After two wine tastings and a gallery viewing, we were all about ready for lunch.
To my delight, the lunch venue was the lovely Healesville Hotel. Not only is this the grand dame of pub dining rooms in the area, but Healesville was one of the towns affected by the tragic Black Saturday bushfires in 2009. With our lunch I felt like I was doing a little bit to support and rebuild the local community.
Our meal was medium-cooked steaks with creamy mashed potatoes, a slice of lemon tart with cream and of course another glass of wine. The food was pretty good but not really to my taste if I’d been given a choice. I’m not generally a steak person and RM in particular likes his steak rare so found the meat a bit chewy.
The lemon tart was beautifully silken but marred slightly by a too-thick crust. However, it’s a bit harsh to judge a venue on mass-produced fare it needs to cook for 30 people at the same time, so don’t let my so-so assessment put you off eating there.
After a post-lunch stroll on the main street of Healesville, which revealed pretty food and homewares stores, we hopped back on the bus for a snooze on the drive back to Heide Museum of Modern Art.
Although not strictly in the Yarra Valley, it made sense to visit the gallery as it’s enroute back to Melbourne. The museum is also currently showing ‘Cubism & Australian Art’ until 8 April, the first exhibition of its kind in Australia.
We visited the main gallery in Heide III before moving to Heide II. In Heide III, these works stood out for me:
- Indigenous artist Gordon Bennett’s self portrait. Against a background of digitised Aboriginal dot paintings, Bennett has taken the African masks that Picasso effectively misappropriated in his first painting Les demoiselles d’Avignon and used them to cover his own face. This symbol makes a political statement about Western culture misappropriating and hiding Aboriginal culture over the centuries and provides an opportunity for him reclaim that culture in his own work.
- Banner by Rosalie Gascoigne. The artist had taken road signs and floral blue linoleum to evoke the atmosphere of the Australian landscape, with the red slashes of paint on the signs giving an almost violent, ‘Wild West’ aspect to the work.
- ‘Untitled’ by Jacky Redgate. A cubist still life with flat plans converted back into three dimensions to give a solid form to the empty space between three household items – a glass, a wine bottle and a bowl and saucer – to create a unified whole.
- ‘The Football Match’ by Roy de Maistre. While the work itself, of footballers playing a game, didn’t really strike me, I was impressed that Patrick White dedicated his first book Happy Valley to de Maistre and his Figure in a Garden (The Aunt) was used as the cover of White’s The Aunt’s Story.
On my way out I strolled around the fabulous gift shop (looove gallery shops) and bought a jar of honey harvested on site by Heide’s bee keeper Vincent Testa ($7.50) – all proceeds go back to the gallery. And then it was time to take our happy and tired selves home.
I thought that the NGV Artbus was a really enjoyable day out for only $75 ($80 for non members). We were ferried all around the Yarra Valley and spent a beautiful sunny day being culturally educated, wine educated and well fed. I really hope that the NGV continues to run the tours on the weekends to other locations so that us nine-to-fivers have the opportunity to travel with them again.