Descending the well trodden pathway between the vines, varying pieces exhibited in a formal fashion but irregularly spaced appear small in the landscape of which they are but small individually they are not. Covering an array of mediums the works by established sculptors draw you further on down, the sculptural forms on display within the estate are in part that of the Montalto permanent collection as well as other work identified by black signs noting they’re available for purchase, these works consist of the annual sculpture prize finalists.
Entering the gully the topography changes abruptly from the greenwashed declivity of the grassy vine covered slope to a beautiful woodland patch of Australian bush, the undergrowth a marshy result of the billabong catching water from the appropriately named Waterholes Creek, bird life within the hallow is abundant. The dense foliage a veil to the path that winds within, where works both stare out at you and attempt to hide, the latter showing only for those willing to seek. Graeme Altman’s Shielded standing almost 10 foot in height leads meanderers to pause in their tracks both encouraging you to look closer and ponder the intrinsic pattern yet playing on the human mindset as an indication to stop. Whilst farther along Micheal Shiell’s Fools Vessel bridges a small brook like a long forgotten indigenous artifact albeit in the medium of steel reinforcement mesh.
The view from the platform across the billabong providing a moment of peace, a pause for calm as the water laps at the reeds, central in the foreground stands Cloak by Fredrick White pointing upwards to a clear view of open sky the bushland had otherwise obscured. The boscage gives way to the sloping hillside at the base of which stand several A-frame trellis’, the ground underneath a soft bed of fern. These are apart of Montalto’s sprawling kitchen garden some of which was established twenty years ago by Andrew Laidlaw, landscape architect to Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens. Hens make noise and run for cover inside the enclosed orchard on one side of the sloping hill line, the top of which provides an overview of the estate, a moment of solace before again descending into the gully.