In the legend of King Arthur and the knights of the round table Montsalvat is the home of the Holy Grail. Australia's Montsalvat is an artists' colony in Eltham, established by the architect and artist Justus Jorgensen in 1934. It is home to over a dozen buildings, houses and halls built out of local stone, recycled timbers and rammed earth and set amongst richly established gardens on 12 acres of land on the outskirts of Melbourne. The colony of Montsalvat is a testament to the vision and work of Jorgensen, his family and friends and its detailed history reflects the lives of those people. But it is more than a set of beautiful buildings - it is a place steeped in the art and culture of Melbourne. And to walk around its grounds is to step into a bygone world where such a grand plan seemed more achievable. Perhaps that is why Montsalvat has created its own myths and legends. In addition to Jorgensen and his family, among the artists, intellectuals, tradespeople and artisans associated with life at Montsalvat are numbered Clifton Pugh, Gordon Ford and Joe Hannan, Betty Roland, Mervyn Skipper, his wife Lena and their three children - Helen, Sonia and Matcham. Arthor Munday, George Charlmers, Lesley Sinclair, Sue Vanderkelen, Ian Robertson, Helen Lempriere, John Smith, John Busst and Myra Skipper, Percy Leason, Leonard French and Albert Tucker. Montsalvat today is a place where emerging and established artists can work, present and perform their work. Its visual features are enjoyed by tourists from around the world, and its buildings are classified by the National Trust of Victoria. The Australian Heritage Commission includes Montsalvat on the Australian Register of National Estate.
Sigmund Jorgensen AO is the son of Justus Jorgensen, the founder of the Eltham artist's colony Monsalvat. Mr Jorgensen was chief executive and artistic director of Monsalvat from 1969 to 2005 during which time he made the arts centre a haven for local and international artists. He helped found the Monsalvat Melbourne Jazz Festival, was a judge at the Melbourne Asian Food Festival, was mayor of the Nillumbik Shire and worked as a food critic for the Melbourne Times. He also ran the award winning restaurant Clichy in Collingwood.