A New Perspective on Heritage

Southern Midlands Council is highlighting history through its Oatlands Gaol Artist-in-Residence program.

Artist-in-Residence, Henrietta Manning (Hetty) has been a regular visitor to Oatlands for the past year as part of the Artist in Residence program, with free accommodation provided at the Oatlands Gaoler’s Residence, an imposing stone edifice designed by John Lee Archer in 1834.

Where once there stood a gaol that could accommodate 200, all that remains are the walls, and, of course, the monolithic Gaoler’s Residence. Hetty has been using this extraordinary building as her base from which to paint a beautiful series of heritage interiors, abandoned buildings and streetscapes. And when the weather turned bad, as it occasionally does in an Oatlands winter, Hetty simply turned her car into a mobile studio, cutting her trademark Masonite canvases to fit around the dashboard.

Amongst the most striking of Hetty’s works are her interiors, where she meticulously paints how people actually live in heritage buildings, rather than a chocolate-box depiction.  Perhaps the most haunting of Hetty’s paintings are of those interiors where no-one is living anymore; buildings where the former inhabitants have moved out, and the possums and spiders have moved in. Gifted with a keen eye for colour, texture and detail, Hetty has captured in these buildings – some of which won’t be here forever – a frozen moment in time.

Such has been the success of Hetty’s residency that applications will soon be open for new artists to avail themselves of the free accommodation and beautiful surrounds of the Midlands. For more information, please contact Southern Midlands Council’s Heritage Projects Officer Alan Townsend on 0419383552 or email atownsend@southernmidlands.tas.gov.au .

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