almost once: artist Brett Whiteley + sofala + hill end


“Prompting meditations on life and death, burning out and living life to the full”

I’ve always adored Brett Whiteley‘s (1939-1992) sculpture of a burnt and live match, Almost Once. He donated it to the Art Gallery of NSW in Sydney just a year before his death in 1992. I’ve seen lots of art and sculpture in museums all over the world, but this one stills brings a smile to my face every time. It seems to be full of irreverent joy, while obviously also prescient.

Brett Whiteley boarded at The Scots College in Bathurst (a one hour drive from Orange) when young, and continued to return to the Central West of NSW often throughout his career. The historic villages of Hill End, Carcoar, Sofala and Millthorpe served as major inspiration and retreat – Sofala was in fact the subject of one of Whiteley’s scholarship submissions which he won in 1960 to go and paint in London.

Hill End, an old gold-rush town 85km from Bathurst, has attracted and inspired three generations of Australian artists, including Donald Friend, Russell Drysdale, John Olsen, Margaret Olley, Jeffrey Smart and Brett Whiteley.


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