Hill End is a small town in the hills high above and to the west of Bathurst. Settled in the latter half of the 1800’s, several original buildings are still standing and there is much evidence of the busyness of the gold-rush era that swelled the local population to over 30,000. The main street is lined with old European trees and Monterey pines planted by a Mr Beyers, after which the street is named. Motor-bikes loudly enter the town and people wander about like there is no-one living here. But there is, kindly, quiet loving people, many of them artists. Despite objection, Dept of Parks and Wildlife continue to spray numerous noxious chemicals onto roadsides near where people would prefer to grow their organic vegetables. And where does it go then? Into the earth, the drains, the water, and then us. Roundup has gone so far as to be present in the breast-milk of mothers in every country it is utilised. Known to act like oestrogen in the body, it is linked to hormone related cancers in both men and women. As we are no further ahead in prevention or cure of cancer, why is there silence on this matter?
A visionary might see this place as a being like a street in Fremantle where planter boxes line the streets with small citrus, herbs and vegetables; or like Bellingen where the people were listened to and voted to stop the spraying of nasty chemicals. The country town is beautiful and is NOT overrun with weeds, quite the opposite. Chemical companies have indoctrinated those in positions of power far more successfully than religion it seems. Is it because of the kick-backs?
Back to Hill End. I’ve been here at the old cottage known as Murray’s Cottage – the former home of Donald Friend in the late 40’s – since the beginning of November. The experience has been far more enriching than I imagined, though I did not imagine anything really. I was open. At first I felt quite lost and made some self-portraits and colour swatches. I read a lot. I began to make paintings of fragments of light and shadow. Up here I’ve noticed the light and shadow seems to contain more colour and this is inspiring. Ideas for abstract works are simmering. In the interim, I’ve been making an 18 page illustrated dairy recording my experiences here – it has been like coming home to myself, while also connecting with the artist who lived here through his writing, and also the remarkable down-to-earth people who live in this town now.
Two of those, artists – Kim Deacon and Lino Alvarez – have been especially kind. They make beautiful hand-made ceramics know as La Paloma Pottery, some of which I am now the proud owner. Kim is a talented performer also, writer of music, singer and player of many instruments including harp. These are humble and professional artists and life is better because I’ve met them 🙂