The Cedars - Home of Sir Hans Heysen
The Cedars at Hahndorf, home of the renowned Australian artist Sir Hans HEYSEN (1877 - 1968), continues to gain acknowledgement as one of the country's most intact and best preserved historic homes. Indeed, it remains one of South Australia's unique heritage treasures.
Hans Heysen's Studio The sixty hectare property with its gracious old home and artist's studio has now been open for full time visitation by the public for over fifteen years. Its uniqueness lies in the fact that it remains so wonderfully undisturbed, this being the third generation of Heysen family to own and maintain the property. The famous chalet style studio has recently been identified as the nation's oldest surviving purpose built artist's studio (1912), while the homestead as viewed today has virtually remained unchanged since the 1920's. It has a grace and charm that speaks of the style of a bygone era. The remodeling and enlarging of the 1870's residence after Heysen purchased it in 1912 transformed it from a typical Victorian villa into a more spacious and comfortable Federation bungalow. Under professional direction over two distinct periods, 1912 and 1924, the house was altered and extended in acknowledged respect to British Arts and Crafts architecture.
The comprehensive collection of Heysen's work hanging on the walls of every room complement the fine collection of antique furniture, Persian carpets, rare books and oriental artifacts that speak of a keen artistic eye for aesthetically beautiful pieces. The partnership of Hans and Sallie Heysen was one of the most successful unions that the art world has ever known and the stylish interior of the home remains as a fitting tribute to them both. Certainly it is a great credit to the Heysen family that their own philosophy is one of sharing this treasure with the nation as it could well have been kept secreted as sacred family ground only. The family are wisely taking a more practical approach as, still being totally privately owned, it is ineligible for any funding support, and due to the ever increasing demands of an ageing property, they have opened in order, hopefully, to make the estate more self supporting. The residence therefore is hung with the family's private collection of the famous artist's oils, watercolours, pastels, charcoals, and etchings, clearly conveying Hans Heysen's incredible versatility in both subject and medium.
Increased effort has been channeled into the restoration of the garden which Heysen himself laid out, and a number of years ago the studio of his artist daughter, Nora Heysen, was fully restored and opened for viewing. The Artist's Walk on the property locates eleven of Heysen's favoured painting spots, and indeed some of the oldest gums in the Adelaide Hills remain on The Cedars (between three and five hundred years of age) due to his dedicated conservation philosophy of continually buying out neighbouring farms to protect his beloved gums.
As an artist Hans Heysen was instrumental in directing the way in which we came to view the landscape of our own country. His distinctive paintings of the Australian gum tree served to implant this image securely into the national consciousness. Heysen observed and recorded nature acutely and in doing so set into place his unique status as one of the nation's most popular and respected painters.
Further details of events, tours and activities at The Cedars may be obtained from the Hans Heysen web site.