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The Poet's Desk

Arts and Culture Frankston


Phone: 1300 322 842

Sculpture hidden in foreshore dunes.
1930s Bohemian artistic community.


Harry (1888-1954) and Annie May ‘Nan’ (1879-1961) McClelland moved to Long Island around 1912 and quickly established themselves as the centre for a bohemian group of creative sparks drawn from all strata of Victoria’s social life. A brother and sister team (he, a painter; she, a poet), they enjoyed a life full of aesthetic and philosophic pursuits, with Nan hosting the first children’s radio program on the ABC.

Every New Year’s Eve, Harry delighted in patrolling the streets dressed as a Drum Major, blasting away on the bagpipes. The McClellands were also foundation members of the Peninsular Arts Society, Frankston’s first and oldest arts society (est. 1954), which held its initial meetings at their house.

An enduring symbol of their presence is ‘The Barn’, once memorably described as ‘a rare example of Anglo Swiss-Fijian picturesque eclecticism.’ This is the only survivor of the original cluster of buildings but is still a remarkable presence when encountered from the beach, a fascinating link to the past. Nan McClelland bequeathed money and land in her brother’s memory which lead to the establishment of the acclaimed McClelland Gallery + Sculpture Park in nearby Langwarrin (on the site of Harry’s ‘country’ studio).

Rick Amor’s painting Artists’ house, Long Island, Frankston 1992 features the elderly figure of his aunt, the novelist Myra Morris, who was a regular visitor to the McClelland’s house. As part of the Frankston Coastal Arts Trail, David Murphy and Cameron Robbins of Down Street Studios were commissioned to create artworks responding to the site. Robbins’ sculpture Meta Pier refers to the house’s antler decorations whilst Murphy has recreated Nan’s desk.

Map & Directions

1A Palm Court Frankston Victoria 3199