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Warrandyte set to go potty for teapots

IN 2004 A group of potters joined together and opened The Studio@Flinders, a gallery which sold, exhibited, and raised awareness about the world of wheel thrown, handmade ceramics.

One of the major annual exhibitions The Studio@Flinders hosted was the Melbourne Teapot exhibition.

In 2016, The Studio@Flinders closed, but the craft and spirit of handmade ceramics is still strong in Warrandyte and The Stonehouse Gallery on Yarra Street has taken up the mantel and will be hosting Melbourne’s annual teapot exhibition in August.

The Diary spoke with Marymae Trench, a ceramics artist and Stonehouse Gallery member since 2003, Ms Trench is part of the team who is arranging this year’s exhibition.

“Warrandyte has a long tradition of ceramics… at one stage there were seven shops in Warrandyte so there is definitely a history,” she said.

Ceramics has fallen out of fashion and there are very few courses now that allow new people to learn ceramics,

“I started classes at Potters Cottage in 1979, then ceramics were king but 20 years on ceramics has really slowed down… there used to be three TAFE colleges which allowed students to study ceramics, now there are none,” said Ms Trench.

A trend which is compounded by the convenience and availability of cheaply made and imported ceramic goods.

“We get tyre kickers here on Sunday, this young couple came in and the bloke said ‘there’s a mug in here and you’ve gotta’ pay $20 for it, and his partner said well its handmade you know… people come in and say they’ve always drunk out of clay because that’s what their mum and dad did, but the people who haven’t grown up with handmade stuff don’t really know the joy of using something that has been hand made,” Ms Trench said.

The Melbourne Teapot Exhibition, if successful, could become a regular calendar event for the Stonehouse Gallery which will compliment other community events on the Warrandyte calendar — such as the Warrandyte Festival and Pottery Expo — as a way of bringing tourism into the area.

Ms Trench is talking to local businesses in an attempt to generate some enthusiasm for the exhibition.

To inspire local businesses to get involved, Ms Trench explained how she hoped to replicate something along the lines of the Warrandyte Christmas Gnome hunt.

“We were told there were 200 entries last year, which means there were 200 kids and their parents, wandering the streets of Warrandyte looking in the windows of businesses — this is one of the problems with Warrandyte, people don’t know what is here,” she said.

The Stonehouse Gallery is a working gallery, which means everything on display in the shop, including exhibition content, is for sale.

The exhibition organisers are excited by the prospect of having around 50 different artists from all over Australia displaying their works and the organisers are sure there is something to suit all tastes.

But why teapots?

The process of making tea in a teapot has fallen out of fashion, the convenience of teabags is too hard to ignore.

There is still a generation who do remember their parents or grandparents using a tea pot, and the fashion of handmade is slowly coming back, but what’s in it for the potters?

Ms Trench describes the process of making a teapot and the appeal to potters due to the skill required to make a good teapot.

“When I was a student, I made five teapots and at the end I said I was never going to make a teapot ever, ever, ever, ever again because they are so hard to make.

“So you’ve got to make it so it is going to hold tea, you’ve got to have a handle that is functional, it’s got to have a spout, now when you make it you have got to make sure the level of the spout is above the level of the water— if it is below you fill it up and it comes straight out the spout, you’ve got to make sure the lid doesn’t fall out when you tip it up. “When you have a tea pot that already weighs a lot and you put in a litre of water, that’s another kilogram of weight, and it has to be aesthetically pleasing.

“You have to put the little holes where the spout is.

“You throw it on the wheel, you throw the spout then you have to cut the spout so it fits on and it’s got to have a lip that doesn’t dribble.

“It is totally different to making a bowl because there are so many elements that you need to get right and when it is full the centre of gravity needs to be in the right place and that is very hard to get right.

“It is very difficult and I don’t think people realise just how hard it is,” she said.

The exhibition will be open to the public August 4 – 15.

MDD awareness month

MAY is Metabolic Dietary Disorders awareness month and Warrandyte’s own Grand Hotel have announced a very special program — in what is believed to be a world first; they are offering a special menu to cater for people living with this rare group of diseases.

The Warrandyte Diary spoke with the President of the Metabolic Dietary Disorders Association (MDDA) about the most common of this rare disorder Phenylketonuria (PKU) and what this menu initiative means for people living with PKU.

What is it like living with PKU?

Phenylketonuria is considered a rare disease and I guess the significance of this disease is it is one of the things they pick up with the heal prick test.

The heal prick test has been administered for about 50 years and most newborn babies are tested, so PKU is usually diagnosed within the first ten days of life.

My son is seven and he’s got PKU — when he was diagnosed, I had never heard of it before and it came as quite a shock.

However, as a parent you learn — over time —it is a manageable disease as long as you are diagnosed early, are on top of it, and you teach your child as they are growing into a teenager and an adult.

They live a relatively normal healthy life — the biggest challenge is the diet, because it is all about your metabolism.

What are the symptoms and restrictions?

