Friday, June 8, 2018

"Legacy" - An Exhibition of 'Dunmoochin' inspired work

The Dunmoochin Foundation is located in 200 acres of protected bushland in Cottles Bridge, north-east of Melbourne. Within the bushland setting, the Foundation offers rented studios and residences for artists, writers and researchers. Established by the eminent Australian artist, Clifton Pugh AO, three times winner of the Archibald prize, the Dunmoochin Foundation is now managed by a voluntary Board of Directors.

Since its establishment in 1989, many Australian and overseas artists have had the opportunity to develop their artistic skills and experience a connection with nature. The Dunmoochin Foundation offers a place of retreat for successful applicants to experience six to twelve months in this natural setting. Over 29 years, the Dunmoochin Foundation has offered residencies to visual artists, musicians, composers, sculptors, poets, writers, dancers, puppeteers, craftspeople, video producers, film makers, researchers and environmentalists. (read more)

Legacy - Exhibition

Visitors to the exhibition (photo credit - Kristin Walker)

'Legacy', a group show featuring work from 11 artists who have spent time as artists-in-residence at Dunmoochin.  Lyn Ashby, Mirranda Burton, Jole Di Florio, Heja Jung, Lisa Nolan, Simon Pierse, Sue Robertson, Jodi Stewart, Matt Stonehouse, Mark Wotherspoon and yours truly, Nerina Lascelles, showcase work on the rustic mudbrick walls of the Eltham Library Community Gallery until July 2nd, 2018.

Dunmoochin is an incredible place steeped in rich cultural history. It seems that every artist who has had the fortune to undertake a residency has been influenced by the beauty of the surrounding bushland. 

I have three paintings on display in 'Legacy' and while I don't have any paintings that I created while actually in residence, as they've all sold :), I have had a delightful time in the studio revisiting the influences that inspired me so greatly 

It was back in 2010 that I went to live as an artist in residence at Dunmoochin for around two years.  It was during this chapter that the motif of the 'Redbox' leaf originated; and it continues to appear in my paintings. This iconic circular-shaped leaf reflects this area of dry bushland on the outskirts of Melbourne. 

Below are some the process details and finals of the paintings showing ......


“Today's studio quest has been to relay the incredible stillness and silence of a foggy morning here in the gorgeous Red Box forest in Panton Hill. Not quite there but enjoying the process :)” – Instagram April 8th 2018.

Red Box Mist | 122cm x 122cm | 2018

The two other paintings in the exhibition - and their working details are pictured below.....

"In celebration of this beautiful full moon that continues to light up the cold, clear nights here in the bush, this painting is now completed and on display in “Legacy” - an exhibition featuring the work of 11 artists who have spent time in residency at Dunmoochin." May 31. 2018 - Instagram

Red Box Forest Moon | 132cm x 132cm | 2018


Red Box Bush | 76cm x 152cm | 2018

Today, on this cold, wet and wintery Melbourne day I am also enjoying revisiting some of the paintings that I did created while at Dunmoochin.  
This painting (below) features the 'Long Leafed Box', which is another indigenous eucalypt growing in the dry bush forest in Cottles Bridge. This painting was inspired by the beautiful Japanese folding screens (or byobu) that were used as room dividers and as a means of reflecting light into Japanese houses prior to the access to electricity in Japan.
Just as an aside, this painting won the 'People's Choice Award' at the Nillumbik Art Prize back in 2011 :)

Long Leaf Box Collage, 152cm x 122cm, 2011

Here's is another painting created at Dunmoochin that features the circular 'Red Box' leaves. I recall being always so fascinated with the wide variety of colours in the leaves. Mostly of course they're a lovely pale misty green but as they age, they turn pink and even a rusty-red colour. Some individual leaves contain all of the colours on the one leaf. 
When it rains the shiny leaves reflect the grey skies above and the hue of the red box foliage seems to soften into an even paler green..... the raindrops becoming sparkling, silvery jewels.

Red Box Collage | 122cm x 122cm | Mixed Media on Canvas | 2011

To continue with a feature of some of the paintings that were created at Dunmoochin, another 'throwback' from my Dunmoochin residency that again features the Red Box leaves is this work. (below) The title of this painting is a Haiku poem written by the Japanese master, Seibi. 

