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Healesville was buzzing yesterday. The Archibald, Not the Archies, the Artist’s Lounge and the brand new Healesville Contemporary Artspace had drawn a film crew, from the ABC’s 7.30 Report, into the Yarra Valley.

I was there to check out the Healesville Contemporary Artspace.  This is a ‘must-visit’ on any trip to the Yarra Valley.  It started its life as a warehouse space so is all cement floors, cement ceilings and cement pillars. Owners John Knoll and Sean Lee have cleverly kept the original feel. They’ve covered some of the central pillars with floor to ceiling mirrors which adds to the drama. They’ve lit the space perfectly and have equally cleverly filled it with so many of my favourite Yarra Valley artists that I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. Justin Purser has made the most wonderful metal front door handles. Metal paint brushes (what else) let you know before you even walk inside that you’re in for a real art treat.  Amanda Ruck’s clouds lead your eye through the doorway into the brilliant space. Antonio Villella’s fruit wood sculptures abound. Jenny Reddin’s nudes have their usual knockout effect.  Nine out of the eleven artists participating in the opening exhibition are from the Yarra Valley. You get such a strong sense of the energy that’s bubbling up in the Yarra Valley arts community within this space!

John and Sean are no strangers to the Yarra Valley.  They have successfully run Mt Rael for many years now. John is passionate about art. He delighted in pointing out the curatorial decisions involved in this exhibition.  It’s infectious. 

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Work by Daniel Mathers ©

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Antonio Villella’s © fruitwood sculpture.

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Work by Ian Westwood ©

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John Knoll

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Justin Purser’s © front door handles.

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Sean Rodwell’s © work. (Part of his ‘Muses’ series.)

Over the next month, if you’re lucky enough to arrive at the right time (as I did) you will see a work of art created before your very eyes. Twenty artists have agreed to participate in the artspace ‘studio’ experience. Sean Rodwell was on the menu yesterday.  He was channelling Jackson Pollock, so all of the work surrounding his workspace came off the walls, so he could really go to town and drip to his hearts content. You can see the work developing below.

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There were rich ‘art pickings’ in the Yarra Valley for the crew from the ABC.  While there have no doubt been artists working in the Valley forever, the Open Studio program (begun only three years ago) brought them all out of the woodwork. The Archibald has worked it’s enriching magic and the new Contemporary Artspace provides an edgy venue to show them off in the future. The Yarra Valley arts community is officially on the map, with the Healesville Contemporary Artspace indisputably at it’s centre!

You’ll find the Healesville Contemporary Artspace at 177 Maroondah Highway, Healesville.