From Prelude 1 – for 15 Painters and Prepared House
Performance, April 30, 2016


The Avoca Project is an international art project in regional Victoria, Australia, centred on Watford House. Referred to locally as 'The Swiss House', this pre-fabricated gold-rush residence was imported as numbered planks from Scandanavia via Hamburg in 1852. The house is thus an immigrant, its walls revealing stories of wealth and a European glamour now faded by the harshness of the climate and the decreasing services that are the result of globalisation and climate extremes in rural Australia.

Lyndal Jones is an artist who focuses on the politics of context, place and gender through very long-term projects. Here she works with the local community and national and international artists, scholars and climate change experts to develop a series of works of art to address this weathered but resilient immigrant house , the place, the land  together with the social and individual humans who inhabit it as a site of climate change and response.

The Avoca Project takes place over 10 years (2006-2016) and includes land works, exhibitions, performances, film showings, concerts and symposia, always with Watford House rather than simply at it.

In 2008 The Avoca Project became a Not-For-profit organization to support the numbers of artists, large-scale community cultural activities and increasing number of partners involved. Chairperson of the Board for The Avoca Project Inc. is John Howie AM with Eleanor Marshall (a former resident) the Secretary and Tom Lowenstein the Treasurer. Lyndal Jones sits on the board as Director of the project.



Projects 2016

Preludes and Sonatas for 15 Painters and Prepared House
performance 30 April,  2016

August – November
AT HOME WITH WATFORD (including performance Watford with Flowers)
Series of residencies August – October towards an exhibition of ecological approaches to domesticity and feminism by 10 artists with 10 local women and girls, leading to exhibition thoughout house and garden.




Central to the project is the belief that visiting artists have more to learn from the context we find ourselves in than we have to ‘teach’ the communities we visit, often briefly.

To this end, visiting artists are invited to return on more than one occasion to build ongoing relationships between artists and members of the local community.

They are also asked not to consider making a work ‘for’ the community but to work with a local expert who might assist them to develop their art project in unexpected ways.



This series of performances for amateur volunteers began in 2011 during the 8 year drought in Avoca. Inspired by the possibility of the house as an ark, this series by Lyndal Jones was originally to be for local residents and their animals with the image of the hull of an ark projected onto the façade of Watford house, the idea was changed when a local resident grumpily suggested she would ‘never get a permit’.

The idea was instantly changed to people-as-animals through the use of home-made masks and costumes.



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Joiner’s Shed, Cockatoo Island, Biennale of Sydney 2012  

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Holburne Museum, Bath for Illuminate 2015,

bath at holburne

bath queue






2016  ARTIST_IN_RESIDENCE  Soren Dahlgaard

Professor Lesley Stern (UCSD) who is currently writing What is it Like to Be/In a Garden? spent a week writing at Watford House.
A day in the garden with Lesley, a one-day symposium addressing her writing in the context of Australian gardens was held in the garden at Watford House on 29th November for 20 academics and garden-lovers.
It was supported by the Centre for Politics and Culture, School of Media and Communication at RMIT University.


2013-4  ARTISTS-IN-RESIDENCE Lindy Lee and Mel Ogden (local partner, soil expert Martin Wynne)
For Avoca Chinese Garden creation and development

2012  ARTIST_IN_RESIDENCE Natalie Jerimijenko  (local partner soil expert Martin Wynne)

2011 DESIGNER-IN-RESIDENCE  Linda Jackson (partners, Patricia Brien and Lyndal Jones)

2010 ARTIST_IN_RESIDENCE Carl Michael Von Hausswolff (partners, SIAL, RMIT University and Lyndal Jones

 Jill Orr (local partner, Avoca Primary School) , Yutako Shindo, (local partner Glenys and Arthur Allen), Megan Evans and Gayle Maddigan (partner, Lyndal Jones) ,
DESIGNER-IN-RESIDENCE Fiona Harrison and 15 Landscape Architecture students from RMIT  (local partners/clients, 5 householders in Avoca who lent their gardens, Ian from Avoca Hotel))

2007 ARTIST_IN_RESIDENCE Jane Prophet (partner, Simon Pockley)




About Lyndal Jones

The Avoca Project is based on expertise gathered through contributions to cultural innovation as art for the last thirty years. Lyndal Jones first provided important developments in the discourse around Feminism in Australia with her AT HOME series (1977 - 80), and then issues of empowerment more generally with her internationally recognised performance-art works (Engberg, 1996), her development of interactive video works as art installations (first exhibited in 1983) and the writings that have accompanied these projects.

She has been recognised for this research by the two most prestigious awards given in Australia – the Australian Artists Creative Fellowship from the Australian Government (1993 – 1996) and selection to represent Australia at the 2001 Venice Biennale, arguably the most important art event on the international calendar.

In 2008 she exhibited Darwin with Tears, a survey exhibition of her ten-year project FROM THE DARWIN TRANSLATIONS (1992-98); combined with TEARS FOR WHAT WAS DONE, (2003–2005) throughout the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA), Melbourne. This work, an original contribution to analysis of Charles Darwin’s work on sexual selection, is the subject of an extensive accompanying catalogue/book written with Sue Cramer.

Her earlier research includes a 10 year series THE PREDICTION PIECES (1981- 1991) with works that examine ways in which we address the future by developing strategies for hope and engagement through play. The archive of this project is held by the MCA, Sydney

She is currently Professor of Contemporary Art in the School of Media and Communication at RMIT University.

Click here for full CV



Of Note

In 2008, The Avoca Project was nominated for the 01SJ Prix Green for Environmental
Art, 01SJ Biennial San Jose USA

In 2013 it was one of 5 artworks cited on the Regional Arts Victoria website as a model example of a contemporary artwork that has been transformational in its effect on a community. For further information:



The Central Goldfields town of Avoca is two hour's drive from Melbourne and 45 minutes from Ballarat, at the crossroads of the Pyreness and Sunraysia Highways, and is located in the Pyrenees Ranges, amidst some of Victoria's best wineries.

Avoca Project address:
16 Dundas Street, Avoca 3467 Victoria

For more information regarding accommodation and bookings visit: Pyrenees Tourism


The Avoca Project Inc
Watford House
16 Dundas St, Avoca
Victoria 3467
Phone: 5465 3424