I got lucky this weekend and got a chance to see some amazing art by Matcham Skipper up close and personal.
The best camera is the one you have with you. All I had with me was my low-battery iPhone when my partner Theo and decided to go with friends on an impromptu trip to Montsalvat. I’d been to this beautiful artist community once before, but this second visit turned out to be extra special.
Our little group split up. Theo and a couple of others went off on a photo shoot. The rest of us explored the grounds. As we walked along the artists’s studios, I noticed the door of one of the small mud and timber buildings was open. There was a woman inside pressure-cleaning the floor. Her name is Ruth McCallum Howell and she is a glass artist moving into the studio she was cleaning. The studio once belonged to Matcham Skipper.
Architect, painter, and visionary Justus Jörgensen established Montsalvat in 1934 as an artist community. When he was just 12, Matcham’s family joined the Jörgensens at Montsalvat and he spent much of his adolescence assisting in the creation of the bohemian community. Under the tutelage of Jörgensen and other resident artists, he developed a wide range of skills and interests and became a creative powerhouse in his own right.
Matcham Skipper was renowned as a sculptor, jeweller and builder. His work is held by many museums and public collections in Australia and overseas. He died on 24 February 2011 at the age of 89.
Ruth was kind enough to invite us into the studio and to let me take photos. Ruth explained that the work left is being identified and organised. It’d been years since anyone was in Matcham’s studio and the man was something of a hoarder. It’s not really clear just what is in there, but it all looked pretty amazing to me.
For more information about Montsalvat, please visit its website here.