Showing posts with label Artist Houses Melbourne. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Artist Houses Melbourne. Show all posts

Artist Houses Melbourne

Walter Withers, Charterisville near Eaglemont, c1980, oil on wood panel, 20.3 x 33.0 cm

Walking part the Heidelberg Artist Trail recently with Louise Blyton at Yarra Flats, I noticed a sign board with a painting by Walter Withers. My attention went to a home in the distance now called Clarendon Eyre (formerly Springbank) on the other side of the river in Bulleen.

So we set out again recently to discover Clarendon Eyre and the Bolin Bolin Billabong. We not only discovered the house but a short history of the area was shared by a generous neighbour who also guided us on our journey. The Bolin Bolin Billabong was an important gathering place for the Wurundjeri people and other tribes as far as Western Victoria. In the early days of settlement the area was known as 'the fruit bowl' of Melbourne until floods in the mid-1800s? destroyed the trees and it was converted to pasture (info local verbal knowledge).

Clarendon Eyre

Springbank was built by David Mitchell (father of Dame Nellie Melba) in 1879.

Bolin Bolin Billabong

Capital Theatre

Found sign, Presgrave Place. Capital Theatre, Swanston Street, Melbourne, architects Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahony Griffin 1924.

Found sign Capital Theatre

Presgrave Place, Melbourne

Capital Theatre Ceiling

I remember the ceiling of the cinema in the 1970s. It had alternating pale green and pink lights shining on the facets heightening the three dimensional effects.

Heidelberg School

Frederick McCubbin, Boy in the Bakery, oil on canvas, 48.9 x 59 cm. 

Frederick McCubbin, Boy in the Bakery, and part of a fence about 30 meters from the marker of the Heidelberg School house in Eaglemont. I feel the oven is so similar in both images that the building remnant in the fence may well have been standing when the impressionists painted there. It may even have been part of the original house as it was a tea room and a farm house before that. Not suburban as it is now.

Building remnant

Fulham Grange

Eugene Von Guerard
‘The farm of Mr Perry on the Yarra’ 1855

Von Guerard’s painting of Fulham Grange, which was the original farm at Fairfield, Melbourne, and Coate Park today which was part of the farm. 

Eugene Von Guerard, The farm of Mr Perry on the Yarra 1855

Judging from the slope of the land the left boundary of the property adjoins Fairfield park boat sheds. Fulham Grange occupied Fairfield. 
Coate Park today which was part of the original farm

Fulham Grange farmhouse site

Fulham Grange occupied Fairfield. This house stands at the place of the farm house in the painting. It has very old timber features, a basement and a rotunda. The house faces the wrong direction to the street and the house number is incorrect making it likely that it stood prior to the first subdivision. Further the road behind the fence boundary in the painting follows the exact curve of Heidelberg road which is one of the oldest roads in Melbourne and developed as a track.

Heidelberg School Eaglemont

This is the spot where the Australian impressionists walked from their base house in Eaglemont towards Heidelberg to paint.

Mount Eagle subdivision open park

This is also an open communal park in the Walter Burley Griffin Mount Eagle subdivision.

Arthur Streeton painting

Above a painting by Arthur Streeton. Note the similarities in the light, the dirt road and the vegetation.

Old kitchen stove?

A part of a fence boundary that looks like an old kitchen and the other side of the fence. Could this be the remnants of the cottage in the painting? This building structure is 50 metres from where the Impressionist's camp house stood. It, in theory, could be an out building.

Stone Wall

There is nothing left of the original farmhouse they painted in. However this section of this house was quite likely was standing and it’s the only structure from that time in the area. Interesting that Griffin kept this area open only 30 years later. Maybe he knew?

Singapore Cottege

Is a place I like to visit. It's a small slice of old Collingwood

‘This rare surviving example of a prefabricated building imported from Singapore in the 1850s uses distinctive framing, exotic timbers and Chinese characters which distinguish it from the many prefabricated houses imported during the gold rush period.’ Victoria Heritage Website 


Frederick McCubbin’s Macedon house and studio. 