To have PKU means you have got a faulty enzyme in your liver that prevents you from metabolising a particular amino acid which is found in protein — Phenylalanine.

It can’t be metabolised and therefore creates toxic levels in your body which effect the brain — so a young child, if they are not diagnosed early, just simply breastfeeding is getting more  Phenylalanine than they need.

It sends their levels sky high and potentially within 6-12 months, they are brain damaged, so it is all about avoiding brain damage.

When they are young that is when it is most critical, as they get older their brain gets to a point where it is considered to be developed, which they now say doesn’t happen until they are 25, but they advocate diet for life to protect the brain for life so what that means it they have to have a very strict low protein diet.

My son Charlie is allowed to have 12 grams of protein, kids his age with a metabolism his age would probably have about 40 grams, that doesn’t sound too bad because he is a child, but as he gets older that 12 grams won’t change, most adults will have around 70 grams of protein a day.

For example, an egg is six grams or a glass of milk is 10 grams of protein, a potato is two grams, so it is fruit and vegetable as well — everything has protein in it, even nuts legumes soy; we have to avoid all those things too because they are too high in protein, so what we have to counteract this is a specialised synthesised protein, it is like a protein shake — Charlie will have that three times a day and that gives him all of the other protein amino acids his diets is missing out on.

We also have special protein free rice, pasta, milk, cereals, cheese, the whole lot to make up a lot of the staples of the diet and then depending on what their actual allowance is we will incorporate normal foods in to their diet — I am always to the supermarket now reading labels.

It is a very complex diet and because it is not an allergy, or something like diabetes, it doesn’t have that instant effect so it is very hard for people to understand. oIt doesn’t really fit into any category of special diet either, people say, oh you are just vegan — and then they will bring you out a vegan meal with all these sesame seeds or lentils or something.

So what happens is people with PKU often don’t dine out because it is too hard to explain and prepare a meal and so most places you go generally the staple they have is hot chips, but we generally have to weigh them, because one potato is two grams of protein so if someone is going out trying to find a two gram meal for their kid they have to weigh them and they say: Charlie you can have that many — so it is tough.

 The Grand Hotel are doing a special PKU menu, how important is that?

With dining out, a lot of people say it’s just too hard so they take their food everywhere and they often eat the same bland stuff, that is the other sad thing they have their special free pasta they boil it up they put a bit of their free cheese they might sprinkle some herbs on top, you think how much food is a part of our lives and it so bland – even drinking — I mean beer has protein so to even go and have some beers with your mates, to have that social aspect, for families with kids and teenagers and for adults to be able to come out and have that dining experience and just eat some beautiful foods.

What it will mean is that families that are in the area can come and have a dining experience with their kids or as adults and actually be able to order something off a menu without having to explain it — it is just brilliant to be able to eat something and feel like everyone else.

Locals outraged over “unnecessary” VicRoads safety barriers

KANGAROO GROUND locals are outraged over a 17km stretch of road safety barriers VicRoads are currently constructing on Kangaroo Ground – St Andrews Road.

According to VicRoads, the project will benefit the community by increasing road safety and preventing high-speed collisions.

The Victorian Government has provided $6.2 million to the project.

But many locals, including Nillumbik Councillor for Sugarloaf Ward Jane Ashton, believe the project is a waste of taxpayer’s money.

“It really is an over-engineered mess in the middle of our beautiful green wedge,” she said.

While Ms Ashton is in favour of making local roads safer, she, and many other locals, are questioning VicRoads’ methods.

“The VicRoads’ data shows that speed reduction has far greater cost benefit than barriers,” Ms Ashton said.

Also worrying locals is the fact that VicRoads have built a section of the barriers near a major kangaroo crossing.

Kangaroo Ground resident Lia Williams says, “It is upsetting to see dead kangaroos on the road outside my property, slaughtered between the newly erected barriers”.

The barriers could also prevent local firefighters from entering properties during an emergency.

“We live in a very high-risk fire area; a barrier is going to block you into your own property. It restricts firefighters’ access and puts all of us in more danger,” Ms Williams said.

Another major concern for the locals and drivers is the safety of cyclists. Up to 500 cyclists travel along Kangaroo Ground – St Andrews Road each weekend.

“Cyclists [are] being forced along even narrower sections of rough road,” Councillor Ashton said.

Ms Williams believes the barriers are a quick-fix solution.

“Many cyclists use this road up to Kinglake. It is a really narrow road as it is, they should have used the money for cycling lanes. What they are doing is a blanket approach — put barriers where they are needed, not just on straight stretches of road because there are trees.”

Locals voiced their disapproval of the project with ongoing protests during April, with up to 40 attending some rallies.

The protestors have been gathering support through a petition and by passing leaflets to drivers as they stop at the road works.

“We have had a rolling group of protestors nearly every day for three weeks; many people have written to the Premier, their local MPs and VicRoads, but few have had their letters acknowledged,” Councillor Ashton said.

