I took the train from Melbourne to Heidelberg four days before christmas. The city was busy as usual, all the seats and tables on Chapel Street occupied with breakfast meet ups. Avocado Feta smash on toast, baked beans and poached eggs, scrumbled eggs with pesto and mushrooms. It was time to leave the hustle for a day and to find some time and space to breath and think.
I chose the Heide museum. In 1934, Sunday Reed moved here with her husband John. They created a home for national and international artists, writers and intellectuals – like Sidney Nolan, Albert Tucker and Joy Hester. In the inspirational space and calmness of the garden and the house, they created paintings, drawings, poems. It was a home for friends. An artist haven. A getaway from the city. Something like a little utopia. Since 1981, it has been a museum with three gallery houses.
When I got out of the train in Heidelberg I smelled the pine trees and sunscreen. Travelling is wonderful; but christmas is always a time I’d rather be home. I needed some time on my own to tell myself it was all okay and I could still find another inspirational place to feel home for a few hours. I walked around the gallery houses Heide I, Heide II and Heide III, through the kitchen garden, along the field. There were single benches everywhere, on the open field, underneath trees, in the sun, in the shade. Places to create. I chose one underneath a tree, I saw a corner of Heide II, statues next to trees, the sun was shining, and I wrote into my journal and it was all better.
Only a few weeks later, in Sydney, I found “Dear Sun”, a book of letters between Sunday Reed and her best friend – artist and poet – Joy Hester. It gave me another insight into Heide, and while reading the letters on a bus going around Sydney, it brought me back and forth from where I had been to where I was –
I have thought of Heide for the last three nights – the last thing that flitted through my head has been Heide and then I feel to sleep. I see Heide as a flat pattern like a sampler, with all the fields, the house, the road and river standing perpendicular and flat, not hilly as it is, but greener in a dry way, as though one has one’s back to it and was looking at the reflection in a small hand mirror. (…) It all fits in like an unruffled jigsaw puzzle, still, green, and very beautiful. (Joy Hester in Dear Sun. p. 121)
I read about Joy’s experiences in Sydney in places I had been as well, and even little descriptions felt like a confirmation I was at the right place in the right time with the right book.
The evenings across the harbour look like Heide in the mist. (Joy Hester in Dear Sun. p.94)
And I am still reading the letters, slowly reaching the end of the book, and I am still thinking of Heide as an inspirational and calm place I can take with me in my memory like a small hand mirror.