Dear Arthur and Yvonne Boyd,


You don't know me but I've been living at your place. For almost a month. So have two of my friends. We didn't have any parties or leave cigarette marks in the couches or anything (none of us smoke - I did spill some beer on my favourite chair, the white one that looks out my studio window - some of the beer got into my DVD drive and I ended up having to sit there for forty minutes blow-drying my laptop with Rita's hair dryer... but other than that you should find it as you left it).


Over the last three and a bit weeks, I've done more work here than I've ever had a chance to do in one stretch in my life. I've written what I came here to write and I've written things I never saw coming. Stew is a cinematographer and he's been experimenting as well - with stills photos and video. We've combined our efforts in some short videos we're going to post on the website over the next month. In the last week, Rita and Stew and I have had massive meetings, huge debates, workshops and hard slog sessions getting things done by a deadline we can actually meet. Purely on a practical level, the three of us being so busy and so rarely in the same place the rest of the time, this has been an astonishing opportunity.


So I'd like to thank you, and your family who could have inherited this place, for donating it to the Australian people and for instigating the Artists In Residence program, which (and I know I'm prone to exaggeration - it wasn't forty minutes with the hair dryer, it was twenty) I'm pretty sure has changed my life. The inspiring environment, the historical and artistic legacy of the place, and the fact that other artists and school groups and travelers will come here, will look out this window, will stand in Arthur's studio and smell the paints... it makes you want to keep doing what you're doing. It makes you treasure your solitude, find your natural rhythm, collaborate in new and interesting ways, and develop an unnecessarily obsessive interest in wombats.


I've learned a lot about you and about Australian art through your collection and the addictively well-informed Julia and Jen who have generously provided me with access to everything from postcards and phone messages to Picasso and Nolan and books about you guys and what you got up to (or did you? hard to tell).


Rita and Stew and I were talking about whether we would, if we could, donate something as beautiful as this place to the Australian people. We decided the hardest thing would be: you'd want people to use it properly. You'd want them to understand it, to love it as much as you did. We realised, as we came home to pack our stuff away and go back to our real lives, that we'd be (despite our best intentions) a teensy bit jealous if someone we knew got a residency here. We'd feel possessive and dislocated. So we decided maybe that would be the worst part - letting go and hoping it turns into what you intended it to turn into.


So, we'd like you to know this place is integral to Standing There Productions now - all our future projects will, in a way, come out of this. Maybe if you saw our work, you wouldn't like it, maybe you would. Thank you for the artists in residency program especially because of that.


For what it's worth, I think the residency program is run exactly how you'd like. Everyone here has the perfect approach (we've been left alone to do what we need to do but after a few days it feels like home - everyone is lovely and we're always reminded of artists and their work - which makes it feel worth doing and worth loving). I wonder if you know this. I wonder if you know that when you see someone coming (Barb, Tanya the visual artist, Tracie) you think "Oh goodie! Now I can catch up on the gossip!" Usuallay it's about the lamb (leg getting better), the next artist moving in (writer's cottage - pianist), how Tanya's work is going (interesting - what do you think about Koalas?) or something truly scandalous like the time Tanya went to Nowra and ended up being chased out of a bar by a bunch of 21 year-olds wanting to beat her up for sitting next to a boy with peroxide hair (Tanya: I don't F---n think so). It's a wonderful place to be, and that's not even factoring in the sunsets and the wombats.


We're leaving tomorrow morning. I'm about to pack up my studio. I have no idea how I'm going to cope back in the real world, but I will miss this place deeply. Rita and Stewart and I have been dragging our feet and sighing at sunsets and staring off into the middle distance on and off for the past few days and tomorrow is crunch time. Rita is going to live in Sydney. Stew and I are back to Melbourne. Today we spoke to some school groups in here and I found myself pointing to the Gonsky apartment and saying "I live over there". I don't, which is good, because other people deserve it, but should you ever need a house-sitter Yvonne, please let me know.




Lorin Clarke. Standing There Productions.