht up in being neat or having the perfect child. A child who sits perfectly still and colours in instead of painting themselves, the table the floor and even the bathtub as “Operation Scrub” goes into full swing.

Too often, we put on the brakes. Lock our child up in a cage. Force them into a mold.

Love that paint job!

Love that paint job!

Believe me! It is very tempting. It is so much easier thasn allowing them to be themselves! I’m not just talking about cleaning up the mess here or all those trips to Emergency patching up the scapes. I’m also talking about managing a non-conformist and all that means when it comes to interacting with other kids, parents, teachers and just about anyone. It would be so much easier for them all if we could just run kids through a factory to a set of “standards” but easy doesn’t stretch our horizons or challenge our thinking. It doesn’t give us texture, colour. Indeed, there wouldn’t be any rainbows anymore because we’d love all those beautiful colours without that mix of sun and rain.

I’m guity of this myself. I remember the first timew Mister mixed the different playdoh colours together that I almost had a heart attack. There his was squeezing those beautiful rainbow colours through his little fingers when I heard this chastising voice from somewhere in my deeply repressed past: “Do not mix the colours”. Playdoh was considered expensive when I was a kid and something of a luxury and we all knows what ultimately happens when all those rainbow colourss mix together for too long. They turn “poo brown”.

Seeing this photo also reminds me how long it’s been since we’ve done paintiing at home. I even enjoy doing a bit of painting myself but got a bit turned off by all the cleaning up afterwards and what with trying to keep up with writing, photography and playing my violin, it’s been awhile.

That’s about to change. I think we’re well and truly overdue for a paint date.

I was nominated by Geoff Le Pard fromTanGental for the Five Photos Five Stories blog Share: http://geofflepard.com/2015/06/10/five-photos-five-stories-day-two/

I would like to nominate Eli from Coach Daddy at https://coachdaddyblog.wordpress.com/ We met through the April Blogging A-Z Challenge and I thought he might enjoy another one.

The rules of the Five Photos, Five Stories Challenge are:

1) Post a photo each day for five consecutive days.
2) Attach a story to the photo. It can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, or a short paragraph. It’s entirely up to the individual.
3) Nominate another blogger to carry on the challenge. Your nominee is free to accept or decline the invitation. This is fun, not a command performance!

xx Rowena

Hahndorf, South Australia: the Blacksmith and the Artists.

Welcome to Hahndorf, a German-Australian village in South Australia’s Adelaide Hills and as you prepare for landing, could you please switch you clocks back well into last century to an era where there were few, if any, cars and the horse and cart were still being serviced at HA Haebich’s Smithy on Main Road, Hahndorf. That was before WWI when Hahndorf’s name was changed to Ambleside, as a reflection of fierce anti-German sentiment and changed back again in 1935.

Map showing the location of Hahndorf.

I send my apologies in advance as this is only going to be a rudimentary tour. This will only be a fleeting day trip for the Blogging from A-Z Challenge. I promise I’ll pop back later for a more in depth visit.

My much loved Grandfather, Bert Haebich, was not only born in Hahndorf but was also descended from the Hartmann and Paech families, who were among the very first German settlers to arrive in Australia back in 1838. These Lutherans were escaping persecution in Prussia and came to South Australia in search of religious freedom. They were an extremely stoic and hardworking community who used to walk their produce into Adelaide on foot and certainly weren’t afraid of backbreaking hard work!!

My grandfather, who was a real treasure trove of stories and tales, used to tell me the most intriguing and interesting stories about growing up in Hahndorf and it almost seemed like there was a touch of magic in the water. However, I now suspect these were the sort of pranks people got up to in the days before television, especially when there was a boarding school in town.

Hahndorf is a thriving tourist attraction these days and something of a living museum. In so many ways, it looks like a chunk of 19th century Germany, which was dug up and transplanted to the South Australia. Many of the original houses have been retained and restored including Haebich’s Cottage, the family’s home on Main Street, which was built in the late 1850’s by J.Georg. Haebich. It is a substantial ‘fachwerk’ (basically a timber skeleton with infill of pug [straw/mud], brick or stone) German cottage and is absolutely gorgeous.

As this is just a fleeting tour, I’m going to cut to the chase and introduce you to the Blacksmith and the artists.

Heinrich August Haebich, my Great Great Grandfather had a Smithy on Main Street, Hahndorf and lives inHaebich’s Cottage next door. August was was born in Hahndorf on the 17th March, 1851 to Johann George HAEBICH (1813-1872) and Christiane SCHILLER (-1857). August married Maria Amalie Thiele in 1874 but she died less than a year later and on 12th April, 1877, he married Caroline Maria Paech. They had 9 children and I think all four boys worked in the Smithy at some time. With the advent of the car, the business slowly wound down and my Great Grandfather Ed left to work as an engineer with the railways and later as a market gardener. His brother Bill was the last Haebich blacksmith…the end of the line.

As I mentioned, my grandfather loved telling me stories of growing up in Hahndorf and I was enchanted. There was an incredible cast of characters and antics like tying a goat to the Church bells so they rang every time to goat reached out to eat more grass. There was also an explosion of some sort during WWII, which sparked fears of a Japanese invasion but was yet another prank. There was a cockatoo which allegedly used to walk across the road leaning to one side with its wing bent staggering along saying: “Drunk again! Drunk again!” Hahndorf is a short distance from the Barossa Valley, one of Australia’s most famous wine-growing regions and there is even a Lutheran Church planted, or should I surrounded by vineyards. I think that should put you in the picture!

While most of the characters in my grandfather’s stories remained anonymous, one name certainly stood out. That was the world-renowned artist Sir Hans Heysen, who lived in Hahndorf with his wife Sallie and family in a spectacular home called: “The Cedars”.