Fontainebleau, December 2017.

Fontainebleau, December 2017.

Remnant kitchen garden.

McCubbin's studio?

The pioneer, 1904, oil on canvas, 225.0 x 295.7 cm. Collection NGV.

At the suggestion of a day trip to Mt Macedon with architect and heritage conservator, Louise Lakier, I decided to try and track down McCubbin’s house and octagonal studio situated at the base of the garden that I had heard about many years prior. The house today is in a total state of disrepair. It’s here McCubbbn painted The pioneer, 1904, reportedly with his wife and a local gardener and his relative among the models. It’s an iconic Australian Painting. This was the only house McCubbin purchased (1901) and is in an isolated spot on the north side of the summit.

Whilst I initially learnt of the rotunda shaped studio from an artist who knew the occupants I can’t find any online references. This building is somewhat repaired, however the roof is definitely early 20th century circa federation design and woodwork. It’s also perfectly positioned to take in the north light and views. Most photos of the house online are taken from this vantage point. There is also an old road from the house via the kitchen garden to the ‘studio’ which goes no further.

McCubbin was a founding member of the Heidelberg School and drawing master at the National Gallery Art School, School of Design.

McCubbin’s painting, On the wallaby track, 1896, was the subject of a humorous Kit Kat television advertisement in the early eighties. Watch it here:

Mount Eagle Subdivision

The location of Summit Park is where the Heidelberg School (impressionists) lived.
Chiefly Streeton, Roberts and Conder at the beginning.

Outlook Park

Open space off The Eyrie

Outlook Drive Reserve

Walter Burley Griffin and his partner Marion Mahony Griffin were two American Chicago based architects of the Prairie School. Both architects worked for Frank Loyd Wright for some years. Together, they won the tender to design Canberra, ACT. In Melbourne, 1915, they designed The Mount Eagle subdivision, now Eaglemont. The street planning followed the undulation of the land and incorporated stone walls and private parkland - a garden design. This is all four communal spaces of the Griffin's subdivision as they are today.

Edna Walling

'Appledore', Eaglemont

Edna Walling

Edna Walling garden 'Appledore', 1936, Eaglemont - one of the few gardens by Walling remaining in the suburb. Walling, a prolific horticulture writer, became one of Victoria's best known landscape artists incorporating local plants and stones into her irregular plantings. 

'Walling began her career in 1919 after graduating from Burnley Horticultural College. She sought to achieve a unity between house and garden, and was influenced by Italian and Spanish gardens in her use of pergolas, walls, steps and paths.' State Library of Victoria.

Napier Waller House

Napier Waller House, Fairy Hills, Ivanhoe.

Interior Napier Waller House

Studio - Mervyn Napier Waller

Art work by Mervyn Napier Waller.

This is Napier Waller House in Fairy Hills, Ivanhoe. The main house was designed and built in 1922 by pre-raphaelite inspired mural and mosaic artist Mervyn Napier Waller, 1893-1972. Waller completed significant murals for State Library of Victoria and Melbourne Town Hall and glass work for the Australian War Memorial. He also became senior art teacher at the then Working Men's College (RMIT University). The house and studio contents are preserved by the heritage council. External shots of the house and studio are used as Dr Blake's House in the TV series The Doctor Blake Mysteries.

Officer House

Officer House, Eaglemont

Yesterday's historic exploration. 'Officer House' 1903, designed by a leading Australian Arts and Crafts architect, Harold Desbrowe Annear. There are three significant properties commissioned by his father-in-law on The Eyrie and Outlook Drive, Eaglemont.


'Ravenswood', 1891, Ivanhoe, is an example of 'Renaissance Revival' and was one of the last of the grand boom houses before the 1890s depression. It was acquired 'for the war' in 1945 and then became a nursing home. Now in private hands (1988) the interior has been restored to its original condition, engaging a master painter who worked on the Werribee Mansion.

