Tuesday October 16, 2007

Walking in the footsteps of the Curlew Camp artists

Mosman's Bay - Tom Roberts, 1894 - New England Regional Art Museum, Armidale NSW

The Spring 2007 newsletter (PDF 2Mb) from the Heritage Office and Heritage Council of NSW has a feature story on the Curlew Camp Artists’ Walk in Mosman that opened earlier this year.

Since the late eighteenth century it has been the custom of Western artists to journey into the country to live and paint ‘en plein air’, or outdoors.

This practice emerged in Australia in the late 1880s when prominent Australian artists such as Tom Roberts, Frederick McCubbin, Charles Conder and Arthur Streeton ventured into the Australian landscape, set up camp and painted the scenery around them.

One of the first places this occurred was at Heidelberg, near Melbourne in Victoria, and the location gave its name to what became known as a significant art movement in Australia – the Heidelberg School. The artists made much of the natural light to create an Australian impressionism, which is similar to the French Impressionist movement in its inspiration, but also different from it because of the intense light in the antipodes.

In Sydney, an artists’ camp was set up on the eastern shore of Little Sirius Cove, on Sydney Harbour by clothing manufacturer Reuben Brasch and his brothers. The Brasch Family owned and operated a department store Reuben Brasch Pty Ltd on Oxford Street, opposite Hyde Park.

The camp was a weekend retreat for the brothers, but it soon became a gathering place for artists, writers and musicians, who wanted to enjoy the camaraderie of fellow ‘bohemians’. Women would visit rather than stay overnight due to the strict social and sexual conventions at the time.

Arthur Streeton and Tom Roberts first visited the camp in the early 1890s and stayed there on and off during that time. By this time the camp had a dining hall, a billiards tent and well maintained gardens. Other visitors included Livingstone Hopkins who worked for the Bulletin, as well as artists Julian Ashton and AH Fullwood.

A pathway was built to help access the Camp, which led down to ‘Cooee Point’ on the foreshore. Visitors would call ‘cooee’ to request a boat ride across to the Camp.

The surroundings were irresistible to the painters. In 1894, Roberts painted Mosman’s Bay, depicting an idyllic scene on the water.

The painting hung on the wall of the Armidale Teacher’s College for many years. Now reputed to be worth $8m to $10m it is one of the treasures of the Hinton collection at the New England Regional Art Museum.

The Curlew Camp was abandoned in 1912 when the site was chosen for the new Taronga Zoo and was virtually forgotten. In the last 20 years there has been increasing interest in recording the historical significance of the Camp.

Walking in the footsteps of the Curlew Camp artists, Debra Holland, Heritage NSW

The Curlew Camp Artists’ Walk was developed by Mosman Council and Taronga Zoo with financial assistance from the Sharing Sydney Harbour Access Program and the NSW Heritage Office. The walk is over 1.6 km long and extends from the South Mosman ferry wharf at Musgrave Street and continues along to the Taronga Zoo ferry wharf, following the route used by visitors to the Camp during the 1890s.

Download a PDF map of the Curlew Camp Artists’ Walk. See also Mosman Council’s Walks in Mosman.

— Posted by Mosman Library in ,  |  Permalink





Search Tools

Web Directories

Australian archives








This is a Flickr badge showing public photos from mosmanlibrary. Make your own badge here.
See what I've pinned on Historypin