Hills artist captures hidden gems

Hills artist captures hidden gems


Life & Style
Bridgewater artist Denis Noble has painted old farm sheds in the Adelaide Hills, Mid North and Mallee, as well as this depiction of early fog at Jamestown, for a South Australian Living Artists exhibition at Langhorne Creek.

Bridgewater artist Denis Noble has painted old farm sheds in the Adelaide Hills, Mid North and Mallee, as well as this depiction of early fog at Jamestown, for a South Australian Living Artists exhibition at Langhorne Creek.

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OLD, often rundown sheds have stood proudly on SA farms for decades - and sometimes for more than a century - bearing witness to the constant evolution of agriculture.

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OLD, often rundown sheds have stood proudly on SA farms for decades - and sometimes for more than a century - bearing witness to the constant evolution of agriculture.

Watercolour painter Denis Noble, Bridgewater, has captured the beauty of these humble buildings in his exhibition Sheds Etcetera, running as part of the SA Living Artists Festival at the Bremerton Wines cellar door at Langhorne Creek until the end of the month.

"I'm a retired architect, so buildings of any kind are interesting, particularly old ones," he said.

"New sheds don't hold any interest at all, but what interests me about the old sheds is their age, the fact they're used and they have a history of their own. You can see the evidence of what's happened to them - they've got dings in their side, they've got iron off the roof, one corner might've fallen in a bit.

"As a kid I used to go to Geranium where relatives had a soldier-settler block, and the sheds there always fascinated me when I was nine or 10 years old. There'd be piles of wheat bags and hay, it was pretty dark inside and the sun would come piercing down through the nail holes."

His love of painting sheds grew as he travelled throughout SA with his wife Vee.

"I've been drawing and painting for a long time and I'm always looking for subjects," he said.

"Looking around the countryside, I would always spot sheds and think, 'they look fantastic, I'd love to paint that', and the more you look the more you see.

"My wife Vee has a book in the car, and when we spot a shed, we'll write down where it was so we can come back to it."

Sheds, homesteads and historic buildings from the Adelaide Hills, Mid North and Mallee were well represented in the exhibition, which also includes scenes from rural France.

He stumbled on many of the scenes in SA, with a chance encounter with a farmer or two helping him unearth some hidden gems.

"We were going to Hawker, we thought, and we pulled into a petrol station at Jamestown," he said. "Vee went in to pay as I was filling up, and got talking to a friendly chap inside and mentioned that we were going looking for sheds. He said 'if you're looking for sheds, look no further'.

"He took us about 8 or 9 kilometres out of Jamestown to an old homestead with sheds everywhere.

It had been 20 or 30 years since anyone had lived in the house full-time, although some itinerant workers working on wind turbines had been staying there on-and-off.

The buildings were remarkable because they'd been built out of what was lying around - local stone and mud for the walls, saplings for the roof timbers, the occasional bit of brickwork and corrugated iron for the roof.

"Instead of a quick stop in Jamestown we spent about four days there. One morning I woke up and stepped out of the caravan and there was a beautiful fog everywhere, and the trees were just like ghosts appearing out of the fog, so I had to paint that too."

He also took time out to paint the stunning Jacka's Brewery at Melrose.

"Jacka's Brewery at Melrose wasn't always a brewery," he said. "It started life as a flour mill in the late 1800s, but then for reasons I don't know, it closed," he said.

"The Jacka brothers then decided that they'd turn it into a brewery, so they put a concrete bit on the top which is still there. They used horse-drawn vehicles to distribute the beer to pubs around Melrose.

"Then along came the Depression in the late 1920s and early 1930s, and unfortunately the pubs were in the habit of giving credit to the customers, and the customers couldn't pay. It meant the pubs couldn't pay the brewery and the brewery went bust. All you ever see around that building now is sheep."

The story Hills artist captures hidden gems first appeared on Farm Online.

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