Art Heroes of Glenorchy

The Arts Heroes of Glenorchy Postcards celebrates the artists and arts patrons over the last 50 years.

In 2014 Glenorchy City Council commemorated 150 years since, in April 1864, the Governor-in-Council signed the proclamation creating the rural municipality of Glenorchy, and 50 years since Glenorchy achieved status as Tasmania’s third City.

Throughout 2014 Council presented a range of events and activities that commemorated this achievement of Council and the community of Glenorchy.  The Arts Heroes of Glenorchy Postcards, a project of the Glenorchy Arts & Culture Advisory Committee, celebrates the artists and arts patrons of Glenorchy over the period 1864 to 2014.  A series of 10 postcards, each featuring an arts hero is available by contacting the Moonah Arts Centre below.

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Lucien Dechaineux was a painter and teacher, born in Belgium in 1869. He emigrated to Australia with his family in 1884 at age 15.

Lucien studied art at Sydney Technical College, married his first wife Isabella “Ella” Briant in NSW in 1891, the pair moving to Tasmania in 1895. Lucien worked at Launceston Technical College and later the Hobart Technical College for over 30 years, where he was also Principal. Within a year of arriving in Hobart, Isabella and Lucien’s eldest son, Felix, both passed away. A few months after their deaths, Lucien met and married Marie Giblin in 1909 at Elmsleigh, Glenorchy. Marie was the second daughter of Herbert Giblin, who granted the newlyweds a section of land near Prince of Wales Bay. Lucien designed the residence built on this land.

As well as his significance as an artist and teacher, Lucien was also a member of the Architects Registration Board. He designed the stained glass window at Holy Trinity Church, the Hobart Town Hall Honour Roll and an extension of the Hutchins School. He is also known for his artwork in both watercolour and oil painting, and also dabbled in sculpting and etching. Edith Holmes studied under his guidance and his wife Marie had a career as an artist in her own right. Lucien continued to teach after his retirement, with his studio open to students and artists.

He passed away in 1957 and was buried at Cornelian Bay Cemetery with his first wife Isabella and son Felix.

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Edith, a painter, was born in Hamilton, Tasmania in 1893. She studied art in Sydney and it is said her works were better received both there and in Melbourne than here in her home State. She returned to Tasmania and made the Charles St, Moonah home, ‘Dilkhoosa’ her residence until her death. She produced much of her work there. Unfortunately the property was demolished after her death.

Edith studied art under both Lucien Dechaineux and Mildred Lovett at the Hobart Technical College and was well noted and described as the ‘Australian Van Gogh’. She was an instinctive and joyous painter, her use of bright and expressive colour is found in both her landscape and portrait works. She exhibited regularly in Melbourne, her style being said to be ahead of its time for Hobart.

She was an advocate for women’s rights and a member of the Women’s Non-Party League of Tasmania. A founding member of the Tasmanian Group of Painters, she later donated some of her land to the Moonah Rotary Club to build a home for disadvantaged youth.

She entered a portrait into the Archibald Prize and in 1972 received a special award for her contribution to Tasmanian Arts. Edith was outspoken regarding the lack of recognition that female artists in Tasmania received and encouraged those who wanted to be successful to travel and see the world. She died in 1973 after a long and well respected career.

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Nan Chauncy was born in England in 1900 and moved to Australia at age 12. The family settled in Sandy Bay but then bought land at Bagdad, now the Chauncy Vale Wildlife Sanctuary, where she and her six siblings used to run wild and play in the caves.

After leaving school at sixteen, she went to work at the Cadbury Chocolate factory. There she trained in social welfare, and as a lifelong keen girl guider, started the 1st Claremont Company of Girl Guides.
During the 1930s, after being retrenched because of the depression, she returned to England and later to Denmark. In 1938, on her passage back home to Australia she met a German refugee named Helmut Anton Rosenfeld. The couple married in Melbourne, and changed their name to Chauncy, the name of Nan’s maternal grandmother, to avoid the stigma of Anton’s German heritage. Returning to Tasmania they settled down at the family property in Bagdad, turning it into a wildlife sanctuary and welcomed their daughter Heather.

