Obscura Day 2010 – William Ricketts Sanctuary

This past Saturday my boyfriend and I joined Wayne and two of his friends at William Ricketts Sanctuary for the Melbourne Obscura Day tour. Getting to the Sanctuary took about 1.5 hours by train and car from the center of Melbourne, and it actually would’ve taken even longer if Wayne hadn’t generously responded to my last minute cry for carpooling (thanks Wayne!) – but seeing the Sanctuary definitely made up for every minute of travel time. When I first read about William Ricketts Sanctuary on Atlas Obscura, I knew immediately that I wanted to go there for Obscura Day because it looked so beautiful. And the Sanctuary was not only enchanting and serene, but almost mystical as well. William Ricketts, the artistic mastermind behind the Sanctuary, had a profound respect for nature, aboriginal culture, and the divine – and the Sanctuary was the embodiment of his philosophy.

William Ricketts Sanctuary - "Atirantuka Winged Figure"

The trees towered majestically over us. It was a perfect, clear day.

William Ricketts SanctuaryWilliam Ricketts Sanctuary

In addition to all the lovely sculptures, William Ricketts also scattered his writings throughout the Sanctuary:

In all this sanctuary there is
one theme only
reverence for life
in the
new world environment

William Ricketts SanctuaryWilliam Ricketts Sanctuary

Life is Love. All you to all me, for being part of nature we are all brothers to the birds and trees.

Will you then join with us in the sacredness of beauty, because at our highest we are part of the beauty of the world, we know we are part of its Creator and Designer and so in this expression of our minds and hearts and hands we give back to God what emanates from God.

William Ricketts SanctuaryWilliam Ricketts Sanctuary

William Ricketts SanctuaryWilliam Ricketts Sanctuary

Stu checked out the details on this beautiful archway…

William Ricketts Sanctuary

…and Wayne snapped a photo of a “betrayal” themed sculpture – a figure of a man wearing a headpiece made out of bullets, with animal corpses flowing from his feet.

William Ricketts Sanctuary

At Ricketts’ kiln – all the sculptures in the Sanctuary are made of clay, kiln-fired to 1200 degrees Celsius.

William Ricketts Sanctuary - Kiln

a pure imagination
born to man in a slate of
true freedom
and wrought in fire

is to be desired
above all things

William Ricketts SanctuaryWilliam Ricketts Sanctuary

At the Gallery, we got to appreciate Ricketts’ work in a very different setting.

William Ricketts Sanctuary - GalleryWilliam Ricketts Sanctuary - Gallery

This is probably one of my favorite sculptures in the entire Sanctuary, just because it was so unexpected. I walked by it on my way into the Gallery and actually thought for a moment that it was a real bird!

William Ricketts Sanctuary - Gallery

You would not like to be jailed
for the rest of your life
the bird and you have life
and life comes from that (life giver)
my life here expresses life’s freedom

William Ricketts Sanctuary - Gallery CourtyardWilliam Ricketts Sanctuary

May we consecrate the Australian bush and speak both for and of it as poems of God. May the power of abundant living be so great in us, and our God-given imagination so quickened, that, having read this message we become crusaders in the supreme quest of true beauty.

Man is nature’s masterpiece, therefore claim your inheritance by giving her the co-operation you owe.

William Ricketts Sanctuary - "Earthly Mother"William Ricketts Sanctuary

Nearing the end of the one-hour loop, Stu and I chuckled at the whimsy of the mailbox and donation box by the Visitor Centre –

William Ricketts Sanctuary - Mailbox?William Ricketts Sanctuary - Donation Box

Having experienced his work in all its brilliance, I made sure that my last photo of the day was of William Ricketts’ portrait in the Visitor Centre.

William Ricketts

And now, five days after the visit to William Ricketts Sanctuary, I looked over all these photos and realized anew the beauty of this place, like a breathe of fresh air through my soul.

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