Urrbrae House and gardens


Urrbrae House is a beautiful residence built in 1891. It was the home of pastoralist Peter Waite, after whom the Waite Campus of the University of Adelaide is named. It is set in large grounds including many university buildings, a vineyard, gardens and an extensive arboretum. Inside the house are beautiful wooden staircases, generously proportioned rooms, one of Adelaide’s first billiard rooms, even (I think) an early approach to air-conditioning.

Here is a photograph of the house and rose gardens from the south-west corner of the house grounds.

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As a painting destination, Urrbrae House and gardens is a favourite – just too many choices! It took me at least twenty minutes to choose a spot.The subject I found first was an upturned orange wheelbarrow under a weeping myall tree. Unfortunately the tree was not weeping in the right places to make the composition ‘easy’ but I thought I could adapt it. When I walked back to collect my trolley I saw another choice – a small flight of red brick steps flanked by bushes and leading up to the generous shade of a Chinese elm tree. Not bad, nice diagonals, reds and greens. So that was where I set up the easel. Then I saw choice number three…

The wheelbarrow was in a slightly boggy area so was not very difficult to reject. The brick steps seemed a bit of a cliche, so they were out. The third choice was mostly green. Some painters don’t like green, or find them especially difficult. Not sure about that. For me they are a colour to mix (like any other) except that I love greens. And blues. And lots more. But greens and blues mostly.


Here is the work in several stages:

darks and lights-PhilippaRobert-AdelaideSouthAustralia

Darks and lights mapped in


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Some mid-tones added

And now a large leap towards the stage of colour. I got so engrossed that I didn’t photograph more steps along the way.

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End of first session at Urrbrae House.

Still work to do after this. More later. As well as a look at a painting in these gardens from a few years ago.

When you see that you can tell me if I am stuck in a rut, or not!


Exhibition in Adelaide – seascapes plus

Mrs Harris’s Shop was established in 1932 as a grocery shop. It is sort of a ‘corner store’ but not on the corner. It is nestled among suburban cottages in Torrensville, just a few kilometres from Adelaide’s city centre. Earlier this year it re-opened as a gallery space by the current Mrs Harris who is two generations removed from the original owner. With five other artists I will be showing work there from this weekend until mid-December.

I know two of the other artists personally. M is a dear friend from art school and teachers college days. For many years we painted together once a week while our other lives were swirling around us. Those sessions were an oasis of calm. M has been painting and teaching art for a long time as well as raising a family and living in and travelling to all sorts of interesting places in the world. All of that, but has never exhibited. After all this time and much urging from me, she will have her debut with some of her flower pastels this weekend. So that is exciting! The other artist friend, A-M, is also a talented art teacher. We met about 15 years ago through a mutual friend with whom she set up a gallery in the small town of Penola in South Australia’s South East. A-M produces energetic expressive landscapes, is an experienced exhibitor and was quite un-flappable during the hanging! I plan to post more of the show next time, but here are some of my pieces.

Philippa Robert, Adelaide South Australia
Balcony view in winter….

Philippa Robert, Adelaide South Australia
and summer.

Philippa Robert, Adelaide South Australia
The River Torrens meets the Gulf of St Vincent at Henley Beach – the Torrens outlet.

Philippa Robert, Adelaide South Australia
The gardens of Urrbrae House, an 1890s mansion sited on what is now the University of Adelaide’s Waite Campus.

Philippa Robert, Adelaide South Australia
The view back towards the city of Adelaide. This is just a few yards from the vantage point for “The outlet”.

Philippa Robert, Adelaide South Australia
A quiet corner of the old Anglican section of Mitcham Cemetery, Adelaide.

Philippa Robert, Adelaide South Australia
I posted this headland study in an earlier blog.

Philippa Robert, Adelaide South Australia

It is a collection of very small works. If you have visited this site before they might be familiar. I am hoping to move them on to clear the decks.