"Lying down on my back
the Spring sunshine
filled my mouth" - Seibi

While revisiting the influences during my 'Dunmoochin' chapter, I found this photo of me at work in my studio. Clifton Pugh built this 'hanger-like' building when he began to create larger paintings.
While I utterly cringe to look at myself and my work from seeming lifetimes ago, this was such a magical and important chapter for me, both artistically and personally.

And to continue with a few more paintings from my two year Dunmoochin residency featuring Red Box gum leaves, the title of this work is a haiku poem by the Japanese master Kobayashi Issa (1763 - 1827)

"Under shady trees
Resting with a butterfly - 
this too, is karma" - Issa

While still strolling down memory lane - reflecting on some of the work that I created at Dunmoochin during my residency, I also found this one. This is one of my largest paintings measuring 152cm x 152cm, painted in 2012.
As with my previous post, the title is a haiku poem from the Japanese master, Yosa Buson (1716 - 1784)

"From far and near, 
Hearing the sounds of Waterfalls,
Young Leaves", Buson

...And for the last post from the rainy day reverie, another painting featuring the Redbox created at Dunmoochin back in 2012. Living at Dunmoochin enables one to connect with the landscape in all seasons, in a weather conditions and all times of the day. Nights with a full moon shining down through the redbox forest were extra special. This painting was the hero image of a solo exhibition I had at Montsalvat titled, 'Seizui - Essence'.
The title for this painting is one of my very favourite Haiku poems by Matsuo Basho.


"Clouds veil the moon, 
now and again, 
giving rest to it's beholders" - BASHO

I really hope you've enjoyed browsing through this small collection of paintings from my 'Dunmoochin' chapter - just as much as I have in revisiting them. 

'Legacy' an exhibition features  work from such a talented bunch of fellow artists who have also experienced a deep connection with Dunmoochin.

Here's hoping you are able make it down to the exhibition to have a look. Updates about the gos are posted regularly on our Facebook Page.

Also, if you're interested in commencing an artist residency at Dunmoochin, please apply via the website at

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Our Eltham - Artistic Recollections

Artist - Nerina Lascelles & Ceramicist - Linda Detoma

Completed September 2017

From fire to flood, from gold mining to wheat harvesting, from the horse and buggy to the motor car and from Shillinglaw Cottage to the Eltham Library, ‘Our Eltham’ is a celebration of life in our Shire since the opening of the Eltham Cemetery more than 150 years ago.

Depicting scenes of life in and around Eltham, this collection offers us a deeper connection to our area through a series of visual narratives of our past, our environment and our community. Historic photographs ignite an impression of what our forefathers may have witnessed during their lifetimes as pioneers before, us while indigenous flowers and plants symbolically connect us to life and nature in our local area.

The Eltham Cemetery Trust commissioned this project as part of its ongoing vision to offer our community a fresh and unique relationship to the Cemetery and confirms the Cemetery Trust’s commitment to the continued support of local artists.

Our Eltham is a collection of panels that were collaboratively created by artist Nerina Lascelles and ceramicist Linda Detoma. The associated landscape was designed and constructed by Leigh Wykes with ironwork by Neil Carter. All contributors to this installation are residents of the Eltham area. 

The official unveiling of the project commencing at Montsalvat. September 21, 2017

An art object is like a time capsule...

....a portal to another time and place, it reveals insights into human behaviour, beliefs, dreams, habits and ideas. Art has been created by humans for humans across hundreds and hundreds of years because it can inform us, stimulate us, uplift us, inspire us and offer us an enriched view of life. That is what we hope to achieve with this work.

I have lived Eltham and the surrounding area for nearly 50 years. What drew me to this project is the wonderful opportunity to offer a fresh perspective of the rich history and beautiful landscape right here on our doorstep.

And, as with a time capsule Linda and I hope that we have brought the Eltham Cemetery Trust's vision to life and helped to make the story of historic Eltham, relevant to the present and to the future generations who will enjoy this work. 

Visitors to the cemetery reflecting on the collection of 31 panels at the opening.

The Eltham cemetery is a time capsule as well. It was established in 1858.  It is fascinating to ponder on what life would have been like and how life in the Nillumbik area has changed over more than 150 years. A reflection on historic imagery and story enables us to understand what our fathers and their fathers may have witnessed during their lifetimes. Historic imagery also allows us to contemplate the myriad of colourful tales that our dearly departed forefathers, now at rest within the Eltham Cemetery, would have perhaps told. Historical imagery offers us today, a connection with our past.

