Since 2002 the boarders at Hale School’s Brine House have been among Fine Art @ Hale’s most dedicated viewers - and most astute investors.

The halls of the boarding house – home to 54 boys in years 7 and 8 during term time – are decorated with several works of art acquired at the exhibition over the past 17 years.

Encouraged by former head of Brine House, Ross Sweet and now by housemaster TJ Steenekamp since 2011, the students prepare for Fine Art @ Hale each year by first deciding on the budget they’re willing to spend.

“Then we all go and have look and decide on a painting, and then each person will chip in,” explained Daithi Wade, a year 8 boarder from Broome.

Lachie Broun, year 8, from Coorow, said if the chosen painting was way over budget, the school might contribute a bit.

“So we always end up with an excellent painting” he said.

Lachie and Daithi said the boys, who have traditionally been given a sneak preview of Fine Art @ Hale, all go and look at the exhibition in small groups, making a note of their preferences, before the whole group goes together to make their final selection.

“When we are making a choice, there are two aspects,” said Lachie. “It has to be about the land or farming, and it has to be a local artist.”

“It’s good just to be able to add some colour to Brine House,” added Daithi.

The boys said paintings depicting scrubland, paddocks, farm animals and native animals helped make the boarding house feel a bit like home.

“You look at them and you think how you do see kangaroos at home,” Lachie said.

Hale School boarders Lachie Broun, Daithi Wade and George Hope with On the Red Carpet, Jenny Davies, oil on canvas, 2016

Daithi said he enjoyed looking at On the Red Carpet by Jenny Davies – 2016’s purchase.

“When you are walking up the stairs and you see the goat, it just sort of brings joy to you,” he said.

The paintings, displayed in the public areas, reflect the taste of the boys in the year groups that purchased them and vary in theme, size and medium from Great Southern Farmland by Bronwen Newbury, the first work acquired in 2002; to Catch Me if You Can (2012) by Ida Ernhardt, depicting a colourful country race meeting; and Dusk on the Murchison (2011) by Norm Wilson (in the feature image), vibrant with the dark red colours of the rocks in the gorges.

Art work adorning the walls of Brine House – here standing in front of Catch Me if You Can (Country Races), by Ida Ernhardt, acrylic on canvas, 2012

For Fine Art @ Hale, the choice by the boys of Brine House has become affectionately known as their very own Packing Room Prize.  Other than the Headmaster, the boys’ purchase is the only one allowed from the exhibition prior to the doors opening for the Cocktail Preview on the Friday evening.

This year, there is also a special event planned for the Boarding Houses with guest artist, Carly Le Cerf from Mt Barker coming to talk to the boarders over dinner about her journey as a country based artist.  After that, the boys will take an evening tour of the exhibition under lights, giving the Brine House boys some extra time to consider what might be this year’s acquisition.

And with a special favourite, Battle of Wills, by Alix Korte, oil on linen, 2015

George Hope, now in Year 12, from Kojonup, said several years after leaving Brine House, his year group still felt a special connection with the painting they selected in 2015 – Alix Korte’s, Battle of Wills – depicting a couple of cattle dogs and a bull facing off in swirling clouds of dust.

“When we are walking down to The Downs shops or whatever and we just walk through here, we say ‘hi’ and we stop and look at our painting.”

“We love our painting. It’s good to come back and have memories.”

To find out more about Fine Art @ Hale or get tickets for the Cocktail Preview Evening, visit our website at

Fine Art @ Hale 2019, 2nd– 4thAugust, Memorial Hall, Hale School