Day 1. The Arrival. After a long drive from Ipswich, Qld, 1073 kms (travelled over 3 days), I finally arrived at Mt Wilson in the afternoon to the old school house and teacher’s cottage. I was very tired as I hadn't slept well during my trip and had only just finished a stressful couple of weeks of work before leaving, as well as having my Honda CRV written off after a kangaroo accident and then having to hire a car for my 4-week adventure. I then could only afford to hire a small car for the trip so had to downsize my packing and materials list significantly, although it is pretty amazing how much I could fit into a Hyundai i30. I must have looked awful and seemed vague on my arrival – stressed and tired.
I was welcomed by my two wonderful hosts and shown around the cottage and the studio. This place is fully furnished and fully stocked with everything I need to make this place home for the month. There was a lovely arrangement of Waratahs on the kitchen table (I'd never seen real Waratahs before) with a bowl of freshly picked lemons and limes, and a jar filled with homemade Anzac biscuits. Everything looked awesome but the bed was particularly inviting, and I couldn't wait to get in it. My hosts invited me to one of their regular BBQs at the fire station next door that would take place the following Friday so I could meet some more of the community. I felt truly welcomed to the mountain community. That afternoon I started unpacking the car, although only the essentials as the full unpack would have to take place the next day after a cup of tea, a meal (leftover pizza from the previous night) and plenty of sleep.
Day 2. Finish unpacking the car and start to set up the studio and house. Met a couple of locals walking by that knew I would be here so had a quick chat. Made some test cyanotypes to start working out exposure times and explored the 'backyard'. Lots of tourist visiting the mountain today and keen to check out the cottage and old school house. It will be an interesting experience living and working in historic buildings.
Day 3. Walking and exploring the 'village'. There aren't any shops, cafes or services at Mt Wilson although there are a lot of gardens and wilderness, which is why I applied to come here. The weather has turned quite cold and I'm grateful for the wall heaters in various rooms and the heated towel rack in the bathroom. Lots of cups of tea today and making lots of notes in my visual diary. Ideas are coming to me, whether they are worth it or will be acted upon remains to be seen, but it feels good to feel some creative energy again. I've also started collecting bits and pieces that I find during my walks - mostly things that people have discarded and organic matter. Might be going back to my 'what people leave behind' series.
Day 4. Trip to Lithgow. Lithgow reminds me a lot of my Queensland home at Ipswich. The people seem familiar, some empty shops, and a strong mining history is evident. The town has a lot more commercial/industrial heritage buildings than Ipswich, is very green and is nestled among mountains. More studio work in the afternoon and a local walk, and again lots of cups of tea and white-hot chocolate to keep warm. Back in the studio I prepared some more materials for my upcoming workshop and made some digital negatives. Also set up my wildlife camera on a tree behind the studio to see if could catch and wildlife activity overnight.
Today I received my digital Testamur from Deakin University, which means I have officially graduated in absentia. Just a little Graduate Certificate in Museums Studies that I started last year. What I learnt during these studies has already informed my curatorial practice as well as my art practice. Life is a constant journey of learning!
Day 5. More comfortable in the studio. Today I made some changes to the layout of the studio as I become comfortable with my processes and start printing some sample cyanotypes on fabrics. I also brought in a blanket and pillow for the old and very cold leather lounges that have become my thinking and laptop space. Set up a tea and snacks stations so I don't have to keep popping back to the cottage. This studio has a kitchen with everything you could need and lots of items that come in handy for my work. Checked the wildlife camera memory card over breakfast and found I had captured a wallaby. Will be interesting to see what other wildlife is around the cottage. Had a surprise visit from a local today who popped into the studio to welcome me and a quick chat. It's been great to pick up some local knowledge from my visitors.
Day 6. Very cold and rainy today. Lots of hot drinks again and wrapped in blankets. Did some web research and cut out a lot of fabric circles ready for exposing when the sun returns. Checked my wildlife camera and unfortunately didn't capture any activity overnight. I heard some different bird calls today, when the rain eased off. I wasn’t unable to spot them though. Hopefully I will be able to photograph them over the next few weeks. I attended the community BBQ at the fire station this evening and met some more of the locals. They were a wealth of information and I asked lots of questions. Feels good to be right next door to the fire station in case anything should happen. They told me the last big bush fire to come through this area was in 2013. There is only one road in and out of Mt Wilson and Mt Irvine so if anything happens to that road, like a bush fire, the community is completely cut off. It's great that so many of this community support the fire station.
Day 7. Working in the studio . Another cold day working in the studio. Popping outside to photograph birds when I hear a new call. I’ve listed 11 bird species around the studio so far. Still waiting to see the Gang Gang Cockatoo. I've been told it makes a creaking sound, which I have actually heard outside although I thought it was just the trees making that noise. lol
Anyway, I've had a very interesting and creative week and am looking forward to the next 3 weeks.