The Arlis/ANZ ACT chapter had a fabulous time in Goulburn on our art road trip (Saturday 13 June).
We met up at Grit Café for a quick coffee, and to confirm our itinerary and marvel at the Big Merino.
Our first destination was The House of Alpaca, we had a factory tour of their historical building and watched the weaving looms make different throw rugs, fringing and all. Their company has a herd of about 300 Alpacas just over the ridge in Wheeo, but the weaving is done at the Goulburn factory. The spinners are located in New Zealand, but the Australian industry is trying to revive the production plants, to make local yarn production possible. Along with woven Alpaca fibre products, sheepskin Rigdi Didge ugg boots are made in the factory, the dies for each foot size hang on the workshop wall like vertical footprints. There are 16 colours of Alpaca, and the coloured fibre is washed in Melbourne – there is only one place that can undertake this process as other factories cannot risk the colour contamination in their machinery.
There were so many steps involved in processing the yarn and then doing the weaving and finishing. When the yarn reaches the factory, it is wound onto pirns (like bobbins). Hundreds of pirns are put onto the creel and then threaded to the 1972 Dornier machine (which came from New Zealand and previously made fabric for the Lord of the Rings films). As the weaving process occurs, the machine refers to a pattern on a cartridge (looks like a piano roll), so that the rugs don’t get too long! Each rug takes about 8 minutes, but this doesn’t factor in the growing/yarn process, as well as time to thread up hundreds of pirns, plus monitoring the production and fixing any breaks or jams. Fabric is brushed on a separate machine with teasel brushes, which are made from 400 dried thistles!
We enjoyed a fantastic morning tea, it was a great spread with fruit, sandwiches, fairy cakes, scones, slice and more. We bought lots of alpaca products – to support local business but it’s also good weather timing for slippers and blankets! It was great to learn about the journey from “paddock to product”.
Sated with sandwiches and slice, we set off to explore the town before our next rendezvous.
The St Clair Villa Museum & Archives are opposite The House of Alpaca. Eleanor was amused to see a grenade in their social history exhibition – carefully labelled as “used”! (we assumed it was no longer active) The archives are an important resource for Goulburn, as they are “…the only place you can get your house’s original plans.”
Most of the group took a short walk to The Argyle Book Emporium, which is a wondrous cavernous bookshop in the old Police station. The architecture is amazing – it even still has the old strong-doors – but it’s the volume and variety of books, records and comics that make it a must-see (plus an obvious go-to for a group of art librarians). Vicki found a beautiful orchid book and Kate had a great swag of titles.
Vicki, Margaret and June hunted for Accolade Antiques (Auburn Street) but it was no longer there. They found Michael at the nearby Vinnies and Red Cross op shops, where there were some great finds with reasonable prices, and a whole dancing costume! Eleanor, Debbie and Megan tried to find Yarra Glen Pottery (Ada Street) but they also had no luck. Vicki, Margaret and June stopped off at Goulburn’s Antiques & Collectables (Hume Street) on the way home and bought a very nice old iron to use as a door stop.
Janette and Angie tried all the chutneys at the markets. Eleanor found the little bumper cars very enticing, but decided she was over the maximum height requirement.
The Wunderkammer exhibition at Goulburn Regional Art Gallery was very moving, and really showed the impact of hunting as well as giving a new perspective on the traditional wunderkammer. We really enjoyed the walk-through and talk by Angela D’Elia (Curator and Exhibitions Officer), which gave us better insight and appreciation of the artist’s aims and process.
We spent the rest of the afternoon seeing the public art, the walking brochures were really helpful. There is a full suite of guides including “Art in public places”, cultural features, bike rides and roses! The pretty Visit Goulburn book can also be viewed on issuu.
It was a speedy trip home, Goulburn was really worth the visit. We hope to see the upcoming Rosalie Gascoigne exhibition (opening this Friday) at Goulburn Regional Art Gallery soon.
Thanks to Kate, Eleanor, Vicki, and Sonja for the photos.