Tasmania's Talented Artisans Shine

Off the southern coast of mainland Australia awaits Tasmania, an island close in size to West Virginia. Boasting the purest air and water in the world, Tasmania is recognized as a haven for outdoor enthusiasts and food and wine connoisseurs. The state's natural beauty and holistic lifestyle also attract a talented community of artisans who find inspiration in the island's sea-washed light and wild landscapes.
Water colour paintings from Tasmania
Water colour paintings from Tasmania

American photographer Arthur Rosenfeld said of Tasmania's natural allure: "There are grander landscapes and broader heavens, but nowhere have I seen such breathtaking contrasts arise so naturally from the dialogue between mountain and forest, clarity and cloud, sun and moon. A person can disappear in beauty like this."

Today, Tasmanian artists are eager to share their work with the world, exhibiting overseas and welcoming visitors to their homeland. Personable folks who often staff their own studios and retail shops, Tasmanian artisans are eager to discuss their craft. Examples of fine Tasmanian craft studios that welcome visitors include:

GLASS: Tasmanian glass is best viewed at Richard Clement's studio in Franklin, where he has lived since 1975. His workshop and showroom, featuring a 17' high stained glass window by Tasmanian artist Tom Samek, is situated on 14 acres of land overlooking the Huon River. Drawing inspiration from these surroundings, Clement creates his exquisite small bottles with assistance from his apprentice -- his daughter Jemma. His perfection of this craft has lead numerous private and public collectors including the American Craft Museum in NYC to seek out and purchase Clement's work. Telephone: 011 61 3 6266 3222.

JEWELLER: Artist jeweller Phill Mason turned down a jewellery apprenticeship at age fifteen to pursue other interests, but was drawn back to the craft in his thirties. Today, it's the "life experience" he gained that ignites the spark in his design. Mason is adamant that if he had accepted the apprenticeship at a young age, he might never have become the master diamond setter he is today. Having received 20 awards for his cutting edge, yet classically inspired pieces, Mason's studio is now a popular stop for travelers wandering through Salamanca Place in Hobart. Telephone: 011 61 3 6223 3412.

KALEIDOSCOPES: Using native timbers, the Tasmanian Kaleidoscope Factory is renown for creating amazing designs of color. Established in 1989 by Strato Anagnostis, the factory at Bream Creek creates imaginative works of art that are sought after by dignitaries including Pope John Paul II, the Dalai Lama and the Sultan of Oman. A public studio-showroom just 45 minutes east of Hobart, allows visitors to marvel at these remarkable kaleidoscopes while making a purchase to treasure for years to come. (www.southcom.com.au/~strato/)

PAINTERS: Unlike a number of painters who have relocated to Tasmania for the opportunity to paint the breathtaking landscapes found on the island, Philip Wolfhagen was born on Tasmania in 1963. Today his landscapes with oil and wax on canvas have brought him fame and commissions from around Australia. The Dick Bett Gallery in Hobart is the best bet for eyeing his work up-close. Telephone: 011 61 3 6223 4324. The work of master watercolorist Nigel Lazenby is said to embody the very soul of the Tasmanian landscape. To view his distinctive watercolor works, visitors can visit his Sisters Beach Studio Gallery at Sisters Beach. Telephone: 011 61 3 6445 1428.

POTTERY: At Woodfired Pottery, a 30-minute drive from Hobart, a turn-of-the-century style barn has been converted into a pottery workshop. Surrounded by beautiful gardens and a magnificent rural vista, this unique southwest Tasmanian experience encourages visitors to watch and listen as the resident potter demonstrates and explains traditional pottery making and firing technique. The gallery features exclusively wood-fired ash and flame colors of southwestern Tasmania which are distinctive on each hand-made piece. Telephone: 011 61 3 6266 6311.

WEAVING: Jenny Turner started weaving in the mid-1970s at the Tasmanian Government Schoheron Textile Center. Using traditional Japanese weaving techniques, she produces large-scale weavings as hangings. In addition, she weaves elegant scarves and shawls using Tasmanian wool and natural dyes that reflect her observations of Tasmania's natural environment. Her work can be purchased through Handmark Gallery at Salamanca Place in Hobart. Telephone: 01161 3 6227 9002.

Lamont Weaving Studio in Derwent Valley Central Highlands continually operates three looms to weave some of the world's best garments, rugs, scarves, hats, and stoles from hand dyed yarns. Visitors are routinely surprised to learn that the Tasmanian Tartan was designed at Lamont Weaving Studio. Telephone: 011 61 3 6259 5698. Tasmanian Wool Centre in Ross is renown for high-quality wool garments and craft work. Through guided tours, the center relays the story of the wool industry in town and brings visitors to the work spaces of talented artisans. Telephone: 011 61 3 6831 5466.

WOOD WORKERS: Peter Adams earned a degree in history at Harvard University before realizing that he wanted to work with his hands and be connected to nature. He spent two years in Korea with the US Peace Corps, studied cabinet making in Alaska and received his Masters Degree in North Carolina before moving to Tasmania. His superb wood working techniques utilize Tasmanian forest timbers and beach stones and his handmade benches are sold throughout the world. From his studio at Roaring Beach on the Tasman Peninsula, he sees his art as healing vehicles that put people in touch with nature. Telephone: 011 61 3 6250 1001.

Toby Muir-Wilson is another talented wood worker, who works to client commissions designing and making individual pieces of furniture from spectacular pieces of Tasmanian timber. Trained at the John Makepeace School for Craftsmen in Wood and the highly respected Parnham College in England, he creates handmade furniture with themes that include planes with structural inlays, composite structures of different colored timbers and color variations in structural joints. His work can be seen at the Stanley Artworks Studio Gallery. Telephone: 011 61 3 6458 2000. Visitors can also view resident wood turners and artists at Strahan Woodworks, linked to Morrison's Huon Pine Sawmill, as they craft kitchenware and collectibles. Telephone: 011 61 3 6471 7244.

Numerous open-air markets around Tasmania display local crafts that make perfect mementos of a Tasmanian vacation. Visitors need only stroll down Salamanca Place in Hobart, through Launceston or along the streets of Richmond, Evandale, Hamilton, Stanley or Strahan to find quality examples.

Sampling of Artisan Festivals In Tasmania

Every Saturday
Salamanca Market at Salamanca Place.
Year Round
Tasmania's famous weekly Saturday market in historic Salamanca Place with more than 400 stalls offering everything from art and crafts to fresh fruit and vegetables. 8:30am to 3pm every Saturday. Telephone: 011 61 3 6238 2843

Tasmanian Craft Fair
November each year
Australia's largest working craft fair with more than 200 of Tasmania's finest crafts people displaying their work at more than 11 venues. www.tascraftfair.com.au Telephone: 011 61 3 6393 1831

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