Monday, April 18, 2011

Avalon, and Three Generations of Artists

We went up to Avalon. You can see up near the top of this map how it's located on a peninsula (thirty miles north of Sydney CBD), with the Pittwater inlet to its east, and the Pacific to the west.

Or, if you live in this house, high up on the peninsula's ridge, here's the Pittwater window:

And here's the Pacific Ocean window (looking across the same painting):

I realize that you can't really see the water in these shots, but you can, really well, see them from the windows.

It's all part of the home of Nada Herman-Witkamp (more here), the third in a line of three generations of Australian painters. Her grandfather was Sali Herman, one of Australia's Official War Artists for World War Two, and four time winner of the Wynne Prize, one of Australia's most prestigious art awards. Her father was Ted Herman, another well known Aussie painter, and the guy who bought the land on which the Avalon house now sits, in the 1950s. There were at the time, Herman-Witkamp told us, hundreds of koalas in the area. Like "an infestation," she said. (There was a sign on the way up to the house with the image of a koala on it, but she said she hadn't seen one in twenty years.)

Herman-Witkamp, and, I'm guessing Witkamp himself—there was a guy there who I thought seemed pretty Witkampy—open the house to the public every weekend during certain times of the year. You can just pop up and walk around the house and grounds. They were there, hanging out in the kitchen. Herman-Witkamp told us to go ahead and make some tea in the kitchen if we liked.

The place is really something. It has one "little" sandstone cottage (that's where mum lives, we were told "Pop in, she won't mind!"), and the big house, made of windows and a bit of nice wood, it seemed, around an open courtyard, and the whole place surrounded by huge old gums. Christine and I decided that, in a pinch, it would do.

The view from the deck of the kitchen, of the Pittwater and a slew of sailboats:

All around the house are examples of her work, much of it, by my untrained eye, really quite good:

Around the grounds (the first pic is looking through one end of the courtyard into the kitchen):

An easel I'd love to have:

A table:

The Herman Art House, Avalon, NSW.


  1. Fabulous house.. I could hang some of that 'Oz Primitive' artwork on my own wall with pleasure. Especially like the ones of the beach full of people. Gawaan eat your burger..

  2. My wife, a war refugee went to school with the Anthony sisters. After graduation, I traveled in Europe and on the recommendation of my then girl friend looked up 'mom' in London. With our only child we toured eastern Aus in Yvettes auto in about 1982. When our son finally left home at age 30 we immediately called in the RE agent and for 10 years wandered the World including a visit with Dawn and Ted in the millenium year. Never met anyone else who has driven the full coast of Oz - let alone twice. And in it all the stop at Hy Brasil was indeed the high point! and it looks like you're keeping it well. If you or Ashley have a leftover Christmas letter or any writing about the family we would love to hear. We are settled back in Toronto and usually have room for guests - come!
    Love Hugh and Maire

  3. Hope the above will be forwarded to Nada.
    reply to: