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13 June 2008


ANNA DRAFFIN: We're standing on the banks of the Yarra River and we're just fifteen minutes - if you can believe it - from the heart of Melbourne city.

The Yarra River, particularly around the Heidelberg region, really enticed that 19th century group of artists, known as the Heidelberg School, who were really the Australian Impressionists of their era.

I'm now standing at Heidi Museum of Modern Art. Established in 1981, we're a public art museum who specialise in modern and contemporary artists but of course the name Heidi does derive from that original association with the nearby township of Heidelberg and of course the famous association, geographically, with the Heidelberg School of Artists.

This is our project gallery where we have young emerging artists. The space changes over at regular intervals so there's always something new and surprising in this space.

BERNADETTE NUNN: So this is work in progress?

ANNA DRAFFIN: Absolutely, new work's always commissioned for that space. And then we move into the Albert and Barbara Tucker Gallery where again we have changing exhibitions associated with Albert Tucker the famous modernist Australian painter, but also other artists who have in some way some links to him.

This exhibition relates to Sidney Nolan and particularly his focus on the use of the Ned Kelly bushranger iconography that he used famously throughout his career from the 1950s through to the 1990s.

Nolan's use of the Ned Kelly iconography was throughout his career and he moves from figurative work in some of his earlier work through to later works where the figures actually appears within the landscape. And of course Australian artists have a great tradition of painting the Australian landscape which returns to the original Heidelberg School of Artists and their love of their surrounds.

The Heidi Museum of Modern Art is actually set on sixteen and a half acres of land and we've got a number of buildings so a visitor can really explore the property as they move around.

Now we're moving into Heidi II which was originally a house that has now been converted for gallery purposes. But the house is still considered to this day as one of the most important examples of modernist architecture in Australia, particularly as a domestic building.

Heidi II was designed by the Melbourne architect, David McGlashan, McGlashan Everist, and built for the original owners, John and Sunday Reed.

The amazing aspect of this house is that original brief was actually a gallery to be lived in which of course at that stage it was still someone's home. John and Sunday Reed were friends with the young artists such as Albert Tucker and Sidney Nolan, and they actively supported their friends. So, they did purchase works from their friends and certainly they amassed an amazing collection which the Museum, in our 25 years of operations, have continued to add to. So we now a fantastic collection of modern right through to contemporary artists of today.

Heidi II really brings together the collection beautifully. You can see how well illustrated it is hanging in this space and really it's that lovely sense of art meets architecture, and meets of course our gorgeous landscape outside.

The great thing about discovering Heidi is all the different architectural layers of history that also exist on the property. We start with a Victorian farmhouse up on the hill that's referred to as Heidi I, and is actually coloured pink, more in a French provincial style what was a later addition and then of course we move to the iconic 60s building called Heidi II and then our very stark contemporary building, Heidi III.

Heidi of course is much more than the exhibitions. We're on sixteen and half acres and across those grounds we have sculptures dotted throughout the glorious gardens and we also have major garden based attractions such as the kitchen garden behind me, which was planted in the 1960s but continues to flourish to this day.

You can spend hours discovering the different parts of the gardens.

BERNADETTE NUNN: So the landscape is still part of this place.

ANNA DRAFFIN: Absolutely. It's part of the special appeal but again you need to experience it to understand it.