If you go down to the woods today, you're sure of a big surprise…
Located on a ferny glade on Mount Dandenong, William Ricketts Sanctuary is somewhat of a magical place, where you could easily imagine little fairies, mythical creatures and Bambi wondering past you. Apart from birdsong the sanctuary is very quiet and tranquil, as you stroll through you'll read about the artist's life and understand that the sanctuary's environment is part of his art.
William Ricketts was a Melbourne boy through and through: born in Richmond in 1898 he settled in Mount Dandenong permanently in 1934 until his death in 1993. From 1949–1960 he made frequent trips into Central Australia to live with Pitjantjatjara and Arrernte Aboriginal people, his time here inspired his work, their traditions and culture is seen in the sanctuary. Dotted amongst the trees are clay statues of similar stance: Aboriginal children and elders with Australia's native animals and fauna. Made from clay you have to look twice because it looks like Ricketts carved it from the actual rock or wood on which the statues stand, again, it represents everything living as one in harmony.
Ricketts apparently left behind many of his central Australian works at Pitchi Ritchi near Alice Springs - a bird sanctuary run by his friend Leo Corbet - as he considered the landscape integral to the sculptures, like the sanctuary on Mount Dandenong.
He also explored other spiritual cultures; in 1970 he went to India and spent two years there, mostly at the Sri Aurobindo Ashram spiritual center in Pondicherry, developing spiritual empathy with Indian people and knowledge of their philosophy.
You could spend half an hour or all day at the sanctuary, it's not huge but when you're there you feel that you could just sit for a few hours in peaceful silence.