The Old Warden’s cottage on Burton Street opposite NAS was rented by art students in the past. Now, four NAS students are reprising that tradition, as Queenie Colquhoun reports.

 

Home to the former Darlinghurst Gaol, the National Art School has a rich history, both in its architecture, its students and the decades of art created at the school.

Four NAS students have a unique link to that architectural history, living, and making art in the old Gaol Warden’s cottage directly across the road from the school.

The original gaol was designed by the famous convict architect Francis Greenway and construction began in 1821. The building has been the home of the National Art School since 1922, so the school is approaching its centenary.

Urban Village spoke with residents Brodie Cullen, Oliver Scherer, Oscar Sulich and Nima Ahmadian, one ex NAS student and three current students approaching their graduation.

Brodie says: “As soon as we met the real estate agent and he told us that this was the Warden’s cottage, we were keen. It wasn’t until we lived here for a few months that people told us that old art students used to live here. We found all these old sculptures in the backyard while we were cleaning it!”

The housemates have found their creativity flourishing in their home environment.

“It was definitely amplified by us living together. And living in a house where everyone is a painter, we constantly, and I think unintentionally spur each other on a drive each other to do better and do more, paint all the time, go in after hours. Especially in lockdown, it really came together” says Oliver.

The most recent Sydney lockdown created a silver lining in the share house. Brodie adds: “The last lockdown was really hectic, so we were just here making art every day. It was so good! Because now we have so much art.”

The art produced reflected this sense of community created at NAS. Inspiration and materials of most of the student’s work were taken from NAS experiences, Darlinghurst bars, and local streets.

Many of the pieces produced at NAS and at the Warden’s Cottage will be available for viewing and purchase at the National Art Schools Grad Shows in early 2022.