Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Six spooky experiences to try this coming Halloween

From unleashing your inner ghostbuster to investigating crime scenes and being part of a supernatural interactive theatre show, there’s something for everyone.

Friday, September 10, 2021

Hahndorf: The Studio of Nora Heysen

Nora Heysen is recognised as one of Australia's most significant 20th-century female artists, being the first woman to win the Archibald Prize (1938), and the first woman appointed as an Australian War Artist (1943-46). Her art is in the collections of the Australian War Museum, the National Gallery, National Portrait Gallery and the National Library, together with state and regional art galleries, and numerous private collections.

Born in Hahndorf in 1911, Nora was the fourth child and daughter of Hans and Sallie Heysen. Her first formal art studies were with Mary Overbury who tutored the Heysen children. From 1926 Nora studied at the North Adelaide School of Fine Art, which led to her winning the Melrose Prize for portraiture (1933). After a very SUCcessful solo exhibition, Nora Heysen travelled to London for further study and to visit major collections in Europe. She returned to Australia in 1937 and resided in Sydney until her passing in December 2003.

Nora Heysen's private collection returned to The Cedars after her death and is the single largest collection of her works. Her paintings, drawings, books and personal artefacts are now displayed in changing exhibitions in her restored studio. They include some of her finest portraits, still lifes and drawings from the model. We can trace Nora's career from her student studies at age 15, to drawings from her War service, and the works of a mature artist through to her final oil painting, Apples on a chair (1995).

Apples on a chair, 1995 oil on canvas, 40.5 x 51.0 cm; Collection of the Nora Heysen Foundation, The Cedars, Hahndorf 

Nora Heysen used the art equipment and materials on display. Especially note the palette given to the young artist by Dame Nellie Melba, and a portfolio case for transporting works in the Pacific region in World War II. On her travels, Nora acquired the ceramics and other personal effects that often appear in her still life works. Nora Heysen's library gives us an insight into her artistic interests and influences. Jane Hylton's book, Nora Heysen: light and life, provides a comprehensive overview of the artist's life and work.

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Meals on Wheels: Sydney and NSW Food Trucks

There's a unique kind of joy to sitting on a milk crate with a paper plate laden with flavourful food balancing on your knees. NSW has long had a love affair with food trucks, which shows no signs of abating. Here are some of the tastiest in town:

Monday, September 6, 2021

Ten Virtual Travel Experiences you can enjoy from home

For the chefs who want to learn how to make more than just banana bread

Small Group Authentic Mumbai Virtual Cooking Class with Dessert

Learn how to make Pav Bhaji and Rice Kheer from Kajal. Based in Mumbai, Kajal picked up authentic home-style family recipes from her mom and sister. In 2017 she started hosting food tours and Pav Bhaji was always one of the most popular dishes. This Maharashtrian delicacy is a thick vegetable curry made from seasonal vegetables, potatoes, tomatoes and onions served with pav, which is a bread roll topped with butter and best served hot. The word 'pav' comes from the Portuguese word for bread and 'bhaji' in Marathi means a vegetable dish.

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Don Dunstan ends Adelaide's Six O'Clock Swill

A volunteer at the Magill RSL was in the crosshairs of prosecutors in 1947 for an offence that, these days, we would see as innocuous on a Friday night. 

Monday, August 9, 2021

Adelaide's Historic Ayers House Future Under Threat

Photo by The Advertiser
Photo: The Advertiser

Warren Jones
Adelaide East Herald

The future of the historic Ayers House and museum is under threat.

On 10th June 2021, an eviction notice from the Minister for Environment and Water and his Departmental Head was hand-delivered to the National Trust of SA demanding that it vacate the property within 31 days.

Following difficult negotiations, the eviction deadline was extended to September.

This is an unprecedented and unwarranted attack on the fifty-year stewardship of Ayers House by the National Trust, a body which, for 65 years, has nurtured and safeguarded much of South Australia's built and natural heritage.

The SA Government plans to appropriate Ayers House for the History Trust of SA which is seeking a new administrative headquarters.

This Trust is a statutory government agency, residing within the Department of Education.

