Slow food market and Abbotsford Convent Open Day Today

The marvellous slow food market is on at the Convent today — get a rhubarb tartlett from the rhubarb lady, a strong coffee from Lentil as Anything, a loaf of bread from the bakery, and stock up on unbelievably good home made panforte for Christmas presents.  But take your own plastic bags, or baskets. And there’s an open day at the Convent besides, where you can go inside the buildings, check out the artists’ studios, the ‘wellbeing studios’, and probably even the most beautiful ‘cello shop in the world.  Market finishes at 1 p.m., open day goes till 4 p.m. 3MBS is running tours.


I couldn’t make the Collingwood Historical Society‘s annual walk yesterday, a damn shame since it was specifically about the industrial history of Abbotsford. Perhaps someone can provide me with some tidbits they learnt. The very first Abbotsford blogger, Bruce, went, and shared a smidgen on his blog.

The Lord sprayed sunshine and chirping birds on the annual fair of the Convent’s Rudolph Steiner school, Sophia Mundi (pictured). The junior school is in the Convent’s grounds, while the senior school remains in the Nicholson St building where I had been to previous fairs. It was a good fair, and suggested a well-run school. I took a look at the kindergarten on Abbotsford St a hop skip and a jump away, too. It’s called Little Sophia Rudolph Steiner Kindergarten, and also looked good. Some good friends of mine had a Steiner education. Steiner invented biodynamic agriculture, which holds the phases of the moon as important to when to grow things, anthroposophic medicine, and Waldorf education. He was also an architect, artist, and writer who presented more lectures than Justice Michael Kirby. There are 1,000 Steiner schools around the world. Rudolph thought the Germans were pretty special, and was influenced by Goethe. My hopelessly ignorant suspicion is that though Rudolph may have been pretty cool at the time (he died in 1925) thoughtless adherence to his more curious views today may be inadvisable. The feeling I got from the school was that they had probably embraced the good and moved with the times. The location is of course to die for, and the downsides — I postulate that eurythmy may be a downside — must be seen in the context of the upsides, like access to the Convent and the Yarra and the Children’s Farm.

Memories of Abbotsford Convent on an Ebay discussion forum

On an Ebay discussion forum, of all places, are to be found a series of uniformly adverse recollections by former residents of the Abbotsford Convent, and some other Catholic institutions. One woman’s story, pieced together by me from multiple posts, with a little editing, is:

‘It was indeed the Convent of the Good Shepherd, the Sacred Heart Class was where we kids worked our butts off to feed the nuns and the orphans (the orphans I don’t mind helping to feed …… ) and St Euphrasia was for schooling. So there were four sections in all. When my father placed me in the convent (I wasn’t in trouble by the way, at least not pregnant…), my father got rid of me as a plaything and the convent was as good as anywhere else.

We girls got up early, went to mass, came back, attended the refectory where we all had breakfast (such as it was) then we went to work. I was only a kid back then and didn’t know better, I just accepted their slavery as normal! Hubbys Bub [another poster on the disucssion board] the stories we could tell, your friend and I except my heart already feels as if it is breaking in two. As for my anger it’s getting like a great big ball. I don’t dare say too much else, as right now im not coping well at all.

This I want to say: breakfast was luke-warm porridge with a slice of STALE bread. Lunch on the other hand was soup, with the morning’s left over porridge added for volume! Please, I just need someone else to back me up as I know it sounds unbelievable! Continue reading “Memories of Abbotsford Convent on an Ebay discussion forum”

24 Feb Slow Food Farmers Market to feature Artists Studios Open Day

I got the Convent’s latest Muse and share its news with youse:

  • all coffee sold in the precinct is to be roasted on-site between 10 and 1 on Saturdays by John Frangoulis of Melba Coffee, and all the raw beans are to be purchased from like really aware free ranging chooks, as Tim and Debbie might have put it (ahh, but I show my age…);
  • there’s going to be a free concert by Orchestra Victoria on 11 February 2006 — first 120 people to arrive get in free, everyone else misses out, no bookings (9694 3600);
  • 3MBS is having an open day on Saturday 3 March 2007 between 10 and 2 (book on 9416 1035);
  • next Sunday Arts at the Convent is on 4 March 2007 between 10 and 5;
  • next slow food farmers market is on 24 February 2007, and attendances at the third one (1,570) were up almost 400 on the first one, and the City of Yarra gave the Convent Foundation and the Slow Food Movement an Australia Day Award;
  • most excitingly, that same day, the artists and “wellbeing practitioners” who have studios in the Convent Building are going to open them up between 10 and 4.

Catherine Kovesi’s book “Pitch Your Tents on Distant Shores”

I received from Miss K for Christmas Catherine Kovesi’s book Pitch Your Tents on Distant Shores (2006, Playwright Publishing), a beautifully written and very substantial large-format hard-back history of the founders of the Abbotsford Convent, the Sisters of the Good Shepherd. It was, and may still be, available from the Sisters’ Provincialate Office at the discounted price of $55. It is remarkable in being quite accessible to the lay reader whilst doing what institutional histories must do. It has many photos of the Abbotsford Convent. Not given to reading religious histories, I am enjoying it.

No doubt it is a commissioned history, which may explain this frank admission in the introduction: Continue reading “Catherine Kovesi’s book “Pitch Your Tents on Distant Shores””