Hans Heysen, "White Gums".

Hans Heysen, “White Gums”.

“Its (the gum tree) main appeal to me has been its combination of mightiness and delicacy – mighty in its strength of limb and delicate in the colouring of its covering. Then it has distinctive qualities; in fact I know of no other tree which is more decorative, both as regards the flow of its limbs and the patterns the bark makes on its main trunk. In all its stages the gum tree is extremely beautiful.”

SIR HANS HEYSEN

 

Heysen had what you could describe as a spiritual relationship with the Australian Gum Tree and he was also captivated by light and trying to capture and infuse light onto the canvas. Understandably, Heysen was quite the conservationist, particularly where saving these glorious gum trees, which were threatened by the installation of electric wires but also by development. He deeply lamented each tree which was lost. Indeed, it was his through his protection of the local gum trees that Hans Heysen entered my Grandfather’s stories. It was known that if anybody wanted to chop down one of these trees, they would have to speak to Hans Heysen first and he was a formidable force. I also found out that my grandfather’s sister, Ivy, worked as a housekeeper for the Heysen’s. That still intrigues me and unfortunately I need had the chance to discuss this with her.

My grandfather took this photo at the Hahndorf Centenary Celebrations in 1938 and I believe that in Hans Heysen standing on the RHS wearing a white coat and his characteristic knickerbockers and long boots.

My grandfather took this photo at the Hahndorf Centenary Celebrations in 1938 and I believe that in Hans Heysen standing on the RHS wearing a white coat and his characteristic knickerbockers and long boots.

Here is a link to some of Hans Heysen’s works: http://www.artgallery.sa.gov.au/agsa/home/Learning/docs/Online_Resources/Heysen_Trail.pdf

With his love and reverence for the Australian Gum Tree, I guess it is fair to say that Heysen’s outlook fitted in better with the more pastoral and bush portrayal of Australia and Heysen certainly despised Modernism and all its trappings. This was reflected in paintings such as The Toilers (1920) where Hans Heysen painted a local farmer “Old Kramm” and his horses.

Perhaps, it was Heysen’s love for this passing pre-mechanised world,which inspired Hans Heysen to undertake an etching of Haebich’s Smithy in 1912. My grandfather had a print of this painting and it was something we knew about and I guess were proud of without knowing any background to it at all.

Hans Heysen, "The Old Blacksmith's Shop, Hahndorf." (1912)

Hans Heysen, “The Old Blacksmith’s Shop, Hahndorf.” (1912)

It was only last year, that I really questioned Heysen’s perspective of the Blacksmith’s shop and how his still life contrasted to my grandfather’s animated stories of a busy, flourishing workshop. I remember how my grandfather;s face would light up, even as an old man, talking about how the water would whoosh up when the red hot steel rim for the wheel would be dunked in water producing an incredible gush of steam. He was a small boy once again mesmerised by the whole experience and and there was such theatre.

In addition to questioning Heysen’s still life of a place which was anything but still, I also realised that Heysen’s work portrayed the more traditional tools of blacksmithing at a time when the Smithy was already being mechanised. August Haebich and his eldest son Otto, were innovative engineers who invented the Wattle Stripper and engines. They were hardly relics from the past or living and breathing museum pieces.

So, there was a bit of food for thought, which I’ll need to investigate further.

In the meantime, while  doing yet another Google search and romping through the online newspapers at Trove, I made quite a discovery. It might not warrant global acclaim but it felt like I’d found a gold nugget in my own backyard. Believe me!  I was shouting “Eureka”from the rafters even though no one else was listening!

It turned out that Hans Heysen wasn’t the only famous artist who had depicted the Haebich Smithy. Hans and Sallie Heysen entertained numerous artists and performers at The Cedars. Indeed, famous singer Dame Nellie Melba was a regular visitor and naturally fellow artists also came to stay. Naturally, they roamed around Hahndorf and did what artists do…sketch. After all, the very quaint German buildings are what we would now call very “photogenic”.

Lionel Lindsay: "The Smithy Window, Ambleside" (1924).

Lionel Lindsay: “The Smithy Window, Ambleside” (1924).

So, consequently, I have unearthed other sketches of the Haebich Smithy. There was one by Sir Lionel Lindsay, brother of artist and author Norman Lindsay of Magic Pudding fame as well as artist and art publisher Sydney Ure Smith. Sydney Ure Smith was so smitten with Hahndorf, that he included scenes in his book: Old Colonial By-Ways (1928)…alongside much more recognised Sydney landmarks such as the buildings in Macquarie Street and Elizabeth Farm House in Parramatta, which is the oldest house in Australasia. Elizabeth Farm House was built In 1793 Sir John MacArthur and was where he con ducted his experiments with merino sheep, giving birth to the Australian wool industry.

Sydney Ure Smith: The Blacksmith's Shop, Ambleside (1925).

Sydney Ure Smith: The Blacksmith’s Shop, Ambleside (1925).

So, immortalised alongside, Elizabeth Farm House, is Haebich’s Smithy.

When you look at it like that, it really does seem rather incredible and amazing and yes, I’m impressed, proud and so many superlatives that I couldn’t possibly get them all down without sounding like a thesaurus!

By the way, the kids are spending the night at my parent’s place and Geoff and I actually made it out for dinner back to Yoda in Avalon. I also raided the local op shop this afternoon where I chanced up quite a few treasures including a very glamorous sheer burgundy colour sheer wrap with red faux fur trip. It’s come all the way from Paris and looks like something out of Moulin Rouge. I know people tell you that food and retail therapy are bad but I have to disagree. For five minutes there, I was on top of the world!

xx Rowena