Saturday, September 04, 2010
Art In The Open
The house where I am staying is a small cottage built at one end of a long block of land on a suburban street. From the front, it's so much like every other house on the street that sometimes I walk right past it without noticing. I've set up a temporary office/studio in the front room. I spend most of the day at the same, small makeshift drawing desk I've used for years – actually an old, paint-stained frame balanced on two adjustable aluminium trestles. Clear plastic drawers filled with art materials are stacked against one wall, blank frames and packs of paper lean against another. The whole studio can be packed up for transport within an hour. Within a couple of months, most of the materials will have been turned into work and sold. The rest of the house is neat but unremarkable – until you walk into the backyard. There, beyond a small patch of lawn, a formal path leads to a timber-built Balinese hut. It's an open, elevated space on a platform the size of two rooms, roofed with hand-laid straw. Passionfruit vines drape down one side. The rest of the garden is a motley but fragrant assortment of sub-tropical ferns, trees with bitter but edible berries, a peach tree, a lime bush, a heavily pruned magnolia, plantings of rosemary, some native lilli pilli and several climbing roses.In the morning, I drink coffee in the hut, warmed by the morning sun. In the evening, I sleep there under a duvet on a wide daybed, nestled among cushions. I like a shelter without walls, with a breeze on my skin and surrounded by the whispered rustle of leaves and small, nocturnal animals.