First Train to Allwood
"The first train to Allwood [now Hurstbridge] arrived on June 25th 1912 and we're going to yarnbomb a fence to celebrate".
So say the organisers of this community arts project (The First Train to Allwood), local artists Margaret Summerton and Robina Summers. They're not afraid of a challenge. With the aid of 30 knitters and crocheters, kilometers of venetian blind cord, a bzillion zip tags and the combined energy of a small train, a transformation is taking place along two 'blocks worth' of cyclone fence in the main drag of Hurstbridge. This is possibly one of the biggest, most ambitious yarnbombing projects ever.
It simply makes me happy to see these pics of enormous crocheted doilies for the wheels and big knit one purl one carriages. Margaret and Robina tell me that each time they add another piece to the fence, passersby toot and register their approval with comments.
The First Train to Allwood team meet every second Saturday morning at the Wattle Cafe in Hurstbridge.
The quirky design for the train has been 'stylised' from the original photos of the original train.
Each knitter and crocheter is given a paper pattern of a small part of the train and some balls of venetian blind cord. They are encouraged to recreate the pattern in whatever way they like, using whatever stitches and techniques they think appropriate.
The project is an enormous undertaking, with logistics, administration and coordination being just as important as the knitting and crochet itself.
It's hoped that the train will be complete for the Wattle Festival on August 26th, but you can watch the progress up until then on the cyclone fence in the main drag of Hurstbridge. If you don't live locally but would like to be kept in the loop, follow it on Facebook.
The First Train to Allwood team is still looking for creative knitters to join them. Contact them via their website if you would like to be part of a truly joyous, (more fun than should be allowed) community project.
All photographs in this post are courtesy of and ©Tony and Robina Summers Upfront Pictures.
Emmy Mavroidis and Aldo Bilotta
Emmy Mavroidis' work was shortlisted for this years Nillumbik Prize. It's a big brave drawing of a 'moving' figure. She loves the figure and has been exploring it artistically, in drawing, painting and sculpture for many years. She's also responsible for drawing the figures on Jane Annois nude raku pots. Rodin is a favourite. She loves the short one minute poses in life drawing and often works to develop what's captured during those poses. She talks with great passion about the work of Yvonne Audette, her teacher and mentor. She has given Emmy the confidence to explore movement in drawing.
I began my visit in her Nyora Studio, where she holds regular classes in sculpture and lifedrawing and where several exhibitions are planned- a joint exhibition with Dena Ashbolt in October and a group exhibition planned for early next year showcasing artists working from Nyora Studio in sculpture, painting & drawing. We'd chatted over a cuppa in her kitchen and wandered around the garden, spotting sculptures and the many improvements to their property. I was pretty satisfied with my visit and knew that you dear reader would enjoy hearing about this very talented local artist.
Then Emmy invited me to see what her husband, Aldo Bilotta, was working on in his shed.
He builds vintage cars. She said.
We met at art school. She said.
He's a sculptor and also makes furniture.
So together, we wandered off to his shed.
Nothing could have prepared me for this one... He doesn't build just any old ordinary vintage cars... He was busy building the carriage for a Delage. (For the unitiated, Delage was a French company making cars in the first half of the 20th century.) I was looking at a very rare, supremely elegant example of a car from the Delage 'stable' (there are only thirty-something of this particular car left in the world). I naively asked if any plans come with the rolling chassis, so that he can work from them, to learn that his only reference point is an A3 photo of the finished car (see below). You could say he's a genius car builder.
A Ballot having its 'skin' put on... by Brian Mills, the body builder responsible for 'skinning' the cars.
It's pretty unusual for me to be rendered speechless but I admit that on this occasion all I could manage were inane Ahhhh's and ubiquitous OMG's. I was painfully aware at the time that my 'comments' were utterly inadequate but in my defence, I had no idea that anyone could build cars like that in this age of mass production and computer generated machinery, or that cars as beautiful as this Delage were sitting in a 'shed' in downtown Eltham being brought back to their former glory. I stopped making unintelligible noises long enough for Aldo to invite me to his second 'shed'. He calmly opened up the shed door to reveal another rare, drop dead gorgeous vintage car. This time a Bugatti!
Now I don't normally publish photos of me on the hunt for great things to show you, but I simply couldn't resist including this one. I look like a total Wally but don't care. I was having the time of my life and without this photo it's hard to imagine that I once sat in the driver's seat of a vintage Bugatti. Someone pinch me!
Thanks Emmy for taking the photo!