A Goldmine for Art: An Artists Residency Program in Historic Hill End, Australia
Hill End (pop 102) is an old gold-mining town 300 kms west of Sydney in New South Wales, Australia. Since its gold rush ‘glory days’ in the 1870s, the town has evolved as a heritage site, now integrated into primary school curricula and popular history tourism circuits. The contemporary positioning and interpretation of Hill End, however, has been significantly influenced by the involvement of artists with the site. Post WWII, Hill End became an artists’ colony and subject of a number of iconic modernist Australian paintings. Since the mid-1990s, contemporary artists have worked at the site through the impetus of the Hill End Artists in Residence Program. This paper considers the impact of the residency program through a discussion of the diverse engagements of contemporary artists with the gold rush and colonial heritage of Hill End, with the modernist art history of the site and with the living community of the village. It explores how how an artists residency program can provide a dynamic intervention in a remote, regional community; how contemporary art and artists can interact with issues of popular history and cultural myth to provide diverse interpretive frameworks for audience and community at Hill End; and some of the issues involved in developing and sustaining an artists residency program.
Keywords: Contemporary art, Modernist art, Colonial history, Heritage interperetation
Prof. Amanda Lawson
Acting Dean, Faculty of Creative Arts, University of Wollongong