I checked into The Watson by Art Series Hotels on our recent trip to Adelaide for a couple of reasons; firstly, because I know from previous experience it’s impossible to have a bad night’s sleep in their signature bedding, but secondly, because each property furthers my education of Australian artists.
Checking into The Watson was my chance to become acquainted with the work of Yannima Pikarli Tommy Watson. The Art Series don’t merely hang the odd piece of Watson’s art in your room but, on the contrary, enable the guest to become fully immersed in the work of the artist. From the enormous burnt orange print in the lobby to the 6 original artworks that hung in our apartment, everywhere you turn are the vibrant works of the talented indigenous artist.
It was in the lobby that I learned more about the man behind the vivid hues on the walls. Watson’s work, I read, is inspired by his semi-nomadic upbringing in the Australian desert – which definitely explains those intense flashes of orange, pink and purple. He uses a contemporary reworking of indigenous painting, making sure that his public work doesn’t depict any stories or symbols that are sacred to his people.
To further guests Art Series experience the hotel offers art tours, an art library, art journals and a dedicated art channel. Those sumptuous beds I remembered from my last visit had a book of Watson’s work lying in wait, an invite for me to snuggle amongst the pillows and learn more.
Watson is a fascinating artist to read about. Yannima Pikarli was born circa 1935 in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yunkunytjatjara (APY) Land, a large desert terrain straddling Western Australia, Northern Territory and South Australia. His name refers to this land; Pirkarli refers to a sacred flat rock and Yannima is a site near where he was born. The name Tommy Watson came later in life when he began working as a stockman on Mt Ebenezer Station.
Luckily for the arts world he didn’t remain a stockman for too long. After picking up a paint brush at an arts centre in 2001, Tommy Watson went on to become one of only a handful of internationally acclaimed Aboriginal artists. His work graces the walls of significant galleries, including The Art Gallery Of New South Wales, National Gallery Of Australia, the Musee du Quai Branly in Paris and the Art Series Residence I was lucky to call home for the evening.
For guests that are inspired by Watson’s work a blank canvas and paints have been left with the mini-bar items. A gallery of work by those who took up the challenge (mainly little ones) lines the entranceway to the hotel and it seems such an apt way for guests to leave their mark on the property.
That’s if they leave at all. The Watson offer short and long-term rentals on their self-sufficient 1 and 2 bed apartments, and with views of the Adelaide Hills, Watson’s striking artwork and all the amenities you could need (including a washing machine) it would be easy to make a home here whilst on business.*
(*Or for any reason really. I like the way the hotel describes the Art Series Residences as having been designed with the ‘renovator, relocater, part time renter, project teams and newly single in mind’!)
The hotel facilities include a chic sun deck and pool, bike or smart car hire, a gym and The Local Grind restaurant on the ground floor.
Walkerville, where the property is based, is a beautiful leafy suburb of North Adelaide and a great place to be based if you like friendly cafes, independent boutiques and easy access to the CBD.
We only had time to spend one night in Adelaide but it was enough to ignite in me a newfound passion for the work of Tommy Watson. This immersion in art coupled with the superb service and well-thought out comfort of the Art Series Residences is why I’ll definitely be back for another stay at The Watson. And you can be sure I’ll be staying for a lot longer in future.