Great Hall Montsalvat with Donkeys, 1963. Photographer John T Collins

Leigh Wykes, renowned throughout the Nillumbik Shire for his talent as a designer, builder and stonemason, and who is here today, designed and constructed the 50 metre, curved stone wall in the cemetery upon which this series of panels was then to be displayed.

Leigh Wykes visited my art studio some 18 months ago. Leigh had also met with we'll know local ceramicist, Linda Detoma and suggested that Linda and I meet and discuss the idea of potentially working in collaboration on the project.

My artistic practice combines influences of the ancient artwork of the orient and the reverence that Japanese artists, poets and monks displayed towards the natural world around them.  Over recent years I have featured Australian elements in my paintings, endeavouring to reflect a similar sensitivity towards the natural world here in Nillumbik. 


Native flora and foliage features in my work

Perhaps it was the use of indigenous native flora and foliage within the layers in my work that struck a chord of connection with Leigh, like the inclusion of the typically Eltham round Red Box Gum leaves or the soft, misty green of the silver wattle that grows on the banks of the Diamond Creek.  Perhaps it was the bright yellow pom poms of Golden Wattle that cheerfully heralds the beginning of Spring at the end of a long Winter. Perhaps what Leigh recognised in that moment was a celebration of the bush treasures that surround us in Eltham; the beautiful native plants of varying shape, texture and colour that remind us of our own sense of home and place in this unique part of the world.

Historic map of Eltham

The process of creating this series of panels has been an unfolding journey,  each panel has seemed to take on a life of its own. Historic research, a series of interviews, sourcing local photos and on-site photography took me out of the studio on what felt like a treasure hunt. As each tale unfolded, I was able to sense a deeper and deeper personal connection to life here in this Shire. A connection that I hope has been relayed through this body of work, and a connection that I hope my 2.5 year old son will also experience as he grows up in this area.  

The newly installed body of 31 panels at the Eltham Cemetery

So to describe what this commissioned project actually looks like, “Our Eltham – Artistic Recollections” comprises a series of 31 ceramic panels, each measuring 70cm x 60cm, which have been installed into a rusted steel balustrade that runs above a 50 meter stone wall in the cemetery. 
The panels depict designs which incorporate a multi-layering of imagery including local landmarks of significance and of a collection of native plants that are indigenous to the Eltham area. 

A selection of tiles fresh out of the kiln after their third firing

Technically speaking, each panel is made up of 15 handcrafted ceramic tiles that piece together like the pieces in a jigsaw puzzle, to picture the overall design. The panel designs have been created digitally with some of the designs containing more than 90 layers of imagery.  The digital designs are then transposed into a decal (or transfer image) which is produced using glaze materials, that when fired, the image adheres permanently to the tiles. Metallic or Iridescent luster is later applied before a final firing. Each of the 465 tiles in the project have been fired up to 5 times before being mounted, grouted and installed in the cemetery.

Eltham, Shillinglaw Cottage, 1963. Photographer J T Collins

Kangaroo ground War Memorial Tower, 1930's

View at Hurstbridge, photographer Rose Stereograph Co.

As mentioned, the subject matter within this series of panels largely comprises a range of photographs of scenes and sites in around Eltham.  Some of the historic structures may be recognisable to you as many are still standing today: for example (Shillinglaw Cottage by the library, the War Memorial at Kangaroo Ground or the Monash bridge in Hurstbridge) 

These scenes may remind you of stories that your mothers, fathers, grandmothers or grandfathers may have told, or possibly some of your own memories and stories are ignited when you visually connect with a familiar place. I loved sharing completed panels with my family: here and abroad, and listening for their memories of the Red Rattler or the Eltham Barrel etc…..

Eltham Trestle Bridge, 1981. Photographer G.L.Coop

The Barrel Restaurant Main Rd, Eltham. Photographer Peter Willie 

The use of indigenous flowers in the panel designs symbolically reconnects us with our local area. Native wildflowers and foliage also represent the beauty of the natural world around us. The little jewels that seem to miraculously arrive from the invisible and for often a relatively short period of time gift humanity with their physical beauty. To witness the life of a flower – from a small shoot, to then bud, flower and over time the wilting and falling of that flower, allows us to reflect upon our own life span and the life cycles of every physical form on the planet.

