Tradition and Innovation: Art and Craft at the Huon Show
Going to the Huon Show has been a Huon Valley tradition for nearly 70 years.
It’s a once-a-year opportunity for Huon Valley locals to fly through the air on an exhilarating (stomach-churning) ride, buy a sugar stuffed show-bag, win a giant teddy in side-show alley and savour a delicious ‘dagwood dog’.
“Wait a minute,” I hear you say. We can do that in any fun-fair across the country. What makes the Huon Show so special?
Well it is special and the reason is this: The Huon Show is truly a showcase of the creativity going on quietly throughout the year in our amazing community.
The heart and soul of the Huon Valley can be found in the Home Industries, Horticulture and Schools Exhibitions.
Flowers and Floral Art
The Flowers and Floral Art exhibition is organised by Phyllis Buxton who is a veteran of the Huon Show. Phyllis was crowned Huon Showgirl in 1963 and her memories of being part of the show go back to the early 1950s when the Show was held at the sportsgrounds in Huonville before moving to its permanent site at Ranalagh in 1956. Phyllis recalls helping her father, WG Lorkin, organise the chopping blocks for the woodchopping competition at the Huonville site.
Phyllis’s sister, Marlene Burles also has a long association with the show, winning the sponge cake competition when she about 9 or 10. The family’s connection with the Huon Show has continued right through to the youngest generation, with Phyllis’s granddaughter Natasha Woolley winning the trophy for most highest accumulated points in the Flowers and Floral Art competition.
Natasha has grown up immersed in preparations for the floral displays, and while the elders were busy organising she was happily arranging, absorbing a passion for floral art that led to her being the 2015 winner of the Allan Buxton Memorial Trophy.
Allan Buxton was Natasha’s grandfather, Phyllis’s husband, and the creation of a memorial trophy in his name is an acknowledgement of all the hard work he put into show preparations over many years.
As the Huon Show is held in spring it is a perfect time for flowers, and walking into the pavilion is a feast for the senses. Roses were popular, as single flawless specimens as well as creative arrangements. Rhododendrons, lilacs, lupins, irises, Australian natives, ferns, cacti, alstroemeria and much more were on display in a kaleidoscope of colour and fragrance.
The children and teenager’s section offered some unusual arrangements, and the ‘Animals Made from Vegetables’ were both ingenious and hilarious.
Fierce competition in the cooking and fibre crafts competitions keep the standard very high. Newcomers are always welcomed but experienced entrants such as local quilter Jane Walduck, are hard to beat as the standard is very high.
While traditional crafts such as cross-stitch, quilting, knitting, crochet and embroidery are always well represented, there is nothing stale or out of date as these crafts are endlessly re-invented and re-imagined by enthusiasts. And there is no shortage of local people who take justifiable pride in their outstanding achievements.
Dazzling and skillful displays of colour, texture, form and meaning are a testament to both the enduring and the evolving nature of these traditional crafts, and the dedication and creative flair of those who practice them.
Huon Valley schools are as good if not better than any in the country. Look beyond reductionist testing regimes and politically motivated yearning for a return to the three ‘Rs’, and you will see an astounding depth of creative awareness, aesthetic sensibility and raw talent in the Schools Pavilion.
Huonville High School already has an established reputation for the high quality of its art production, having recently exhibited students’ work to the public at the Huon Linc.
Encompassing a range of media and styles, the Huonville High School art display was outstanding.
The cake decorating competition produced some extraordinary examples of that culinary art. Geeveston Primary School led the field which is a reflection of their dedicated cooking program and skill of their kitchen coordinator Annie Winchester.