A new exhibition highlights the eclectic nature of the Carrick Hill collection.
In addition to being one of Adelaide’s most impressive historic homes, Carrick Hill boasts a remarkable art collection, made up of works from Bill and Ursula Haywards’ private collection as well as more recent donations.
In the exhibition, Treasures: The Australian Art Collection at Carrick Hill, curator Anna Jug has selected a range of works that highlight the Hayward’s exceptional taste and give some insight into the life and times in which they lived.
Through the John Martin’s Gallery, owned and operated by the popular Adelaide department store John Martin’s, which Bill was director of from 1946 to 1982, the Haywards had the opportunity to meet many important Australian artists. Many were at the start of their careers, such as Adrian Feint, Jeffrey Smart, Jacqueline Hick and Horace Trenerry, while others were established names, such as Hans Heysen, William Dobell and John Dowie.
In curating Treasures, Jug has grouped some of the works together thematically. “I’ve tried not to intervene too much from a curatorial point of view,” Jug says. “I wanted to show we have some really high quality and well-known Australian artists in the collection. I wanted to put them all together and let them speak for themselves.”
On display are a number of paintings of flowers by the likes of Margarita Stipnieks and Ursula herself – she often painted still lifes of freshly cut flowers from the garden. Ursula received lessons from good friend Ivor Hele as well as tuition from Stipnieks; the influence of both can be seen in her own colourful works. These flower paintings are displayed alongside depictions of Carrick Hill and its surrounds by artists such as Robert Hannaford, George Steggles and Sydney Ure Smith.
Another group of works are by Australian artists who were well known but went overseas to develop their practice further, such as George Lambert and Dobell. This was common practice in the first half of the 20th century and late 19th century for Australian artists. If they wanted to become big names, they spent time overseas to elevate their career.
One of the walls features iconic Australian works, such as Arthur Streeton’s The Blue Mountains and one of the standout pieces in the exhibition, Russell Drysdale’s The Chinaman’s Store. Then there are the rarely displayed Ray Crooke works and Roy De Maistre’s Mother and Child, donated by Sir John Rothenstein in the 1980s just before the house opened. When Rothenstein found out the house was becoming a museum he donated the piece and sent Barry Humphries to present it to the house.
There is also on display a selection of portraits of the Haywards as well as Bill’s parents, Dudley and Mary Hayward. These are recent acquisitions; Mary’s portrait was incorporated into the collection just days before the exhibition opened.
“Whenever we receive a donation, we assess the work in accordance with our collections policy,” Jug says. “The policy requires that work fits in with the overall themes of our collection, the collecting tastes of the Haywards or continues the story of Carrick Hill.”
Treasures highlights the eclectic nature of the Carrick Hill collection. The Haywards acquired paintings, sculptures, decorative art and books that reflected their broad range of interests, their fascination with contemporary and modern thinking, and the friendships that enhanced their lives.
Treasures: The Australian Art Collection at Carrick Hill
Until Sunday, June 30
The Red Blouse, Ivor Hele