If anyone could truly appreciate the beauty of Glenferrie, it would be local artist Edmund Valentin.
Edmund was born in Budapest, Hungary during the Soviet totalitarian regime which led to the Hungarian Revolution of 1956. Four-year-old Edmund was one of 200,000 Hungarian refugees who fled the conflict, travelling with his parents and two older sisters to Australia on a decommissioned military ship.
Edmund has lived on Kinkora Road since the 1960s where he now lives with his wife of nine years, Margaret, and their two papillons, who they often take to the nearby off-leash dog area at Grace Park.
As a child, Edmund went to St Joseph’s Catholic School in Hawthorn - at that time called St John’s - before attending Kew High School. Edmund went on to pursue a degree in Fine Arts at the Caulfield Institute of Technology, however left before he could graduate in 1973 to help his sick father with the family business, Restorations at Hawthorn, which Edmund now owns and still operates today.
It was his father, Bela, who ignited Edmund’s passion for the arts. As well as an art restorer and museum director, Bela was a very talented painter who modelled the depiction of St George on the ceiling of St Anthony’s Capuchin Friary Church in Hawthorn after Edmund himself.
Edmund spent his late twenties travelling around the world attending conferences on cultural conservation, museum curation, and studying the newest techniques in fine art restoration. Throughout his life, Edmund has restored ceramics for the National Gallery and the Australian Wedgwood Society, ornate picture frames, and other antique artworks and accessories.
Edmund’s primary business and skillset is in the restoration of oil paintings and other works of visual art affected by ageing, often working with local auction houses. Edmund began photographing to document the restoration process, which he likens to the before-and-after of cosmetic surgery. Using his camera equipment, Edmund soon launched himself into photography, particularly portraiture. “I want to capture the essence of their soul,” he said. “True intimacy in art is found in the human face."
Edmund is a strong believer in giving to your community and receiving a sense of fulfilment and belonging in return. He is involved with the St Anthony’s Church, the Hawthorn Arts Society, and runs art classes in the local area. He often visits local Glenferrie traders to deliver cuttings of his plants, especially now that the new weekly green bin collection allows him to garden more often. He prefers to explore Glenferrie on foot, often walking to Bunnings on Burwood Road, the Hawthorn Aquatics and Leisure Centre, local cafes and restaurants such as Viet Star, and his favourite hang-out, The Resistance Bar and Cafe. “I love the youth and the energy of the place, it’s getting younger and more dynamic and more alive.”
Edmund hopes to teach free restoration classes to the community so that they may have the skills to support themselves wherever they are in the world. “I’m a people person. If I can teach people skills, I am happy,” said Edmund.
“There is nothing better than giving. It is better than receiving.”