Rare Trades Summer School
By Grace Barrand
Developed in response to the growing loss of traditional trades and skills in the Australian workforce, the Rare Trades Summer School offered a series of practical workshops that engage University of Melbourne Masters level students in Cultural Materials Conservation, Arts Curatorship, Fine Arts, Urban and Cultural Heritage and Arts Management with industry professionals.
The workshops taught basic skills in leadlighting, gilding, wood carving and bookbinding, providing a platform for students to develop technical understanding and specialised hand skills under the direct guidance of master artisans. Transferring knowledge of, and passion for, these rare trades to the next generation of art professionals.
MEET THE ARTISANS
Deb Balen is a professional leadlighter, mosaic and stained glass artisan with over 20 years experience in the field. Deb has been running classes through Purple Dog (leadlighting & mosaics) since 2000, and continues to create unique and original glass designs for a range of clients.
Bruce Jackson began signwriting in the early 1980s. After several years developing his brush skills doing hand-lettering, he began to focus more on pictorial work. He has painted advertising illustrations, murals, scenic backdrops and also experimented with many painting techniques. Bruce is the proud founder of the Melbourne based églomisé studio GoldReverre with an impressive and diverse work profile ranging from the Victorian Arts Centre, to residential pubs to Disneyland in Shanghai.
Phil Ridgeway is a professional bookbinder and founder of the Melbourne School of Bookbinding. After undertaking private studies in the UK and France, Phil further developed his skills through both professional and self-driven practice. The MSB was started to pass on the vast skills and knowledge acquired through years of practice to anyone interested in bookbinding. Phil also offers private bookbinding services through OrtBindery.
Veronica (Ronnie) Sexton was part of a selected group of artisans chosen to work on the five year restoration of Windsor Castle which had been severely damaged by fire. Since then she has worked on a number of commissions in Ireland, England, the USA, Malaysia and Australia. She currently holds weekly classes at the Melbourne Guild of Fine Woodworking. In recent years Ronnie has allowed her strict European classical training in Gothic, Baroque and Rocco woodcarving to evolve into a more relaxed and free flowing style that forms the basis of her sculpture practice and WoodHenge exhibition.
Big thanks to all of the esteemed artisans who participated in this program for sharing their time and expertise with students.
Organised by student conservator Grace Barrand. This initiative was funded by a University of Melbourne SSAF Grant and supported by the International Specialised Skills (ISS) Institute, the Grimwade Centre and SC@M.
Photographs by Katrina Watson for ISS Institute.