An ardent conservationist long before it was fashionable, Nan is best known for writing 13 books, translated into 14 languages, most notably They Found A Cave (1947), always her best seller and favourite as it featured so much of her own childhood. It was made into a feature film with an all Tasmanian cast in 1962 and went on to win the prize for best children’s film at the Venice Film Festival. Devils Hill (1958) was also made into a television production in 1988, as part of the Australian Bicentennial celebrations. She was a hard working writer and her concern for environmental values is one of the things that put her ahead of her time. Nan died in May 1970, aged 69.

Chauncy Vale Wildlife Sanctuary was gazetted in July 1946, as a private wildlife sanctuary and bequeathed to the local council by Anton Chauncy in 1988, with a later gift of the house and home paddocks by their daughter, Heather.

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Claudio Alcorso was born in Italy in 1913, arriving in 1938 in Australia after fleeing the pre-war environment of Europe. Shortly after his arrival he established Silk and Textile Printers in NSW, which later transferred to Glenorchy. Despite his attempted enlistment in the Air Force, he was interned as an enemy alien during the war years.

A keen entrepreneur, Claudio was also a pioneer of the Tasmanian wine industry through the planting and establishment of the Moorilla vineyard, now owned by David Walsh and sharing the site of MONA (Museum of Old and New Art). He commissioned architect Roy Grounds to design his home which now forms part of MONA.
Both Claudio and his wife Lesley were generous patrons of the arts, supporting organisations and serving on Boards such as the Tasmanian Arts Advisory Board, the Australian Ballet and the Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust.

In addition he expressed great concern over the destruction of the environment and actively protested to save the Franklin River.

While not an artist himself, Claudio showed great support for the arts and passed away in 2000, leaving a strong legacy.

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Mollie Tomlin was born in 1923 and grew up and continued to live in Moonah. She is best remembered for her work in the Glenorchy 1804–1964/1964–1998 series of books by Alison Alexander, for which she produced watercolour maps and illustrations.

Her interest in art began early, however, she only began to produce work more seriously once her children had grown up and left home. As well has her contribution to the Glenorchy books, Mollie also was commissioned by Glenorchy City Council to produce ten large paintings of buildings within the Glenorchy area as part of the Australian Bicentennial celebrations in 1988.

In 2002 she received an Order of Australia medal for both her art and her work with Heartbeat Tasmania, a support service which she also had a part in running.

Mollie died in 2009 and despite entering the art scene later than most, is remembered fondly for her dedication to painting local landmarks.

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Lyall and Mavis are singers, Lyall, a baritone and Mavis, a soprano.

Mavis was born in 1928 and raised in Collinsvale and Glenorchy. Lyall was born in Hobart also in 1928. Lyall initially worked at Cadburys for many years. After their marriage, the pair settled in Glenorchy and Lyall retired from Cadburys to pursue a performing career full time. Both Lyall and Mavis had an extensive career in theatre, opera and as solo performers. In addition to their stage work they also broadcast for ABC radio and some television. As well as their solo work, much of their performing career involved work as a duo, making them a notable presence on the local and national performing arts scene. They were both heavily involved in various local and national productions, also finding themselves a place in various opera and theatre societies.

Mavis declined an offer to join the Elizabethan Trust Opera Society in the 1950s as she wanted to focus on her young family and maintain a local presence in the performing arts. Both Lyall and Mavis continue to work in recent years, notably in annual performances held at Wrest Point.

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Eva Richardson was born in 1936 in Moonah. Auntie Eva Richardson is a Tasmanian Aboriginal elder descended from the Trawlwoolway people in the north-east of Tasmania. Lennah Newson was born in 1940 and died in 2005, sadly before most of her work became widely known. Both women are well recognised for their work in traditional indigenous practice, specifically basket weaving. They were included with a group of indigenous women who attended a workshop run by weavers Gwen Egg and Ruth Hadlow, specifically focused on re-learning and reviving this traditional Aboriginal craft.