W. B. McInnes

I decided to research a nearby house I've long been fascinated by. I found the property has no real estate sales history on line. On Google I found a footnote in a book by Anne Sommers, 'The Lost Mother: A Story of Art and Love', 2010. The book itself is a detective story into a portrait of Anne's mother by Constance Stokes. The house I have discovered was the home of William Beckwith McInnes, 1889-1939, and his artist wife, Violet Muriel Musgrave. McInnes was a portrait painter who won the Archibald seven times, exhibited at the London Royal Academy and succeeded Frederick McCubbin as head of drawing at the National Gallery School. Later McInnes became head of painting at the school after Bernard Hall's death. He was also a landscape painter who frequently painted his local area of Lucerne in Alphington. He lived with Violet here from 1915. The photo is a real estate shot and does the house no justice. It's a magical sloping garden with impeccable detail and the house is set to the back of the property near the Yarra River.

Anne Summers PhD AO, is a leading feminist writer and journalist who has a connection with the following owners of the house who were Russian art collectors of Constance Stokes. 

A real estate photo of the house

An Archibald winning painting by McInnes 1923

A Lucerne 'urban' landscape with Kew Asylum in the background

Heide Kitchen Garden

The original kitchen garden with Heide II in the background

The mysterious garlic flower

Early summer is one of my favourite times of the year in Melbourne. The leaves are still green, flowers bloom and perfume can fill the air. The breeze is cool. It is the time before the ravages of the summer to come. It was a beautiful day at the Heide Museum of Contemporary Art in Melbourne. The museum on the banks of the Yarra River near Heidelberg was once the home of John and Sunday Reed and this is their kitchen garden. In the background is the contemporary home they built which is now a gallery. The Reeds were famous patrons of artists in mid-twentieth century Melbourne including Sidney Nolan and Joy Hester.


The Bauhaus, Dessau, 2006

The Bauhaus
Bauhaus foyer
Bauhaus studio
Paul Klee's house, with Kandinsky's in the background
I waltzed in Kandinsky's living room. I just had to.

...And I'll bury my soul in a scrapbook,
With the photographs there, and the moths...

Leonard Cohen, Take this Waltz, 1988. (Lyrics inspired by Federico Garcia Lorca)

Ian Fairweather

The Darebin Bridge House, where Ian Fairweather painted in Melbourne during the mid-1940s
Detail of the front veranda where he sat reading
 The monograph on the life and work of Ian Fairweather, 1891-1974, by Murray Bail, first published as Ian Fairweather, 1981, was revised and reprinted as Fairweather in 2009.  In both editions, Bail commences by stating, 'His art does not fit the local boundaries'. However, boundaries are mutable and Ian Fairweather could be considered an exceptional artist within Australian art history. Fairweather, who lived his life attuned to notions of Eastern asceticism, painted the seminal late works over an approximate twenty year time-span while living at a bush camp on Bribie Island (near Brisbane, Queensland). Whilst the tonality of his linear semi-abstract paintings reflects the landscape he inhabited, the work was also constructed by an individual living 'rough' with limited resources, isolated in the Australian environment. Australia was settled under such conditions and generations of settlers in remote rural areas were left with no option but to 'make-do' and improvise with materials at hand.  This notion of the 'thrifty' improviser was capitalised in constructs of the early mainstream national identity. Fairweather favoured economic 'everyday' materials including cardboard, newspaper, cheap powdered paints and house painters' brushes. All art reflects much about the maker and Fairweather's spare, beautiful, unpretentious works additionally reveal a 'shanty' quality within his improvised methodology which could be viewed as austerely or aesthetically reflective of his living quarters.

Fairweather, in my opinion, is amongst the greats of mainstream Australian art including Tom Roberts and Sidney Nolan. It is interesting to note that all three painted in a direct manner with a distinct lack of pretension. Qualities traditionally associated with historic concepts of the Australian improviser. Furthermore, Fairweather has been an influence to later generations of abstractionists, commencing significantly with Tony Tuckson, whose late works also convey these same qualities.