Shadowfax & sculpture

While exploring Werribee Park Estate, we wandered a little further to investigate Shadowfax Winery  The rusted sheet metal exterior glowed in the late afternoon sun,

1.Shadowfax Winery

the unique architecture somehow blended with the surroundings.

2.Shadowfax Winery

Established in 1998, the unusual name was inspired by the magnificent silver-grey stallion ridden by Gandalf in Lord of the Rings. The wines are created from fruit sourced and hand-harvested from Shadowfax vineyards in the Macedon Ranges as well as those adjacent to the winery at Werribee.

3.Shadowfax Winery

Although the cellar door was busy with a large group pre-dinner, we were welcomed and enjoyed our own pre-dinner tasting.

4.Shadowfax Winery

Not able to take too much in my hand luggage, I did leave with a bottle of 2018 Minnow red, a delicious blend of Mataro, Grenache, Carignan and Mondeuse grown right there at Werribee.

5.Minnow

Returning to the hotel, we spied an interesting sculpture and discovered the Werribee Park Sculpture Walk. Created in 2004 featuring works by Australia’s leading sculptors, there are thirty pieces installed along a trail from the rear of the mansion, through the gardens to the river. As daylight was fading, we only had time to see a small part of the display. Previous winners of the Helen Lempriere National Sculpture Award are homed here, including The Comrade’s Reward by William Eicholtz, winner in 2005. Described as a traditional 19th century garden sculpture with a camp twist on heroism, the solar powered lights shimmer after dark giving an impression of fireflies.

6.The Comrade's Reward - William Eicholtz, 2004

The monochrome steel ruin, Death of a white good by Alexander Knox, took the award in 2006.

Also from 2006, a commended work by Ian Burns & John Clark, Migration, is “concerned with the movement and relationship between the individual components and the mass they represent in formation”. (Sorry about the photo quality).

The inaugural winner in 2001, Hut by Karen Ward, is intriguing in its simplicity yet the symbolism is quite poignant. “Hut symbolises the house, the home, the shack, the cubby-house and the hermit’s retreat. It also alludes to the potential to dream that is inherent within all of these structures, yet dreaming is only made possible by the Hut’s inaccessibility.”

11.Hut - Karen Ward 2000

Picasso’s ceramics

For me, the name Picasso conjures images of, somewhat disturbing, cubist portraits. The tragic figure of Weeping Woman, painted in 1937, is a fitting case in point.

1.Weeping Woman 1937

What I didn’t realise, until a visit to the NGV last year, is that he was also a prolific ceramicist. Spanish born Pablo Picasso was well into his sixties when he met Suzanne Ramie, one of the owners of Madoura Pottery, on a trip to the south of France. Already an accomplished artist, he was eager to experiment with this new medium and learn all he could from Suzanne. He set up his own workshop close by in the town of Vallauris and over the years, produced thousands of pieces as well as creating new ways of decorating and glazing. The Picasso’s Ceramics exhibition displayed fifty nine of his works, unfortunately I only have a few to share with you. Feminine faces and figures featured across the collection,

grand vase aux femmes voilées depicts the backs of four women, their nakedness partially covered with translucent veils.

Another favoured subject was birds, particularly owls with distinct personalities.

6.Owl vase 1951

Picasso’s interest in mythology is reflected with the playful imagery of fauns,

7.Tetes (Heads) 1956

satyrs and goats.

8.Goat's Head in Profile 1952

Bullfighting was another recurring theme with many works detailing bulls, matadors and bull-rings.

9.Corrida on Black Ground 1953

One of the things about ceramics that appealed to Picasso was the ability to create new works quickly and inexpensively. By producing editions of up to 500, as well as originals, he liked the idea that his pieces would be affordable for everyday people, not just the wealthy. That may have been the case at one time but the price tag these days is definitely out of reach for most of us.

10.Face with grid, round dish 1956

Christmas creativity

Whether we like it or not, there is a certain obligation to decorate our workplace for Christmas. Each year, the boxes of tinsel and baubles are dragged out of storage along with the increasingly dilapidated tree. To add a new dimension this year, we were each issued a challenge to decorate a door in the department. Everyone dug deep into their creative souls with astounding results. There are a few elves

3.elf

and a couple of Santas, one of which has decided to go for a swim.

6.Santa's gone to the beach

An enthusiastic llama

7.fa la la llama

is inspired by the mischievous and musical reindeer down the hall.

8.reindeer stable

There is a happy snowman, a couple of Olafs and a penguin that looks as though he has had one too many egg nogs.

I think this wins first prize for imagination.

15.Frosty's first photo

A chocolate advent calendar is a must for counting down the days.

16.advent calendar

Some excelled with colourful creations.

17.gingerbread house18.fireplace

Christmas trees and gifts featured

21.gift

along with baubles

and a quirky, original night sky (sorry about the quality, looks like I had one too many egg nogs!)

24.night sky

Of course, not everyone feels the joy of Christmas.

25.grumpy cat26.Grinch

Wishing you all a very happy and safe Christmas and everything you hope for in 2020.

Bruno’s Art & Sculpture Garden

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.

1.DSCN6253

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.

12.DSCN6261

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.

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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.

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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.

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Duomo di San Cristoforo

At the highest point in the medieval hilltop town of Barga, the Duomo di San Cristoforo is well worth the climb.

1.Duomo di San Cristoforo

Built in the year 998, the white marble edifice was enlarged during the 12th and 13th centuries and has been modified further over the years.

2.Duomo di San Cristoforo

The arch above the main entrance is carved with acanthus leaf motifs, the bas relief above the door depicts scenes of a grape harvest. The two lions at the top of the columns symbolise the strength of faith.

3.Duomo di San Cristoforo

The castle-like belltower houses three bells that are still played manually.

4.Belltower

The first thing I noticed about the interior was the absence of seating. The second thing was the ancient faded fresco of Santa Lucia above an elegant marble font.

The stunning wooden ceiling replaced the old one, in the same style, in 1862.

7.interior

The nave is divided into two parts by a large barrier made from red marble slabs framed with decorated white marble.

8.marble pluteus

The 13th century marble pulpit is a spectacular work of art. The front section has an intricately carved depiction of the Annunciation and the Birth of Christ, a Latin inscription explains the symbolism.

12.pulpit,The Annunciation and the Birth of Christ

The other side represents the Adoration of the Magi, the three kings bearing their gifts for baby Jesus. Partially blocking them is a group of figures portraying the four Evangelists; Mathew as the human, Mark as the lion, Luke as the ox and John as the eagle. The human figure on the left is thought to be Joseph.

13.pulpit, The Four Evangelists

Four columns support the pulpit, each with a unique carved capital at the top.

There are two lions at the base of the front columns symbolising the triumph of Christianity over evil and heresy. The left one has a serpent (evil) between its legs and the one on the right is standing over a man (heresy) who is stroking the lion with one hand while stabbing it with the other.

One of the rear columns rests on the back of a midget (the pagan world) and the fourth rests on the floor (the Christian world).

20.midget, pulpit

The long, narrow stained glass windows have many more stories to tell.

A 9th century wooden statue of Saint Christopher, the patron saint of Barga, stands within a niche behind the main altar.

23.St. Christopher

Leaving the church

24.view from door

we lingered a while to appreciate the breathtaking vista across the rooftops to the mountains beyond.

26.view from cathedral25.view from cathedral