Some people say, what’s the point in art? Or, I don’t ‘get it’ or I could have done that. Art by defininition is the expression of something you want to say. I think you’d struggle to find a better case for art than at the William Ricketts Sanctuary, located up in the gorgeous hills of Mount Dandenong.
William Ricketts, a white Australian born in 1898 in Melbourne, was a self-taught potter and sculptor. He developed his skills in clay modelling and began making sculptures that centered on Aboriginal spiritual themes and their harmony with the natural environment. Talk about a renegade. To think that he was creating this work at a time when the White Australia policy and the Stolen Generations were in full swing… he had a great respect for the Aboriginal way of life and over several trips to central Australia spent time with Pitjantjatjara and Arrernte Aboriginal people, learning their ways and earning their trust.
He had a property in the Dandenongs where he lived with his mother who supported his ambitions in any way that she could. It was the perfect place for the full expression of his vision for creating a place where Aboriginal culture and spirituality and their harmony and respect for the natural environment would be in embraced by white Australia. I have to say, wow….and he makes no bones about it as you’ll see in the pictures here. William Ricketts Sanctuary is well worth the visit from Melbourne town. It’s particualry successful, in my view, because it’s a living exhibition in the sense that you walk through a natural enviroment to actually see it.
Amazing! Just amazing. I organised this outing with my group The Melbourne Walk and Shoot Group.
At the main entrance a mother and her children greet you.
So many details – see the hands emerging from the rock?
Past the visitor centre you walk through this formal entrance, officially welcoming you in.
It’s a sensorial experience integrated into the natural landscape.
The forest is all around you, and the tree ferns are thriving here.
And then as you start to walk through, you start to discover William’s extraodinary works.
It’s just glorious.
I love this union of peaceful faces.
And the dark side emerges.
I salute William for not shying away from it.
The small plaque says ‘My spirtual self with Aboriginal is not meant to express agony.’
William Ricketts uses Christian themes as a powerful reference point to articulate
the hurt and devastation inflicted on Aboriginal culture
and the natural environment by white Australians.
The sense of harmony with the natural environment is just magical.
William makes a mould of the rock base to which the artwork will be secured.
So when the piece is put in its resting place, it fits like a glove.
Victor, in my group, brought his fish eye lens to the outing.
I’m liking that lens!
It’s totally mad, a whole circle, the actual image isn’t rectangle!
It’s perfect for playing with this other-worldly place.
Who can resist having a little bit of fun too.
The second part of our outing was just around the corner at SkyHigh Dandenong.
It’s a restaurant, bistro and gardens high up looking over the whole region.
I’m a lavendar lover from way back.
My main objectives for coming to SkyHigh Dandenong were to:
1. See the view and gardens
2. Have coffee and cake
3. Meet some awesome Melbies in my group!
If you’d like to join us on some fun and free photo outings, you can! It’s all over at The Melbourne Walk and Shoot Group.
During our coffee I picked everyone’s collective brain for outing ideas and came away with two pages of goodness. I also asked people for their general interest in creating photo walking events limited to 8 people, that run 2 hours long and focus on learning from me about how to do shoot in manual mode, for a small fee. There was a collective yes on that, so stay tuned for updates. I’m excited about that development!!!
See you at the next one.