Art Heritage of the Nillumbik Shire
Walter Withers (1854 – 1914), painter, illustrator and teacher and one of fourteen children, was born on 22 October 1854 at Aston Manor, Warwickshire, England. He arrived in Melbourne on 1 January 1883, and in May 1887 returned to England. He married Fanny Flinn on 11 October 1887, and studied in Paris, before returning to Melbourne on 11 June 1888. In the summer of 1889-90, he shared with Arthur Streeton the old farmhouse on the Mount Eagle estate. In 1890, he rented Charterisville and in 1894 rented in Cape Street, Heidelberg. In 1898, he moved from Cape Street to ‘Withers Court’, Darebin Street, Heidelberg, and in 1903, settled at ‘Southernwood’, on the corner of Brougham and Bolton Streets, Eltham.
He was known to his friends as the ‘Colonel’ and died in Eltham on 13 October 1914. He is buried nearby in the Anglican churchyard at St Helena.
Walter Withers, Panning for Gold, 1893
Lesley Sinclair (1901 – 1999) studied art at the National Gallery School in Melbourne in the 1920s, and lithography at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology. She became a member of the Melbourne Society of Women Painters and Sculptors, but rarely exhibited her work.
She was a student of Justus Jorgensen and a founding member of the Montsalvat group in Eltham. She lived at Montsalvat and taught painting until her death.
Myra Skipper, née Gould, (29 Sept 1917 – 17 Sept 1994), was a painter and jeweller. Myra Gould married the third child and only son of Mervyn Garnham Skipper and Lena Cooper Skipper – Matcham Skipper. The Skipper family settled in Eaglemont, Victoria, but during the depression they rented out their house and moved to a house in Latrobe Street. There, Myra shared a studio with her husband, Matcham. In 1932, Matcham enrolled at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology. There he met Alistair Knox. At this time he was living with Myra in stables in Grange Place, at the rear of the Russell Street Police Station. This became an impromptu salon, where bohemian Melbourne went after the pubs shut. After the police force evicted them, Matcham and Myra moved to Montsalvat, where they remained for the rest of their lives.
Myra had a lead role in David Baker’s 1973 short film, ‘Squeaker’s Mate.
Justus Jorgensen (12 May 1893 – 15 May 1975) born East Brighton, Melbourne. Justus trained as an architect with a Melbourne architectural firm and studied art at the National Gallery School of Art in Melbourne in 1915-17. The principal at the time was renowned Australian artist Frederick McCubbin. A leading member of the Heidelberg School Movement. He later joined Max Meldrum and soon became his assistant, adopting his tonalist technique at age 24. He married Lilya Smith, a medical student. They lived in France and England and on their return to Australia, in March 1928, they bought a house at Brighton. Jorgensen taught in a studio that he built on the grounds. In 1932, having broken with Meldrum, he took a city studio in Queen Street. Although he painted throughout his life, and taught for many years, he exhibited only three times: in 1929, 1930, then jointly with Colin Colahan in 1934.
Justus was an architect and a passionate artist who wanted to create an environment to help cultivate art and performing arts in his local area. Montsalvat was established by Justus Jorgensen in 1934, with nothing more than a studio for Justus and his family plus accommodation for his students. As the colony started to grow, more buildings were established around the property.
Justus Jorgensen died on 15 May 1975 at Upper Ferntree Gully and was buried in Eltham cemetery
Justus Jorgens, Still Life with Boots
Justus Jorgens, Self Portrait
Neil Douglas (1911 – 2003) was born in New Zealand and emigrated to Australia 1912. He studied painting at the National Gallery School Melbourne but devoted most of his time to pottery, until 1964, when he held his first solo exhibition at Toorak Galley, Melbourne. In 1944, Arthur Boyd, John Perceval and Peter Herbst started the Arthur Merric Boyd (AMB) Pottery. When Herbst left in 1950, his share in the partnership was taken up by Neil Douglas, who had been working at AMB for some time. While the pottery was essentially a production studio, its artists always maintained a high level of creativity, with many works being one-off sculptural pieces. Douglas moved to Kangaroo Ground, Victoria, in the early 1960s following the closure of AMB. He continued to make pottery until about 1964, at which time he resumed painting, which had been the major part of his creative practice before the mid 1940s. In later life Douglas moved to Nhill, in western Victoria, where he continued to paint, often spending extended times in the bush.
In 1975 he was awarded an MBE in recognition of his services to conservation and the arts.
Neil Douglas, Bush Creek
Clifton Pugh, Gough Withlam, Archibald Prize 1972
William ‘Jock’ Frater
William ‘Jock’ Frater, Still Life Quinces
David Newbury, City Scape, 1954
Albert Tucker, Philosopher, 1939