Milan Ring: upcoming artist-in-residence

Milan Ring is a Sydney based musician whose 2014 Debut EP Glassy Eyes, caused the Sydney Morning Herald to name Milan the “Next Big Thing”. She garnered radio, press, media and industry support, performing at the Alicia Keys and John Legend Arena show and being whisked away to LA to meet with top of Universal Music Group at the time Zack Horowitz. Freshly returning to Australia from a mentorship in LA with Neff-U (Dr. Dre, Eminem, Kendrick Lamar), performances in Jakarta, Bali, NYC & LA, armed with a degree in sound engineering and a Universal Publishing deal, Milan is preparing for her second EP release, an international tour and a plethora of creative projects in 2017. 

Milan Live at SoulFest 2014, photo by Peter Dov 20 October 2014

Drawing on the rich influences of her Chinese, Indian and Australian heritage Milan has developed a strong sense of musicality that is uniquely her own, from vocal inflections and phrasing to innovative production, Milan's creative processes disentangle existing modes by constantly adapting to form new sounds, assemblages and lyrical tracks. Milan's music has been described as hypnotic, with its impossible electric guitar runs, her trademark sultry dreamscape voice and effortlessly interwoven synths & samples. When composing her songs Milan also makes the beats, plays the keys, synths, bass, records and mixes and is across the production of each of her songs. The Gibson endorsed artist fluidly moves between being a masterful lead guitarist, multi-instrumentalist to a singer, songwriter, producer and business woman. Whether for herself or writing and collaborating with other artists, Milan creates a brand of music that shimmies across the sensibilities of Electronic, R&B, Jazz and Hip Hop.
"Meet Milan, she is about to get a spoon, dig out a little spot in your heart and make herself comfortable ... her songs draw on life experiences, family relationships and stories from her years of working and growing up in Sydney’s Inner West, but her storytelling is often cryptic and open to interpretation. Topics like love, loss, depression, drugs and addiction weave through her words. Passages of rap-influenced double-time singing, mixed with strong and soulful hooks show the influence of the black music of North America, but her voice is still distinctly Australian." (Triple J Unearthed)
Milan Press Shot with Gibson, photo by Melissa Cowan, 16 March 2016

During my residency at Gunyah I plan to set up a recording studio in the lounge room, look out through those big windows and observe the trees and the birds. Sit on the balcony with my notepad and write poetry and lyrics. Go for bush walks, do my yoga down on the peer and meditate by the water. I will be starting work on my debut album and the beginning stages of any project is always the most exciting time, where ideas are all bouncing around, so to have a residency at this stage, means a change of environments allowing the space and freedom to create and explore ideas. I am so inspired by the Australian bush and the space at Gunyah, I think it adds something uniquely Australian to my music.

To hear some of Milan's music go to her website

Merridy Eastman: artist-in-residence Sept 2017

My Gunyah trip was a desperately needed break from a stressful year of moving house, being a working mum and carer for two dear elderly parents in Hobart. The book I’m writing is about discovering that our family is not descended from a Spanish pirate, as our Nana told us, but from a Worimi man from Paterson. For the last three years I’ve been gathering research on our family ancestry, as well as the Worimi people, their culture and history. So the best thing about the Gunyah residency for me, even before I got there, was that it’s located in Worimi country. And although I’d grown up visiting my grandparents in Allworth half an hour’s drive away, I’d never been to North Arm Cove and wasn’t expecting anything so beautiful as the location, let alone this open, light, welcoming timber built house. 

Merridy Eastman, Gunyah AIR Sept 2017

The very first thing I did was set out all my books, my research papers, my computer and screen on the large dining table overlooking the tall gum trees and the water below (where the Karuah River meets Bundabah Creek) before exploring my new, peaceful surroundings with an afternoon walk accompanied by my elated sensory-overwhelmed companion, Teddy. We were both in heaven.

Every day it was such a pleasure to wake up to the sound of the wind in the trees all around us, birds singing, and the water lapping below, (and hilariously on just one occasion - in the middle of the bush- the sound of a leaf blower!) Every day I got so much reading, research and writing done, and always with an afternoon break with Teddy, either sitting on the jetty downstairs, or else we’d drive 20 minutes east to Hawks Nest for a walk along Bennetts Beach. My cousin Liz was so happy to hear I’d discovered this place by accident, as this stretch of beach leading further up the coast to the Myall Lakes National Park contains Worimi burial sites and middens from thousands of years of fishing and feasting here. In fact it was the Aborigines at Hawks Nest who, thinking they were spirits of ancestors, adopted five escaped convicts for five years before they (the convicts) were recaptured in 1795.

Merridy Eastman, Gunyah AIR Sept 2017

From Gunyah I was also able to drive just 10 minutes west to Karuah to visit an 85 year old Worimi elder. Aunty Colleen told me a lot about cousins of mine she’d known well, and about her days growing up on the Karuah Mission, better known as “the Mish". She talked about foraging for food in the area, how to get meat from the pipi shells under the sand, how to catch mud crabs, and she also told me about the Christian missions and missionaries, even those with genuinely good intentions, and the effect they had on Aboriginal spirituality, culture, language, and the forbidden practice of rituals and ceremonies. I’d already read her son, Dr Joe Perry’s thesis on this subject, but meeting this wise, plain talking mother, teacher and activist who’s done so much for her own community was a great privilege and an enormous help to my research.

Merridy Eastman, Gunyah AIR Sept 2017

I also went with my husband and son (when they came up for one night) to search for the sacred site near Gunyah where the older boys were initiated by the men in the Keepara ceremony, and the women were forbidden to visit on punishment of death. Maybe it was the rich spiritual world I’d been researching, but I was glad we only discovered a far corner of the site when the setting sun forced us to retreat.

The best moment of my stay was several days in when, writing at the table (and having left the screen door open), I heard a mysterious, clicking sound from the balcony. No sooner had I stood up when a large creature with wings outstretched - flew towards the open door. “No!” I shouted, waving my arms like mad, but the kookaburra flew in anyway, right past my head to the kitchen window beyond. I ran outside to tap from the other side of the window, hoping to send him back the way he entered without injury, and thought I’d succeeded until I came back in and there he sat, perched majestically on the linear horizontal light suspended over the dining table. He stayed for a couple of glorious minutes, gently swinging over my keyboard (looking a tiny bit like Barry Cassidy on a trapeze), until his work was done and out he flew again. It was magic.

Merridy Eastman, Gunyah AIR Sept 2017

I am very grateful to Kath Fries, her family, and the other owners of Gunyah for the opportunity to stay in this beautiful, peaceful place, where I enjoyed such a rewarding, creative time, and on land that I not only know so much better, but now has such special meaning for me.

Merridy Eastman
Gunyah Residency Report, September 2017

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

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

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 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