The Duldig Studio is a most unusual museum – because it’s housed in…a house.
From the outside it looks like any other residence on a residential street in Malvern. Go beyond the gates and you’ll find the building filled with artwork and antique furniture, a most restful and interesting sculpture garden at the back and the studio of the Polish sculptor Karl Duldig and his artist-inventor wife, Slawa Duldig (who invented the first foldable umbrella – isn’t that a great factoid for a trivia night!).
You can visit The Duldig Studioonly by appointment usually so I was most excited when NGV recently held an event at the studio. NGV’s Melbourne Winter Masterpieces exhibition ‘Vienna: Art & Design, Klimt, Schiele, Hoffmann, Loos‘ is on at the moment and Karl Duldig’s work, Mask (1921), is included in the exhibition. Furthermore The Duldig Studio have also curated an accompanying exhibition called ‘The Duldigs in Vienna‘. Both Karl and Slawa studied in Vienna before World War II and escaped the Nazis by way of Singapore to settle in Australia in the 1940s.
The event comprised an insightful behind-the-scenes tour with Eva de Jong-Duldig- director of the not-for-profit museum, only child of Karl and Slawa, writer and international professional tennis player. She shared many personal anecdotes about her parents and the stories about many of the artworks on show, including how her father used to sculpt using potatoes when he had no other materials to use.
The entrance room, along with parts of the original house, have been turned into a museum that holds a large collection of sculptures, paintings, drawings and decorative arts by the Duldigs and other artists. The interior of the Duldig’s apartment in Vienna has been recreated in one of the rooms. The only reason that artworks and furniture from the pre-war period are in Australia now is because Slawa’s sister married a Frenchman and she had the wherewithal to pack up all of the Duldig’s possesions and transport them for safekeeping in France when the Duldigs fled Europe.
My favourite part of the gallery though was the sculpture garden. You can see the diversity of the Duldig’s craft, from abstract sculptures to keen likenesses, dotted all over the lawn and in unexpected nooks and crannies.
I particularly liked two sculptures – the bronze abstract torso and the portrait sculpture with the flaring of the metal, which was apparently a mistake but actually enhances the expression of the subject I think.
The studio has been pretty much left as is, with old tools, a small fireplace and kiln and rows and rows of sculptures on display. You really get a sense of what it would have been like working in such a space.
If you have an interest in sculpture then The Duldig Studio is a unique insight into a sculptor’s work. I recommend combining your visit with a poke around some of the nice-looking cafes and shops on Burke Road nearby – it’ll be a lovely way to spend a day.
The Duldig Studio, 92 Burke Rd, Malvern East +61 3 9885 3358
Individuals and group visits are hosted by appointment.
Preferred Visiting Hours:Tuesday to Thursday 10.30am – 3.00pm, Saturday 1.00 – 4.00pm