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Sharing a vision - Nick Bailey and Ernst Fries.Ember Fairbairn-Ramsay inspired Odette Coe with her encaustic work.Sharing a vision – Nick Bailey and Ernst Fries.Ember Fairbairn-Ramsay inspired Odette Coe with her encaustic work.

By Kath Gannaway
WHILE visitor numbers for the Yarra Valley Open Studios double weekend are still being crunched, artists and visitors say they enjoyed the more relaxed pace of the event.
It is the first year the event, held on 10-11 and 17-18 September, has opened over two weekends since starting in 2009.
“It was twice the work and commitment for the artists, but a lot of the feedback we have already is that visitors enjoyed being able to spend more time and have more intimate discussions with the artists about their art,” said YVOS spokeswoman and participating artist Nicola Stairmand.
Nick Bailey, a 22-year-old aspiring sculptor from Glen Iris found an instant mentor, and inspiration, in veteran sculptor Ernst Fries at his Yarra Glen studio.
“It reminds you why you are doing it,” Mr Bailey said. “When you look at your desk-size sculptures and then see someone with a bit of space, fantastic tools, and these gynormous, beautiful sculptures, it is great inspiration and encouragement,” he said.
Mr Fries recalled “I did my first sculpture in the kitchen … to the annoyance of my wife. That was 48 years ago.”
Odette Coe, on holiday from England, waxed lyrical about the encaustic work of Ember Fairbairn-Ramsay.
The Yarra Junction painter happily shared her knowledge of a media she said was one of the oldest in Australia and was just starting to have a revival.
“I think the two weekends encouraged people to spend longer because it didn’t feel crowded, and people asked more questions.”
Healesville artist Mim Kocher had the same experience.
“I had 150 people visit and that they stayed longer and were more inquisitive,” she said.
Ms Stairmand said the event created exposure for the Yarra Valley’s many artists, and an opportunity to sell their work.
“While we are very happy that artists do sell their works, the whole idea of the Open Studios is that interaction between the artist and visitors.
“Those discussions that go on are what it is really about,” she said.

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