An Observation – Part 6 – Heart Shaped Garden

Heide I - Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons - Nick Carson

Heide I – Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons – Nick Carson

Miss Three and I were at the Heide Museum of Modern Art in Melbourne, spending the day there with my mother-in-law, her sister and two other friends. Madam had already charmed everyone at lunch in the cafe, pretending to take our ‘orders’ at the table, charging us all exorbitant prices:

‘Really? A hundred dollars for coffee and cake? It must be good.’

After lunch she wandered with us through the concrete cool of the mid century modernist house called Heide II, once home to artists John and Sunday Reed, lolling on the couches where they had once sat and looking with a child’s eye at the paintings on the rough textured walls, bright arcs of colour and light.

Then we went to the original timber clad farmhouse, Heide I. The rooms were filled with paintings and photographs documenting that golden time when Heide was a hotbed of art and love and friendship, legendary names reclined in sunny group shots, laughing on the green lawns.

Miss Three became tired of it all, not being able to touch anything. She wanted to go outside and I obliged – after all, she had been so very good all day. So out we went, leaving our group behind as we stepped into the walled garden surrounding the house to find ourselves alone. Miss Three chased after butterflies then became entranced by the heart shaped flowerbed on the lawn, created by Sunday after the end of her love affair with Sidney Nolan. I watched as Miss Three danced around the heart, pink skirts blowing, small arms stretched out.

All at once it was as if time slowed and shifted, and it was as though Sunday stood near me, her presence as strong as the scent of roses tumbling over the high brick wall. I could feel her pleasure at seeing my daughter enjoying her garden, and hardly dared move or breathe, not wanting to break the spell sitting like a golden bell over us all.

Then a woman came through the arched opening in the wall, her expression disapproving as she looked at Miss Three who was stopped on the path, smelling a flower. ‘Excuse me,’ she said, moving abruptly past us before we really had a chance to step out of the way. And just like that, the spell was broken, the magic gone.

All except the memory. That remains.

A Gift

It’s no secret that I like to write. These days, it’s my main creative outlet and likely to remain so, as I explore my ‘voice’ on paper.

I do, however, have other creative interests. Both my grandmother and grandfather were talented amateur artists, and I can remember sitting in the Sunday School room with my grandmother before class started, watching her draw an illustration for the lesson on the big blackboard, amazed by how she would use the limited palette of chalks to create a world of colour. Later, in the quiet warm space between Sunday lunch and high tea, she and I would sometimes sit in the big living room at the Vicarage, tick of clock on the mantel as she would draw something and then get me to copy it, my small hand struggling to repeat the lines that came so easily from her pencil.

Several years after my grandfather passed away, she gave me a tin containing the drawing pencils he was using on his last work, a keen painter up until his untimely death. We have some of his work framed, stone cottages on a jetty under a lowering sky, a canal boat dappled with light and shade, and of course his beloved church, snowbound. I’ve never used the pencils but keep them as a talisman of sorts, a small piece of memory.

I painted for many years, even pursuing a degree in the creative arts, sure my artistic calling lay down that path. But the twists and turns of employment and life meant I ended up working in advertising instead, swapping the joys of painting and drawing for producing and casting – still creative in its own way, but not quite as fulfilling. Painting was reserved for my downtime and, while I did produce some work that made me happy, I never had the time to pursue it as I wished.

I haven’t done much painting since moving back to the UK, simply because I was concentrating on my writing instead, capturing the world of Ambeth as it poured out onto the page. However, I recently picked up my brushes again to create a painting for my husband on his birthday. And here it is, just for fun (don’t worry, I’ve already given it to him):


What about you? Do you have any other creative strings to your bow?

Oh and yay! This is my 100th blog post – can’t believe it really 🙂 Thanks to everyone for reading along.