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Duldig Studio
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Karl Duldig
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Scultor - Karl Duldig

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Duldig Studio museum + sculpture garden

Duldig Studio museum + sculpture garden

92 Burke Road, Malvern
Open to the public Tuesdays, Thursdays and 2nd Saturday of every month 1pm to 4pm (Guided Tour at 2.00 pm)
Closed Public Holidays.
General Entry and Guided Tours - $20 ($15 Concession) or Gold Coin Donation on Open Saturdays
Children under 12 are welcome under the supervision of an adult and receive free admission.
Webiste: Duldig Studio

This modest house and studio celebrates the remarkable work of sculptor Karl Duldig (1902-1986) and his wife - artist and inventor Slawa Duldig née Horowitz (c1902-1975).

Duldig Studio museum + sculpture garden


This short article was first published as Melbourne's Hidden Gems No.639 In the White Hat Melbourne Newsletter No. 581 on 13th April 2013

In Melbourne we often take things for granted. For instance every day, thousands of people pass through Kew junction. Few notice the monument of a bronze bust on a stone base and those who do possibly dismiss it as yet another minor councillor from the past. After all, Melbourne is full of dead white males on plinths.

The Duldig Studio Similarly, thousands of people a day pass along Burke Road Malvern and possibly don’t notice the small ’studio’ sign on a modest house opposite the large park. After all there are lots of studios around Melbourne. However this deserves closer examination. The artists who lived and worked there were part of a remarkable generation who had a major influence on Melbourne’s cultural life. Karl was of Polish/Austrian/Jewish background and met his wife Slawa - also an artist - in Vienna. Their artistic careers were progressing well and in fact Karl had sent off a number of works for exhibition in Paris when the Nazis came to power. A hasty exit was arranged via Switzerland to Singapore. There on the other side of the world in a British enclave things ought to be safe. However because they were travelling on German passports they were deported to the Tatura Alien Internment Camp in Tatura near Shepparton. As it turned out that was probably a better alternative to staying for the Japanese occupation of Singapore and Tatura became a virtual university with its concentration of highly skilled and educated Europeans. Karl was released in 1942 to join the Home Guard and he and Slawa were naturalized in 1946.

Together with their young daughter Eva they moved into Acland Street St Kilda and he as a sculptor and she as a painter lived on the smell of an oil rag - or rather a turpsy rag. There was no point applying for an arts grant - such things were still 25 years in the future - but they both could teach and the relatively long holidays allowed them to pursue their sculpting and painting respectively. Although it has become fashionable for certain people involved with the arts in Australia to despise sport (reserving the word ‘games’ as an ultimate putdown) this was not the case with Karl. He has been Austrian national table tennis champion and played soccer and tennis at international level while his daughter reached the quarter finals at Wimbledon. It is not surprising therefore that his sculpture often exhibits a muscular energy.

The couple would later move to Malvern where they set up their studio.

In the meantime, a remarkable number of talented Europeans, many of Jewish background, had been dispersed to Australia as a result of the war. The entire Vienna Boys Choir was ‘stranded’ here and many of them went on to make major cultural contributions to Australian life. The European rigour and mastery of craft formed a useful counterbalance to the less inhibited (but less well-grounded) creativity of the locals.

Numbers of the couple’s early works were lost due to the hurried fleeing from the Nazis. However in 1961, some previously unopened crates were opened in a gallery in Paris. They contained the works Karl had sent off to Paris (and had presumed lost) just before leaving Vienna.

So next time you find yourself near Kew junction wander over and have a look the memorial. Whoops - it’s starting to rain - better put up that small foldable umbrella - did you know that the small foldable umbrella was invented and patented by Slawa? - as I said we tend to take a lot of things for granted in Melbourne. The Memorial is Karl’s last work created at the age of 83 and is to Raoul Wallenberg. Wallenberg, was an architect and businessman who rescued tens of thousands of European Jews from the Nazis in Hungary (possibly ten times more than the popularly known Oskar Schindler) and you can find monuments to him around the world. He is believed to have been imprisoned and killed by the Russian Communists in 1945 during the ‘liberation’ of Hungary. It is no surprise then that Karl Duldig would choose this monument as his last public work.

If you would like to see Karl and Slawa’s studio together with numbers of their works, it is open to the public at the times listed above. Even if the art is not to your taste, we recommend a visit to remind yourself of a generation that helped make Melbourne what it is today.

(Since this article was first published,  Raoul Wallenberg has been made Australia's first Honorary Citizen)

Raoul Wallenberg memorial

The Raoul Wallenberg memorial in Kew by Karl Duldig

Some forthcoming exhibitions and events at Duldig Studio museum + sculpture garden:

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