This website is temporarily being used for our new location PETSCHEL HOUSE in Hamilton as well as being the website for our former home, studios, gallery and classes in Eltham.
Eventually we will have a separate web site for PETSCHEL HOUSE. For now, it’s both…
Jenni Mitchell and Mervyn Hannan relocated the Eltham Studios, Gallery, Home and gardens to their new Hamilton property in December 2016. It was a sudden move – although not not altogether unexpected.
Jenni was born in Eltham and has lived in Eltham most of her life – other than the painting trips and travel she had made to wild and exotic places in Australia and overseas. Mervyn was also an Eltham child who has left and returned on numerous occasions. Eltham has been rapidly changing and the childhood romance of early Eltham has faded for Jenni and Mervyn. The gum trees and paddocks of their childhood are now suburbia and a leisurely walk along the quite roads is accompanied by much traffic today. When the Hamilton property came up for sale they had discovered by accident it was a quick decision … 14 acres of FLAT ground with an orchard, lake, paddocks and an 1856 bluestone house…
Petschel House is today set on 14 acres a few kilometres south of the Hamilton township in the Victorian Western District. The bluestone house was originally built by the German (Prussian) family Rentsch. It was the first original farmhouse in this area. The Petschel family joined the Rentsch family by marriage and it became a Petschel House. There have been several changes in ownership since it’s beginnings it has a long and interesting history – another story…
Jenni and Mervyn bought the property in late 2016 and have relocated their Eltham life into the quieter and more serene environment. Firstly a new purpose built studio (designed by architect Robert Marshall) was constructed to house Jenni’s tools and painting activities. The studio is where the painting classes are to be conducted. There is space for painting, printmaking, jewellery work and desks for other activities. Next came the renovation of a Food store and hay shed – now the BIJOU GALLERY – so named by Elizabeth Arthur, the curator and Gallery director of repute in her speech at the opening of Jenni’s Studio. More on this later – Bijou is little jewel in French and it is all of that – a gallery for exhibiting Jenni & Mervyn’s artworks and sculpture, art supplies and produce made from the Petschel orchard.
Another shed has been rebuilt and lined as Mervyn’s studio and Workshop space for the STUDIO FRAMING picture framing activities relocated from Eltham. It’s a larger framing shop now than we had in Eltham and a more usable space.
There is also a lake with an island and a attractive rickety old bridge not safe to cross (at this stage) several paddocks housing alpacas and a few sheep. The orchard is overflowing with espalier apple trees, grapes, apricot, plum, peaches, lemons and raspberries. There are patches of strawberries, garlic and saffron. All of which have been turned into Conserves and pickles.
The Studio and Gallery opened to visitors in April 2018 and has begun it’s future journey of working with a new community for Jenni and Mervyn in Hamilton. The community has been invited to the first ‘Afternoon Tea’, an ‘Artists’ Picnic’ and the first workshops have already happened. There will be plenty more to come…
Eltham South Fine Art
Six Mount Pleasant Road Eltham, Victoria.
A Short Background
The Gallery has grown out of a family property project spanning more than sixty years of residence by the Mitchell family.
Moving to Eltham in 1948 Grace and Arthur Mitchell raised hens, planted an orchard and grew vegetables to support their own needs and to service the pastry shop business they created in the early 1950s.
Grace Mitchell retired from her pastry business and completed a Fine Arts Degree from RMIT (Phillip) Institute in the 1980s specialising in sculpture and printmaking. Rejecting the commercial aspect of the art world Grace would exhibit her work only in exhibitions that would not require her to part with her work. Her reason for this was coming to the visual arts later in life she wanted to continue to enjoy the process of creating mindfully; because she wanted to make sculpture, not because she had to sell to make a living. She was a true artist in the most pure sense. Grace died in 2011 aged 94. Her Sculpture, Textile and printmaking work is on show at the Eltham South Fine Art Gallery.
Jenni Mitchell was born an only child to Grace and Arthur in 1955 and began painting at an early age from the nearby Montsalvat artists’ colony under the tuition of Lesley Sinclair. Jenni went on to RMIT and later Monash to gain a Masters of Visual Arts.
Mervyn Hannan also grew up in Eltham in the 1950s amongst the artist families of Montsalvat. Sonia Skipper, one of the founding artists of Montsalvat, painter and sculptor is Mervyn’s Mother and Joe Hannan, painter, potter, his father. Mervyn works as a painter, sculptor and musician as well as the picture framer for the gallery and Studio Framing.
The Gallery is a product of Grace’s legacy and is intended to show the families work as well as invited artists throughout the year. As founding artists of the Eltham Open Studio Program the gallery and studios will open with the now Nillumbik Open Studio weekends in November on March each year.
The gallery is open weekly from Thursday to Saturday 10.00am – 5.30pm as well as most Sundays 11.00am – 5.00pm.
The Teaching Studio
Classes are held in Grace’s Studio. The sculpture studio has become the light filled painting studio with tables and easels provided. Students are able to work in the studio or in the orchard garden.
Small classes are suitable for beginners, advanced students or experienced students seeking to work within a supportive group.
Regular classes are available Thursday and Friday mornings 10.00am – 12.30pm and Thursday evenings 6.30pm – 8..30pm.
Private tuition is available at mutually suitable times.
Students may work in any medium including oil, acrylic, gouache, watercolour and pastel.