Sydney, a Secret Garden, Brett WhiteleySaturday, 23 January 2016
◄ The next day with a bunch of friends I took the ferry from Circular Quay across to McMahon’s Point and we walk back alongside Lavender Bay to Wendy Whiteley’s Secret Garden. Lavender Bay is a little bay from Sydney Harbour, just to the west of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. One of Australia’s best loved artists, Brett Whiteley, featured Lavender Bay extensively in his paintings for many years until his death in 1992, from a heroin overdose, an artistic way to go. Wendy Whiteley & the Secret Garden is a nicely lavish coffee table book about the garden. Text Publishing (I’m a part owner) will be publishing a Brett Whiteley biography by Ashleigh Wilson later this year.
Wendy Whiteley – wife, model, muse – continues to live in the house above the bay and has turned the waste land stretching from below the house down to the bayside into a ‘secret garden.’ Well down to the disused railway line beside the bay, the waste land belonged to the railway. It’s not quite a public park, but very much open to the public and a wonderful little hidden escape. A stone at the top of the garden is carved with Van Morrison lyrics from his song Sweet Thing, about ‘gardens wet with rain’ although it’s a song which also features ferry-boats.
From the garden we walked on around Lavender Bay passing a Sydney icon on the way, the entrance to Luna Park. From there we walked back across the Harbour Bridge to Circular Quay. ►
▲ I can’t get away from Brett Whiteley at the moment. I went to the launch of the Secret Garden book at the National Gallery Victoria last year, and soon after to ‘Australian Artists In Bali 1930s to Now’ at an art gallery in Frankston, a Melbourne suburb. The exhibit featured a number of Whiteley works. This week I caught ‘On the Beach,’ at the Mornington Peninsula Regional Art Gallery outside Melbourne.. The exhibit on Australian beach culture included one of Whiteley’s Lavender Bay works. The exhibit poster features a painting by another much loved Australian artist, Jeffrey Smart. It runs until 28 February 2016