A Retreat to Bundanon

Creating new work and collaborating with diverse musicians is one of the most exciting parts of being a part of Continuum Sax. Just after Easter, Martin Nick and I joined Margery Smith, Vanessa Tomlinson and Erik Griswold at the Bundanon artist retreat on the Shoalhaven River near Nowra. We were there to begin working on the project that we are doing in October in Brisbane (Wed 19th) and at Campbelltown (Sat 22nd). Perhaps the most important parts of such a collaboration are getting to know your co-conspirators and exploring the artistic terrain that will be explored. Bundanon was the perfect spot for both of these tasks.

Bundanon was the home of the artist Arthur Boyd and was left in trust to the Australian people in the 1990s. The old homestead sits in a grove of Bunyah Pines and other trees surrounded by farmland and the Shoalhaven river on one side and the dense bush escarpment on the other. As well as farm animals the native animals are everywhere, kangaroos, wallabies, birds of all kinds and especially wombats. The homestead is now a museum of works that remain in the Boyd estate and is open to the public on Sundays.

Resident artists stay a few hundred meters from the homestead in apartments and studios. One cottage, set away from the others is called the Musicians’ Studio and we also used the Writers Studio and two others. We shared the studios with the wombats who had created their homes underneath the buildings: they weren’t always quiet neighbours either, as Marge found out, being woken in the night by eerie wombat noises from beneath her studio.

Musically we spent the days working through ideas, improvising and practising. It was refreshing to be away from the pressures of home and work life, if only for a brief time. The luxury of working at our own pace and in such an idyllic space was not lost on us. We are very grateful to the Bundanon Trust for hosting us for our residency and hope that we’ll all one day be able to stay there again on another project.

Follow this link to see a few photos of our time at Bundanon.