History In Colour

Lever railway station

There is scant photographic evidence of the railway station and general store in this early period of Berowra’s history. But we do know that a Mr. Robert Richards was the first proprietor of the general store in Berowra. In a newspaper reference dated December 1903 Mr. Richards store is also listed as a place to vote. By 1909 Mr. Richards proceeded to inquire about the possibility of relocating the post office, then based at the railway station, to his store approximately 100 metres up the road.

Mr. Richards store is now brought to life in David Lever’s latest painting which is included in a current exhibition of his works titled ‘History in Colour’ at Macquarie University Art Gallery. The exhibition opens on Thursday 5 December. Lever’s visual depiction sets the scene – imagine going back in time to walk through the doors of this – by local standards – legendary store. It later became well known and loved as the Foster’s Store. As we can see it’s a charming rustic building and as time went by it became the hub of Berowra. The goods shed illustrated in the middle ground of the painting was once a hive of activity – important to the local industry. It not only received goods from Hornsby but also received produce from Arcadia for transport into the Sydney markets.

Akin to the historian, the artist David Lever utilises methods for tracking down difficult to locate records in splendidly capturing a place and period that opens up the past in a beguiling way – history in action as a living, breathing force. Lever visually recalls how people once lived and went about their daily business in Berowra.  The ubiquitous magpie flies nonchalant above the railway station – synchronised with the narrative of the everyday. The visual rendering of the buildings appears integral within the surrounding natural landscape. The painting has an arresting silence, which encapsulates the viewer.

Rhonda Davis

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