Model landscape much later


Have finally made it to installing the landscape I started in November over a year ago. No rush. A lesson I have now learnt is not to make it so big that I can’t reach the back wall without climbing into it. Or at least make more room in the centre so I have somewhere to stand. As it were I had to crouch with a toe on each side of a little island, feeling like Gulliver. ”…the said Man-Mountain shall have a daily allowance of meat and drink sufficient for the support of 1728 of our subjects.” Man-Mountain! That’s me.

The landscape is in two halves which had to be joined and finished (still not done with that) and then given a ceiling of clear stiff plastic. I gave it two layers of plastic with wadded insulation inbetween, creating a flat sky which could still be cleaned from the outside. But when I looked at it from the inside it looked too square, with visible edges so I glued wispy bits of insulation hanging down. This worked very well, and to my surprise catches the daylight in surprising ways, like this:


So why this landscape and is there a point? Good question. I was given a round window from someone and could think of no better use for it than to build a large landscape in a wall, lit from above by daylight and lamplight by night. Just realise the actual window is not in the shot, it will come later. No, there is not much point apart from the fact that it is a peaceful scene where little of note happens. You can look at it for some time and discover detail, people, animals, houses. It is purely for pleasure.


My next problem is going to be the framing, but no rush here either. The year is young.

The summer garden


Daylesford has had splendid weather so far this summer. Cool nights, warm afternoons, occasional rain. The garden has certainly loved it. Gooseberries are plentiful at the moment, other things bud with promise still… It has just had a major haircut and is looking neater than what is perhaps the wilder norm. Actually, looking at these pictures I think it looks pretty rampant still but that is what happens, look away for a second and the wily tendrils are running the show again.
















Hello Possums! The boat is done.

Because I have the benefit of being 12 inside yet with the decision making capacities of someone WAY older, if I feel the urge to have a boat in the garden then I can! Hooray! See the older Boat post if you like, here’s a recap picture: Actual boat and the general plan.

It was in worse nick than I had hoped for. Here is the floor once I ripped it out. When I tried to scrape the old paint I was actually scraping away the boat itself. There’s no denying it, this will always be a fragile friend.

monets boat 8

Once the floor was gone I could see the sleepers I had rested the boat on. I covered the whole lot with weedmat, byebye ivy! Water will still be able to run through the weedmat. Then I used three lengths of sturdy treated pine and nailed them down. The well itself is 1,8 metres long, it is a deceptively large boat really.

monets boat 9

monets boat 10

From here it was a simple thing to screw down some decking. Just a little fiddly as each board has to be slightly longer than the next (and angled) as the well is shaped from narrow to wide. The thing in the middle is to take the centre support for the seat which will come soon.

monets boat 7On On the outside I attached braces to the sleepers to keep the boat steady. New seat, some new ply on top of the old, some fibreglass work  which is a delight, like papier mache for outdoors but HARD to get right, I am settling for strong and not pretty. The whole job is a bit rough really, but I feel there are limits to how much money and effort I am prepared to put on something essentially quite derelict.

monets boat 11

Monet’s boat would not be that if it didn’t have a hut at one end.

monets boat 13

I also made an awning in very thin plywood to keep most of the leaves out. As for durability, the whole boat is made from that stuff so I guess it will last for as long as the boat will.

monets boat 19

The possums play pirates in the boat at night. Or something. It became an obvious name! It is no longer Monet’s boat, but Dame Edna Everage’s.

monets boat 20

The art at the Pip


See the fireplace on the left? It isn’t. In fact, it is papier mache and it is a lamp. In the 1700s in Sweden, there was no distinction between theatrical scenery and domestic decoration. I feel the same way. Many things at the Pip are not what they seem. Paintings in the background by Richard Baxter, Sulman Prize finalist 2014.

213 Bathroom 23 WS R

Digeftive 2

 The sculpture in the bathroom wall is called The Digeftive Fyftem. It is a fair representation of your digestive system, from beginning to end, if you pardon the pun. Made from old plumbing, watchparts, hardware and miscellaneous bits. The removable appendix is an empty bullet casing.

cupboard doors

You might wonder why the kitchen cupboards are under the heading of ”art”. I do too, but the wooden teatowels are welcome on this page. I had been looking at the general doorlessness wondering what I could use. There was some already warped plywood in the shed and they made perfect sliding teatowels. The picture frame on the right was in an old wardrobe at the house when I bought it. It was easily the best thing in the house.

raeburn doorSince the kitchen cupboards have slid in here, I might mention more detail. The old filing cupboard is an ordinary one which I sanded and wire brushed using a drill attachment. I removed the old lock which left a hole, there is an old SA railways badge in its place. The gap left on top was covered with more recycled metal and furniture tacks. The old Raeburn doors were bolted together to make a whole. Inside is the only thing I kept from the old knackered electric stove: the metal oven racks. They make great shelves. Other cupboard shelves in the kitchen are made from things like wire fences. Have a look. It is good with see through shelves, you have no dark invisible back corners.

coppar detail

Ok, I know. This is definitely not art. Yet… When the floor starts to creep up on the walls, where is the distinction? The copper I used on the floor is all from an old hot water unit. You know, the ordinary rectangular upright model which is so very common. When you cut away the square outer steel there will be the most glorious copper ready to use. It is soft and malleable. Cut carefully with tinsnips or drill with nibble attachment for instance. File all edges. Wear protective gear. Do not throw out your old copper!


