We find ourselves with quite a bit of free time these days. My weekdays are spent job-hunting, buying us more and more stuff (finally got a vacuum!) and generally exploring. Oh and cooking. I’ve been cooking a lot AND doing the dishes, a gravy train which I’ve warned Stan might end once I find gainful employment.

So a lot of weekends we become tourists. Last weekend we visited the South Australian Museum, which had lots of cool Aboriginal artifacts and some interesting taxidermy. This weekend, we decided to take a 20-minute drive to Hahndorf, an historic German town in the Adelaide Hills.

The fall colors are out, and the streets are lined with touristy shops and restaurants. We had a German lunch of several kinds of wursts (my vegetarianism has definitely transitioned into flexitarianism down here).

Hahndorf is also home to St. Michael’s Lutheran church, which is Australia’s oldest Lutheran church with an actively worshiping congregation.

Next we went to a nearby property called The Cedars. All we previously knew was that it was a gallery of some sort, but when we got there we learned a lot from the guided tour. It turns out The Cedars was the home of Hans Heysen, an iconic German-Australian artist who became famous for his depictions of the Australian bush, particularly gum trees. He also captures light really well.

Droving into the Light, via here

His work reminded Stan of Maynard Dixon, who painted the American west.

We toured the historic Heysen house, where Hans and his wife Sally lived with their eight kids. I love stuff like that. We were by far the youngest people there, proving that we’re retired senior citizens trapped in young bodies. The house was full of his original paintings, which were really cool to see. It was also “chock a block” full of antiques and Persian rugs, which I tried not to drool on. The house’s decor hasn’t been changed since the family lived there. The kids still have family functions in the house and stay over. Pity we couldn’t take indoor photography, because there were some killer window seats, sunrooms, and wood-inlay furniture pieces. You’ll just have to go there!

A funny anecdote was that the Heysens had Anna Pavlova, the famous ballerina, over for dinner once. She loved a still life that Hans had painted for Sally, and pestered him and pestered him all throughout dinner to let her buy it. At one point she even got out her checkbook, but Hans refused because he had painted it for his wife (um, cuuuuute!). He finally convinced her to put down a deposit for a commissioned piece, which she reluctantly did. He then painted her a still life that was very similar to the one she’d wanted so badly and sent it to her, but it was almost immediately returned with a note saying that if she couldn’t have the one she wanted, she didn’t want one at all. Can you say Prima Donna!

This is his studio, which cost 400 pounds to build back in the 19-teens.

The other side featured a huge etched glass window imported from France. His studio was also full of Persian rugs, which he freely painted over. There was not a single drop of paint on any of the rugs; he was a very tidy man. But they were well worn, and you can see the holes where his easels wore through.

Sculpture work abounds on the sprawling property as well. (The property is about 130 acres- he bought out his neighbors to preserve his beloved redgums.) This is made from railroad nails.

The Heysen Sculpture Biennial was also going on, and we got to watch the artists work.

Lastly, we got to see the Model A Ford and caravan that Hans Heysen used to take to the wilderness to paint.

Looks cozy!

Here he is painting in the Flinders Ranges. I love how he’s in his suit and hat. What a gentleman.

Image via here

Thanks for indulging my touristy posts. I have a project coming up, and it involves sandpaper, wood patch, and paint, so stay tuned!

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