For many of us, when we think of the Dandenong Ranges, we think of mountain tops with picturesque views, luscious temperate rainforests, charming gardens and a great community of inspiring artists. What would you say if I told you that for two weeks in October, you only need go to one spot to experience all of these things?
‘Art of the Mountain’ is an art exhibition held at Karwarra Australian Native Botanic Garden and Plant Nursery in Kalorama. The exhibition will celebrate the beauty and diversity of the Dandenong Ranges by exhibiting artwork by local artists inspired by Australian native flora and fauna and the stunning natural landscapes of the region. The exhibition will be held between Saturday 5th and Sunday 20th October, in the height of spring, when you can see the native botanic garden flowering in the lovely weather.
Over 70 artists are contributing works to the exhibition including renowned botanical artist Marta Salamon, who is inspired by the awesome structures within nature, both in creatures and plants, and award winning ceramicist Eva Glac, with her heart-warming ceramic sculptures of the intricate details in Australian native flora. You can also see beautiful watercolour renderings of native birds such as the Kookaburra and the Eastern Spinebill by local artist IT-HAO, a regular teacher at Sherbrooke Art Society in Belgrave. There will also be pieces by unexpected artists such as knife-maker Matthieu Dechamps, jewellery crafter Helene Campbell (of Tall Trees Studios) and poet / illustrator Cameron Semmens.
The exhibition will burst beyond the walls of the gallery, featuring abstract and figurative sculptures placed in the gardens created by skilled artist duo, Juet, who work with recycled steel, wood and stone.
Lee Goller will be facilitating a free pottery demonstration / workshop for those that want to get their hands dirty on Saturday 19th October.
While there have been successful Botanical and Wildlife exhibitions at Karwarra in the past, the ‘Art of the Mountain’ exhibition will showcase a more flexible interpretation of Australian flora and fauna. This ‘passion project’ of The Friends of Karwarra is lead by Committee member Helen Beck. When Helen moved to the Dandenong’s, she was immediately attracted to the beautiful Karwarra Gardens, and with her long history of working in art and tourism, she saw the potential for something amazing to happen. “We started with teapot cosies.” Helen says. “We asked local artists to make teapot cosies that responded to our lovely flora and fauna, it was a great laugh, with some of the artists really playing and having fun with the theme and their quirky sense of humour, but we saw that this was just the beginning.” That exhibition premiered last year as a much smaller exhibition. “This year, we went big.”
Helen and the Friends of Karwarra see ‘Art of the Mountain’ as an opportunity to promote the gardens and the gallery. The exhibition is a chance to further Karwarra’s exposure to the community. As part of the preparation for the exhibition, Helen contacted many well-known local artists to promote the opportunity. She went on to explain that “so many of the artists that I contacted to come see the garden, for inspiration, had never been here before and are returning with friends and family.” Helen hopes to see an increase in membership to Friends of Karwarra as more people in the community find out about this little treasure.
Annual membership is only $10 for an individual, and includes invites to special events such as the opening of exhibitions and ‘Breakfast with the Birds’. Members can learn to look after a native garden, help with weeding, raking and propagation. If you are not so interested in the practical side of the garden you may have skills and interests that you can bring to The Friends. The garden has a small retail native plant nursery open to the public during normal Karwarra opening hours.
Artists looking to exhibit in the Karwarra Gallery at other times of the year are welcome to contact Karwarra for more information. The fees are very affordable. All exhibitions must be in response to native flora and fauna to be presented in the gallery.
Karwarra will also be the venue for this year’s hillsceneLIVE Festival Shifting Thresholds to be held on 9 + 10 November. The festival sees 16 live art makers create experimental art and performative expression that delves into our shared human experience as they unearth the lineages of our collective past and move towards our shared future.
‘Art of the Mountain’ Exhibition
Saturday 5th – Sunday 20th October
10:00 – 4:00pm Tuesday to Sunday
Karwarra Australian Native Botanic Garden
and Nursery – Kalorama Memorial Reserve
1190-1192 Mount Dandenong Tourist Rd, Kalorama
Ph: 03 972 84256
To find out more about the hillsceneLIVE Festival – Shifting Thresholds go to www.hillscenelive.com