Leaving Steavenson Falls, we had hoped the rain would abate for our visit to Bruno’s Art & Sculpture Garden in Marysville. It didn’t. As we pulled into the car park, the gallery was obviously closed but we discovered an honesty box for the $10 entrance fee to the garden. Grab your umbrella and come for a walk while I tell you more.
Bruno Torfs was born in South America and moved to Europe with the family in his teens. After training as a sign writer, his talents evolved through many trips to foreign lands and he made the transition to a full time artist. Oil paintings and sculptures, reflecting scenes and faces of his journeys, were sold in exhibitions at the family home.
Bruno and his family moved to Australia and in 1996, found the perfect setting to create a permanent sculpture garden in the sub-alpine forests of Marysville. Hand crafted from clay and fired in a kiln onsite, there are now around a hundred and twenty pieces on display.
The path diverges in all directions through the forest and everywhere you look, there is another character waiting to delight.
On 7th February 2009, the bushfires of ‘Black Saturday’ raged through Marysville, claiming lives and decimating the township. Bruno’s home, gallery and gardens were completely destroyed. For two months, no-one was allowed in the town and when Bruno finally returned, he set about rebuilding his home and restoring his garden.
There are pictures on the website taken the day Bruno returned after the fires. Next to this installation, there is a heartbreaking photo of Bruno carrying all that remained of The Lady of Shallot from the stream.
Some figures emerge from the remnants of the woods, melding nature’s work with man’s.
Bruno’s courage and dedication has resulted in a wondrous fantasy land, an opportunity to escape for a while in a surreal environment.
As we left, the remains of Bruno’s 1960 BMW R27 motorbike jolted us back to reality with a reminder of the devastation wrought by the fires of Black Saturday.