His­toric home un­der the ham­mer

The Weekend Post - Real Estate - - Front Page - For more de­tails con­tact Mr For­rest on 0418 897 640. PASCO ROGATO

THE house be­lieved to have pro­vided the in­spi­ra­tion for paint­ings by two of Aus­tralia’s so-called “es­cape artists” will go un­der the ham­mer this month.

The sub­ject of paint­ings by Don­ald Friend and Mar­garet Ol­ley, the Ed­mon­ton home on By­ers St, has been in the hands of Cairns cou­ple Sandy and Brad Astill for the past 19 years.

Co­in­ci­dently, Friend’s paint­ing of the cot­tage, the Cane­farmer’s house, is on show at the Cairns Re­gional Gallery as part of the Don­ald Friend: Far

North Queens­land ex­hi­bi­tion, on dis­play un­til Septem­ber 20.

Friend and Ol­ley were both part of “Es­cape artists of the North” – a term to de­scribe a small groups of artists who sought in­spi­ra­tion by head­ing to the wilder parts of the north­ern of Aus­tralia.

Friend was a reg­u­lar visi­tor to the Far North, mak­ing 10 trips be­tween 1932 and 1955.

The first of these was as a teenager dur­ing which time he made en­dur­ing con­nec­tions and friend­ships with the Tor­res Strait Is­lan­der com­mu­nity.

He again vis­ited dur­ing the war years, and later re­turned with Ol­ley, to com­plete a com­mis­sion for The Courier

Mail news­pa­per. It was dur­ing this time that Friend painted the Cane­farmer’s house, and it is be­lieved Ol­ley sat next to him paint­ing the same scene.

An im­age of the Cane­farmer’s house was used in posters by the gallery to ad­ver­tise the ex­hi­bi­tion, which brought it to the at­ten­tion of the Astills.

“On Mon­day we were hav­ing a cof­fee at Petit Cafe; out the back is a beer gar­den, and the poster is on the wall near a ta­ble for two, that’s when Brad recog­nised it straight away,” Mrs Astill said.

“Brad said: ‘Hey love turn your head to the left’, and there was our house.”

Mrs Astill said she was aware of Friend’s paint­ing, but had never seen it. She said she first be­came aware of the home’s artis­tic im­por­tance about 15 years ago while at­tend­ing a Ro­tary talk.

“I was a mem­ber of Cairns Mul­grave Club at the time and we had a lady come in and talk about an up­com­ing ex­hi­bi­tion at the re­gional gallery called the

Es­cape Artists.

“She had a book and was show­ing im­ages of the paint­ings in the ex­hi­bi­tion.

“There was a Mar­garet Ol­ley paint­ing of our house.”

Mrs Astill later learned Friend had also painted the same house, that the two artists had sat be­side each other.

“It's two artists’ im­pres­sions of the same house.”

The home has been ren­o­vated since 1954, when it was cap­tured by Friend and Ol­ley.

Mrs Astill said the pre­vi­ous own­ers had built the front ve­randa, but un­der it are the orig­i­nal con­crete steps, which are shown promi­nently in both paint­ings.

On Thurs­day the Astills headed into town to view the ex­hi­bi­tion of Friend’s work.

Mrs Astill said she was sad to sell the home, but they were mov­ing to Bris­bane for fam­ily rea­sons.

“I am so sad to go, my chil­dren (three daugh­ters) all grew up here,” Mrs Astill said.

“It has been a won­der­ful fam­ily home and has given us so many beau­ti­ful mem­o­ries.

“We even have growth chart on the wall and when the house was re­painted, I wouldn’t let Brad paint over it; it’s still there.”

Mrs Astill said as well as its artis­tic sig­nif­i­cance, the prop­erty has his­tor­i­cal value.

“I hope who­ever buys it ap­pre­ci­ates the tra­di­tional val­ues, his­tor­i­cal sig­nif­i­cant and im­por­tance of keep­ing the build­ing,” she said.

“There is some true lo­cal history here.”

She said that build­ing was used by pioneers.

“It used to be the old Cobb and Co sta­tion, they used to change the horses here,” she said.

“The home was orig­i­nally built in Char­ters Tow­ers in late 1800s, it was dis­man­tled and brought up here by horse and cart in early 1900s and re­assem­bled.

“It was also the old barramundi farm in the 1970s, a lot of lo­cals will prob­a­bly re­mem­ber it from that.

“It is a lovely old study home, it has a lot of char­ac­ter.”

The prop­erty at 5 By­ers St, Ed­mon­ton will be auc­tioned by David For­rest, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of First Na­tional Real Es­tate – Cairns Cen­tral & Cairns Beaches, on-site on Au­gust 29, at 11am.

Pic­ture: MARC McCOR­MACK

HIS­TORIC SIG­NIF­I­CANCE: Brad and Sandy Astill in front of their Ed­mon­ton cot­tage, the sub­ject of the paint­ing Cane­farmer’s house (left) by Don­ald Friend, which is on dis­play at the Cairns Re­gional Gallery cour­tesy of the Na­tional Gallery of Aus­tralia.

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