Eva is a firm believer in providing opportunities to support children of all ages and is a strong supporter of inclusive programs. It is very important to her to share her cultural life. She has experienced great national success, with her work held in both public and private collections, including the National Gallery of Australia. Likewise, Lennah has been widely exhibited at the National Gallery, Adelaide Biennale and a local NAIDOC exhibition, ‘Twining Culture’ at the Moonah Arts Centre along with Eva and fellow artist Colleen Mundy. Both women are widely regarded for their involvement in bringing back tradition, but also their use of natural and found materials. Eva was involved in a project, titled ‘Tayenebe’, in 2011 that included an exhibition curated through The Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, as well as a series of workshops that focused on traditional weaving practices.

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The Kravats were a popular music band formed in 1957/58, with Barry Woodruff on vocals, his brother Ray Woodruff on rhythm guitar and vocals, Noel Best on lead guitar, Richard ‘Titch’ Millhouse on bass and Max Johns on drums (later John McCabe would take over).

During their peak in the 1960s they had five top 40 Tasmanian hits and most notably kept the Beatles ‘Help!’ off the local charts with their hit single ‘Baby Let Me Take You Home’, released in 1965. The local success they found had them record a four track EP, also released in the 1960s. Many of their early gigs were at dances held at the Moonah Memorial Hall and in later years they would take up a band residency at the Carlyle Hotel, Moonah for over a decade.

Ray Woodruff passed away in 2004, short of the band’s 50 year anniversary and is also well remembered for his presidency of Glenorchy Football Club. In recent years the surviving members have performed various shows, including concerts in 2007 to commemorate 50 years since they first formed.

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Robert was born in 1950 and grew up in Glenorchy, he and his creative family have always been very proud of this. His dad Ronald won an AO for services to the community.

Robert studied at NIDA, graduating in 1978. Heavily involved in television and film, he is best known for his role as Dr Geoff Standish on the television series The Flying Doctors, but also had roles in other Australian productions such as Blue Heelers and Sea Change. In addition he also had parts in the films Gallipoli and Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome and performed on stage in Mamma Mia and We Will Rock You for which he won Australia’s Helpmann Award for the Best Male Actor in a Supporting Role in a musical, for his portrayal of Pop. Robert has in recent years lived with his wife and children in Sydney.

Robert’s creative family includes: his brother Colin, a graduate of UTAS who has worked as a producer for the ABC, responsible for the production of various children’s programs, as well as the series Collectors and Gardening Australia. Colin also travelled to the US in his early career and produced a number of documentaries for the Discovery Channel.

His older brother Peter plays a myriad of instruments in local Irish Bands and his sister Kay is an artist and designer.

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David Walsh was born in 1961, the youngest of three children and grew up in Glenorchy. He attended Cosgrove High School but as a sickly child with asthma, he was forced to skip school for a year when he spent time reading science fiction, solving maths problems and devouring books on astronomy.

In his first year at university he began to gamble and eventually formed a syndicate that has enabled him to fund his interest in art collecting and the building of MONA.

In May 1999 he established the Moorilla Museum of Antiquities which closed in May 2006 to begin the construction of MONA. The new museum opened in January 2011 with thousands of people queued in lines 100 metres long at the opening weekend. It attracted a great deal of controversy due to the uncompromising art David chose to display. His collection is vast and eclectic. Since MONA opened it has been responsible for being a major driver of tourism in Tasmania as well as defining new ways in which the concept of a museum might be interpreted and making Tasmania a notable site within the contemporary art world.

In October 2014 Walsh’s book ‘A Bone of Fact’ was published.

David married Kirsha Kaechele in March 2014 and on 20 July 2015 they welcomed their daughter Sunday.