Tim Brook

Reflections on Haefliger’s Cottage

Hill End

Ruth had earlier observed that windows are the interface of the imagination. In Hill End she noted how tourists, outsiders, peer into dark windows in the hope of catching glimpses of history. Hill Enders, the insiders, gaze out at their familiar domestic landscape. Each viewer brings a particular set of memories and ideas that shapes their experience—both how they see and what is left unnoticed.

Haefliger’s gate
Haefliger Cottage

Reflections

For several years I have photographed partially reflective surfaces (ponds, windows, billabongs, spectacles…). Ambiguities result—not ambiguities constructed but ambiguities revealed, ambiguities that give voice to opposites. Partial reflections reveal both connections and contradictions between opposite viewpoints. And Haefliger Cottage breathes contradictions.

The cottage

Hill Enders have always used their gardens as a source of fruit and vegetables. Their gardens are little European insertions in an Australian landscape. The hills around the town remain visually Australian but at Haefliger Cottage the ornamental garden obscures almost every view from the cottage to the bush. In the 1950s, Haefliger and Bellette transformed the cottage itself. On the original vernacular architecture, they superimposed a European idea of an artist’s retreat in the mountains. Formal European furniture and a scholar’s library now occupy the miner’s parlour.

Haefliger Cottage
Haefliger Cottage Haefliger Cottage Haefliger’s kitchen Haefliger’s kitchen

The work

Originally Haefliger Cottage was an unassuming dwelling for a miner, now it bears a heavy load of history. It is twisted with age. Nothing is quite square. Nothing quite joins. Time has allowed a liquid flow of glass in the panes of the windows and the bookcase. The thicknesses of glass have become uneven and the panes now distort every view (just a little) and every reflection (just a little more). Reflections on Haefliger’s Cottage is a collection of these views and reflections. All faithful, none true.

Some of the images also make oblique reference to photographs of Haefliger Cottage taken by Russell Drysdale, Jeffrey Smart and others.

Tim Brook 2002