This week we have Ryan McGennisken as guest blogger for Art Pharmacy.
We'd just got back from living in Berlin and had considered a move out to the country, but the timing wasn't right and we just couldn’t settle on where to go. As a temporary measure, we moved into a studio-style factory space in Richmond… except ‘temporary’ ended up meaning two years.
We were effectively living in glorified squat conditions in the factory. We had a decent little set up: a 10m x 5m studio warehouse apartment with a salvaged wood DIY kitchen and found furniture from around the traps. The second room, similar size, was our studio. It was real and it was great, and it was really great.
We had the usual problems for a factory space with next to nothing rent; resident mice, leaking walls, cold in winter, hot in summer, and junkies roaming the alleyway that our windows faced onto. Right when it was all becoming too much for us (no shower combined with an impromptu dance party in the room across from ours at 2am on a Tuesday) we decided it was time to get out. As the dance party raged on, keeping us awake, we looked up Castlemaine on a real estate website and decided to go. Just for the hell of it.
A house we'd checked out a year earlier and dreamt about living in was vacant. Huge block, big trees, room for a veggie garden and chickens and everything we wanted to live with and be around, it was all there. There was even a steam train that ran along the tracks behind the yard.
We thought we'd put in our application and see what happened. When we were approved, we looked at each other in a shruggy-kind of way and thought, "Well, I guess we're moving to Castlemaine".
It's been a really liberating experience to cut ourselves off from everything once again and move into a new, exciting and very, very fresh environment. We didn't know anything about Castlemaine and certainly didn't know anyone that lived here and for the most part, we still don't. We have the odd visit from friends coming up from the city to tide us over when things start to feel a bit lonely, but other than that, we enjoy the silence and just get to work.
Our studios are inside, but at separate ends of the house. There’s lots of natural light and rosellas and trees to keep us company. We enjoy living within the community; though also enjoy the anonymity afforded in keeping to ourselves and settling into our hermit nature. We can pursue our other interests, like gardening and bush walking etc, etc. I'm even about to do a permaculture course.
At this very point in time, we can't see ourselves living in the city again - our interests are out here and it's freed us from the stress we feel in the city. I guess we've also taken a large step into our dream future of living a self sufficient, off-grid life. But until then, living here in our old miners cottage, veggies growing in the garden, birds chirping and trees blowing in the wind, will just have to do.
You can see Ryan's artworks on his Art Pharmacy page here.