The CMP identified the Doll’s House as being of primary significance, despite its poor condition. It sits behind the 1870s farmhouse (now Heide I) that the Reeds adapted to reflect their interests and way of life. The shed is a remnant of the property’s former use as a dairy farm, although later truncated in length (c.1975-84). It was probably used for milking, a practice continued by John Reed up until the late 1940s, when parts of the timber frame were renewed, internal lining boards were added and it became an art and paint store — a temporary home for paintings by Sidney Nolan, including some of the Ned Kelly series, now in the National Gallery, Canberra.
Following conservation works documentation by Lovell Chen, McCorkell Constructions embarked on the challenging restoration project. Approximately a third of the original shed remains, measuring 3.7m by 3.7m plus a porch. Nothing was removed from site, and as much as possible of the extant fabric has been reused. The frame was propped and hung in place to enable the installation of new stumps and floor framing, mostly using recycled timbers. The walls were then dropped one by one and rebuilt on the ground. Traditional carpentry techniques were used where components had to be reproduced.
The origin of the name Doll’s House is not certain but the name is associated with the use of the shed in the 1950s by the young Sweeney Reed, son of Joy Hester and Albert Tucker and later adopted by the Reeds. The footprint of the original extent of building, as Sweeney would have known it, is now marked with a steel edge and gravel infill.
Heide Museum of Modern Art : www.heide.com.au
McCorkell Constructions : mccorkell.net.au
Video about the restoration, dir. Lucie Jamison : vimeo.com
Openwork landscape consultants : openwork.info
see also : A Healing Garden for Heide, in ArchitectureAU
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