Tag Archives: Stonehouse Gallery

End of an era

THE STONEHOUSE Gallery and Shop closed on August 31, 2023.
The Makers’ Gallery, which has been operating for 51 years, operated by a collective of local artists, has found it increasingly difficult to run the gallery in recent years due to a diminishing membership.
“It was a heartbreaking decision,” said painter and ceramicist Jenny John.
“It had become increasingly difficult for the small number involved to be both artists and run the gallery.
“Despite sustained efforts to attract new members, we were not successful,” she said.
While the Warrandyte arts scene has made a significant comeback in recent years with spaces such as the Now & Not Yet Café’s NaNY Gallery and the regular Pop-Up Exhibitions hosted by Warrandyte Community Association and Warrandyte Artisans, Stonehouse Gallery and Shop was the only dedicated gallery space in Warrandyte.
Yarra Ward representative Councillor Carli Lange said she was “heartbroken to hear the Stonehouse Gallery is closing”.
She told the Diary she was unaware of the future of the building:

“Planning permission would be required for any change to the use of the land from a shop or alterations to the existing building.
I wish all the talented artists who display and sell their work from the Stonehouse Gallery all the very best with their arts and culture careers, and may they know their talented work will be very much missed.”

Established by eight like-minded potters in 1972, the Stonehouse Gallery has been the heart and soul of creative Warrandyte.
This collective of passionate and diverse artists and craftspeople has been an amazing supporter of the broader and upcoming arts community.
Owned and run by member artists, the Stonehouse Gallery showcased and sold quality Australian fine arts and crafts. Originally located at the eastern end of town, at the old Selby’s Store, now the Yarra Store, on the corner of Tills Drive, the gallery moved to its home, the old Gospel Chapel at 103 Yarra Street in 2005.
Over the years, member artists and consignees represented a wide array of creative arts and craft disciplines.
They supported and inspired each other.
The Stonehouse Gallery has influenced and changed many lives.
At the celebration of the arts collective’s 50th anniversary, former member, Marg Perry, encapsulated the essence of Stonehouse.

“We have supported one another through family joy and happiness, tragedy and heart ache, illness and celebration. We have shared our successes and our failures.
Some members have moved on quickly, others have stayed longer…. each person leaving their imprint on our lives and hearts.
Our gratitude is endless to those eight women who had the courage and the foresight to take the risk and place their hopes and ideals on the line, to make a name for themselves and for us, for the pottery world and all the wonderful creative arts people whose work is on display, worn, admired and loved by our customers and supporters.
Some of us wondered how long we would stay — whether twenty or forty years, it seemed like half a lifetime or the blink of an eye, depending on where you are looking from.”

Like the clay that has passed with care through the hands of its many talented cooperative members, Stonehouse craft has evolved as each generation has picked up where the previous one left off.
Times and place may have changed in the past fifty years, but the spirit of Stonehouse continues: a group of creative women dedicated to making fine Australian Art and Craft, determined to directly connect the maker with the collector.
This journey was chronicled in the book Stonehouse Gallery celebrating 50 years (2022, Focus Printing) by Cliff Harding. Staffed by the member artists, a visit to the gallery was not only an opportunity to peruse and purchase beautifully crafted jewellery, textiles, glass, ceramics, and paintings but also a chance to interact with the makers directly.
From the early days, the Gallery hosted monthly exhibitions by local and member artists.
Many were embellished with magically evoking titles such as: All Smoke and No Mirrors; Celebrating our First Christmas; Journey to India; The Carpet Bus; Planes Trains and Elephants; Arabian Nights; Tuscany Re-visited; and Birds of a Feather.
Since 2017, the Gallery has also hosted the Melbourne Teapot Exhibition.
The Stonehouse Gallery rescued this quirky and enchanting annual exhibition from its creators, Studio@Flinders, when that gallery was forced to close in 2016.
The property was sold in late 2022.
And while the Stonehouse Gallery artists may no longer use the space, there are hopes, the building will continue to operate as a gallery.

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.