“I wanted to live this way, surrounded by a garden and beautiful landscape all my life. It wasn’t how I grew up but I always yearned for this way of living.” tells us Mickey Robertson when we start to talk about Glenmore House, a paradise like farmhouse surrounded by the most wonderful garden, and the place that is her home. “As a young girl and young woman, it seemed so romantic to me…these days I understand the hard work required to achieve it, but also the how it truly connects us, as human beings, to the land we nurture…and which in turn, nurtures us.”From the images alone we can feel the magic of this place, the connection but also the hard work behind it all.
“As children we would find endless entertainment when not being roped in to help. For instance collecting rose petals during the pruning month meant afternoons of colourful scented confetti being thrown towards the galaxies to fall back down on our heads!” adds her daughter Clementine Robertson, who is an artist, to our conversation and it feels like we can smell the scent of the rose petals.
Her other daughter, Bonnie Robertson, always has a camera in her hand and when Clementine arrived back from a trip to South Australia, Bonnie took the opportunity to capture her mum and sister while working together in the garden.
Mickey, on your instagram it says: „Idyllic days in the country… learn, dream, eat, be inspired.“ To me you really do live this dream on this idyllic place Glenmore, that you and your family created in the middle of Australian nature. Do you still have any other big dreams you want to achieve?
Oh my goodness yes!!! I’m not sure they’re achievable though…they’re bigger than me alone so I need to bring others with me. To date, there’s been a long list of smaller dreams to conquer…each one a stepping stone of sorts upon which to build…I guess it’s the journey of a lifetime…whether I achieve the bigger dream is neither here nor there…the journey itself has been a revelation.
You were a city girl before – when was the first moment that you felt like you want to trade the city for a more quiet lifestyle?
The idea of this being a more quiet lifestyle is a bit of a misnomer….living in the country may look peaceful and indeed the sounds are quite delightful, but in the country there is rarely a moment without a task that must be accomplished! Well…maybe that‘s because I ‘work‘ as well, so I’m always trying to cram everything in!
But to answer your question, I wanted to live this way, surrounded by a garden and beautiful landscape all my life. It wasn’t how I grew up but I always yearned for this way of living. As a young girl and young woman, it seemed so romantic to me…these days I understand the hard work required to achieve it, but also the how it truly connects us, as human beings, to the land we nurture…and which in turn, nurtures us.
“Living in the country may look peaceful and indeed the sounds are quite delightful, but in the country there is rarely a moment without a task that must be accomplished!”
Are there times ( or were there times in the beginning) when you miss anything from city life?
In the early days yes…I was actually quite scared to be surrounded by so much space! I think maybe eating out was the thing I missed most back then. But on the other hand, by then our first daughter had arrived and so between the joy of being a new mother, creating a garden and keeping a design career together, I was pretty much consumed with everything on my hands. Also, we’re only just over an hour’s drive from the city, so I can get there without too much difficulty.
How long did it take you to restore this original farmhouse and all the things around and did you do many things on your own?
It took many years. First the original stone dwelling, then the timber barn and old stables…that was over about five years. Then adding on to the original house which we did in sections. Then the Dairy. I guess the buildings took around ten years. We employed professional builders for that work which was all specialised, but as buildings were restored; it was us who made the garden around them, to link them together and the whole to the landscape beyond.
You offer garden workshops at Glenmore. What sort of people are usually coming to those events?
They come from all over, which is a joy for me…from all walks of life, across generations, city dwellers and locals; from the north coast, south coast, country and interstate….to learn, dream, eat and be inspired!
What´s one of your favourite thing to eat/ recipe?
Gosh…whatever’s in season! Right now, ripe figs with basil, a drizzle of olive oil and a little ewe’s milk cheese from a local supplier (Pecora Dairy). Or Torta di Melanzane….literally layer upon layer of aubergine gently pan fried, to then fill a deep 23cm cake tin with just enough grated mozarella and parmigiano to hold it together (not too much or the cheese would overwhelm the taste of pure, dense aubergine). Bake in the oven for about 45 minutes. Add a dollop of home made pesto and a few oven baked, just off the vine tomatoes. Pure heaven. If you’d like the actual recipe, let me know! (laughs)
Your biggest inspiration currently comes from…?
The kitchen garden itself…it’s literally the beating heart of the garden. Right now we are between seasons. It’s a time of crossover with so much to do, but the garden looks so beguiling – a sea of fennel flowers and zinnias; heavy with produce it beckons each day to build new structures, make compartments and sow seed for the season ahead. All of which are adding even more layers to this magical moment in time.
If you could turn back time, would you do anything differently?
Oh that’s a big one! Live in an apartment like the way I grew up? It would be a far easier option, but no…from time to time I might think so, but no…not really!
And last but not least, what did you enjoy most about this photo project with your daughter?
Being captured on a spontaneous afternoon in the garden as we went about some pleasantly light tasks.
Clementine, tell us about this mum/daughter photographic project – who had the idea and what did you enjoy most about it?
Bonnie always has a camera in her hand. I had just arrived home from a trip to South Australia, dead beat, and find the best way to catch up with my mum is by helping her in the garden.
What are your fondest childhood memories growing up at Glenmore?
The magic of the garden. Its always shifting. Its a sensory minefield: the light, the sounds, the scents and colours. As children we would find endless entertainment when not being roped in to help. For instance collecting rose petals during the pruning month meant afternoons of colourful scented confetti being thrown towards the galaxies to fall back down on our heads!
Where are you based now?
I have been based in Europe over recent years and currently loving the excuse to be at home in the garden with my family.
“My fondest childhood memories? The magic of the garden. Its always shifting. Its a sensory minefield: the light, the sounds, the scents and colours.”
You are an artist and you work as an illustrator, performance artist, and organize exhibitions – all of it is always very related to nature/ earth topics. Do you think art change the world and is that one of your main drives why you became an artist in the first place?
Its true that my work is driven by the rhythm of ecology. I am fascinated by plants, ethno-botanically, how they grew us and we them. I see no duality in life, we are all part of the same exquisite cosmos and art only feels like a natural conversation/language where our human created structures often feel at odds with what feels most intuitive.
What´s the hardest part about being an artist?
Surviving in those aforementioned human structures.
Why did you chose the name „The adsurtist archive“ for your website?
Perhaps because I find life at times to be uncanny, or absurd. We generally have chosen to live at odds with its inherent nature, its intrinsic logic and beauty. I often point these contradictions out through my work, what others perceive as absurd I sometimes find most natural and vice versa.
“I find life at times to be uncanny, or absurd. We generally have chosen to live at odds with its inherent nature, its intrinsic logic and beauty.”
What book are you currently reading?
I tend to have multiple texts on the go at once. At the moment I am researching the use of plants in Egypt; the greatest estate on earth and for thrill I just finished Jitterbug Perfume.
Where can we usually find you on a Friday or Saturday night?
When I’m not in the county enjoying the peace of the stars and a fire when possible, jazz and blues bars often lure me through their doors.
Your biggest life-dream?
Sooo many dreams, but the most important is to retain my connection with the land.