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Bundanon

  • Art
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended
  1. The Bridge accomodation at Bundanon
    Photograph: Bundanon/Zan Wimberley
  2. Bundanon Museum Architecture
    Photograph: Bundanon/Zan Wimberley
  3. Installation view of 'From impulse to action' at Bundanon Art Museum
    Photograph: Bundanon/Zan Wimberley | Jo Lloyd, Death role, 2021, single-channel video with stereo sound, costume, reproduction of Elektra backdrop
  4. Installation view of 'From impulse to action' at Bundanon Art Museum
    Photograph: Bundanon/Zan Wimberley | Rochelle Haley, Dance on a couch by an open window (after Boyd), 2021, multi-medium
  5. Installation view of 'From impulse to action' at Bundanon Art Museum
    Photograph: Bundanon/Zan Wimberley | Rochelle Haley, Dance on a couch by an open window (after Boyd), 2021, multi-medium
  6. Installation view of 'From impulse to action' at Bundanon Art Museum
    Photograph: Bundanon/Zan Wimberley | Kailten Wellington, True reflections (detail), 2021, paint, acrylic, stereo sound
  7. Installation view of 'From impulse to action' at Bundanon Art Museum
    Photograph: Bundanon/Zan Wimberley | Vivian Cooper Smith, This is my song to you and my last breath , 2021, digital C - type prints
  8. The Bridge accomodation at Bundanon
    Photograph: Bundanon/Katie Rivers
  9. The Bridge accomodation at Bundanon
    Photograph: Bundanon/Katie Rivers
  10. The Bridge for creative learning, Bundanon
    Photograph: Bundanon/Zan Wimberley
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Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

Commune with art and nature at this climate-resilient art gallery and accommodation in regional NSW

Between the snaking bend of the mighty Shoalhaven River and the foot of a mountain, a curious architectural structure arises. A charcoal black bridge struts across the gully, connecting symbiotically to a cavernous yet stylish concrete bunker that roots itself into the hillside. 

A subterranean art museum embedded into the landscape, resistant to fires and floods. A wildlife sanctuary. An environmentally sound architectural marvel. A time capsule containing a 46.6 million dollar art collection. A place for learning, healing and connecting with both art and nature. Bundanon is many things, and it is difficult to adequately describe without experiencing it firsthand. 

Bundanon is located just over two-and-a-half hours from Sydney on the South Coast, on 1000 hectares of bush and parkland overlooking the Shoalhaven River. You can either just visit the gallery (add on a locally sourced meal and a coffee at the Ramox café), or stay on the bridge overnight to get the full experience. It is popular as a location for work and artist retreats, or as a time out for anyone looking to go bush. The reimagined site had a soft opening in January 2022, and its offerings and visitations continue to swell and grow in spite of the hurdles of extreme weather and Covid interruptions. 

Bundanon incorporates radical solutions to a changing climate, being defensible against fire and flood 

The Art Museum houses a changing program of contemporary exhibitions and cultural experiences, with events, workshops and concerts also presented across the site. The opening exhibition From impulse to action (Jan 29-Jun 12, 2022) features 12 new commissions by Australian contemporary artists working in a diverse range of disciplines, responding to the bold ink drawings of legendary Australian artist Arthur Boyd. Under the eye of the head of curatorial and learning, Sophie O’Brien, most of the works on display are created by artists in residency at Bundanon. There's an interactive basket-weaving work by Worimi man Dean Cross; a grungy dance performance in a faceless, beastly costume by Jo Lloyd, filmed in the Art Museum during its construction; ceramics and paintings incorporating reclaimed ochre and mud from on-site at Bundanon; to towering charcoal drawings and delicate sculptural installations, one of them, by Emily Parsons-Lord, including locally sourced charcoal and a diamond forged from the artist’s dead mothers ashes.

Arthur Boyd’s influence touches everything here. Established in 1993, Bundanon itself is a gift to the Australian people from Boyd and his wife, fellow artist Yvonne Boyd, in one of the most significant acts of philanthropy in the history of the arts in Australia. Boyd is just one in a long line of artists, and you can still visit the Boyd family homestead and Arthur Boyd’s original studio on the Bundanon site*. 

