Art School cont.


Interstate and overseas visitors have two main options. Those flying in usually arrive at Launceston airport (15 minutes from Mountford by car or taxi) or on the Tasmanian Ferry, Spirit of Tasmania, docking at Devonport (about 1 hr away by car).


Mountford enjoys a close working relationship with the many local venues that offer accommodation. These range from budget bed and breakfast right up to home stay on some of Australia's most renowned, heritage properties. We can't act as their agent, or arrange everything for you but can advise, so please consult our literature for details.

Mountford Granary Art School was established by well known artist Tony Smibert and his cousin Anne Mackinnon on the Mackinnon property,  Mountford.  One way to equip the modern watercolourist is to provide instruction in the methods that were used by the greatest exponents of all eras so that they can learn how the medium works and to adapt it accordingly.  The Mountford idea is to teach ‘traditional watercolour' within a ‘traditional landscape' and the courses have become known for the fact that it focusses on skills and asisting artists to develop their own direction and creativity - whether towards landscape, abstract expression, still-life or any other subject.  Today, Hugh Mackinnon, Anne's husband, has himself become a driving force at the Granary as a result of taking up en plein air watercolour as a bushwalker


Mountford Art Courses usually occur around April when the Autumn leaves are at their best. Tasmania's Autumn really is a season of mists and mellow fruitfulness with clear blue skies, crisp mornings and warmish days. It's the perfect and most popular time for tourists in Tasmania. There are only a limited number of art courses and these are often booked up months ahead, so those who are interested are encouraged to enquire and book early.


Full details of the art courses, material requirements, accommodation and options and other advice is available directly from Mountford:

contact: Hugh Mackinnon


phone: +61 3 6391 1832. 


Born in Melbourne, Australia in 1949, Tony Smibert trained at the National Gallery Art School and Melbourne State College. He taught art for ten years before establishing a studio and art gallery in the beautiful Tasmanian countryside in 1984. Since then he has painted full-time. His career encompasses in excess of 40 solo exhibitions through Australia and around the world. Represented in private, public and corporate collections he has exhibited in Europe, North and South America, South East Asia and Japan.

Smibert's work sits well within three broad categories: non-figurative images, ‘traditional' landscape studies and minimal images. His paintings are often described as a synthesis of East and West, the result of a lifetime interest in art and Asia. His studies and exhibitions have taken him overseas many times, yet he is very much an Australian painter and the product of a culture which is itself a synthesis of many cultures.

Fascinated by the English watercolourists of the great period 1750 - 1850, Smibert's studies have included intensive research into the methods of the famous Romantic watercolourist, J.M.W. Turner. In this field he has published many treatises and has lectured and demonstrated Turner's methods at the Australian National Gallery and the National Gallery of Victoria.

It is Smibert's study of Japanese culture that is most apparent in the minimal and contemporary images. This painter has also trained in a Japanese martial art for more than 40 years. His understanding of both sword and brush permeates his painting. Strictly, they are neither Zen nor Taoist, yet they are suffused with elements of both philosophies.

Smibert paints with authority and has been accorded a rare level of recognition within Japan where he was invited to collaborate with an esteemed master of that most traditional of cultural forms, the kimono. Their collaboration achieved media attention worldwide and the resulting high-fashion garments toured the world before finding homes with Japanese collectors.

Smibert's originality consists of his application of these principles to Western methods. A flying brushstroke applied to areas of paper on which he has already applied oil reveals another quality of watercolour, and droplets are formed in which the pigment is gathered up and which evaporate to reveal a different brush-result. The method comes a full circle. The same requirement to study time and space, to develop the ‘inner-art' as key to the external craft of watercolour becomes apparent; and so it is through these principles that we are able to start to examine the task which Smibert set himself.

Similarly, the fact that pigments mostly settle and dry on the surface of the watercolour paper has enabled Smibert to create subtleties of tone by washing away areas of direct brushwork. This is traditional but uncommon. There are references to Turner there, for Turner was in harmony with his own medium and is still acclaimed for his unequalled capacity to work ‘with' watercolour to coax nuances from wash using surprising directness and a bold approach which his contemporaries described as an "attack" or "frenzy of activity". The influence of Turner's harmonies in warm and cool colours is also apparent in many of Smibert's works. In some, they meet with the gold of Japanese art in a passion of colour which is far removed from the austerity of other works where Smibert simply applies a single brush-stroke in black.


Mountford Granary is a three storey grain mill on the historic property ‘Mountford' situated in the rural northern Midlands of Tasmania and adjacent to the South Esk River and the Great Western Tiers.

The property is a working farm amongst Georgian buildings classified by the National Trust of Australia as well as the National Estate.

Views, vistas and the ambience of the gardens and landscape, coupled with the European trees and nearby village, allude to the English picturesque. A true stimulus for the tradition of watercolour.


"In 2019 we'll be offering ttwo watercolour courses at Mountford.

They are:

  1. Watercolour Foundation (Intensive Introduction Course)           from Thursday 25th     to   Monday 29thth of April  2019
  2. Studio and en plein air  & Watercolour Road                               from  Thursday 2nd May     to   Monday 6th May 2019    
  3.   Unfortunately, due to Tony's Europe commitments we  can't offer a third course this year.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

Although I don't have a great deal of time that I can offer for teaching, it's something that I love doing and see as a vital part of my own development as a painter.

Watercolour is not the difficult medium that popular folklore would have us believe it is. It's wonderfully easy once you know how to do it - so the only problem lies in learning how to acquire the understanding that will make it easy.

Mountford offers a range of courses in watercolour because we strongly believe that  appropriate, sound and well-structured lessons can save some people many years of frustration. This is especially true for the raw beginner but then becomes  important again if you start to plateau - sort of levelling off - and no longer feel that you are making the progress you aspire to.

So please make sure that you choose a course that will suit  and help you towards whatever future you're dreaming of."