Leadlighter reflects on art

Local retired leadlighter Gavin Tobin is recognised across the South East for his passion for creating remarkable leadlight pieces that will stand the test of time.

Mr Tobin started a career as a glazier in 1968 when he was 16 years old. He gained a personal interest in leadlighting and stained glass work and learned the craft from a master craftsman in Adelaide.

Renowned for his skill and attention to detail, Mr Tobin was approached by TAFEs all over the South East and the Victorian Country Education into Victoria to teach leadlight classes. “It’s the sort of craft that you have to stick by otherwise you’ll lose it,” Mr Tobin said.

In 1985 he was approached by Leon Riquier, who owned the Old Oatmill and encouraged him to start his own business where the Caffe Belgiorno Tapas Bar is now located. He worked there from 1985 until 1995.

Mr Tobin designed many custom-made original pieces and restored old leadlights back to their former glory, along with kitchen cupboards and units for various cabinetmakers. Over the years, Mr Tobin’s leadlights have featured in many homes, homesteads and hotels throughout the South East.

Some of his feats are Benara Homestead, Wilderness Church, Adelaide churches and various other large designs. Mr Tobin said he always had a creative side and loved designing different periods of homes, from Victorian, Edwardian and Art Deco to contemporary, modern and abstract.

Many painstaking hours go into creating the works of art, but the result is impressive and nothing short of beautiful. “I like all varieties, whether it be a bird, an animal or a scenic leadlight with animals and natural Australiana design, or old-world charm,” Mr Tobin said. “I love doing art deco because it’s different.”

Since retiring from his leadlighting career, Mr Tobin said he occasionally makes leadlights as gifts for friends and family.

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