We are returning to Australia this week for The Untitled Drawing Club to visit the Heide Museum of Modern Art. I must admit that I have never heard of this museum. It is located in Bulleen, on the land of the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation, about 13 km from Melbourne’s CBD. I was excited to follow the links and discover more, especially when I saw the Museum is housed in a mid-century modern home. I love a good mid-century aesthetic. As always, I will be sharing the artwork I created, inspired by my visit, and a link to the Club at the end of this post.
Link 1: The Heide Story
This week the Club has four links available for people to follow. Behind link number 1 we have a brief history of the Museum. Considering I knew nothing about the Museum or its collection, this history was a great place to start.
The story of Heide begins with John and Sunday Reed. In 1934, they purchased the land on which the Museum sits today and built their family home. It was known as ‘Heide I’ – inspired by the suburb of Heidelberg that is just over the river. The home was a French provincial-style weatherboard farmhouse that you can still visit today. The Reeds were clearly huge supporters of the arts, inviting artists such as Sidney Nolan, John Perceval and Danila Vassilieff into their home. Oh to be a fly on the wall for those discussions. Heide soon became a place of inspiration for artists who could meet, create and promote Australian modern art and literature.
Fast forward to the 1950s when the Reeds established the Gallery of Contemporary Art. Later that decade they launched the Museum of Modern Art of Australia with their friend Georges Mora. Their art collection eventually outgrew their house so in 1963 they commissioned David McGlashan of McGlashan & Everist to build a gallery that could be lived in (aka Heide II). The result is so spectacular – an icon of modernist architecture and a place that I must see with my own eyes. In 1981 it opened as an art museum fulfilling the vision of the Reeds to open their own public museum.
It has been the site of many significant exhibitions including the inaugural exhibition of ‘Ned Kelly Paintings’ by Sidney Nolan. But, it is also a museum that supports emerging artists harking back to the Reed’s vision of nurturing innovative contemporary art. There is also a sculpture park and heritage-listed gardens which you can explore via the fourth link provided by the Club.
I could not leave this link before having a quick look at the Museum’s online collection. They really have an impressive array of contemporary and modern artworks including this wonderful piece by Charles Blackman titled ‘The Shadow’.
Although there is no virtual tour, it is wonderful to see that they are running an exhibition of artworks by modern female artists including Cynthia Reed Nolan, Mary Boyd and Barbara Blackman. According to their website, this exhibition highlights the work of female artists who have been, for too long, overlooked and their cultural contributions sidelined.
Links 2 & 3: YouTube Videos
The first video available is an interview with Melbourne-artist Mirka Mora. In this very short video, she is discussing her paintings on the sunroom windows of the Heide farmhouse. They were painted back in 2010 and look like beautiful stained-glass windows.
The second video is quite a long look at the house from an architectural perspective. Andrew Maynard and Kevin Hui take viewers on a tour of the house pointing out all the architectural features. If you have ever seen Grand Designs, it is that kind of vibe. If you are into architecture, then it’s a great way to spend half an hour. I watched because I love mid-century modern design and they do go into detail about the specific features of the house that speak to this era. If you are a fan of Patricia Piccinini’s work, then definitely watch because her exhibition is in the background of the entire tour.
Link 4: Google Maps
The final link provided by the Club takes you to the outside of the Museum where you can see the sculptures and gardens. Similar to TarraWarra Museum, it was a relaxing way to finish my virtual visit. It really does look a beautiful place to visit. I can imagine spending a weekend in Melbourne travelling to TarraWarra one day then Heide Museum the next. What a weekend that would be, absolutely filled with contemporary and modern Australian art in stunning surrounds. One day….
At first, I had no idea what to create. Nothing really jumped out at me, but I knew I wanted to capture the mid-century modern aesthetic I was seeing in all the links. I decided to focus on the living room/dining room space and add a new artwork to the wall.
I’ve drawn the living room with a focus on the stairs – they are really nice stairs. Hanging on the wall, I’ve cross stitched a Piet Mondrian artwork and above, I’ve also cross stitched some gallery lights. I think this might be my favourite work so far. Looking back to week 1, I can definitely see I’ve improved!
If you are interested in learning more about the Club or want to join, then click here. I highly recommend looking into it and visiting some of the locations that have already been released.