Sydney Long’s Feeding time is an image of a crisp winter morning with a young woman feeding calves and chickens. This is a quiet scene of rural domesticity, the farmhouse and fence indicating an established property. The location of this work is most likely Griffiths’s farm, a property on the Richmond side of the Hawkesbury River west of Sydney.1
From the late 1880s this region was a popular painting site for a number of Sydney-based artists, including Julian Ashton, Charles Conder and Arthur Streeton, who went there to paint outdoors in a tranquil, rural environment, just beyond the city limits.
Feeding time is an earthy and rustic picture in which Long has positioned the female figure in the land as both the subject of the work and as a metaphor for the notion of woman as worker, carer and nurturer. In later works Long developed his interest in the role of women in bush mythology and allegory, and it was as a symbolist artist that he became best known.
Feeding time was exhibited in September 1896 at the Society of Artists Spring exhibition at the Cliff Gallery in Pitt Street, Sydney. A sketch of the work was also reproduced in the exhibition catalogue.
1 Joanna Mendelssohn, The life and work of Sydney Long, Cremorne: Copperfield Publishing Co., 1979, p. 53.