Thursday, July 11, 2013


If only all research could happen under an oak tree in Winter sunshine! The photos below were taken recently when I was reading about Dorothy Leviny whilst sitting under the oak tree at Buda.  Apparently the oak tree was allowed to 'have its head' once the tennis court was removed and the space remodelled into a formal garden space in 1918. This formal garden was designed by Dorothy whose work can be seen in many aspects of the house and garden at Buda.

Looking West from the Formal Garden

The Leviny family and the legacy they have left in Buda is remarkable.  I quote from Lauretta Ziles book ...

"Hilda Leviny, the last surviving child of Ernest and Bertha, intended that the property should remain intact as a memorial to her family's artistic and horticultural endeavours and, as stated in her Deed of Gift, to promote an 'interest in art for the general benefit of the public of the State of Victoria and in particular the City of Casltmaine' and the 'Art Gallery and Historical Museum.' "

I am hoping to do an Artist in Residence style project at Buda in 2014.  The research is well under way,  and much is dependant on gaining funding ... And in the mean time I have the pleasure of getting to know this special house and garden.

Buda sits comfortably in its space.  It isn't an imposing place, but rather a very approachable piece of history that allows visitors a sort of peek into the lives of the Leviny family.  There is nothing overtly grand about Buda, even though it has elements of grandeur.  That is, while Buda is obviously a grand home, it is not self consciously so.  There is something quite enigmatic and yet approachable about the specialness of the place - and that makes the idea of making imagery about the property seem quite approachable.

The reality is that all my imagery making involves doubt at some point. There will be uncertainty, but for now I am feeling excited by the prospect of delving into the minutia of the place... drawing.  Drawing with a pencil and also hopefully drawing out something new ...

I'm very much looking forward to spending time exploring further!!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Exploring Buda

I have been spending time.  Spending time drawing, looking, reading, photographing and getting to know the place.  One of the things that continues to astound me is how I keep finding new things.  Little details, objects I see and wonder how I didn't see them before.  Like a good work of art Buda doesn't present everything at once, and the spending of time is rewarding.

Barometer in the front Hall

Hat box currently on display in the Small Sitting Room

Bookshelf in the Sitting Room

Another impressive aspect of Buda is the army of volunteers that keep the House and Garden open.  Without volunteers Buda couldn't survive for the rest of us to enjoy, but I also think it must be a very rewarding way to spend time.  If houses hold the vibe of those that live there, then the Leviny family must have been pretty lovely folk.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Local History ...

I've been doing some reading about local history, getting the historical context sorted in my mind before I launch into a new project that uses Buda as departure point.

Buda is an historical house and garden in Castlemaine that was owned by two generations of the Leviny family for nearly a hundred and twenty years (1863 -1981).   Ernest Leviny (1818-1905) was a talented Hungarian silversmith who came to Castlemaine (1853) via Paris and London.  He came, like so many others, following the discovery of gold and went on to establish a successful jewellery and watchmaking business.  Ernest's work can be seen in the National Gallery of Victoria and has inspired the Contemporary Australian Silver and Metalwork Award which has been hosted by Buda.

Ernest married Bertha Hudson, an English immigrant living in Tasmania. Their children were born and grew up at Buda in a privileged family environment surrounded by their father's interests in natural history and art.  Many of the children spent major portions of their lives at Buda, and the unmarried daughters were active in their creative pursuits.  Several of the Leviny daughters exhibited in the First exhibition of Woman's Work 1907, held at the Royal Exhibition Buildings in Melbourne.  Several of the Leviny children were also actively involved in the establishment and running of the Castlemaine Art Gallery.

My interest in particular is the 'making' element of the family.  Ernest was a talented, accomplished maker, who also had a keen interest in natural history and the garden.  He painted as a leisure activity in his later years, and designed structures at Buda.  The Leviny daughters lived through some progressive and exciting years for women.  They were free of financial constraints, and those that didn't marry were free to pursue their creative interests (as well as some paid work and travel).  Buda Historic House and Garden displays a massive range of objects and fittings made by various members of the family.

It is interesting that Buda, with its time capsule house, sensational gardens and relatively unpretentious history reflects the 'making' that happened there.  And as a community laden with 'makers', Castlemaine today seems to physically embrace Buda.  The house sits amongst the residential everydayness, surrounded by domestic goingson.  Amongst the community there is a strong thread of 'making'.  And from the community of Castlemaine there also comes a small army of volunteers that keep Buda open to a curious public.

For me, there is a plethora of story in the history of the family, a massive archive of belongings to be mined for still life subjects, and a garden that has continued to evolve.  Much potential to be explored!!


Above  -  An Autumnal afternoon through the Music Room window.

Immediately above  -  Detail of a sofa from the Music Room, thought to have been made in Europe and brought to Castlemaine by Ernest in 1853.

Information about the Leviny family from Buda and the Leviny Family, by Lauretta Ziles  2010.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Castlemaine State Festival 15th - 24th March 2013

Time to open the studio again!
I've been spring cleaning and reorganising my studio (and weeding the garden a little) and am now very much looking forward to having visitors.  All the details are in the Festival program, and I open to the public 11-3 on the weekdays, and 10 - 5 on the weekends.  It will be lovely to see you!!