McClelland Sculpture Park & Gallery – Janet Walker’s Treat

Just before Christmas, 2013, I visited the McClelland Sculpture Park and Gallery.

What a treat I was in for!

Located 40kms south of Melbourne, the McClelland Sculpture Park and Gallery, is at the gateway to Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula.

With over a 100 Sculptures set in sixteen hectares of bushland and landscaped gardens it’s a must see experience.

I started my visit by a stroll around the lake at the front of the main building which houses an indoor gallery. I then followed the path around the back to begin a journey of discovery through ti-tree forests, bracken paths, heathlands and landscaped gardens.

The sculptures have been so well positioned amongst the native plants and trees that it is a constant delight to round a bend in the gently undulating paths and be surprised by an installation of diverse material and creative expression.

Native birds chattering in the trees, the perfume of indigenous plants in the air, the size of the park makes it possible to wander in isolation, alone with your thoughts while enjoying the visual feast of Australian and international sculptor’s amazingly innovative creations.      

Mc Clelland Sculpture Park showcases works by major artists, including: Norma Redpath, Inge King, Lenton Parr (Tara), Anthony Pryor, Lisa Roet (white ape), Clement Meadmore, Geoffrey Bartlett, Bruce Armstrong, and Peter Corlett.

So much creativity rendered in so many different forms left me in awe as I wandered the trails; almost convinced by the extraordinary work on show in the park’s bush land setting that I had died and gone to heaven.

Philanthropists are special people, their generous contribution to other people’s lives in terms of financial help and support of artistic endeavours is not always given the recognition it deserves.

Annie May (Nan) McClelland was a special person – under the terms of her will the McClelland Sculpture Park and Gallery was established in 1971 in honour of her brother Harry McClelland.

He was an artist and philanthropist who owned the property and played an instrumental role in the development of the arts community in Victoria.

Dame Elisabeth Murdoch (February 1909 – December 2012), another special person, was well known throughout her life for her many gifts to charitable organizations.

The establishment of the Elisabeth Murdoch Sculpture Foundation in 1989 was the catalyst for the development of a substantial sculptural collection at McClelland Park.

Committed to the development of sculpture in Australia it is the home of the biennial McClelland Survey and Award for outdoor sculpture.

My camera on overdrive, I spent an immensely satisfying couple of hours trekking through the park to wind up back at the main building which happily, has a café that offers coffee, wine and delicious food.

Overlooking the tranquil lake and spectacular sculptures the McClelland Cafe offers seasonal menus – visitors can enjoy breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea.

Guided tours with lunch packages are available.

McClelland has three indoor galleries which accommodate displays from its extensive permanent collection of works on paper, painting, photography and sculptures as well as touring exhibitions.

Shaun Gladwell, Afghanistan BPOV MEAO (Behind Point of View, Middle East Area of Operations), 2009-2010 digital colour photographs, inkjet on paper Collection: Australian War Memorial

The exhibitions on show until 2nd February include Shaun Gladwell’s war art, which focuses on ordinary soldiers in harsh landscapes, on their physique, their inner world, and the training and rituals that shape them.

The subjects depicted here, whether on military bases in Afghanistan, the Middle East or Australia, lie at the centre of the artist’s meditations on the role of technology in modern war and the nature of sacrifice and death.

Gladwell’s work is a significant contribution to a tradition of official war art that began during the First World War. His use of the video medium is the first in the history of the Australian War Memorial’s.

Penny BYRNE Tea for Two in Tuvalu 2011 vintage porcelain figurine, vintage Action Man accessories, vintage coral, glass fish, epoxy resin, epoxy putty, retouching medium, powder pigments Courtesy of the artist and Sullivan+Strumpf Fine Art, Sydney

Made to Last: the conservation of art is a NETS Victoria exhibition in partnership with the Centre for Cultural Materials Conservation at the University of Melbourne and supported by Latrobe Regional Gallery.

The conservation of art is commonly associated with the restoration of seventeenth century paintings or marble sculptures from antiquity. The use of materials in contemporary art has challenged this perception and enabled a shift in the way conservators interact with artists.

The artists in Made to Last pose questions to future conservators; they have been interviewed by curator Sherryn Vardy about their intent, materials, processes and views on conservation. The exhibition also provides a behind-the-scenes look at conservation with demonstrations of how materials can behave over time and under different environments.

Works include neon and master woodblock prints by Brook Andrew, altered ceramics by Penny Byrne, paintings and anamorphic works by Juan Ford, ink on paper and unique objects such as plants on shelves by Ghostpatrol, and video work and installation using unconventional materials including strawberries and cream and raspberry lollies by Claire Anna Watson.

McClelland Sculpture Park and Gallery’s public and educational programs are aimed at fostering an understanding of contemporary art.

Focusing on sculpture and nature, McClelland Park runs guided tours, programs and school holiday workshops that relate to their collections and touring exhibitions.

The gift shop has an excellent selection of art books, jewellery and objects d’art you would love to find in your birthday present or Christmas stocking.

The Park welcomes families and is extremely child friendly; kids are free to hop, skip and get up close and personal with the absolutely marvelous sculptures on display.

If mobility is a problem for you then a golf cart can be booked as part of a guided tour.

A word of warning: guided tours are only conducted on days under 32 degs.

This is a very sensible restriction as there’s a lot to see and do in the grounds of the Park so visiting when the mercury does not exceed 32degs guarantees a great day out.

Janet Walker, Special Features, The Culture Concept Circle, 2014

McClelland Sculpture Park and Gallery

Open Tuesday -Sunday
Entry by Donation
Ph: +61 3 9789 1671


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