Ramana Dienes-Browning: artist-in-residence August 2017

Ramana Dienes-Browning, Gunyah August 2017

Gunyah was a sensory paradise for writing. I decided to use my time there researching and script writing about the antagonists in my film, Imra’s Ocean, which I really wanted to understand at a three dimensional level. In the rich quiet of this space I was able to think very deeply about the motivations of the original Patriarchs, the Sun Worshiping horsemen who gave Old Europe their very first taste of violence and war on which my antagonists are based.

Ramana Dienes-Browning, Gunyah August 2017
After a lot of reading, listening to the waves of North Arm Cove, running on the beach with my dogs and playing silly games by the fire with my daughter it was clear that when we strip away life’s complications at it’s base is a desire for connection with what and who we hold dear. My violent patriarchs were no different, they were protecting their beliefs, lovers, children and longevity yet in doing this destroying the peaceful matrilineal society which had thrived for thousands of years. I no longer hated them, I still felt a deep pain for what they had done, but now I wrote the scenes with empathy. The journey of writing Imra’s Ocean continues with a deeper understanding of what and who I am writing about. 

Thank you to Gunyah for this priceless time and place.

Ramana Dienes-Browning
Gunyah residency report, August 2017

Ramana Dienes-Browning, Gunyah August 2017

Merridy Eastman: upcoming artist-in-residence

Merridy Eastman with her book How Now Brown Frau, 2011

Merridy Eastman is a best selling author, actress and mum who lives in Sydney. Since graduating as an actress from NIDA in 1983, she's worked mainly on stage for the Melbourne Theatre Company, the Sydney Theatre Company and the State Theatre Company of SA; as well on television as a presenter Playschool for five years, and regular cast member on Always Greener and Packed to the RaftersMerridy says that although she still loves the acting work, she's happiest of all when writing, perhaps because her school librarian mum filled their house with books.

Merrily Eastman, Ridiculous Expectations, 2007, book cover

In 2002 Merridy wrote her first book called There’s A Bear In There, And He Wants Swedish. This was followed in 2007 by Ridiculous Expectations and How Now Brown Frau in 2011 about her five years living in Bavaria. All three books were published by Allen & Unwin and one was a best seller. Merridy has also been commissioned to write short stories for Penguin and Pan Macmillan anthologies, as well as short theatre pieces and have worked as a script editor on television scripts.

Merridy Eastman's great great uncle Billy Jonas and his wife Maude, 1914

During my residency at Gunyah I plan to continue writing “I Knew We Weren’t Spanish”, which began in 2014 after discovering that my father’s family wasn’t Spanish at all, but Aboriginal, and that my great great grandfather, John Jonas, wasn’t a toreador so much as a Worimi man from the Paterson River. This discovery came about when my cousin, Dr Bill Jonas (who was Race Discrimination Commissioner with the Australian Human Rights Commission, as well as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner) introduced himself and told me about this extraordinary history we share. I was fascinated that my father’s family and generation had so swiftly swept our ancestry under the carpet, whispering the awful phrase, 'a touch of the tar', whereas my generation (me, my siblings and cousins) celebrate the same discovery with a sense of pride and an insatiable hunger to know more. I plan to continue sorting through the historical research I’ve accumulated over the last two years, and finish the first draft of my fourth book in the peaceful surroundings of Gunyah, and in Worimi country, so relevant to my story.
“I Knew We Weren’t Spanish” follows the story of the Jonas family who settled in Allworth, half an hour’s drive from Gunyah, a beautiful place on the Karuah River, where we stayed with my grandparents every school holiday. It begins at a time so perilous for Aborigines in the Hunter Region; and tells the story of a Worimi man, his two consecutive marriages to white women in the late 1800’s; the less happy story of his first child, my great grandmother Rose, who married my great grandfather (just released from Darlinghurst Gaol for the attempted murder of his ex); Rose’s famous buckjumping step brother Billy Jonas who (with Ned Kelly’s nephew Ned Lloyd) was shipped off to London to perform for George V’s coronation in 1911, and on it goes.

