Halcyon Days Heide in the 1940s

20 June 13 September 2015
Heide Cottage
Kendrah Morgan
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This exhibition celebrates collection highlights from the 1940s, a heady period of creative achievement and cultural change in the history of Heide. Throughout the decade John and Sunday Reed’s home formed a focal point for some of Australia’s most avant-garde artists, who rejected conventional ways of living and learning and spearheaded the modernist movement in Melbourne. This constellation of rising talent included the young Sidney Nolan, cerebral painter Albert Tucker and his wife Joy Hester, the quiet yet passionate Arthur Boyd and the free-spirited John Perceval. Russian émigré artist Danila Vassilieff was the influential elder of the circle. Each developed a distinctive practice and came to hold an undisputed place in the canon of Australian art.

Such was John and Sunday’s belief in this group that they supported them financially and materially, and in some instances formed close attachments to them. As poet Barrett Reid observed, the Reeds provided a ‘total concentration of life’ at Heide, which not only gave rise to unprecedented experimentation and attainment, but witnessed a drama of human relationships. The 1940s saw the creation of many much-loved Heide icons and the selection displayed in Halcyon Days includes Ned Kelly and St Kilda images by Nolan, Hester’s compelling psychological portraits, and Tucker’s photographs documenting the life and times. In addition, a remarkable major portrait group by Boyd makes its debut, a recently donation to the Museum by the Estate of Beverly Brown.