Golden hues a summer accent

Historic York turns down the heat for WILL YEOMAN’S artistic collaboration

I’d never much liked visiting the Avon Valley’s York in the summer. The heat and the landscape’s tinder-box dryness can be oppressive. And depressing — especially at a time when fire is uppermost in everyone’s mind.

But this time around, milder temperatures (just under 30C), an overnight stay in a beautiful apartment overlooking the main street and an exhibition opening in a small local gallery made for a different experience.

Even before I reach the town’s outskirts, I begin to appreciate summer’s pale green and gold hues in a different way. The paintings of Arthur Streeton come to mind, despite their depicting a different part of Australia.

The night before the Sunday exhibition opening, I stay at a charming upstairs apartment just down the road in George Temple Poole’s superb heritage-listed 1893 York Post Office building, made from Toodyay stone. The apartment itself comprises a modern kitchen and bathroom, and a bedroom and living room featuring original fittings and antique furniture. The living room and adjacent balcony look out onto Avon Terrace.

It strikes me as perfect for a weekend getaway, should you wish to explore the many fine historic buildings and other attractions of York, WA’s first inland town.

Early next morning, I drive up to Mt Brown to watch the sunrise slowly illuminate the town and its surrounds to the accompaniment of the dawn chorus. A work of art in itself.

The exhibition Textures of Ambiguity — a fundraiser for the York River Conservation Society — is currently on at Gallery 152 in Avon Terrace.

It’s a collaboration between "myself and Wheatbelt poet John Kinsella. My 12 “textural” photographs take you on a journey from London through Melbourne, Fremantle and New Norcia to Toodyay, Northam and York. John’s 12 poems respond to each photograph.

At the opening, we perform the poems (spoken word and improvised guitar), in front of each photograph and printed poem — a kind of secular Stations of the Cross.

Here is one of John’s poems, which reflects on the image of a log with chainsaw cuts in it, photographed in New Norcia:

The Cuts

Corporal punishment

as pioneering as oblation

at the foot of incubator clouds

where river runs low through

lines laid down dry to cut

over halfway through

then from other side

enough to meet but not

aligned and missing

the circle’s signing off;

yet here, oddly defiant

on its side with memory

of sap and climb, temerity

holds against fellers

and ‘builders’.

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