This morning I went along with one of my friends to Carrick Hill in Springfield (a suburb of Adelaide) to a morning tea where two old friends of the iconic Australian painter, Jeffrey Smart, along with his biographer, were giving a talk at the launch of a major retrospective of his work that opened last night in Adelaide.

Back of Carrick Hill

As we had snow on Mt Lofty yesterday (unusual in the middle of Winter, let alone in Spring), you could say that the weather this morning was not ideal for a spring garden party - we were in a marquee for the talk, and it was rather chilly. I dressed for the weather in my trench coat (sourced at the netaporter sale around 3 years ago, still unsure whether I like it) and a fur collar with knee length boots. Ridiculous.  Had this talk been on, say, Monday, I would have been in a sleeveless dress.

Carrick Hill is hosting the early period of his work - 1940-1951 and the paintings are from when he was developing his distinctive style. His latter period (the paintings that are very recognisable as his developed style) is being housed in the Samstag Museum in the West End of the CBD. Two of his friends, and painters themselves, Barry Pearce and Geoff Wilson gave the talk, which was largely anecdotal chat about how he was developing his style, and the way in which he worked in the early period of his career when he was their Art teacher.

"Keswick Siding" source 
Barry told me when I bailed him up during the walk around the exhibition that he was sitting drawing with Jeffrey when he painted this, and that the station master came out of the house and yelled at them.

"The Wasteland 2" source - Flinders Ranges, South Australia

"Vacant Allotment, Wolloomooloo" source
 The sky in the painting above was quite luminous.

"Wallaroo" source
It was a really interesting exhibition, as it also contains personal letters, sketches, postcards and other ephemera relating to this period. Here's one of his latter, very recognisable images that is in the Samstag Museum part of the exhibition

"Cahill Expressway" source
The talk was very entertaining. Jeffrey Smart taught Art at Goodwood Technical College, and from the anecdotes, he has always nurtured other artists (and apparently still does). They were there when he painted several of the paintings in the exhibition, either sitting alongside him sketching and painting too, or viewing them in progress in the studio he had out the back of his mothers house. He left Adelaide in the early 1950's for Europe, then back to Sydney and then eventually settled in Tuscany, where he lives still aged 91.

After the talk, we went into the house to view the exhibition, and then had a little walk through the house and garden. Carrick Hill was built by Sir Edward and Lady Ursula Hayward in the late 1930's using parts of a demolished Tudor era estate in Staffodshire, England. They bought the staircase, panelling, windows and other things while they were in England on their honeymoon, and shipped the pieces back, designing their new house around them. As you do. Here are a few terrible iphone photos (I was taking them on the sly, so some are a bit blurry).

Entry Hall with staircase bought in England and designed around it

The Haywards derived their fortune from the John Martin's department store, which was the major department store in Adelaide (subsequently bought by the David Jones department store in the late 80's, who ran it into the ground, as they did to Georges in Melbourne), and Ursula was the daughter of a wealthy pastoral family, the Barr Smith family. They were great patrons of the arts. Hanging in the permanent collection at Carrick Hill are many Streetons, Drysdales, Heysons etc. along with European paintings dating back to the Renaissance period. They were also patrons and friends of Jeffrey Smart when he was largely unknown.

Ursula's bedroom

Sewing room upstairs


Bar in Library (hidden in cupboards)

Dining room with old oak panelling

original kitchen with china settings

Steel windows in the enclosed veranda


The garden that was developed around Carrick Hill is beautiful and has a lot of roses (looking a little sad after the torrential rain from the past few days)

It was such an interesting morning, and Jeffrey's friends were quite hilarious (and gave some interesting insight into his working style). Definitely worth a look in you're in Adelaide during the period of the exhibition.


  1. What a perfect outing...except for the weather, yet I must say that the trench looks great on you! I love Jeffrey Smart's work and way, way back in the day I used to work with Barry Pearce at the AGNSW. You writing about him brought back the story about how he took one of the gallery cars out and about and it got towed. When he finally arrived at the lot where it was impounded and paid the fine, he had to walk around clicking the button on the key to try and find which car responded! It took some time. He really does eat and breathe art, lucky him! He would have provided great chat. Rx

    1. The trench tends to make me feel like a bad cold war era spy. I don't wear it as much as I should because of that! That's a hilarious story about Barry. I can totally imagine him doing that!! xx

  2. Dear Heidi
    What a wonderful combination: the Jeffrey Smart Exhibition and talk by his friends and biographer in such a wonderful setting. Great to see your pictures of the historic house and garden too. It's always so interesting to hear anecdotes about truly creative people (whether artists or writers), especially when they're entertaining as well. Have just started reading your blog, found through Janelle's blog roll - and it's so interesting.
    My sincere condolences. I was so sorry to read that your mother has died. It's a very hard thing to work through the loss of a parent. I'm sure there are many readers who understand all too well your sadness and feeling of loss and who are thinking of you and wishing you well. My best wishes, Pamela

    1. Hello Pamela, Thank you so much for popping in. I've always enjoyed reading your comments on Janelle's blog, you always have such interesting anecdotes. Thank you also for your kind words about my mother. I really appreciate it. H x

  3. Lovely post Heidi, with lovely memories of the day I bound MOTH to the chains of matrimony 17 years ago. It was at CH right on the stairs landing just as in your pic. It was a wonderful evening in a magical place - formal black tie to befit the surroundings. Although many years later stories have emerged of what our 5 boys got up to in the garden after dark during the reception. Something about 'borrowing' ciggies from one of the guests & having their first smoke down by the elephant statues. I think Sir Edward & Lady Ursula would probably have had a laugh!
    Millie xx

    1. Oh how lovely to have had your wedding there! It is such a beautiful house, and what a grand entrance to make down those stairs. As for the boys....well, they appreciated the garden in a different light! xx


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