May 10, 2023
5 mins Read
Surrounded by walking trails, waterfalls and wild coastlines, the Shoalhaven, on the NSW South Coast, has been attracting artists for over a century – most notably much-loved artist Arthur Boyd, who was passionate about painting the Shoalhaven River and surrounding bushland. He and his wife, Yvonne Boyd, gifted their beautiful 1000-hectare Shoalhaven property to the Australian people – which is now world-class art museum (and destination in its own right), Bundanon.
With sophisticated eco accommodation, the acclaimed Ramox Cafe, stunning architecture and an extensive program of art exhibitions and residencies, it’s easy to see why Bundanon has been attracting visitors from all over Australia.
Bundanon’s mission is to become a centre for creative arts and education, and it’s well on its way. Bundanon offers a year-round program of modern, contemporary and First Nations art collections.
The fantastic forms exhibition is showing from now until 18 June, celebrating the endless creativity of the human imagination with displays of ceramics by Boyd’s father, Merric Boyd, and three contemporary Australian artists. Come 8 July (until 8 October) new exhibition The Polyphonic Sea will open, featuring works by artists from Aotearoa New Zealand which explore the multiplicity of languages that surround us all.
The historic Homestead, home to the Boyd family for several decades, was built in 1866 and remains a wonderful example of 19th-century vernacular architecture. The building has been carefully restored, keeping the Boyd family feel, and will reopen to the public on Mother’s Day in 2023 as a celebration of the Boyd legacy.
Not only has Bundanon attracted attention from the art world, but it has also been noticed for its innovative architecture. Here you’ll find some of the most architecturally awarded public buildings in Australia, with two Sir Zelman Cowen Awards for Public Architecture and two Sulman Medals in recognition of Bundanon’s “extraordinary vision”.
The Arthur and Yvonne Boyd Education Centre, designed by Glen Murcutt AO, Wendy Lewin, and Reg Lark attracts architectural visitors from around the world.
The Art Museum and the Bridge for Creative Learning designed by Kerstin Thompson Architects, opened in 2022. The Art Museum is embedded in the landscape and the Bridge is a 160-metre by nine-metre structure spanning the existing hillside gully.
The new buildings have been designed through the lens of sustainability, with solar power, a net-zero energy target and rainwater storage, yet is also sensitively responsive to its natural surrounds.
You can experience this “holy grail of Australian architecture”, as it’s been called, by staying in one of the beautifully designed rooms within The Bridge. But this is no ordinary hotel, as each room is offered as part of a cultural event.
The popular Bundanon Experience is offered as either a one or two-night stay, year-round. It includes a private tour of Arthur Boyd’s studio and the Homestead and a choice of either guided bushwalks with a local ecologist or an ink and wash drawing workshop at Bundanon’s riverside beach.
As part of your stay at Bundanon, you can enjoy seasonally inspired food made with ingredients sourced from the surrounding Shoalhaven region. Headed by executive chef Douglas Innes-Will, Bundanon’s reimagined Ramox Cafe operates on a paddock-to-plate culinary philosophy, with fresh food served daily with little waste.
Innes-Will brings a range of experience, having previously worked at the Queensland Art Gallery/Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA) and Hamilton Island’s qualia. His simple and elegant food complements the surrounding landscape; the pasta fussiloni primavera is a must-try.
Bundanon has also partnered with Cupitt’s Estate, a family-owned, sustainably focused South Coast winery that produces 22 different varieties of wines, from full-bodied reds to refreshing whites.
Dine in the spacious restaurant – there’s no need to book, as there are plenty of outdoor tables – or order an Artist Picnic, filled with lashings of charcuterie, pickles, cheese and fruit, and enjoy it on the grounds under one of the shady trees.
In keeping with its mission to encourage the creative arts, education and connection with the landscape, Bundanon also curates a regular series of events, concerts and workshops.
Coming up is the much-anticipated Boyd Meets Girl performance, which will see Rupert Boyd (grandson of acclaimed architect Robin Boyd) play classical guitar alongside accomplished American cellist Laura Metcalf. The duo have just finished a global tour, sharing their eclectic mix of music featuring composers and artists as varied as Debussy, Radiohead and Beyonce. And with their two studio albums reaching the milestone of three million listens on Spotify alone, it’s clear tickets will be in demand.
This event, held on 27 August, will be a primary feature of Bundanon’s anniversary celebrations, marking three decades since the Boyd family gifted their property and art collection. Further events will be announced, so keep an eye on the Bundanon website.
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