Saturday, January 29, 2011

Dobell House: Part two

When we left the cafe we knew we were close to Dobell house. We just didn't know exactly where it was. We decided to go for a random walk to see if we could find it. If we walked the wrong way we joked that it would just help us to walk off the "huge" lunch we had just consumed! Just as we were about to stop and walk back to where we had started we saw a glimpse of a white building. We were there! We balanced my camera on the grass and set it to the self timer so we could all be in it. It slipped a little and went on an angle which I think looks fun and quirky. I think it was a sign of what was to come!

We went inside and found two old ladies at a small counter with a biscuit tin to collect the entry money. It cost $8 per adult and kids were free. Anne had rung before Christmas to ask how she could buy Byron and myself a gift voucher. The volunteer there that day said it wasn't something they did but that he could hand write her a receipt if she came in and paid in advance. We had the receipt that showed the $16 was paid for "two adult entries in January" Anne got out her own money to pay her entry and that's when the confusion began. The two poor old ladies had absolutely no idea what we were trying to do. All they knew is that they had never seen anything like our voucher before in their life. They got themselves in a twist about how much we needed to pay (one Adult entry) And whether the kids were paid for (they are free) and whether I was with the group (yes I was) and what on earth the piece of paper was that we were showing the (the receipt from Anne paying for our entry in December) and which volunteer had been there on the day Anne paid (a little old man with a dog) Who must have been Ron (I guess so?) and why would Ron not have written VOUCHER on the top of the receipt in capital letters (I have no idea) and how it was all so unusual and not at all what they were used to (poor ladies) 

Eventually we all reached friendly agreement that if we paid $8 for Anne we should be ok to look around! It was absolutely wonderful. The house was just as it was when the artist died in the kitchen of a heart attack in 1970 as he was making his tea. The book that Anne had given us really made the house come to life as we had read so many little anecdotes about him and his eccentricities. One of the beautiful things I remembered and told the kids was how he came to live there. The house was built by his Dad and brothers. When the parents died the house was left between the 6 siblings who gave their part shares to their artist brother Bill for free so he could live and paint there. His spinster sister Annie had nursed her parents in their frail years and continued to live there in the only bedroom and she cooked and cleaned for him and then in time he cared for her as she aged and finally died there. You got the impression of a kind man from a close family and it really did feel very magical to stand there in his home as it looked while he lived there. 
The magic moment truly happened when we walked up a stairs to a studio he built and painted in. It had a small cane bed in the corner where he slept and all his easels and paint brushes were there in front of us to touch and feel. The wooden floor was covered in splashes of paint and there were some black and white photos on the wall showing him in his studio. 
Rhiannon noticed that in one he is sitting in a cane chair and the chair was next to her. She sat in the chair and you can just see the photo in the background with William in a similar pose.
We really had a fantastic day today. Packed full of funny stories and memories and made even better by Anne getting to share the day with us. 
I can't wait to see what she thinks up for next year... No pressure Anne...Just saying...!

1 comments - click here to leave your comment:

  1. Great stories! I had to laugh at your lunch adventure too. What a wonderful gift from your friend. (I'm going to keep that idea in the back of my head for next Christmas) It sounded as if it was a great outing for you all.