The Heart Garden: Sunday Reid and Heide

Janine Burke

The Heart Garden: Sunday Reid and Heide
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The Heart Garden: Sunday Reid and Heide

Janine Burke

Born into one of Melbourne’s most prominent establishment families, Sunday Baillieu was expected to become a society princess. But this passionate individualist turned her back on upper-class privilege and created a life wholly her own. With her husband, John Reed, Sunday established Heide - a home and the focal point for the development of Australian modernism. In 1935, Sunday and John bought Heide, a modest weatherboard house in rural Heidelberg. Until their deaths in the early eighties, the Reeds lived there and cultivated Australia’s most significant circle of artists, including Sidney Nolan, Albert Tucker, John Perceval, Joy Hester and Charles Blackman. In the words of Albert Tucker, Sunday was ‘the magnetic force that drew us together, the eye…’ While Sunday was a muse to several generations of Australian artists, Sidney Nolan reamined her lifelong obsession. Gifted, charismatic and visionary, Nolan was mesmerised by Sunday - and she by him. They were lovers for several tempestuous years. But Sunday was more than Nolan’s muse. Award-winning biographer Janine Burke argues that she was crucial to his artistic development - preparing his painting materials, inspiring subject matter and perhaps guiding his hand while he painted the Ned Kelly series, executed on Heide’s dining room table. Sunday was a demanding and intense woman, known as much for her irascibility as for her generosity. In this compelling biography, Burke draws a rich portrait of this comlex and brilliant woman who fuelled the fire of Australian modernism, and was at its heart.

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