Backstreet beauties: Maitland's hidden treasures

THEY may not be a city's prettiest places but Maitland artist Holly McNamee says that doesn't mean backstreets and byways should be shunned.

As part of her contribution to the 2013 National Trust Heritage Festival, McNamee has produced a series of works that bring parts of what she describes as "hidden" Maitland to life.

MEMORIES: Artist Holly McNamee in Coffin Lane, which she thinks was named for  undertakers who worked there. Picture: Peter Stoop

MEMORIES: Artist Holly McNamee in Coffin Lane, which she thinks was named for undertakers who worked there. Picture: Peter Stoop

One of Holly McNamee's artworks of Maitland hospital.

One of Holly McNamee's artworks of Maitland hospital.

"I knock on doors and ask if I can do an artwork," McNamee said.

"A lot of Maitland you miss because it's dominated by the car."

She hopes her works will inspire people to hit the streets and get to know the treasures that have survived.

"It is an opportunity to revive a collective memory.

"Maitland is on a human scale and it has a very approachable history."

Some of her favourite places are parts of the original Maitland hospital that are now hidden by more modern extensions and additions.

McNamee's father, known as Dr Mac, was a Maitland GP.

"I used to sit in the car waiting for him to finish his rounds there so the hospital brings back memories."

Other favourites are Napoleon Lane, Little Bourke Street and Coffin Lane.

McNamee said Coffin Lane was so narrow it would likely remain a service lane and retain its original reason for being there but she said it was already closed off in places.

Another work depicts the front gates of Cintra, an 1890s mansion still in private hands, on Regent Street.

"I am an artist who's drawn to architectural history and Maitland is full of that.

"These are images that are important to me."

McNamee's exhibition, The Maitland Collection, is at the National Trust of Australia's Maitland property, Brough House, and runs until Sunday, May 12.

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