#ThrowbackThursday – Today we time travel back to 1985. The Victorian Local Government Commission has produced a report titled ‘The Restructure of Local Government in Victoria – Principles and Program’ (the Morris review). The recommendation was to amalgamate the Shires of Eltham and Diamond Valley, something that Eltham Council did not support as being appropriate for the shire or compatible with the ‘Spirit of Eltham’. In response, the Shire of Eltham produced a video showcasing the unique environmental lifestyle which embodies the ‘Spirit of Eltham’ and features Shire President, Cr. Mary Grant talking with the Hon. Pauline Toner MP and Max McDonald MP. Eltham Shire CEO Rodney Roschellor presents an alternate proposal for a shire merging more aligned to the values of the local residents. Also featured are Eltham icons such as the Eltham Railway Trestle Bridge, Montsalvat, Eltham Community Centre along with mudbrick making, artist Matcham Skipper, the Green Wedge and St Andrews Market. Other commentary is provided by locals, Judy Wadham and Lester Eaton.
Two long-term residents of the Nillumbik Shire met for the first time late in 2011, a meeting that later resulted in the commissioning and creation of a recently installed sculpture in the Eltham Cemetery.
Michael Wilson, a recognised goldsmith, jeweller and sculptor has created this sculpture for Harold Mitchell AC, a patron of the arts, founder of the Mitchell Foundation and a successful businessman, who has also contributed his skills to many major cultural organisations.
Unveiled on Wednesday 1 July 2015 it is the first of the Eltham Cemetery Trust’s Grand Estate Sculptures. Titled ‘A Currawong Takes Flight’ and constructed in Corten steel and bronze it recognises two of Eltham’s native species: the Red Box Eucalypt tree with its soft green scalloped shaped leaves and the Pied Currawong with its adept flight patterns and melodic chortle.
As the purchaser of one of the Grand Estate Plots in the Cemetery, Harold Mitchell AC intended to commission an artist to design and make a contemporary sculpture. He subsequently commissioned Michael Wilson to create a piece that would reflect the unique environment and artistic heritage of Eltham.
Plot No. 6 is located at the highest point of the fence-lined border between Montsalvat and the Cemetery. This is close to the last bronze sculpture by Matcham Skipper, titled ‘Young Man Awakening’, which was commissioned by the Eltham Cemetery Trust to celebrate the 150th Anniversary of the Cemetery, which was established in 1858. This sculpture is intended to express a sense of awakening to life as it depicts a rare and endangered Eltham Copper Butterfly as it lands on a youth’s hand.
As Matcham Skipper was a mentor and early supporter of Michael Wilson’s developing artistic talents the creative connection between these two installations is most appropriate. Michael considered the Mitchell commission was an opportunity to create a very special work to reflect the beauty of the Eltham environment and the local community.
The Eltham Cemetery is a peaceful natural environment set in natural bushland adjoining Montsalvat and is the tranquil resting place for members of many well-known local families. Pioneering families represented include Shillinglaw, Brinkkotter, Bird, Carrucan, Sweeney, Hunniford, Knapman, Falkiner and Wallis. More contemporary names include Knox, Ford and Fabbro. Sir William Irvine, a former Premier and Chief Justice of Victoria is also buried there.
This preschool building was designed by the architect Charles Duncan who was a proponent of the organic style inspired by the work of Frank Lloyd Wright, a renowned American architect. Charles Duncan was one of a number of young Melbourne architects who designed Wrightian style buildings in the 1960s. The building has a triangular floor plan with a bell-cast slate-clad roof with a large metal spire designed by Matcham Skipper. Duncan scaled the interior of this preschool to a child’s proportion.
Photograph from the Shire of Eltham Pioneers Photo Collection
Our Society encourages interest in and the sharing of stories about the local history of the Eltham district in Victoria, Australia