One of the leadlight windows Bob made for his home in Yarck.
By Emily Friedel
TUCKED AWAY in a shed beside the Maroondah Highway, retired policeman Bob Ashe makes elegant leadlight panels. Bob’s little workshop is packed full, but tidy, and his own paintings – including a portrait of Bob Marley – sit above his bench.
It was around 30 years ago, at an adult education course in Healesville, that Bob first tried his hand at the craft of came glasswork. He attended the class to learn how to make leadlight windows for his home at the time.
“And it just evolved from that,” he says. “People wanted some for their places, and I made them as presents for a while.”
While he was still on active duty, Bob used leadlight and other creative hobbies to provide balance in his life.
“In the police force, you’ve got a lot of paperwork and bits and pieces but nothing tangible at the end of the day. At the end of the day in the workshop you get to see something physical you have manufactured,” he says.
Now, in his retirement, the leadlight is a selfsupporting hobby. Bob keeps himself occupied crafting everything from feature windows to leadlight-bordered mirrors, with design inspiration ranging from art nouveau to the Australian bush. His gum leaf and kookaburra motifs are among his most popular, he says. Timberwork is another artisan activity Bob carries out in his little workshop. He sometimes combines the woodwork and leadlight,
producing wooden furniture with decorative glass panels – such as a food safe style cabinet with glass instead of mesh.
“I enjoy combining Australian hardwoods with Australian patterns,” he says.
Bob’s artistic tendencies extend beyond his shed, too, and he’s an enthusiastic member of the local art community. Most Mondays he attends the Eildon Art Club gatherings, and his work has been on display in various galleries around Murrindindi Shire.He also exhibits at the annual Alexandra Rotary Art Show.
Bob was also the mastermind behind Yarck’s first ever art show which ran over the Queen’s Birthday weekend earlier this year. Bob organised the show to raise funds for the ongoing costs of running Yarck Hall. Artists from all over the Murrindindi Shire exhibited their works – everything from sculpture to jewellery. Almost 200 pieces were on display, and 34 of those sold, raising close to $3000 for the hall.
Yarck became home for Bob and his wife, Kaye, a few years ago after moving from Eildon, and the desire to decorate is still alive and well. At their new house, a window produced in Bob’s modest workshop – a simple but striking rose design – greets visitors at the front door.
Story kindly supplied by Murrindindi Guide