To read more about Merridy go to her website merridyeastman.com

Richard Glover: artist-in-residence July 2017

I had a wonderful time at Gunyah! It is a fantastic place to contemplate one’s work; quiet, comfortable and the environment is truly inspiring. I spent my time exploring the local bushland and coastal sand dunes north of Hawkes Nest; and travelled further afield to Maitland and the lower Hunter Valley investigating housing developments and coal mining impact on the landscape. The latter will require much more time and exploration but its impact on this region is pronounced. The days have been cool and clear and provided a perfect opportunity to make photographs. For a special Australian landscape experience I suggest visiting the dunes especially during and after sunset on a clear evening. I have not yet completed post-production of my photographs, but eventually you can view the results at www.richardglover.com/projects

Richard Glover, Gunyah residency, 2017, photograph
Richard Glover, Gunyah residency, 2017, photograph
Richard Glover, Gunyah residency, 2017, photograph

Ramana Dienes-Browning: upcoming artist-in-residence

Ramana Dienes-Browning speaking at the 2014 Gilded Anarchy Film Festival

Ramana Dienes-Browning is a Blue Mountains based film maker, writer and photographer. Her art practice involves explorations of concepts of self, identity and how the individual often struggles to interact with society. Drawing on her unusual personal life experiences of being raised and indoctrinated in a religious cult, which she finally escaped in her mid-twenties, Ramana's work is deeply insightful, haunting and brave. Her most recent work, Julianne, is a 30 minute short film about a young woman whose true identity was trapped by her upbringing, only coming out when she sleep walked. Through meeting an insomniac during her walks her identity was validated and their connection begins to heal them both.

Ramana Dienes-Browning, Production still from Julianne, 2012

During her Gunyah residency, Ramana plans to work on Imra’s Ocean, the script for her first feature film. Imra’s Ocean is a heroic fantasy narrative about a young boy's journey to bring balance to a world troubled by patriarchy, fear and oppression. The young hero must save his ill sister by freeing the captive spirit of the ocean, bringing the feminine back into their world. In order to do this he must go against a childhood of brainwashing that the ocean spirit is evil and dangerous. 

Ramana Dienes-Browning, Child-bride, 2012, digital photograph

You can read an interview with Ramana here and see more of Ramana's work at facebook.com/gildedanarchy and vimeo

Bethany Wheeler: artist-in-residence June 2017

Bethany Wheeler, Fog on the Hume Highway 6 am

We set off for North Arm Cove from Melbourne at 4:30am, driving through fog we arrived at Gunyah just in time to see the last rays of sun reflecting off the water. 

Bethany Wheeler, 8am looking up North Arm Cove

We woke see the sun rise over the glass-like water of the Cove turning the moored yachts into silhouettes.  As the morning sun filled the house, the wooden interior started to glow and poured over the studio desks.

Bethany Wheeler, Sun pouring into the studio 8:24am

The country surrounding Gunyah was beautiful to explore.  We visited The Myall Lakes, The Grandis – tallest tree in NSW, Mungo Brush, the ocean beaches, their islands & the still waterways of Port Stephens.  We kayaked out into The Kaurah River stopping at secluded inlets - viewing the big sky & landscape from the water.

Bethany Wheeler, Mungo Brush 11:30am

The wildlife in the backyard was abundant with regular visits from wallabies, kookaburras & dolphins, we saw koalas at Hawks Nest & whales passing by at Anna Bay.  We spent time bush walking the dirt roads of North Arm Cove & visiting the Gooreenggai Aboriginal site.

Bethany Wheeler, From the land & from the sea

I began pressing & collating collected botanical specimens from the local area & spent time documenting & developing a sense of place through photography, drawing & engraving.
Bethany Wheeler, Engraving on the jetty

I spent time recording the ever-changing light of the cove through photography & began engraving landscapes, pressed botanicals & maps of North Arm Cove onto sheet glass.

Bethany Wheeler, Reflections on the Cove

My final days were spent creating glass sheet assemblages, accumulating layers of pressed botanicals, ash from the fire, salt form the cove & engraved silhouettes with copper & wood.

Bethany Wheeler, Layered pressed botanicals and engravings

Spending time at Gunyah allowed me time to focus on creative research & to explore the beginnings of a new body of work.

Bethany Wheeler, Pressed Acacia ash and engraved glass

Bethany Wheeler, 
Gunyah residency report June 2017

Richard Glover: upcoming artist-in-residence

Richard Glover, photograph Australian Design Review 2017

Richard Glover is a photographer based in Sydney and London. His commissioned work is marked by a considered and pragmatic approach to illustrating the concepts and reality of architecture. Richard's exhibition projects investigate transitional phases of the built environment and are held in private and public collections including Art Gallery of NSW, Art Bank Australia and Tate Modern. He also teaches photography at University of Technology Sydney and the Australian Centre for Photography.
Recently, Richard has begun examining the natural landscape with fresh focus on the correlation between ‘designed’ and ‘natural’ landscapes. Such visual overlaps in man-altered landscapes are counterpointed with the discover of natural settings incorporating a perceived architectural foundation.

