18-25 Mar 2021
Walking into Studio House, we loved it immediately. A renovated 60’s farmhouse nestled amongst the trees at the back of a paddock, just outside of Foster in Gippsland.
Every room is filled with original art form local artists, including the host’s work, in rare earth. The fireplace was set and ready to light with a single match, in a lounge room with picture windows overlooking the paddock. The large eat in kitchen doubled as our art studio. And room to lock up our bikes in the laundry.
“Oh yes, I can see us being inspired here” said David roaming the rooms as we started to unload the car.
Our Host Anne, popped over to welcome us in person. She shared a little history of the farm and offered to show us the interesting bits, and invited us to take a look around the farm. Warm and friendly, we enjoyed meeting Anne.
During our week in this house we grew to feel at home and enjoyed it’s good vibes. It was the week an East Coast Low battered the coast from NSW to VIC. Facing east, the Studio House coped the wind front on. At night wind buffeted the building and shook anything not battened down. There was a clever fix to dampen down the rattling windows – half a wooden peg to wedge into the frames. It worked a treat.
Anne had mentioned there was a ‘pet’ cow on their 1100 acre beef farm. He’s a Swiss Brown steer, called The Giant Pet. We spotted him right away.
He is huge, with a gentle and curious personality. He is taller than me and a bit lopsided with one horn missing. His hide hangs off him, and I wondered how old he must be. Where ever he went, a pose of 4 or 5 smaller black and white cows followed. We dubbed one of his crew as Skull Face. She was black with white markings on her face that reminded us of a dried bone skull.
One afternoon the Giant Pet came up to our fence and so I went outside to say hello. He was busy scratching his head against a flimsy tree, when a branch got stuck in his one horn. The look on his face was a bit fed up and said “Great. Now, this”. I walked around into the paddock and tried to help him get free of the branch. I grabbed one end of the branch and he pulled against me. I was left with a handful of leaves and he was left with the branch but in the recoil from pulling away from me, he turned and the branch got snagged in the fence. He was free!
All the while Skull Face watched from a distance.
One afternoon we took our plain air gear down into the paddock and setup under the shade of a tree.
The little abandoned building was originally the farm house, built in the 1940’s for a family of six. Our Host Neil’s early childhood was spent here before they built a bigger house.
Anne, unlocked the little house so we could go and explore it, one rainy afternoon. It has an earth floor – they built it straight on the ground. The interior is divided into three rooms, a main room with the fireplace and kitchen and two bedrooms, presumably.
Everything inside, was from the original family’s life at that time. We were completely fascinated with it.
“I’m going to paint a still-life from this” said David. I agreed, the light on this overcast day was really flattering.
Over the week we explored the farmland around the house, one day heading down through a gate at the edge of the paddock, we followed a path out to the edge of the Corner Inlet Marine and Coastal Park.
The coastline is dense with interesting mangroves. Nothing like the mangroves we grew up with in Queensland. These are much shorter, only waist high so we could see out into the bay.
On our last day we met Anne at her Rare Earth Studio Gallery in Toora, and then she took us on a tour of the Red Pig Bakery they’re in the process of renovating. She struck me as being an entrepreneur with a rich and creative life in the country. It was inspiring.
We talked about the potential of retuning for a longer stay in the Studio House, for a sort of Artist Residency. It’s a nice thought.