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Montsalvat is an artist colony with rustic set of medieval-style buildings established by the Australian artist Justus Jorgensen in the suburb of Eltham in Melbourne.  Montsalvat consists of complex buildings constructed mainly with mud brick or stone and items collected from wreckers.

The Chapel at Montsalvat

Justus Jorgensen was bohemian in nature and detested the commercialisation of art.  Jorgensen was born on 12 May 1893 at East Brighton, Melbourne and was a qualified draughtsman. After working briefly in a government office, he learned painting at the National Gallery schools in 1915-17 and later became an assistant of famous Australian Painter, Max Meldrum. After marrying a medical student Lilya Smith in 1928, the pair moved to England and later to France. After returning to Australia in 1928, Justus bought land at Eltham . He started building a modest studio for himself and his wife, followed by student quarters and a three story Great Hall with the assistance of friends and students. Jorgensen believed that to be an artist one needed to be able to control materials and understand its forms.

The Great Hall

For building the Great Hall, Jorgensen used Gothic balconies and limestone windows from the Royal Insurance Building at 414 Collins Street which was being demolished during that period.

Though the buildings show the influence of French Provincial architecture, they are more or less individualistic, defying conventional classification. With the outbreak of World WarII, Montsalvat became largely self-sufficient with a market garden, poultry farm and a small diary.

The picturesque buildings that are scattered throughout the established gardens are an art by itself and is treasured more than the paintings Jorgensen ever made.

Montsalvat is Australia’s oldest artists’ colony and is home to practising artists. It remains to this day a working arts centre. Set in 12 acres of established gardens, the historic building includes charming mud brick cottages, and the impressive great hall. Montsalvat is a not for profit arts centre, administered by a board of eight independent trustees.

Classes and Workshops

Montsalvat is a stimulating environment for artists at all stages of their development. Workshops and classes provide a great way to engage creatively with the resident artists. The colony’s artistic appeal endures with resident luthiers, jewellers, painters, sculptors, and writers. Guitar making workshops, portraiture, landscaping, oil painting and fine art classes are all offered there. A broad range of artistic events are held at Montsalvat throughout the year.

Montsalvat details

Open 7 days from 9am – 5pm (Good Friday, Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day.)

Please refer the Montsalvat website for entry fee details

Address: 7 Hillcrest Avenue, Eltham

Web: www.montsalvat.com.au

Email: montsalvat(at)montsalvat.com.au

Activities you can partake

1.If you are interested, you can be a volunteer at Montsalvat. Do gardening, become a tour guide, gallery attendant or assist them in organising the events.

2.Take a guided tour of Montsalvat or just have a look around, visiting the galleries and having a chit chat with the resident artists.

3.Montsalvat prides itself on being a place where art is made and taught as well as exhibited. Montsalvat offers art classes, studio places and short-term residencies to a wide variety of artists, experienced and aspiring. Ask them where you can fit in.

4.If you are a photography enthusiast, this is heaven. This will make a perfect backdrop for recording; whether it be for a music video or a movie. Just interested in Selfies, this is perfect for that too.

5.There is a fully licensed restaurant and café that is open seven days a week which is perfect for smaller functions and events. Weddings, Birthdays, Christenings, Engagements & Anniversaries, Wakes & Funerals or Corporate dinners – with a maximum guest list of 50

6.Montsalvat contact details are at their website

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Montsalvat -Discussion Forum


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