At Home on the Hunter

Max Watters' View Over Glenbawn Road

On an unknown day in 1976 Max Watters (1936-2020), an established Hunter Valley landscape artist, headed north from his home in Muswellbrook in search of inspiration. After taking the Glenbawn Road, east of the small town of Aberdeen, Max crossed the Hunter River (Coquun). He navigated the wind in the road that bends around undulating hills, then stopped a stone’s throw from the riverbank.

Here Max photographed and sketched a farm, its buildings, lush house-paddock, and straight fence line– all dwarfed by a high wooded hill, which we see in this work View Over Glenbawn Road. Feeling the landscape as he knew it, Max was drawn to depict both the ancient features of Wonnarua Country–the hill and fertile plain–as well as the landscape changes that followed European settlement in the district.

Back in his kitchen-turned-studio, Max transferred the sketch onto a sheet of Masonite. He filled its shapes with flat colour and dabbed the board with paint straight from a tube to create the textured effects of grass.

Like many of Max’s works, this landscape feels both lifeless yet oddly welcoming, with its quaint chimneyed cottage, fertile paddocks, and fluffy white clouds. Other eyes will see other things.