The sweet smelling Chocolate lily or Dichopogon strictus

Local species reconnect us to our area without any reference to a particular decade or period. A chocolate lily remains a chocolate lily regardless of the invention of electricity, the motor car and bitumen roads which have physically changed the landscape of the area over recent centuries. A gum tree remains a gum tree over the passage of time yet due to its long lifespan can be perceived as a silent witness to the changing environment around us.

This project has been like a dipping back into a time capsule for me: a glimpse back into the past of "Our Eltham" and bringing it to the present day. Today we offer it as a gift for future generations to enjoy.

Perhaps reflecting on the collection of panels in “Our Eltham” may reawaken in you a sense of connection to this area, offering you your own individual experience of home and place in this unique part of the world.

A selection of panels from the collection

On behalf of Linda and myself, we’d love to extend heartfelt thank you to:
The members of the Eltham Cemetery Trust and secretaries Rita and Julia for the wonderful opportunity to undertake this commission and for all of your support every step of the way.
Thank you to Leigh Wykes for your vision, support and unwavering belief.
 Thank you to also to the Eltham District Historical Society, Eltham Library and Andrew Ross Museum who, amoung others kindly granted permission for the use of our selection of historic photographs.
Thank you to John and Eillish at Decal Specialists for your assistance and expertise.
To Amanda Gibson for your wonderful talent with the design and layout towards the book
….. and everyone else who has contributed to this project over the last 18 months.  The incredible support from so many members of you, the community only strengthens the project title, Our Eltham.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Divine Nature

Divine Nature


What a delightful surprise to come home to a gorgeous magazine in the letterbox..... Even more of a surprise to find a seven page feature article of my work and art studio within its glossy pages!

I took these photos as I opened the magazine for the first time and posted them here so as to give you the experience of a similar 'quick flick' through the magazine. 
A month or so ago, I had such a lovely time in an interview for this story - but of course, like any interview, the article and choice of photo's are well out of the artist's hands. It is a great honour to have been so clearly heard and represented.

This Autumn issue of 'Yarra Valley & Ranges' is available through and will be available digitally when the next issue is released.

I'd love to extend and enormous thank you to Kristen Lee for her invitation to be a part of this publication and her beautiful way with words and to Celeste Faltyn for her accompanying photos.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Recent News

Recent News...

Over the past year I’ve been working on a very exciting new project that has taken me out of my own studio and into a collaboration with the very talented ceramic artist, Linda Detoma. Together we are in the process of completing a body of 30 individual ceramic panels as part of a new development at the Eltham Cemetery.  Construction on the “Grevillea Memorial” has already begun with the creation of a 50 meter stone embankment crafted by local stonemason Leigh Wykes and the erection of a rusted steel balustrade along the length of the stone wall. The ceramic panels that Linda and I are in the process of completing will be positioned along this balustrade above individual burial sites. Linda has carefully handcrafted a set of 15 clay tiles which will then make up each 70cm x 60cm panel.  She is assisting me in translating my designs onto the tiles through a combination of glazes, lusters and 

Hand made tiles

Imagery on these panels depict a multi-layering of local historic photographs and native floral images, which are indigenous to this area, arranged in a design that embodies cultural significance and interest. It is our intention that the panels emit a calming and peaceful influence allowing the viewer to quietly contemplate the imagery on the panels as well as reflect on his or her own layers of story and memories.  The works also engage the audience in a celebration of this unique and fascinating shire of Nillumbik.  

It’s an absolute honour to have been invited to design these panels as Eltham and its surrounds has been my home for as long as I can recall.  It is fascinating to ponder on what life would have been like over the last 150+ years since the Eltham Cemetery opened.  From fire to flood, from gold mining to wheat harvesting, from the horse and cart to the motor car, and from the Shillinglaw Cottage to Montsalvat, these photographs offers us today a connection with our past. Local historical imagery allow us to contemplate the myriad of both meaningful and colourful tales that our dearly departed forefathers would have perhaps told. I am also incorporating images of local current day subjects into some of the panels and therefore giving this generation a connection to their own stories too. Those living in or familiar with Eltham will have their own memories of Montsalvat, trips out to the Kangaroo Ground Memorial Tower and rides on the infamous ‘Miniature Railway’. I’m also thoroughly enjoying interviewing a number of elders and individuals in the Shire with a fascinating story to tell.  