Richard Glover, Architecture in Landscape #L140--69, 2016, inject print, 110x50cm 

Richard’s work has been featured in Exit Magazine, Architectural Review, Blueprint, Art & Design, Independent on Sunday Review and Tate Magazine and in recent exhibitions at Sydney Architecture Festival, Arle Photography Festival and the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale TIME-SPACE-EXISTENCE.

Richard Glover, Architecture in Landscape #L210-053, 2016, inject print, 110x50cm 

During my Gunyah residency I plan to further develop my photographic series of Architecture in Landscape. I am particularly interested in exploring the sand dunes north of Hawks Nest, coastal cliff faces and bush-land settings in the vicinity of the North Arm Cove.

Richard Glover, Architecture in Landscape #L140-068, 2016, inject print, 110x50cm 

To see more of Richard's work please go to 

Jaki Middleton and David Lawrey: artists-in-residence May 2017

We arrived at Gunyah excited for the opportunity to slow down and take a break from the constant demands of juggling family, art, work and social commitments. The residency fell at an opportune time, just as we needed to really focus on our practice and resolve some crucial technical and practical issues for a project to be exhibited later in the year.

Photo by Jaki Middleton and David Lawrey: Gunyah artists-in-residence May 2017
Photo by Jaki Middleton and David Lawrey: Gunyah artists-in-residence May 2017
Photo by Jaki Middleton and David Lawrey: Gunyah artists-in-residence May 2017
Photo by Jaki Middleton and David Lawrey: Gunyah artists-in-residence May 2017

Our first day was romantically rainy, and our children (2 and 4 years) immediately went to work gleefully familiarising themselves with the house and its contents: they were thrilled by the walls made of exposed tree trunks; the loft bedroom with its climbing ladder; and the bay window looking out over the trees and water below.

Photo by Jaki Middleton and David Lawrey: Gunyah artists-in-residence May 2017
Photo by Jaki Middleton and David Lawrey: Gunyah artists-in-residence May 2017

Our days started early (as is often the case with young children), with a walk down to the jetty to watch the sunrise over the water and to jump across the rocks, stopping briefly to watch for tiny fish and periwinkles moving in the rockpools. A dead jellyfish was the source of much interest and curiosity.

Photo by Jaki Middleton and David Lawrey: Gunyah artists-in-residence May 2017
Photo by Jaki Middleton and David Lawrey: Gunyah artists-in-residence May 2017

We were struck by the soft light and peaceful stillness that surrounded Gunyah, and the space that it created for us to pay attention to our ideas and questions. It took us some time to settle into the unhurried pace, but as we did so, our thoughts clarified and we made significant progress in mapping out and determining the solutions that we needed to progress with the work.

Photo by Jaki Middleton and David Lawrey: Gunyah artists-in-residence May 2017
Photo by Jaki Middleton and David Lawrey: Gunyah artists-in-residence May 2017
Photo by Jaki Middleton and David Lawrey: Gunyah artists-in-residence May 2017

We began testing, making and building the smaller detailed components for the first part of the work, which involves a model of a kitchen at 1: 0.12 scale. Serendipitously, various objects and fixtures at Gunyah, including a ubiquitous coffee mug served as inspiration. The children embraced the polymer clay we were using and worked happily alongside us, our eldest making her own replicas of our scaled down replicas (meta!).

Photo by Jaki Middleton and David Lawrey: Gunyah artists-in-residence May 2017
Photo by Jaki Middleton and David Lawrey: Gunyah artists-in-residence May 2017
Photo by Jaki Middleton and David Lawrey: Gunyah artists-in-residence May 2017
Photo by Jaki Middleton and David Lawrey: Gunyah artists-in-residence May 2017
Photo by Jaki Middleton and David Lawrey: Gunyah artists-in-residence May 2017
Photo by Jaki Middleton and David Lawrey: Gunyah artists-in-residence May 2017
Photo by Jaki Middleton and David Lawrey: Gunyah artists-in-residence May 2017

As the residency came to a close, we were grateful to be able to move forward with a renewed focus and energy, both for our current project and our art practice as a whole. It was a joy too, to see how beneficial the unstructured time was for our children’s relationship and their creative energy. Gunyah is a magic place. Thank you to Kath and the Gunyah owners for your generosity in sharing it with us.

Jaki Middleton and David Lawrey
Gunyah residency report May 2017