By Ellen Hill for Hartley Historic Site Photos: David Hill
The only dedicated indigenous art gallery in the NSW Central West showcases the evolution of art from the ancient culture to convict Australia and then to modern Aboriginal talent.
The Kew-Y-Ahn Art Gallery was opened by then NSW Governor Professor Dame Marie Bashir AC CVO in June 2013 at Hartley Historic Site east of Lithgow.
A partnership between Arts OutWest, NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) and the OEH Heritage Division, the gallery features work by Aboriginal painters, weavers, designers, jewellers and photographers.
Hartley Historic Site manager Steve Ring said the gallery aimed to forge new relationships with the Aboriginal community of the region including the Wiradjuri people without being a strictly tribal gallery.
“Any person living in the NSW Central West who identifies as Aboriginal and is recognised by the Aboriginal community as such, may exhibit work in the gallery.
“The idea of the gallery is to give Aboriginal artists the opportunity to grow into commercial artists: we deal with them on a commercial basis like any other commercial art gallery.
“It also provides us with a commercial link with the indigenous history of Hartley and the Aboriginal people who still live in this area.’’
Visitors to Hartley Historic Site can snap up affordable artworks from $3 bookmarks in Aboriginal colours; leather, bead and seed bracelets, hair wraps and leather cuffs; to artworks, paintings and photographs priced up to $650 by artists such as Scott McMillan, Peter Shillingsworth, Jaycent Davis, Tamara Leggett, Claudette Elliott, Tirikee, Tony Lonsdale and Nicole Trudgett.
The gallery is located in the old Farmers Inn building at Hartley Historic Site, one of the best examples of colonial Australia with 17 buildings of historic significance from the 1837 Greek Revival courthouse to Corneys Garage built in 1945 of timber and iron.
The village was declared an historic site under the management of NPWS in 1972.
“Visitors can actually experience the evolution of art at the site from the crude convict scratchings in the cells in the old court house to the quality artworks exhibited in the Kew-Y-Ahn Art Gallery, which we like to say were 40,000 years in the making,’’ Mr Ring said.
One artwork has been part of the building for at least 120 years before the art gallery standard LED lighting and hanging wires were installed. Before the inn closed in 1895, an itinerant traveller painted a picture of a cockatoo on a wall of the inn in return for a free feed.
In fact, art lovers can immerse themselves in art at the popular heritage attraction with a stroll along the Kew-Y-Ahn Bell Rock Heritage Trail and Talisman Gallery showcasing the metal art of Ron Fitzpatrick in the old woolshed behind Farmers Inn.
Arts OutWest will curate the ongoing exhibitions while NPWS manages Hartley Historic Site including the Farmers Inn building. The project forms part of Arts OutWest’s ongoing Aboriginal Arts Development program.
Kew-Y-Ahn Art Gallery in the old Farmers Inn, Hartley Historic Site, Old Bathurst Rd (just off Great Western Hwy), Hartley, is open from 10am to 1pm and 2pm to 4.20pm Tuesday to Sunday. Cost: Free. Details: (02) 6355 2117 or email@example.com.
Mr Ring also encouraged visitors to explore the wider region.
“If you’re coming from Sydney, travel up the Great Western Highway and see the Blue Mountains, spend the day with us at Back to Hartley, then drive into Lithgow and head home via the Bells Line of Road through the Hawkesbury to experience the World Heritage Area from a very different perspective.’’
Visitors can choose from a range of accommodation and dining options in the Lithgow area.
Go to lithgowtourism.com for more information.
By Ellen Hill for Bygone Beautys Photos: David Hill
Whether you like English or Irish breakfast, Oolong or Russian Caravan; white, green, orange or red; weak, strong or smoky, the long-awaited Bygone Beautys Treasured Teapot Museum & Tearooms revamp has been steeped to perfection and is ready to savour.
The major extensions and renovations of the popular Leura tourist attraction were officially opened by former NSW Governor Professor the Honourable Dame Marie Bashir AD CVO last Tuesday at a glittering soiree attended by a veritable who’s who of the local tourism industry and Macquarie Federal MP Louise Markus.
Local Aboriginal man Chris Tobin gave a Darug Welcome to Country. Dennis Barber, who gave an Acknowledgement to Country on behalf of the Gundungurra people, said tea drinking was a great equaliser of class and status and that many problems had been solved over a cuppa.
That theme was expanded on by Professor Dame Marie, who said Bygone Beautys was filling an important role in preserving the history and culture of tea, a significant part of Australian ethos and heritage.
She told the gathering about visiting the Blue Mountains, “one of the most beautiful places on the planet’’, as a child.
Professor Dame Marie also unveiled a commemorative plaque and spectacular custom-made Mad Hatter’s-inspired teapot sculpture by metal artists Ron Fitzpatrick and Steve Cunningham of Talisman Gallery at Hartley. The creation was made from a salvaged chimney stack from a steam engine, complete with a candy-like decorative steel handle, bow-tie-wearing rabbit and spout.
The Bygone Beautys revamp was created using local suppliers and tradespeople where possible and includes a new museum space, function room, formal tearoom and retail area specialising in all things tea-related.
Resplendent in a magnificent patterned jacket and trademark bow tie, Mr Cooper led Professor Dame Marie on a tour of the premises before more than 300 guests wandered the airy new spaces and inspected thousands of teapots, some debuting publically for the first time.
Mr Cooper acknowledged the efforts of owner of the original Bygone Beautys teapot collection Ron Hooper who began the collection in 1974 and with whom Mr Cooper went into business with in 1992.
“I was thinking about what I was going to do during my retirement at age 55, Ron had a teapot collection and I was a compulsive teapot buyer,’’ Mr Cooper said.
“When we took over this premises it was zoned as a tearoom so to comply we had this tiny little tearoom and a huge display of antiques.’’
Twenty-three years later, the teapot collection has grown to more than 5500 teapots and is the largest of its kind in Australia and one of the largest in the world. It spans five centuries and includes items from all over the world. It also includes 7000 teaspoons and 3000 tea towels among other artefacts.
The tearooms are also famous for decadent Devonshire tea and traditional high tea, served with a degree of pomp and ceremony on fine bone china from a tea trolley to the strains of Land of Hope & Glory.
Mr Cooper thanked the Bygone Beautys staff for their tolerance during the renovations and partner of 48 years Mr McKenzie, “my mentor, my partner and the person I most respect in the whole world’’.
The occasion was marked with a specially-penned poem by bush poetry champion Gregory North and cake made by Betty Reynolds and guests were entertained with a dance rendition of I’m a Little Teapot by pint-sized dancers from Blackheath’s Dance For Life! school and an opera performance by Opera Bites.
Bygone Beautys is located on the corner of Grose and Megalong streets in Leura, a short stroll from Leura Mall. Open seven days a week between 10am and 5.30pm, last tearoom orders taken at 5pm. Traditional High Tea is available 10.30am – 4pm weekdays and 10.30am – 4.30pm on weekends. Bookings essential: (02) 4784 3117 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
* Bygone Beautys is a commercial client of Deep Hill Media