This is a little thing from the wardrobe floor. Guests are expected to open things and explore, but I find people are much more sensitive to obeying notes saying not to touch than I ever could have imagined. Regularly they ask on checking out ”What is in the trapdoor?”. I find it really nice and polite. Lovely. But go ahead, open it.


Baron von Mueller features highly at the Pip. The walls and ceilings are full of him. Here he is bringing conifers to Wombat Hill Botanic Gardens, which actually did happen in the 1800s. I have used him as my example visitor, to show what you can do in the region.


Here he truffle hunting and visiting the Convent. In the kitchen at the Pip you can see one of the baron’s original specimen tags. He was an exploring botanist and a very interesting man. A young girl who stayed at the Pip asked when checking out ”But who WAS Baron von Mueller?”. This is a question I think we need to ask ourselves more often. You can find the answers to that in the old briefcase in the hallway, it has a few books and quite a lot of copies of the Baron’s letters.


What is art and what is craft? Art is something which has no apparent purpose, perhaps. Craft does, for instance you could drink from a mug, or have your privacy protected by leadlight. I have a hard time separating the two and just want to fill all possible space with things which are mainly made by me in  any form or material. I find that when you create a space with uneven handmade things, the massproduced stick out as glaringly wrong. How to solve the mass produced crockery problem? I overglazed ordinary crockery. I can show you how, it is not difficult and can be fired in a domestic oven. It’s great fun and once you start you will not stop until your shelves are full.

crockery 2

Below are a couple of paintings I did in the style of Chaim Soutine just to try to learn something new. They look deranged but are old favourites.

bedroom detail soutine

Below is a chess board, if you open the painting up. It comes from a gallery in the Barossa where I used to exhibit many years ago. My remit was making objects, as pure paintings belonged exclusively to a different artist. Hungry to paint, I chose to make objects and then paint them. The best of both worlds! Most of the art at the Pip can be bought, but not all.


Here we have the Baron again, running away from a wombat on the bathroom wall. This is the first one I did, and he wasn’t friends with the wombat then. In later wall paintings he actually shares his day very closely with the wombat so things must have gone ok after a shaky start.

bathroom baron

Half a Rhino. No more, no less. Just half. I likes rhinos a lot.

half a rhino

Here I am, painting the repetitive trim which ties the cottage together. It is as close as I can make it to Albert Pictor’s most common border, a medieval church painter in Sweden. I am a huge fan of his work. Look him up if you have a minute.

painting border

Below is a self portrait. Busy Being Good. My paintings start at around 300 for small ones, goes up to around 1000 for a bigger one. I mostly do prints at the moment which start at 25 for unframed prints. Visit me at Sister George if you want to see my work.

being good

One of our many local artists is Jackie Gorring. She is a printmaker of great critical acclaim. You can visit her studio a short drive away. You just need to ring first. The one below is almost totally obscured by the telescope and reflections on the glass, but I cropped the image from the larger image of the living room. She usually has quite a lot of images for sale in her studio and it is really worth a visit.


Guests usually think this is another Baron image but it’s not. It is really me, walking a little white dog who is having a ride on a trolley. It is called Felix Doesn’t Like Snow and hopefully shows how small we all are. At least I am, the forest is big and dark yet I walk bent into the wind, pulling my little white dog. The lamp is not painted on, just in the way!

walking in snow

And now for some ceilings.


All the ceilings have their own decoration, this is the red bedroom. The words are from a Swedish song by Evert Taube called Nocturne. ”Sleep on my arm, the night hides, under its wing your blossoming cheek”…

Guests sometimes wonder if my neck is ok from all this painting but the answer is simple. The skies on the ceiling is done in situ as there is no precision involved, but all detail work is done on the ground and stuck up after completion. Anything on the walls is painted straight on. My neck is fine!


Here is another one. The cloud painting is very simple. Here’s how to do it: Paint your ceiling any colour you like the sky to be. Could be dark and moody, sunny, pinkish or grey. Look at the sky for inspiration. Then, using a diluting medium from an artsupplier and a tiny bit of white artist’s oil paint, brush the clouds on thinly and unevenly. I use an artist’s brush, not a wall paint brush. Not too big either, less than one inch. Brush and rub, push the paint to its limit. The colour you painted the ceiling will show through giving you three dimensional depth. Add a little thicker white in places for added shape. You can do the whole job with white alone. I have added a very tiny (and I mean tiny, a little goes a long way) dab of Payne’s Grey and Vandyke Brown but it is not necessary. I suggest painting a board with the ceiling paint and practise on that before climbing the ladder. If you visit Sister George Studio Gallery, you will see a different, darker version. The best thing with clouds is that they actually make your ceilings disappear. Also, there is no right and wrong with clouds. They are all perfect.


Here is another one, in the kitchen. It says ”Bibere Aquam”, drink the water. Sound advice when you are in Daylesford.

There is a little Danish money box on the wall in the kitchen. Open it and you will see the tiniest of origami birds. I didn’t make this, I used to keep an emergency last box of matches in there. It was a surprise from departing guests. I was touched, it was like they were contributing to the evolving surprises. It is still exactly how they left it, as is the little yellow horse left by someone else. Then, a few weeks later, another departing couple left a tiny portrait of themselves in the very same money box. Makes me laugh, still. Have a look if you come to stay, it’s worth visiting just for that. Thank you!

There are also a few works by Richard Baxter, Sulman Prize finalist 2014. The landscapes are by him, as is the enormous tree painting in the main bedroom. They fetch rather a lot more than mine do. All I can say is if art excites you even just a little bit, buy a piece. Any piece. It will lead to another before long. Suddenly you have a collection.