Header image artwork - Detail - Billilla_52 - Photography -  Marynes Avila, Artist in Residence 2013/2014 - Billilla black wrought iron fence & gate

Header image: Matto Lucas Photography - full image

Program Guidelines

Guidelines (PDF, 6,932KB) - Low resolution copy Guidelines (PDF, 514KB)

Program application...More>

The Story of Billilla

The story of the building and occupation of Billilla reveals the ease with which immigrants of humble origins could achieve considerable social status in nineteenth-century Australia.  The first owner of the house, Robert Wright, and the Weatherly family who subsequently owned and renamed it Billilla, were both fortunate in the mining booms that were so much a part of Australia's nineteenth-century economy.

Billilla was purchased by William Weatherly, a pastoralist from the Darling River area in western New South Wales in 1888. He named the property Billilla after his holding in that area and occupied the residence as his town house. Billilla remained in the possession of his family until purchased by the Brighton City Council in 1973.

Billilla was extensively remodelled at the turn of the century.  The alterations and extensions to the building were carried out in Art Nouveau style. This is especially evident in the curved linear columned entrance, where the capitals have ornate carvings in contrast to the walls, which are mostly free from ornament.  Inside the house, an elaborate motif of young gum leaves can be seen repeated on the ceilings of the drawing rooms. Architects engaged by the Weatherlys drew up a variety of plans for the remodelling of Billilla. However, these plans were not followed explicitly.  Today, Billilla is a conglomeration of designs based on the original residence erected by Robert Wright.

William Weatherly died in 1914.  He was survived by his wife, Jeanne, who lived in the house until her death in 1933. Their daughter, Violet, maintained the house with a reduced staff until she died in 1972.  On 4 April 1973, the former Brighton City Council acquired the property on behalf of the citizens of Brighton.  This was done under a terms contract and is now transferred in full ownership, reserved for Public Purposes. Bayside City Council now owns Billilla and the mansion is currently occupied as a small school campus. The servants quarters and coach house have been home to the Bayside Artist in Residence Program since 2009.

Day Studios

At the rear of Billilla are eight studios, the servants' quarters, a collection of four stand-alone buildings: a butler’s quarters, meat store, maid’s pantry and servants' quarters. Of these buildings, the servants' quarters, which comprise three separate rooms, has been converted into day studios. The butler's quarters has also been converted, plus the laundry and the governess' quarters (these rooms are both attached to the mansion). There are also two studios situated within the coach house. These residencies are available and are offered to successful applicants for 12 months from July to June annually. The successful artists are able to furnish the space according to their own requirements (at their own cost). The in-kind value of the space is approximately $8,000 ($5,700 rental and $2,300 utility costs).

Resident artists will have exclusive use of one of eight designated studios. The residents have access between the hours of 8am to 10pm as well as access to, power, lighting and ample natural light.

Coach house – sculpture studio (the Parr studio)

The Parr studio is in the coach house and measures 5.27 metres wide by 5.41 metres long.  The coach house includes use of the secure yard.  Special conditions for the Parr Studio include:


Hot work (welding, oxy cutting etc) and metal cutting, grinding or polishing is not permitted within the room.


Hot work is also not permitted within 3 metres of the outbuildings.


The sculptor should prepare and provide appropriate JSAs, risk assessments and OH&S plans for any work that involves heavy material.


All materials are to be stored within this allocated space and not outside the building.





Beckett studio (servants' quarters) 9m x 2.5m Yes


Grainger studio (servants' quarters) 3.5m x 3.5m Yes


Laundry studio 3.5m x 3m Yes


Marshall studio (servants' quarters) 3.5m x 3.5m ^No


Parr studio (the coach house) 5.27m x 5.41m Yes


Seivers studio (at the rear of the coach house) 4m x 4m **No


Tayler studio (butler's quarters) 5.2m x 3.7m Yes


Traill studio (governess' quarters & school room) 1st floor (sink is on the ground level). The ground level (school room) is an artist's communal space. 5m x 4m Yes



*dimensions are approximate.
**There is access to water for the Sievers studio, external to the building near the entrance to the Parr studio.
^ There is access to water from the Artist Communal space 'AIR Space' (ground floor of the Traill studio).


Parr studio (coach house)
Parr studio from Hall Street entrance Parr studio front on view
Above are the site locations of each studio (the coach house is shown but not in location, it is sited at the Hall Street entrance to the grounds. View larger floor space plan below.
Floor plan (JPG, 336KB)


* Accommodation - Accommodation is not included as part of this residency.
* Public garden - The gardens surrounding the mansion and the residencies are open to the general public. The gardens are also bookable as 'open space', such events need to be authorised by Council.
* Other tenants - Under a leasing arrangement a small school occupies the historic mansion.

Studio tours - Council periodically organises a studio 'open day' of our Artists in Residence, if you would like to be invited to a studio tour please subscribe to our Arts & Culture eNews and we will advise when the next tour is to be scheduled. More>

* School groups - Once a year Council organises school groups to tour the studios. If your school would like to be included in tour date negotiations please contact the Cultural Development Officer on (03) 9599 4444 or email artevents@bayside.vic.gov.au

Page last updated: 24 Jun 2016