“Open Spaces” Retreat or Wow! Wow! Wow! or Bow! Wow! Wow!

Although I was only away for four days it felt like a month. We just jam packed so much into the days in Sydney.

Firstly the Hughenden Boutique Hotel needs a blog of its own! This gorgeous old mansion turned hotel in Paddington was bliss. It was like staying in someone’s home. The hotel is run by the gregarious author Susanne Gervay and is full of nooks and crannies, books and teapots and dogs! Yes, it is a dog friendly hotel. We met Liam the one year old St Bernard who was down from the Snowy Mountains with his master. Poor Liam has a heart condition and the day we saw him he had just come out of a five and a half hour operation.

Come one, come all.

Day 1…we all had a get-to know you session where we introduced ourselves and our work to the group.We met: Celia Bridle (Author / illustrator ),Liz Duthie (illustrator),Richard Caladine (illustrator),Lisa Stewart (illustrator and violinist!), Joy Stevens(illustrator), Justine Alltimes(illustrator and Laureate Project Manager),Donna Gynell (illustrator),Gabrielle Wang ( Author / illustrator), Janeen Brian (Author), Ann James (Illustrator / author), Christina Booth (Illustrator / author) and Laurine Croasdale (author and ASA Rep.)

Gabrielle Wang

We attended the book launch of “Amanda Niland and Christina Booth’s book, “I Wish There Were Dinosaurs”, launched by Libby Gleeson.

Libby Gleeson, Christina Booth and Amanda Niland

After dinner we listened to the genius of Tohby Riddle and how he created his new picture book “Unforgotten”. This is going to be an award winning book! It is a “must have”.

Tohby Riddle talking about the birth of “Unforgotten”


Day 2: It was off to Bondi Beach by taxi to view the Sculptures By The Sea. This is an outstanding event and my favourite was this one…

In the afternoon we did a drawing workshop with Bruce Whatley…”Drawing with the Non-dominant Hand” which was fascinating and a lot of fun.

Celia Bridle and the SA contingent; Donna Gynell, Janeen Brian and myself.

Day 3: By taxi to Brett Whiteley’s studio in Paddington. This was eerie…we listened to his old records and the studio was almost as though he had just gone out for a walk and left everything as was. I am now reading “Brett Whiteley Art and Life”.Following this we went to Lavender Bay to have a picnic lunch in Wendy Whiteley’s glorious garden. She happened to be working there with a group of volunteers. The garden is heaven…a place of peace and tranquility away from the hustle and bustle of Sydney city.Later we visited the Dr Seuss Gallery in Oxford St just around the corner from the hotel.Tapas for dinner that night as we listened to the haunting violin music played by Lisa Stewart.

Me at Brett Whiteley’s studio

Day 4: lazy breakfast and networking and collaborating before flying home.

The reading room at the Hughenden Hotel. An author’s and illustrator’s delight.

Whew! Now to get to work on the ideas after being inspired once again!


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