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Published December 24th 2014
Exploring the life and works of Sir Hans Heysen
I had walked past here on the Heysen Trail, and driven past numerous times on my way to Hahndorf but little did I know what it was. That is until I took time out on a warm Sunday afternoon and paid a visit to The Cedars, the Hanhdorf based historic home of one of Australia's most noted landscape artists, Sir Hans Heysen.
Entering the grounds and the car park, it is easy to see that it is going to be a pleasant visit. Rows of agapathi in flower provide a striking touch to the path leading to The Cedars Shop. A modest fee of $5 provides access to the extensive gardens and surrounds, or for $10 a guided tour will see you touring both Hans Heysen's studio – Australia's oldest artist's studio - and Nora Heysen's studio, as well as the Heysen family home.
A guided tour was in order, and a group of 12 left the shop under the excellent hands of our well informed and well researched guide. With general information mixed with small tidbits about the family and their history, the tour took just over an hour and was well worth the investment.
The Cedars was purchased by Hans Heysen in 1912, and he lived there with his wife Sallie, and their family of eight children. The Cedars remains privately owned by members of the Heysen family with the proceeds from tour tickets and shop sales contributing directly to the management and maintenance of the house, studios and property.
With some 200 original works of art on display in the studios and the house, it is easy to form a picture about the life of Sir Hans Heysen. Some early charcoals from 1904 to 1908 while learning his craft give a hint as to what was to come. Some early successes and sales from 1908-1912 provided the foundation for him to purchase The Cedars, and to build the Studio.
The Studio (akin to the traditional men's shed) is located some 50m away from the House, on a hill overlooking the Onkaparinga Valley and streaming with sunlight from the northeast. It is here that Sir Hans painted a significant number of his masterpieces, with a number of them on show in the studio.
A trip through the House sees the life of Sir Hans in paintings. Early paintings of his wife Sallie and his eight children are decorated throughout. Trips to Europe are reminisced by paintings of England, France and Italy. And scattered throughout the House are classic images from Victor Harbor, through the Adelaide Hills and to the Flinders Ranges which excited and delighted Sir Hans in 1926 and was the inspiration behind many paintings in his later life. It was this inspiration that prompted the naming of the long distance walking trail from Cape Jervis to Parachilna as the Heysen Trail in memory of Sir Hans and his artwork that spanned South Australia.
The Cedars is open 10am – 4.30pm Tuesday to Sunday and Public Holiday Mondays. Closed Christmas Day, Boxing Day and Good Friday. For further details about the location refer to the Heysen - The Cedars website.