March 10, 2024 Rhonda Pryor

Memories of an artist residency

A Bundanon story

 

Memories of an artist residency at Bundanon: a bushy inlet.

The inlet, Bundanon.

 

I was struck, on a very brief visit to Bundanon few weeks ago, by the stark contrast between the recently renovated historic homestead of Arthur Boyd and his family and the one I remember from a residency in 2000. It generated quite a few memories of my first artist residency and my immersive experience of this unique environment.

Beautifully restored as it is now, the old home did have a slightly ramshackle charm when I first experienced it. In 2000, when six months pregnant with number 1, I spent the whole month of April exploring the property, getting to know the other artists in residence, and embarking on a new project. The residency took place soon after I graduated from my BFA so it was a big deal at the time, especially as I was protecting a pregnancy after a problematic interval.

 

 

I remember scouring the homestead library, which was stuffed with books, but now only has a limited selection on display. The whole place felt very lived in and homey.

The project I worked on involved collecting sample jars of water on the property that I’d run up to the Australian Museum, pop onto slides, and photograph under a scanning electron microscope. The large dam had the most amazing life forms, most likely because the cows had access to it, but there was still fascinating imagery to be found from the river and the inlet.

 

 

These images were then manipulated and printed onto a semi-sheer fabric for the final artworks. Unfortunately I don’t have an image of the work but I do have the test prints.

 

Memories of an artist residency at Bundanon: fabric swatches printed with microscopic imagery of life forms in water.

Fabric print samples featuring microscopic life forms from the water.

 

I also played around with ink studies of the landscape, bushwalking, soaking up the isolated working farm ambience and accumulating a few memories along the way.

 

Other artists in residence at the time were Angus Strachan, an Australian writer, director and musician now living in London, Isobel Clement, an Australian painter from Victoria, and Christopher Cook, a British painter living in Sussex, UK.

I remember some wonderful experiences while there, including:

  • A play reading evening in the homestead living room, workshopping the play Angus was working on.
  • A dinner party in the old kitchen building behind the homestead. Angus and Chris picked mushrooms from one of the paddocks and cooked up a mushroom risotto while someone else made pannacotta for dessert. This was a big do with the live-in caretaker, all the artists, and some other staff (the names of whom I’m sorry to say escape me).
  • A couple of friends came to visit on the weekend of the first anniversary of Arthur Boyd’s death, and played the booming full-sized grand piano in the homestead living room – so loud and full-bodied in that small space.

 

Memories of an artist residency at Bundanon. Eating dinner in the old kitchen.

Dinner in the old homestead kitchen. That’s me in the black scoop neck.

Memeories of an artist residency at Bundanon: a playreading.

Play reading: Isobel and Angus in the homestead living room.

 

As you’d expect there was no shortage of wildlife. Groups of kangaroos would routinely appear in the paddocks by around 4 pm, the resident wombats regularly walked the tracks and it was so silent (and dark) at night I remember there was always a serenade of nocturnal outdoor rustling to fall asleep to. One of the funniest scenes I ever saw was a few of the cows playing, running through the sheets hanging on the clothesline (not my clothesline, thankfully).

 

Wombat walking in long grass.

The old, blind wombat.

 

The Bundanon residency was a memorable early career experience for me, and I felt quite brave when I’d completed it. I think its revealing to revisit parts of your life that form you in some way. It reminds you of where you’ve been and how you got to now, so you can more clearly see where you’re going.

 

 

 

 

 

, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,