Blog / Treehouses: Nasher, Cassilhaus & Kangaroo Valley


By Jonathan Blackwell

I recently returned from a retreat in the Kangaroo Valley, two and a half hours southwest of Sydney. It was an amazing place, the Kangaroo Valley Bush Retreat. We were at the top of a ridge, nestled in wind-swept trees overlooking the lush green valley below.

Upon my return I find a message from my favorite Durham tree dwellers, Frank Konhaus and Ellen Cassily. The feature of their home in the The New York Times is great news for the Durham art scene. Frank and Ellen have done much for Durham with their gift of Bending Space: The George Rousse Project, I see them often in the Nasher Lobby.

Maybe Frank and Ellen never would have built Cassilhaus if they had been allowed to live at the Nasher. It has everything they wanted! Long corridors fill with art linking private space with public space inhabited by some of the world’s most inspired artists. The beautiful views of the trees, overlooking woods owned by Duke University!

As far as I get from the forest owned by Duke, I still hold on to a grove of my own. I will enjoy sharing the stories like the Nasher uniting Duke and Durham through the Arts, and Durham’s amazing Art Families beyond the Nasher like Frank Konhaus and Ellen Cassily. As I develop my own leadership potential in places like Kangaroo Valley, I am trained to look deep within myself to make sure of my purpose.

The deeper I look into the grove of my soul, the more I am reminded of the sources of inspiration back home. I left Durham knowing it has a wealth of international exports. Strong reminders echo my intentions to unite North Carolina with New South Wales. The Nasher blog is a part of that, and I am grateful to know so many good places Earth has to offer.

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