See & Do

Matcham Skipper

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.

Sculpture by Matcham Skipper at Montsalvat.

Sculpture by Matcham Skipper at Montsalvat.

Sculpture by Matcham Skipper at Montsalvat.

Sculpture by Matcham Skipper at Montsalvat.

Sculpture by Matcham Skipper at Montsalvat.

Sculpture by Matcham Skipper at Montsalvat.

Sculpture by Matcham Skipper at Montsalvat.

Sculpture by Matcham Skipper at Montsalvat.

Sculpture by Matcham Skipper at Montsalvat.

Sculpture by Matcham Skipper at Montsalvat.

Sculpture by Matcham Skipper at Montsalvat.

Sculpture by Matcham Skipper at Montsalvat.

Sculpture by Matcham Skipper at Montsalvat.

Sculpture by Matcham Skipper at Montsalvat.

Sculpture by Matcham Skipper at Montsalvat.

Sculpture by Matcham Skipper at Montsalvat.

Sculpture by Matcham Skipper at Montsalvat.

Sculpture by Matcham Skipper at Montsalvat.

Sculpture by Matcham Skipper at Montsalvat.

Sculpture by Matcham Skipper at Montsalvat.

Sculpture by Matcham Skipper at Montsalvat.

Sculpture by Matcham Skipper at Montsalvat.

For more information about Montsalvat, please visit its website here.

Comments

comments

  • Amazing serendipitous experience – how wonderful!

    • It was quite a treat. Thanks for your comment!

  • Incredible art works – some look like they are from a war zone! I love the first one with the spider but they are all amazing. They evoke a mysterious sense of feeling.

    • I took two photos of that bust. It was dim in the room and I took the first one without flash, but that photo came out too dark. I took a second with the flash and only then saw there was a spider there. Thanks for you comment!

      • I too very much like your photo of the Bust of a woman, reminiscent of a Grecian (?) Goddess (?) with the spider. Juxtaposition of the organic and inorganic explained by this beautiful woman, with a seemingly full, luxurious head of hair, pulled back to give her face exposure yet looking downcast (literarily) – helpless to her intruder, yet dignified; helpless but tolerant and serene.

        • It’s one of my favorites as well. You could see it through the window from the outside and it drew me to the building.