Monday, June 5, 2017


Australia's  oldest art  colony , Montsalvat  in Eltham  , Victoria ,  founded  by   Justus Jorgensen, is the subject of  this  photographic  study  by  Michael Johnson.  A painter and architect , Jorgensen  studied at the Melbourne  National Gallery School in 1914 ;  under Max Meldrum 1918-1924 ; Paris , London, Burgundy and  Spain , 1924 to 1928.
Back in Australia in the l930s, he taught art and moved  to Eltham where he  started the  artists'  colony -painters, sculptors, musicians  and crafts people-  taking part in the  construction   of  a  group of buildings,  known as  Montsalvat, made  from stone , iron  and  pise-de-terre .
By 1963  large studios   and  a  two storey house  in the style of  a  French chateau , with a swimming pool , had  been built ;  Montsalvat  became a tourist attraction .
One of the   founding members   at   Montsalvat   was   painter   John  Horatio Busst (1909-l971) ,  a   close  friend of   Harold Holt , later  Prime Minister of Australia , who disappeared  while   swimming . Busst ,  mentioned   previously  in this blog , led  the campaign to protect the Great Barrier Reef  and tropical rainforests   from  clearing  , mining and  drilling  for oil  on  the reef   ,  the  battle  continuing today , especially  with  Adani   deciding   to   go  ahead  with  its  coalmine. 

Another  great North Queensland conservationist  , Margaret  Thorsborne ,who  recently celebrated her  90th birthday at  Cardwell,  is   seen here with a self portrait  of  Busst  at  his  memorial  . 
 Today Montsalvat, on  12  acres , continues as  an art  colony, has  a restaurant , is available for  weddings , and  provides  a  range of  entertainments.