Hilda Geraldine Leviny
Hilda Geraldine Leviny was the youngest of the Leviny children and was the most adventurous and independent of the girls. She lived away from Buda for almost 30 years, not returning permanently until she was in her early 50s.
Hilda studied art subjects as well as woodcarving and needlework and had a particular aptitude for embroidery. She exhibited three pieces in the First Australian Exhibition of Women’s Work 1907, including a three-panelled draught screen with hand embroidered and appliquéd panels which is on display at Buda.
In1906 Hilda studied at the Domestic Science College and then worked as a bursar at Merton Hall for three years. She then took up a position as Matron at Grimwade House, the preparatory school for Melbourne Grammar, where she stayed for 15 years. In 1929, she became Matron at the Women’s College in the University of Sydney, where she remained for a further 7 years.
Hilda enjoyed travel. Her trips, between 1912 and 1939, included Ceylon, Lord Howe Island, Norfolk Island, England, America, and Europe, including Hungary, the homeland of her father. It was largely through her efforts that the Buda Museum exists today. She sold the house to the Castlemaine Art Gallery and Historical Museum in 1970 on the proviso that she could live out her days at Buda. She died eleven years later in 1981, aged 98.
Buda historic house and garden in Castlemaine contains a rich legacy of the creative spirit of the Leviny Family, who lived there for over 118 years. The Leviny daughters were encouraged to pursue their artistic interests at a time when women were being given more opportunities to study art and take up careers. They worked across a range of media including painting, woodcarving, metalwork, needlework and photography.
It was largely due to the foresight of last surviving sister, Hilda, that Buda was preserved as a house and garden museum when she sold the property to the Castlemaine Art Gallery in 1970. Her sisters, Mary and Kate, left a broader civic legacy through their involvement in establishing the Castlemaine Art Gallery in 1913, and assisting with the development of the gallery’s fine collection of prints in the late 1920s.
Text adapted from the booklet Buda and the Leviny Family, Lauretta Zilles (2011)
Hilda sewing, outside the Tennis Pavillion at Buda.
A photograph from the collection of Buda Historic Home and Garden.