The premise of the book is a collection of recipes which belonged to Sunday Reed. These recipes are interspersed amongst the chapters of the book, as are recipes of visitors to Heide, a place which was part country retreat, part artists’ studio, part paradise.
The book outlines the history of Heide, the creation of the gardens and the development of the retour a la terre spirit which John and Sunday Reed embraced. It stresses the importance placed upon creating a beautiful environment which was largely self-sufficient, and sustainable. The emphasis was placed on eating fresh food which was locally produced and prepared simply in order to nourish the body, mind and soul.
The ethos clearly influenced a number of its inhabitants- Joy Hester and Sidney Nolan both evoked their time spent in Heide later in life in Hurstbridge and Parkville respectively.
The artists which benefited from the Reed’s patronage and friendship are represented in the imagery scattered through the book. Quite often the images are those which were produced at Heide, or of Heide itself. Photos too, abound; some photos taken by Albert Tucker, are quite familiar for those people who have read previous books on Heide in the 1940’s . Newer photos from Mirka Mora’s collection are present, as well as colour images from the 1960s. Seeing John Reed relaxing in Heide II reading the paper, surrounded by objets d’art, in colour, is quite a jolt. Colour make the image more immediate and recent and brings home the fact that Heide II was a home before it became a museum.
And the recipes? They’re too a snapshot in time, and evoke a more genteel period. My favourite part of the book is the ritual set around arvo tea, when tea, with scones and jam and cream would be served at 4pm.
In all, it is quite a readable book and will appeal to those who love reading recipes, with a dash of social context. Stephanie Alexander’s foreword is excellent and the book flows from this. If you love this art period, read it. If you love food, read it. If you love beauty, read it.
Hmm…must put the kettle on and rustle up some scones…