“From what I understand, [Arthur] was really quite a shy person. But he was very committed to the environment, he was committed to reconciliation and honouring the history of First Nations people. He was very aware of the role artists play in society. Yvonne once said about him that although he loved being an artist, and he was a visual artist primarily, the things he really loved were music and science,” says Sophie O’Brien.

“There's a spirit of generosity that has to remain abundant, that was the spirit of Arthur. I think that spirit of commitment to an ethical groundedness, and also a generosity about what you have, to share it, and also to preserve. All of those things I see as parts of Bundanon that can be actively built into programming and what we offer as an experience when you're here.”

The new additions to Bundanon incorporate radical solutions to a changing climate, being defensible against fire and flood and with a net-zero energy target. The subterranean Art Museum and Collection Store houses precious artworks in an underground building that protects the works from diverse climate conditions and offers thermal stability in the form of the reinstated hill.

There's a spirit of generosity that has to remain abundant, that was the spirit of Arthur

Designed by Kerstin Thompson Architects and constructed from fire-resistant blackbutt timber, the Bridge is treated like a piece of flood infrastructure with the architecture supporting the natural system of water flow across the site. All water and power is produced on site, with solar panels running the entire length of the Bridge, and rainwater is captured. Thirty-two rooms that can sleep up to 64 guests are interspersed with decks and breakout spaces. The building air-conditions itself with cross-ventilation, and mesh windows open up the bedrooms to the natural environment for plein air experience (minus the bugs). The accommodation is minimalistic yet chic, with cloud-soft beds and small ensuites with steamy showers enveloped in a small cave of shiny black tiles. 

You can fall asleep to the gently thrumming sounds of nature and the patter of fat raindrops on the tin roof. In the evening, find a portly wombat plodding along the lawn in the moonlight as you sip on a local wine. In the morning, catch a family of kangaroos grazing in the early sunlight and stroll down to the jetty. 

The artists are the heart of the place, but watching ripples spread across the surface of the lake and listening to the chorus of distant frogs and crickets, you might come to realise that at Bundanon, mother nature is the greatest artist of them all – we just needed to find the perfect angle to frame her. 

The Bundanon Art Museum is open Wed–Sun, 10am–5pm. Adults $18, concession $12, members children under 12 free. Ramox café is open Wed–Sun, 10am–4pm. Find out more about accommodation packages here.

*At the time of publication, the Homestead and Arthur Boyd’s Studio are currently closed due to road damage caused by significant rainfall in the region.

Alannah Maher
Written by
Alannah Maher

Details

Address:
170 Riversdale Road
Illaroo
2540
Opening hours:
Art Museum: Wed-Sun, 10am–5pm. Ramox café Wed-Sun, 10am-4pm.

What’s on

Siteworks 2022: From a Deep Valley

  • Galleries

Experience the interconnectedness of nature and culture, art and science, history and geology at Siteworks 2022: From a Deep Valley. This major new exhibition and program of installations, performances, talks and workshops will take place at Bundanon – the subterranean art museum set on 1,000 hectares of wildlife sanctuary, just a day trip away from Sydney in the Shoalhaven. It's a place for learning, healing and connecting with both art and nature.  Siteworks: From a Deep Valley is Bundanon’s third program in its series and will run from November 26, 2022, until March 12, 2023. Siteworks will showcase the work of over 25 artists and ten scientific researchers drawing on climate research, critical thinking, First Nations knowledge and technologies.  In the Art Museum, Siteworks 2022 will present a major new exhibition titled Inside, which will explore the concept of interior weather and materials that reflect our changing relationship with the natural world. Expect to see works by artists such as Carolyn Eskdale, Susan Jacobs, Kate Scardifield, Lucy Simpson and Isadora Vaughan.  There will also be a program of talks, activities and workshops visitors can listen to and participate in over this lively summer period at Bundanon. They range from a walking tour of endangered flora and fauna with artist Fernando do Campo, and a chance to participate in a natural dyeing machine on the edge of the Shoalhaven River, to a talk from Professor Mark Howden on climate change. You can disco

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