About Glenfern

Glenfern is a historic National Trust property located in St Kilda East. It is now a significant centre for arts and culture in Melbourne that houses:

  • Glenfern Writers' Studios. These studios are a joint venture between Writers Victoria and the National Trust (VIC), providing short-term, low-cost space in a peaceful environment conducive to writing.
  • The Team of Pianists. This group have been part-time artists-in-residence at Glenfern since 2002. They use Glenfern for their offices, solo and chamber piano recitals, and masterclasses.

Facilities

Aside from the studios, facilities at Glenfern include a kitchen, common room and two large reception rooms.

History

Glenfern is a Victorian Gothic villa built in 1857. From 1876 to 1901, it was home to the Boyd family. The painter Arthur Merric Boyd grew up there, married the painter Emma Minne a Beckett and founded the Boyd dynasty of painters, potters, writers and musicians. Glenfern was given to the National Trust in 1984 by Miss Amy Ostberg, whose family had owned the property since 1907. See the National Trust’s description of Glenfern for a more detailed history.

Setting up the writers' studios

In 2003, a Melbourne writer, Iola Mathews, approached the National Trust of Australia (Vic) to see if they had a small room she could use to work in. They offered her a room at Glenfern free of charge if she could help them find a use for the largely empty mansion.

Iola developed the concept of a writers’ house and invited Writers Victoria to administer it. Over the next two years she used the studio and was largely responsible for the fundraising, working with Joel Becker at Writers Victoria and the National Trust. In 2005-6 Glenfern was renovated to provide the studios and meeting rooms. The renovations were carried out with financial assistance from the Pratt Foundation, the Helen Macpherson Smith Trust, the Victorian Government (Arts Victoria and Heritage Victoria) and the National Trust of Australia (Vic.)

The centre was opened in September 2006 by the then Minister for the Arts, The Hon. Mary Delahunty MP, the then Chair of the National Trust (Vic) Dianne Weidner OAM, the Chief Executive of the Pratt Foundation, Sam Lipski AM, and the Director of Writers Victoria, Joel Becker.