THE FAITHFULLY RESTORED HOME OF COLONIAL PAINTER JOHN GLOVER IS INSPIRING A NEW GENERATION OF CREATIVES.
We take a look around the property of colonial painter John Glover, whose home has been faithfully restored.
BRITISH ARTIST JOHN GLOVER, a contemporary of Turner and Constable, may have had many reasons for choosing to settle in Van Diemen’s Land in 1832 when he was aged in his 60s. Perhaps it was because at certain times of day, the twisted white gums and grasslands of Mills Plains, in the foothills of Ben Lomond, reflect light so beautifully that the landscape looks just like a painting. The rugged profile of Ben Lomond seemed to inspire him as much as the peaks of his homeland. So much so, in fact, that he named his new home Patterdale, after a small village in the UK’S Lake District.
What is certain is that this site, one of the last colonial land grants, allowed Glover to spend his remaining years painting new landscapes. He travelled by foot and on horseback to the vantage points represented in some of his most famous paintings: A corrobery of natives in Mills Plains (1832),
My Harvest Home (1835) and A view of the artist’s house and garden in Mills Plains, Van Diemen’s Land (1835).
Glover was enthralled by the nature he found in Australia and studied every detail of his new surroundings. By the time Glover arrived, Tasmania’s Aboriginal population had almost been bounty-hunted into extinction, but the artist returned them to the landscape. He studied their individual profiles and depicted them gathered peacefully around campfires. He also recognised the beauty of the eucalypts; some of the sinuous trees he painted still stand today.
In 1835, Glover sent 68 paintings to his dealer in London, many of which now hang in important galleries in Britain and Australia. Despite the significance of the period in which Glover painted, Patterdale had become dilapidated in the modern era. Its only residents were families of possums. Until 2004, that is, when Carol and Rodney Westmore bought Patterdale (next door to their own home at Nile Farm) and committed to restoring it.
It was always the Westmores’ intention to maintain the artistic connection to ‘Glover Country’ — the name Australian painter Tom Roberts gave to the plains and hills south of Evandale. Glover Country has long captured the imagination of amateur and professional artists, many of whom have made pilgrimages to Patterdale.
It took six years, but restoration of the house was finally completed in 2019. Today, Patterdale welcomes visitors on monthly open days. “People come here for all sorts of reasons,” says Carol. “Many of them are looking to reconnect with someone they knew, with Glover’s paintings, of course, or with stories of an intact landscape.”
More than most, Carol knows how the creative mind responds to Glover Country. She invited artists to create work during the renovation period, some of which is displayed in the rebuilt Exhibition Room, a spacious picture gallery and studio designed by Glover which features a unique angled awning to let light in. One such resident, contemporary artist Megan Walch, found her muse in the garden’s acanthus. Before the house received its sandstone facade, Megan stencilled an acanthus on the Besser block internal replacement wall, a nod to the garden. Given the quality of the restoration, Carol hopes Megan’s internal work of art won’t be seen for at least another 200 years!
“While visiting artists may create art that looks very different to his work, Glover’s vision remains an inspiration for all,” says Carol. “His relationship with the Antipodean landscape, his appreciation of the Aboriginal people and their connection with the land still resonate deeply.” >
Carol’s own vision for Patterdale has been to stay as true to his time as possible. But for a singular magnificent oak planted after Glover’s time, the home and garden are exactly as he depicted it in 1835, in his painting A view of the artist’s house and garden at Mills Plains, Van Diemen’s Land.
The two-storey home with its quirky Exhibition Room (a standalone structure) and its garden beds featuring naturalistic plantings are designed to mimic that painting.
In 2020, Patterdale welcomes its first artists — musicians, writers, photographers, painters — as part of an ongoing residency program. As inaugural writer-in-residence, I met a stream of people drawn to the property to see the valley as it would have been in Glover’s time, or simply to spend time in the painter’s landscape. One man wanted to make a gift to Patterdale, and to give creative breath to his late mother, a frustrated artist. This gift — a seat made of dry stone and salvaged King Billy pine — is being built to give visitors a point from which they can appreciate the view of Ben Lomond, the light spilling over sugar-loaf hills, ancient stands of white gums and tree-dotted plains.
There is no mobile reception in Glover Country. Everything inspires the artistic sensibility, which craves the support of generous patrons and the luxury of time. Carol says that even as a crumbled ruin Patterdale would have remained a powerful magnet for committed artists. “But in its restored beauty, the property offers a sanctuary for being and learning and understanding for everyone.”
“Apart from an oak tree planted after Glover’s time, the house and garden are exactly as he depicted them in 1835.”
The new garden planting plan was designed by Hobart-based landscape designer Catherine Shields. FACING PAGE Patterdale has been gloriously restored to its full Georgian splendour.
CLOCKWISE, FROM LEFT Authentic Colonial furniture features throughout the house; Carol Westmore; the breakfast room; the garden outside the Exhibition Room; the home’s elegant library, fondly known as “Mr G’s Room”; the refurbished entrance makes a grand first impression; one of the information stops on the walking trail. This viewpoint on the walking tour is also represented in Glover’s painting My Harvest Home; nearly two centuries later, this landscape is the same as Glover depicted it in Patterdale Landscape with Rainbow (c 1832). FACING PAGE The exterior of the Exhibition Room.
CLOCKWISE, FROM LEFT As many of the original features were retained as possible, right down to the sloping floor; the framed section of wallpaper above the door is original to the house; a field of elephant garlic in what was once Patterdale’s vegetable garden; the farm is surrounded by the Ben Lomond National Park; Mrs Glover’s Room includes a contemporary artwork by Troy Ruffels; stands of trees dot the property. FACING PAGE A distant view of the front of the home, taken from the track featured in My Harvest Home.