Country Living

Stroke of Good Fortune.

THEY are rural Victoria’s power couple.
Their combined surnames — Wolf-Tasker — is synonymous with one of the state’s finest dining establishments and accommodation, Daylesford’s Lake House, which this year celebrates its 30th anniversary.

But as much as Allan Wolf-Tasker has supported and helped his wife, Alla (nee Wolf), to become a culinary firebrand, Allan (nee Tasker) is much more content behind the scenes, paintbrush in hand.

“I really don’t want to be seen as a power couple,” says the 67-year-old.
“I’d really much rather be seen for what I have done rather than what I have done for Alla.
“It’s been an amazing journey and I love the fact I’m part of the Lake House and have helped her, but that’s not me.
“It was her vision and now I’m making my vision work.”

Since the day he sold his first painting as a 12-year-old, Allan’s vision has been all about his art.
While he went on to teach around Melbourne — where he met Alla, who was a contract teacher while running a cooking school — his art has always been a driving force.

Allan says it was part of the marital deal, upon spying a blackberry-infested block of land in Daylesford in the early ’80s, that if he built the restaurant and helped in the business, he could then focus on his art.

While Allan’s first exhibition was in 1981, the marital deal has really only taken effect over the last decade, with numerous exhibitions in recent years including his forthcoming, Landscapes of Daylesford, to be exhibited at Fortyfive Downstairs in Melbourne from June 11-21, which will be exhibited at the Lake House in August.

“I often think back and look at better known artists who have been solely dedicated to their art and not off on tangents,” says Allan who for many years waited on tables and did the laundry.

“For a time my capacity was always divided. I still spend 20 hours a week on the management of the property.
“But in many ways the Lake House has informed my work.”

Allan says his first exhibition while living in Melbourne featured heavily drafted, graphic works, but through living and working in Daylesford his style transformed into landscapes, still lifes and, at the end of the ’90s, works based on hospitality itself, chefs, kitchen scenes and parties.

“It was all terribly optimistic stuff, good times, about people enjoying themselves,” says Allan, whose acrylic canvases feature on the walls of the restaurant and adjoining accommodation.

It’s that same positivity that shines in his most recent exhibition. Although the paintings examine the “bastardisation” of the landscape through mining, logging, and farming, Allan’s works also feature strong, upbeat colours.

“The Australian bush is basically camouflage, the colour is so drab but I look in to that to find the colour, the blooms or the tips of leaves,” he says.
“I go to my studio and open cans of paint, get a big brush and whop it on, muting it later.”

Allan goes so far as to use the landscape as a metaphor for the success of his relationship with Alla, with whom he has a daughter, Larissa, who also works in the business.

“Alla is a volcano and I’m a flat prairie desert,” he says.
“We manage to live and work together so well because of that.”

Originally published as Stroke of Good Fortune

Weekly Times, Country Living, June 2014


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