“Nillumbik Council has also written to VicRoads asking them to cease work and re-engage with the community.

“This is really a David and Goliath battle, with VicRoads ploughing on as quickly as possible,” she said.

The residents are frustrated that VicRoads have taken little notice of their disapproval and ignored the local community’s ideas.

“The community suggested improving road shoulders, particularly for cyclists, fixing up road surfaces, creating safer turnouts from Yarra Glen and Wattle Glen Roads onto Kangaroo Ground Road, and additional speed reductions,” Councillor Ashton says.

“For VicRoads it was community consultation but for us it wasn’t — we were ignored,” Ms Williams added.

Ms Williams believes a major issue in VicRoads’ assessment of the area is the fact there have been no fatalities for many years.

“There have been 11 accidents in the past eight years with no fatalities on the Kangaroo Ground – St Andrews Road in the statistics that we have [from VicRoads], yet Kangaroo Ground – Warrandyte Road has had 23 accidents in the past four years. VicRoads are doing nothing to improve that road,” Ms Williams said.

Local resident George Bernard agreed.

“I’m a local firefighter and I can’t remember the last time I’ve come to a serious accident [on the road] with fatalities or people having to be hospitalised,” he said.

VicRoads data confirmed that there had been zero fatalities on Kangaroo Ground – St Andrews Road since January 1 2006, while on Kangaroo Ground – Warrandyte Road there had been three fatalities.

The VicRoads barriers are being constructed throughout May, and are expected to be completed in June.

Pigeon Bank planning goes to VCAT

Community groups and neighbours join forces to try and appeal planning approval

FOLLOWING on from last month’s story on concern over a proposed development at 2 Pigeon Bank Road in North Warrandyte, several parties have appealed this matter to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).

Warrandyte Community Association (WCA) has joined forces with Friends of Nillumbik and the Green Wedge Protection Group to request a review by VCAT of the decision by Nillumbik Council to approve the planning application.

In addition, it is understood that the original objector, a neighbour, and a number of other nearby residents have lodged similar appeals.

One of the many grounds for the appeal by those who did not originally object to the council is that neighbours and community groups had not been properly advised of the application.

A directions hearing was set down at VCAT for last Friday May 5, intended to be a quick hearing to determine whether the late applicants would be allowed to appeal.

At this hearing, the barrister for the applicant requested the matter be thrown out because there had been no objectors to the original proposal before Nillumbik Council.

He contended the neighbour had put in a submission requesting some changes, rather than an objection and that without any objector there was no case to bring to VCAT.

Much discussion ensued on whether WCA should have been notified of the application, on the standing of the other community groups and their right to join in an action, and whether the community groups and immediate neighbours would be allowed to form a single group to appeal the decision.

The VCAT member, Ms Dalia Cook, reserved her decision on all matters, this is expected to be handed down within the next few weeks.

If the action proceeds, the next step is that the parties will attend a compulsory conference at VCAT on July 6 in an attempt to reach agreement.

If this fails, the matter will go to a full hearing which is not expected to occur before September, and may take between two and four days.

War Memorial shines as Warrandyte remembers

DAMP weather did not deter hundreds turning out for the Anzac Day memorial service this year at the Warrandyte RSL.
Some 150 people participated in the march from Whipstick Gully to the memorial at the RSL.
Lead by Ennio Torresan the march consisted of returned servicemen and women, their families, dignitaries and members of CFA, Scouts, Guides and local sporting groups.
The marchers were joined by an estimated 800 strong crowd to take part in the service around the memorial.
The address was conducted by John Byrne, who recalled the service of the late William Stringer who served in both World Wars, living in Warrandyte until his death at age 70 in 1965.
And what would Anzac Day be without the Bellbird Singers beautiful rendition of I am Australian and Barry Carozzi performing his haunting It’s Not a Soldiers Job to Question Why?
Following the requisite minute’s silence, wreaths were laid on the war memorial by local members of parliament Kevin Andrews and Ryan Smith along with representatives of other community groups and members of the public.
The memorial was vandalised on Sunday night prompting swift action by the community to restore the shrine in time for the Service.
Ryan Smith MP told the Diary he was inspecting the damage when he learned that the RSL was going to have to put on extra security to ensure the vandals did not return again before the service.
“I was lucky to be here at the right time because I was able to offer to pay half of the $700 costs of the added security which the RSL would otherwise have to find from their own pockets,” he said.
Warrandyte RSL President Hank Van de Helm thanked the community for the huge support that was given to the club after the desecration of the memorial.
Federal Minister Kevin Andrews said the act was “absolutely disgusting”.
“But the best answer to that is so many people turning out today,” he said.
Local Councillor Paul McLeish said he was “proud of the way the community came together to right a wrong”.
The restored memorial looked better than ever, so the silver linings from this despicable act were that Warrandyte’s war memorial received a face-lift and the RSL received that warm sense of community that rose from Warrandyte rallying together to erase the damage to our beloved institution.