Home Life Series

Inside Lander—Se, a sanctuary for art crafted by talented artist Hannah Nowlan

This week on the Home Life Series, we welcome you to Lander—Se, a sanctuary for art nestled within the heart of the Mornington Peninsula, crafted by talented artist Hannah Nowlan.

On a mission to find her dream home and gallery space, it was love at first sight when Hannah and partner Tim stumbled across this abandoned Red Hill property with a pre-existing vernacular barn. After two years of renovating, the couple have created not just an immersive gallery space, but a creative arts destination deeply connected to the site's natural environment. 

Hannah's debut exhibition, 'SLATE,' is set to be unveiled at Lander—Se's inaugural opening weekend. Keep reading for an exclusive first look at this rural treasure, and a preview into her dreamy, mythological artworks connected to the land.

Hi Hannah! Take us back to the beginning. When and how did your love for painting begin?

Hey Kip&Co, I fell in love with ‘making’ from a young age. I grew up in a super creative household with both my parents being makers of all-sorts themselves. There is an iconic family photo of me, in front of an easel, palette and brush in hand, mum’s annotation states ‘Artist, Age 3’. When I was in high school I loved drawing and went on to study a Bachelor of Fine Art, Drawing and Printmaking at the Victorian College of Art (VCA). After graduating, I didn’t have access to printmaking equipment so I started painting from my home-studio instead. Eight years on and I have been painting ever since.

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Your work is heavily inspired by abstract landscapes, mythology & spirits. Where did this inspiration stem from and what fuels your passion for painting these themes?

During my formative years I was diagnosed with a chronic pain condition. I leaned on my art practice as a method of processing and healing for my body and mind. Painting allowed me to shine a light on ‘transparent’ qualities, like neuropathic pain, that could be felt but not seen. This is where my love for spirits first started. 

After my arts degree, I completed an International Artist Residency in Portugal which set in stone my love for mythology, folklore, tales and legends. Myths have this incredible power to lift everyday life out of the mundane and into a heightened state of significance. 

Seeing the world through a mythical lens has become a discipline woven into my practice. It allows me to collate and connect seemingly disconnected parts, creating abstract landscapes and narratives that are entirely unique to a moment in time, person or place. Mythology is my visual language for searching, understanding and finding symbolic meaning in the world around me.

You and your partner Tim have been working hard on renovating a pre-existing vernacular barn on 2.5 acres of rural land in Red Hill, transforming it into an extraordinary artist-run initiative with exhibitions, creative programs and event space called Lander—Se. What inspired you to step out of the box and go rural for this project?

I’ve always felt a pull towards sharing the narratives of my own work and others from an authentic, approachable space. I’ve dreamt of being able to create a non-commercial gallery space that supports artists and I have been taking steps to make this happen over the past five years. 

When we started looking to buy a ‘standard’ house, Tim and I didn’t feel a connection with any of them. It dawned on me that with the right place, I could combine an art gallery with our dream home. So one day I planned a tour of about five different inspections and on that list was this site in Red Hill. After viewing some terrible residential homes earlier that day, we pulled into the gum-tree lined entry of Red Hill and it was literally love at first sight. The abandoned site had so much potential with the exisiting barn and ample space for a future house. 

It was pre-covid at this time and after dreaming about the land everyday for 18-months, we won the property at an online, zoom auction! Two years on and we’re still pinching ourselves that we get to care for this land. The rural nature of this site is perfect to deliver a creative arts destination deeply connected to the site's natural environment. Whether visitors and creatives are seeking arts experiences, positive interactions, inspiration or adventure, a visit to this rural destination offers immersive artistic encounters for all.

There’s many details we are in love with, but we can’t go past the epic natural stone benchtops you’ve made for this space! Could you share how you came up with such a brilliant idea and the process?

With many elements of our barn renovation, we tried to think outside the box with ways we could utilise found, salvaged and free materials to create something from nothing. Reworking salvaged materials has been great for the financial and environmental viability of this project. 

The bench tops throughout the gallery are made from natural stone offcuts/waste materials. I began by collecting natural stone out of skip-bins at the front of a stone-mason yard, before creating a mosaic with the pieces and grouting them in. My father made the Tasmanian Blackwood frame that surrounds the benches and our Red Hill neighbour, a Surfboard Glasser, kindly poured the top resin layer for an even, functional finish. The whole process was a creative experiment but the finished product is stunning —a riverbed of hammered glass over organic natural stone. Every time someone visit’s the gallery, the bench tops are always a highlight!

How would you describe the colour palette and styling of Lander—Se and do you draw inspiration from your own artwork to bring the space to life?

Working on the entire project ourselves with a small budget meant we really leaned into salvaged materials and giving them new life. Where I could I incorporated artisan materials like handmade tiles, light fixtures and our hand-built bluestone hearth. After stopping-up the gallery plaster myself, finding the ‘right’ shade of beige to paint our soaring walls and pitched roof was so challenging! Most people around me at the time know how many failed samples I tried before landing on the wall colour it is today. 

I focused on grounding, organic and earthy tones throughout. They provide a calming backdrop and natural canvas for the art-filled interiors, bringing elements of the outside environment in. Much like my paintings, my inspiration always ties back to my local landscape and the surrounding environment. Drawing on natural palettes with textural imperfections to give depth, warmth and dimension to the space.

Your remarkable vegetable garden and pumpkin harvest suggests that art is not your only talent! What tips do you have for anyone growing their own veggies over the cooler months?

The key advice I can give for anyone thinking about growing veggies is to just start! Gardening takes time and growing your own food and vegetables can be so rewarding. I like to grow heirloom varieties where possible, they are often unusual, exciting and interesting shapes and colours that you won’t find at the supermarket. Starting a backyard compost bin can be a great way to use your kitchen scraps and develop great soil too. All of this season's pumpkin harvest started through self-germination from our compost!

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After two years of renovating, we are so excited to hear the news of your first exhibition ‘SLATE,’ ready to exhibit at Lander—Se's official opening! Give us all the details on what we can expect and how we can get down.

Thanks so much! I’m very pleased to welcome you all to the Lander—Se inaugural opening weekend! ’SLATE’ Solo Exhibition by Hannah Nowlan.  

Opening Weekend — April 27 + 28th, Sat & Sun, 10am til 4pm, 585 Dunns Creek Road, Red Hill, Victoria. 

Exhibition Pre—Sales begin online 9am Saturday, April 20th via landerse.au/slate. 

On display every weekend from April 27th — June 2nd. 

Other times by appointment

Activating a Mornington Peninsula site, Australian Artist Hannah Nowlan exhibits contemporary art on a rural canvas. 'SLATE' by Hannah Nowlan is the inaugural exhibition of artist-run initiative, Lander—Se, Red Hill. Drawing on narratives shared by neighbours and evidence unearthed by the land itself, Nowlan gently reveals the historical tapestry of the land and its surroundings. Continuing her exploration of selfhood, mythology, and connection to the landscape, Nowlan creates a serene atmosphere within the gallery. The exhibition features twenty-five site-specific paintings that are fluid in nature with delicate strokes conveying a sense of transience and vulnerability.