Its funding, responsibilities and activities devolve from the government of the day

It is inappropriate for this state heritage building to be used to accommodate 25 History Trust staff in areas and offices which would re-purpose heritage rooms and completely displace the heritage museum with its collection of 30,000 precious artifacts and furniture. The planned takeover also foreshadows the use of Ayers House for government functions in order to capitalise on the commercial opportunities and political status symbolism of its proximity to Lot 14.

Ayers House as it is today (Source: Ayers House)

This is no excuse to eviscerate the House, tarnish its cultural heritage status and sacrifice the museum.

The government is promoting and underwriting this proposal with $1.5 million to relocate the 25 History Trust staff at a cost of $57,000 per head, along with $6.5 million to alter the structure and function of Ayers House.

This funding could more appropriately and effectively be used to install a lift and air conditioning, and in assisting the National Trust to embellish and maintain the fabric and contents of this heritage icon.

There is no imperative or logic in locating the History Trust in Ayers House

The government's requirements for office space for bureaucrats, a modern kitchen, lecture rooms, educational facilities and function spaces can readily be accommodated elsewhere in the CBD, and in particular in other prestigious locations on North Terrace.

The National Trust has cared for Ayers House as a historic public institution without government assistance for operating costs.

Over 50 years it has endowed the house with $20 million in fabric, contents and in kind, through volunteer support.

This politically motivated and unnecessary eviction must not be implemented.

What's so special about Ayer's House?
(Source: National Trust/Margaret Barca 1984)

Ayers House is one of the finest examples of colonial Regency architecture in Australia, and historically important as the home for over 40 years of Henry Ayers. Secretary of the SA Mining Company ; (responsible for the Burra Burra mines) and one of SA's most distinguished politicians a member of SA's first Legislative Council and 7 times Premier. Ayers leased a small cottage with a coach-house from William Paxton in 1855. Gradually (1858-74) he extended the house, with the aid of architect William Strickland, into an uncommonly fine and elegant mansion. The distinguishing features of the facade are the harmonious proportions of the bowed wings, with curved and shuttered windows, and the deeply recessed porticos. Internally, Ayers House, known originally as Austral House, combines simply decorated private rooms with superlative examples of late Victorian opulence. The ceilings, cornices, stencilled wallpapers and trompe l'oeil work of the ballroom and state dining-room are exquisite. A small suite of rooms was built into the ground to provide a cool retreat during Adelaide's intense summers. The National Trust (SA) now occupies the oldest wing. 

Address: 288 North Terrace, Adelaide, South Australia 5000

Formerly known as Austral House
(Source: Adelaide Sketchbook/Max Lamshed 1967)

Sir Henry Ayers
Sir Henry Ayers, his home on North Terrace - now Austral House - and the life which flowed around it were big elements in Adelaide's Establishment before the turn of the century. As President of the Legislative Council, he gave his Parliamentary dinners at home, his guests seated around a long cedar table and the Ayers family crest of three doves and an olive branch looking down from the ceiling. It had taken a painter named Williams, flat on his back on a mattress supported by ladders, three days to do.

The house grew through a series of additions, which added symmetry and comfort. The original builder, early in the 1850s, was William Paxton, a Hindley Street chemist, who sold to Sir Henry Ayers when he returned to England in 1855.

With the home went City Acres 29 and 30 reaching from Tavistock (now Frome) Street to the boundary of the present East End Market and from North Terrace to Rundle Street.

The first additions were to the back of the house in 1857. Two years later, the ballroom was added, with cedar floor sprung for dancing and cedar doors which could be folded to bring in three other rooms.

There were grand nights of entertainment on which the cedar floor was washed with milk beforehand to make it smooth. In 1871 a large room with a bay window was added on the western side to balance that on the cast, and three years later there was an addition at the rear.

After the death of Sir Henry Ayers in 1897, the house was practically empty for a long span. In 1914 it was sold to Mr Henry Woodcock and later was bought by a syndicate which named it Austral Gardens and built a stage for open-air theatre, which flourished through summer nights, and the Palais Royal Dance Hall.

The house is now under the control of the National Trust.

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