Violin maker, Shakuhachi flute maker and Sumi-e painter…


Yes that’s right, one artist, many skills.  Add an Aikido master with 6th dan to that already impressive list and you have the flavour of David Brown from Montsalvat.  Phew, what a scope of talent and achievements.  Oh, and I forgot to mention….as I found to my great delight, he not only makes Shakuhachi flutes, he also plays them… beautifully. This really is the best job in the world!


In a tiny studio at Montsalvat, that looks like it’s been there for centuries, David was whittling away at a piece of hardwood when I arrived.  As we chatted he continued whittling.


David embodies the creative spirit so evident in every nook and cranny of Montsalvat. In 1977, having seen and heard the Shakuhachi flute, he decided that he’d set about making one. Shakuhachi flutes have been around for 700 years.  He spent nine years…that’s right nine years…perfecting them… and perfect them he did.  His flutes are now sold in 37 countries worldwide! I was astounded to learn that he’s self taught.  The turning point was hearing the flute played by Riley Lee. He was able to show David what a good flute should sound like. Once he could distinguish a beautiful sound from an ordinary sound he set about making sure that his flutes created the former and not the latter.  The sound created is hauntingly beautiful.

During the course of our conversation, he casually showed me a piece of music he wrote for the flute…so let’s add composer to the list shall we.

Flutes and violins are in evidence all over his workshop.




As I write this, I’m regretting that I didn’t ask David to knock out a tune on one his violins.  My suspicion is that we can add that to the growing list!

His background in Sumi-e painting (Japanese ink painting) is equally impressive. He was taught by Andre Sollier who brought Japanese ink painting to Australia. David is also much influenced by the contemporary Japanese artist Matazo Kayama.  With this expertise at his fingertips he is about to embark on sharing his undeniable talent. He plans to teach Sumi-e at Montsalvat.  See his contact details below if you’re interested in joining his classes.  I’ve already enrolled.


To see him creating one of these beautiful works have a look at this you-tube. The accompanying flute is played by David and the video production is by another Montsalvat resident.  It’s filmed in the Great Hall at Montsalvat.

As a long term artist at Montsalvat (he’s been there for 22 years), David sees no reason to look elsewhere for a workshop. His love of the place is inviolable. In his own words,

“It’s a beautiful place to work! I like the people. I get to feed off the inspiration of other people.  Matcham Skipper has been a great inspiration.”

I can’t help thinking that David Brown himself is a great inspiration and therefore one of Montsalvat’s treasures.


If you’re interested in the Sumi-e painting classes, or purchasing a handmade flute or violin, contact David by mobile on 0438 347 919.

To see more details about his flutes go to this website.