15 April 2012

Grampians Art Trail April 2012

Grampians Art Trail April 2012

© 2012 Rjn

Ee by gum! It’s gradely to be here with a wee snippet of news. On Saturday, 07 April, in the company of a ‘new chum’ from Poland named Adrian, I spent a joyous afternoon following part of the Grampian’s (Geriwerd) Arts Trail through Stawell, Deep Lead, Pomonal and Halls Gap.

Didn’t do it all and unfortunately it was not until after I had returned home that I thought of making this note for the blog. So I did not take many photographs or obtain the clearances I needed. There may therefore be subsequent updates, if you are interested check back each week for rewrites, additions et etcetera.

First stop was at Deep Lead and I was particularly impressed with the artistry of Doris Percival who was born at spectacular Mitre here in the Wimmera in 1922. 

For fifty years she has been producing pictures using thin strips of different coloured Australian melaleuca tree barks. Doris’s draughtsmanship and colour reproduction is a joy to behold. 
She composes her pictures from field drawings and photographs to obtain her desired layout of old building bedecked landscape or mountain vista. 

As she is using a natural material the colours have an amazing similitude to the colours seen in the field. Although the pictures exhibited are all small, her pictures are full of detail and exactitude.
Here is a picture of the pioneer cottage that her father was born in at Mitre. The chimney is still standing even though the wall & roof are long gone.

What an uplifting moment it was to discover her work hidden away at the back of the exhibition. I have now recorded Doris for “Passions”. Thank you Doris for sharing your superb artistry.

From Deep Lead we motored down to Great Western and, when we stopped in the village, were “greeted” and surrounded on either side of the main road by

the ‘locals’ in the accompanying pictures. I took the photographs because I reckoned no one would believe me without the evidence! When I met the owner of these somewhat

sinister characters I queried if it was safe to enter her premises or would she cast a “hubble bubble boil & trouble” spell over us, transforming us into more of her rabbitoids. She just smiled and said she didn’t understand me....however my cat now looks at me differently and keeps licking her lips....
We then spent an exhilarating thirty minutes admiring and trying out Meryl Bowers wonderful Venetian style ball masks. Contact Meryl on 03 5356 -2537 or -2402. Expertly made and decorated the masks were for sale at very reasonable costs.

Mantilla Maiden


Magnifique Meryl


Has Anyone Seen My Sunnies?

The Peacock King

Foxy Adrian

Potential purchasers, as with so many cases of superb craftsmanship in Australia, are saying “Oh I could make that in a jiffy” without understanding or knowing the technique, time and ability needed to create such masterpieces. Sadly a lack of everyday cultural exposure and education to empower people to recognise beauty and its means of creation identifies an ongoing deficiency within our culture.
Such seemingly ignorant citizens exhibit a finesse akin to the fabled sledgehammer used to crack the walnut. One wonders how they come to be on the art trail and not simply getting shit faced at the local pub or drug party....but perhaps some are trying to break the habit. Where has Victorian & Australian cultural development and growth gone wrong? (If you are new to the blog check out Agenda 21 above.)
As a hint to the organisers, I suggest that every means be explored to make the Art Trail more permanent and ‘on’ for 365 days of the year even if only through the use of the internet at the main libraries and galleries.

Also at Great Western is the Toll Gate Gallery of John & Vija Harris. 



John works in the sculpting field particularly using Mt Gambier limestone. Many of his works are displayed on the perimeter of the gallery and its adjoining garden.
Vija specialises in lino prints of plants and flowers but also paints. Although she claims to have difficulty with colour I was greatly struck with the vitality of Vija’s colours, particularly in her landscape paintings of the Flinders Ranges completed during a three month camping expedition there. Contact John or Vija on 03 5356 2288.

A dash back to Stawell and Pomonal Road took us to my Alpaca bonnet and organic rhubarb suppliers, Steve & Glenda Gliese at Blue Moon Alpacas. Steve was busy on the hand loom turning out his wonderfully light, gorgeously soft and very warm baby Alpaca wool scarves and shawls. Contact Steve or Glenda on 03 5358 2581.
or for some pictures
Steve explained the process of the weaving, the source of the wool (Alpacas running in the paddock outside), the variety of natural colours available, the different grades and their uses, the advantage of Alpaca over duck or goose feathers in bedspreads. (I can still remember, when a child, the lead-like weight of the feather quilt and those quill prickles after all these years).
In return, I briefly told Steve of the Lancashire mill trade and how the factories killed off the hand-loom weaver and sadly introduced such Victorian ‘wonders’ as smog pollution, lung disease and child labour into the economy. “Where there’s muck, there’s brass lad.” And you cannot get much muckier than a young factory loom worker dyeing of lung disease at the age of 25 after fifteen years in the factory breathing in the cotton dust and fibre. Nowadays people just live in the polluted atmosphere of cities like Sydney, Mexico City, New York, Beijing et etcetera for similar effects.
I also shared with Steve what I was told was the origin of the word sabotage which came from the reaction to the industrialisation of weaving in France. There the common means of damaging the factory machine, that had taken the place of the hand-loom weaver, was to throw your solid wooden clog into the works thus smashing up its wooden mechanism. The French for clog is ‘sabot’ giving us our English sabotage.
In Lancashire the traditional clog was made of a wooden sole and a leather upper. I always remember my father telling me that he wore clogs until he became a member of a profession at the age of 28. He was then not just expected but required to wear shoes, a collar and tie with a suit. He also said that his feet were never as comfortable again as they had been in Lancashire clogs.
The fact that the breathing wooden clog sole was individually hand shaped to the wearer’s foot may have had something to do with it. That the clog sole and leather upper were hand nailed together explains why most lasted much of a lifetime. Compare with today’s machine made injection moulded ‘sweat pit’ like sneaker that rots away after stinking for 12 months or goes out of fashion in three months. As any clog dancer will tell you “Thee can’t dance on t’cobbles proper if thee hasn’t got thee clogs on t’feet. Dancing barefoot on t’cobblestones is second only to barefoot dancing on a hundredweight of tin tacks or nutty slack thrown on t’raoad.”

From Stawell we headed to Pomonal and we only had time for a quick “hello” to Judith Burke aka Grampian’s Creations, call her on 03 5356 6306. 
Judith makes her own fabric and creates jackets, shawls and other garments from her materials. Adrian was very taken with her see-through scarves interleaved by coloured woollen skeins. Or perhaps it was a dream of his new lady wearing one and improving on Lady Godiva’s eye-popping coverage that pleased him!

We then just had time to visit Tim Butler, learn where the wood that he uses comes from and admire his hand crafted Red Gum furniture. At the time of our visit he was displaying a table that had an incredibly well developed leopard-like pattern. Tim’s skilful cutting & assembly of the timber maximised the display of this wonderful grain. 

Otherwise call him on 03 5356 4321.

My sadness at not having met everyone participating on the trail will hopefully be overcome by them contacting me. Then I can rectify my loss and that of everyone else reading the blog.
©Rjn 2012