We stopped off in the Snowy Mountains to drop off our bird with a family member to look after while we were away. Monty likes a car ride.
Our second night was in the lake side town of Yarrawonga where I met up with hobby potter, Dave. We had made contact through Facebook and he agreed to meet up. Generously inviting us to his home to meet his wife and see his studio space. Dave also helps out at the local school and is involved in a project to make red poppies for an event in August. Self taught, Dave brings a great enthusiasm to his work. His 'have a go' attitude is inspiring.
As an example he made these objects from Blue Tack to then make a plaster mould and cast as jewellery. What an innovative idea!
The third night saw us in central Victoria in the town of Ballarat. It was a boom town in the time of the Gold Rush and has some beautiful architecture. The older buildings are in the main business area. Where we were staying had been added to in the 1900s and had beautiful art nouveau decorations.
|stained glass window of our accommodation built in the early 1900s|
|wonderful tiling along corridors (early 1900s)|
Nearby was the site of the only armed rebellion in Australia, the Eureka Stockade. (link to story). There is now an information centre and park on the site.
|artist impression of the Eureka Stockade|
|sculpture at the Eureka Stockade memorial site|
We were there for a week and enjoyed a trip to the Ballarat Art Gallery, the town of Daylesford and a day in the other gold rush town, Bendigo.
It just so happens that the first of my father's family to come to Australia landed in Bendigo in the early 1850s. We went to the Bendigo Library and the very helpful social history librarian helped us find out where he and his wife were buried in the cemetery at Kangaroo Flat just outside the town.
The grave was in surprisingly good condition which was a comfort some how.. one of their daughters must have installed the headstone after their mother died or perhaps their only son helped to arrange it after their mother died. The only son, my great great grandfather left Victoria to be a coal miner in Newcastle NSW.
Bendigo is now home of the Bendigo Pottery. They were established in 1858. At first they made mostly bathroom and drainage ware but as the years progressed they became known for their homewares. There is an interesting history self guided history tour with recorded voices conversing about their work as it would have been and the original bottle kilns are still standing much like those in Stoke on Trent in England.
|mannequin showing how product was carried to the kilns when they used the bottle kilns|
|mannequin shovelling coal into kiln as part of Bendigo Pottery history tour|
They also provide a potter demonstrating and the chance to have a lesson on the pottery wheel. I had a nice chat with the potter that day, Graham Masters.
|trimmed and chattered bowls|
|Bendigo Pottery yarn bowls made by Graham Masters|
|The buildings in Bendigo also reflect the boom times of the Gold Rush era|
Back in Ballarat we met up with another Facebook friend, Dawn Whitehand. Dawn is a Visual Artist and writer. Dawn's book on pit firing, "Pit Firing Ceramics Modern Methods, Ancient Traditions" is excellent and she was kind enough to sign my copy for me.
Here is a link to her site where you can buy a copy for yourself: https://dawnwhitehand.wordpress.com/publications/
Dawn generously invited my husband and I to her property where I enjoyed looking around her studio and garden and seeing her versatile pit where her firings take place.
It was lovely to receive one of her pieces, thank you Dawn. It is now with my other treasures from my pottery travels.
|Pit fired Pod by Dawn Whitehand|
Their permanent collection is well worth the visit with early examples of Australian Studio Pottery and also exhibits contemporary artists such as Stephen Benwell.
Here are some more pics from there:
|an early example of a Paul Davis urn|
|Stephen Benwell display|
|display of early work by the Boyd family including Arthur Boyd and Merric Boyd|
Well worth the visit if you are in the area. They also run a competition for Indigenous Ceramic Artists.
Back in NSW and leaving the Snowy Mountains behind us I was taken by the wonderful autumn colours of the trees and paddocks.
It was a short holiday but very refreshing.