Local historic photographs for possible use within the panels. Images thanks to the Eltham Historical Society and the Eltham Library

The use of indigenous flowers in the designs for the Grevillea Memorial symbolically reconnects us with our local area. Native wildflowers and foliage also represent the beauty of the natural world around us. The little jewels that seem to miraculously arrive from the invisible and for often a relatively short period of time gift humanity with their physical beauty. To witness the life of a flower – from a small shoot, to then bud, flower and over time the wilting and falling of that flower, allows us to reflect upon our own life span and the life cycles of every physical form on the planet.  Local species reconnects us to our area without any reference to a particular decade or period. A chocolate lily remains a chocolate lily regardless of the invention of electricity, the motor car and bitumen roads which have physically changed the landscape of the area over recent centuries. A gum tree remains a gum tree over the passage of time yet due to its long lifespan can be perceived as a silent witness to the changing environment around us.

A selection of photographs of local flora that I have taken for reference for the project.

The project is expected to be finished in mid 2017, so I’ll keep you updated as to the grand opening!!!

From the Studio...

Motherhood and Creativity

When I had my little one a year and a half ago, I somewhat naively imagined that I would be able to simply strap him to my front and keep on painting. This huge shift from how life was, to a completely new reality is of course nothing new for all mums out there, but no matter how many times I was told, I still thought, 'how hard can it be??' While I was able to take Miró to the studio and paint while he slept, I was only getting 20 minutes of painting done at a time. Not so handy when a huge '20 painting' exhibition is looming on the calendar! Thankfully my beautiful mum and dad were able to help and as my studio is on the same land as their home, I was able to then get two hour painting sessions completed between feeds. For this I will be ever grateful. 

Early days with baby Miró in the Studio

While Miró is my most precious of creation to date, painting to me is like food for the soul and a necessary life activity for survival. The blessing of a small person finely tunes the awareness of the important balance between creativity and other daily activities. 

Now that Miró is walking and beginning to explore he loves to join me in the studio to create his own artwork or explore the surrounding bush land. I'm glad that this little one is being exposed to the necessary element of creativity in all of our lives.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Nillumbik Artists Open Studios November 2016

Nillumbik Artists Open Studios Artists Exhibit

"Join us at the Eltham Library Community Gallery as the Nillumbik Artists Open Studios Artists exhibit a taster collection of artworks. Exhibition runs from Thursday October 27th  to Monday 21st November. Check library website for opening hours here… "

It seems to come around so quickly.  The November season of Open Studios has just been kicked off with the opening of the group exhibition..


19th & 20th | 26 & 27th November 2016

"One of the beauties of this collective program is the diversity of practices and personalities that are all tied together by a common thread, the love of the landscape. Painters, illustrators, ceramicists and print-makers alike culminate to make a rich tapestry of multi-disciplinary artworks that can be discovered at your own pace, studio by studio."

This brand new year of Open Studio's introduces nine new artists to the program as well as the launch of a new website for Nillumbik Artists Open Studios that  encourages visitors to explore and map their very own artistic trail. "We are taking you on a journey to pockets of the beautiful Nillumbik Shire that have yet been traversed by this program such as Plenty and Nutfield, so pick up a coffee and engage in an adventure!"

This season, my studio is listed as Studio Number 10.
220 Long Gully Road (cnr Bakehouse Road, Panton Hill.  Love to see you there!!!

From an article in the Herald Sun, here is a photo of me in my studio.  An excerpt of the article as follows...

"ARTIST Nerina Lascelles doesn't have to look far from her purpose built mud brick studio for inspiration.

While her art has a distinctly Japanese feel, she enjoys painting uniquely Australian flora, the kind that surrounds her Panton Hill studio.  Lascelles studied drawing and painting at art school, but when she went looking for something more she was drawn to the Asian ethos of less.
"I started looking at different cultures and travelled through several Asian countries," she said.
"I went to Tibet and made mandalas with the Buddhist monks, which was an incredible experience, but when I got to Japan I thought 'I have found it'. There is a simplicity that comes with the Japanese style."

For the past 10 years Lascelles has been influenced by the sacred arts of a number of Asian countries. She has labelled her Japanese inspired work Japonism - "the influence of the arts of Japan on artists in the west"." ....... (read more)