Guidebook The artists’ colony that feels like a French village

Arty Melbourne

The artists’ colony that feels like a French village

Montsalvat is Australia's oldest not-for-profit artists' colony, says Hilary Simmons in Buzzfeed -- “home to over a dozen medieval-styled buildings and endless gardens filled with roaming peacocks.” Only 35 minutes northeast of Melbourne, in the bucolic suburb of Eltham, it is situated over 12 acres. “Since the 1930s artists, writers, musicians and performers have been drawn to Montsalvat and today the colony’s artistic appeal endures with resident luthiers, jewelers, painters, sculptors, and writers,” writes Monique La Terra in The Culture Trip.

“Fascinated with the long-abandoned techniques of mudbrick and pisé de terre (rammed earth),” notable artist Justus Jörgensen purchased the land in 1934 and, with the help of friends and followers, the colony began to take shape, explains Monique La Terra. “Justus first built a modest studio for himself and his wife, followed by student quarters. Materials were sourced from demolition sites, including the Bijou Theatre. Set with an environmentally conscience mind, Justus took pride in reusing old materials and was considerate of the Australian landscape when designed the buildings.” Following the outbreak of World War II, she adds, Montsalvat became “self-sufficient with a market garden and poultry farm.”

“Its mud-brick cottages are home to a number of practising artists, sculptors and jewellers,” notes We Love Melbourne. “Many of the original buildings have been extended and some converted into studios and workshops” used by Artists In Residence and for art classes and workshops. Oh, “it also has a fantastic restaurant, the Meeting Pool, offering rustic French and Italian cuisine.”

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