Let out your inner art lover on the Mornington Peninsula trail

Art sculpture at Point Leo lit up at night

Jessica Taylor Yates

Posted July 28, 2021

Invoke the senses by experiencing a bold pairing of art, food and wine on one of Victoria’s favourite trails.

Known for its beaches, eateries and coastal drives, Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula has become increasingly recognised for its collection of robust wineries and gastronomic experiences – but did you know it’s also making a name for itself as an artistic must when it comes to its sculpture trails?

While art in the regions is nothing new, the specific tie-in of galleries with wineries has become a unique and exciting way to experience art just a stone’s throw from Melbourne. Alongside the undulating hills and picturesque beaches, guests can consider a day trip, or make a holiday out of it by booking accommodation on an art and wine trail weekend.

This new combination of wine and a taste of sculpture -the ‘art winery trail’, if you will - is bringing tourists to the Mornington Peninsula in droves – whether you come for the art and stay for the food and wine or the other way round, there’s plenty to explore on a trip down the coast that invigorates all the senses. 

Best places for wine and sculpture on the Mornington Peninsula

Point Leo Estate

Point Leo Estate has long been revered for its dedication to epicurean delights, seating over 100 in its restaurant and cellar door. With a curated menu refined from local suppliers and a showcase of scented aromas, wine lovers can enjoy a quaff from the Estate itself, featuring Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Shiraz.

Surrounded by verdant and cascading vines, the coastal winery boasts spectacular views of their 50-acre vineyard, alongside sights and smells of the nearby ocean. In a marvellous stroke of ingenuity, Point Leo Estate incorporated the Sculpture Park within its grounds in 2017, making its art-and-wine trail a must-visit location for anyone visiting the Mornington Peninsula region.

Conceived by the Gandel family and curated by Geoffrey Edwards, the artworks for the ‘outdoor gallery by the sea’ are acquired according to guiding principles that ‘represent the key movements, styles, processes and practitioners that define any given period of modern and contemporary art history.’ Although The Sculpture Park is relatively new to the outdoor gallery scene, Edwards is proud to mention that the destination has already drawn worldwide acclaim.

As a predominantly outdoor exhibition with 50 or so works streamed around the property, Edwards adds that considerations were taken for these to be of a ‘monumental and free-standing nature’. There are many ways in which the artworks can be sourced, he says, ‘through dealers, agents and auction houses, while proposals are regularly received from studios and agents around the world.’

Standout pieces in the current exhibit include acclaimed Indigenous artist Reko Rennie’s Mirri, created specifically for The Sculpture Park, and Spanish artist Jaume Plensa’s ‘Laura', a colossal head of a young woman wearing an expression of ‘quiet meditation’, inspired by portraits made of young women in Barcelona.

For those wanting to book a stay and explore all the region has to offer, RACV Cape Schanck Resort prides itself on a local partnership with Point Leo Estate, which, Edwards points out ‘enhances the visitor’s experience of the region generally and, more specifically, of the cultural and lifestyle offerings at each of these world-class destinations.’ Both sites showcase a classic coastal landscape easily reached in little more than an hour from Melbourne’s CBD. 

Intended as a permanent cultural destination, Edwards states that while The Sculpture Park is here to stay, it remains a ‘constantly evolving project’ with new artworks and artists to explore. Whilst he doesn’t play favourites, he does mention that Inge King’s Grand Arch certainly ‘sets the scene’ upon arrival to The Sculpture Park at Point Leo Estate. 

DREAMS OF ORDINARY PEOPLE, by Peter Tilley at Point Leo Estate Sculpture Park.
VEGA, by Lenton Parr at Point Leo Estate Sculpture Park.
The magnificent vineyard at Point Leo Estate.

McClelland Sculpture Park and Gallery

Further down the trail in Langwarrin, art and wine lovers alike can find the McClelland Sculpture Park and Gallery. Here, rotating exhibitions as well as a permanent collection consisting of over 2600 works of art can be found on the grounds. Boasting pieces including ‘sculpture, painting, photography, paper and decorative arts,’ McClelland prides itself on its relation to ‘spatial practice and its relation to the environment.’

On-site, guests can also treat themselves to a glass and appetiser from one of McClelland’s many local partners as they overlook the flora and fauna amongst eight hectares of bushland on the Peninsula. 

Montalto Vineyard Sculpture Trail, Red Hill

For almost 20 years, the owners of Montalto have created a space for sculpture artists to thrive, acquiring over 30 pieces and giving the opportunity for the prestigious Montalto Sculpture Prize worth $40,000. Dubbing sculpture ‘an integral part of life,’ the grounds are home to a sculpture trail approximately 1km long, where guests can marvel at the 30-odd artworks spread across the sprawling estate. Montalto also offers three tastings in a style that ‘reflects each vineyard site’, as well as what they call ‘Beyond the Cellar Door’ experiences for wine and art lovers alike. 

One of the works from McClelland Sculpture Park and Gallery. Photo: Anne Morleu
A group of girls enjoying the Montalto Vineyard Sculpture Trail. Photo: Visions of Victoria
Make a holiday out of it at RACV Cape Schanck Resort.

RACV Cape Schanck Resort

Over at Point Leo Estate’s partner RACV Cape Schanck Resort, guests can enjoy the decadent 5-star accommodation on the Mornington Peninsula while admiring the resort's own art collection on display, as well as amazing food and wine experiences. Most recently, the resort is proud to be showcasing Three Madrigals by David Horton. The loan of this magnificent sculptural piece from Point Leo Estate reflects the proud partnership in bold design and hospitality between both locations.

A new acquisition, Three Madrigals is intended to recall ‘the rhythm and harmonies’ of a madrigal, a musical genre of voices that gained popularity during the 14th century. Usually sung a cappella, a madrigal can consist of a poetic verse sung by multiple singers with their own musical line. They are usually love songs and work only when brought together, hence the three pieces. Cited as ‘the outstanding exhibit’ by art critic John McDonald when it was shown in 2011 at Sculpture by the Sea, the piece is a coup for the Resort that guests can behold when they first enter the breathtaking location. 

Ellen Wignell, Visual Arts Curator for RACV, has stated that works for the resort were chosen ‘specifically for each space. We look for contemporary artworks that resonate with the resorts, the architecture, and the other works around them.’ With more than 1000 contemporary Australian artworks to choose from, Wignell reflects that many pieces focus on the ‘current arts landscape and social themes.’ Committed to supporting local partners, as well as its above focal piece, the Resort features a number of works that guests can utilise to satisfy their visual appetite, whilst enjoying the resplendent tastings of the Resort menu to please their ravening palettes.

With that in mind, those coming for Mornington Peninsula’s amazing food and wine experiences will not be disappointed, as they engage in world-class cuisine whilst looking over breathtaking views of Fingal beach. After a day of escapism exploring the region’s sculpture trails, guests can enjoy a culinary experience created at the Mantellina Café or the fine dining option at Samphire, both featuring bold food and wine pairings specially curated and sourced in the Mornington Peninsula region.

So whether you're in for the art and wine trail or simply a fantastic stay down the Peninsula, there's plenty to see, eat and do when on the Mornington Peninsula art and wine trail. 

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