Hill End artist-in-residence

I am away from it all, or, most of it. Hill End is at the end of the road, an hour and fifteen minutes substantially elevated and west of Bathurst. An old gold-mining town, established in 1872, a number of artists have made this place their home. It is charming with its enormous trees, old buildings and ruins. There are a lot of kangaroos, feral goats and rabbits. The sun’s light is both clear and soft here in late Spring, a gentle breeze teases the leaves and a range of birdsong, flies, bees and whipper-snipper fill the air. And I miss my Dad. Tomorrow it is 5 months since he died. Tomorrow is also my birthday. It will be the first one that I will not hear him say ‘hope you have a good day Suzanna’. It will be day spent mostly alone and a bit with strangers here in this relatively remote place. Dad told me to keep painting. He had not understood why I had to stop being a Physio (problems with my spine and my hands ironically) and followed the path of an artist. It was more than that though. Around 6 weeks before he died we had a conversation about this. I could sense him searching for something to ask me, and he decided to tackle the art question: why do you do it? I compared it to farming; about there being good times and not so good times, but you wouldn’t give it up, would you? He nodded sagely. It felt like he really heard me and understood beyond my clumsy comparison. In the last weeks before he died, he would step outside his usual ways of thinking, and seek to understand. As his ego fell away, he became gentle and kind. It breaks my heart to remember him say “I’ll miss you Suze” and “…keep those paint-brushes revving!” He would have loved it here at Hill End. And I am painting.

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