About | History | Tina Banitska – our Lady
Tina Banitska is the owner of The Convent in Daylesford. The story of Tina’s journey has become legendary – it’s the story of a woman who against all the odds brought a derelict old convent back to life.
An inspirational story
After completing the Higher School Certificate, Tina trained as a teacher, then completed an Associate Diploma in Fine Arts at RMIT, teaching art for several years. It was in 1975, as a Regional Art Consultant with the Education Department, when Tina first saw the old convent overlooking Daylesford.
“One day, that’s going to be one of the best galleries in Australia!”
In 1981 Tina opened her first business, a pottery & gallery in Springmount, near Creswick, to exhibit her work, as well as the works of other local artists. It was there that she launched her career as an innovative and highly acclaimed ceramics artist.
In 1988, Tina discovered that the old convent in Daylesford was to be sold, and her campaign to become the new owner began.
“When I heard it was for sale, all I could imagine was artists working together.
I could picture it. I couldn’t sleep for two months, I’d wake with hot and cold sweats;
I was very unsettled until I got it.”
Tina is one of those people who make things happen, who transform dreams into reality, one of those remarkable people prepared to put their whole being on the line in the all-consuming quest of breathing life into a vision. It was with this energy that she approached the Nuns with her grand plan. The Presentation Sisters had to choose between their building becoming part of a hotel chain or an art gallery for all to enjoy. They were delighted with Tina’s proposal, and were especially happy with her plans to retain the building’s religious and historical significance. The choice was an easy one to make!
“Success for me is not about money or what you achieve.
It’s about how you follow a dream, pursuing things your heart tells you are important.”
Tina’s excitement on winning the tender was short-lived. Lack of funds kept the building idle for another eighteen months. She eventually secured a one and a half million-dollar loan with the State Bank, locked-in at a whopping 18.5% interest rate. Working with local heritage architect, Vladimir Chernov, Tina’s concept took shape. Some ingenious creative alterations and additions were included, enhancing the building while maintaining its architectural integrity. For two years the old convent was skilfully transformed, opening on Easter Saturday, March 31st 1991.
“My vision was to maintain the integrity of the historic building,
making it more than just a place to hang paintings.”
Since opening, The Convent has won numerous major awards, including the Australian Tourism Award for Retailing. The accolades were thrilling to receive but, to Tina, the real joy came from people. She took most pleasure from seeing visitors engaging with all aspects of The Convent; knowing that they felt comfortable and enriched by the experience. The Convent has become a favourite destination for both local and international visitors. Visitors return again and again, not only to enjoy what the Convent has to offer, but also Tina’s warmth and hospitality. You will find Tina floating around the gallery most days, interacting with “her guests”. Her love and passion, thirty years on, continues to inspire all.
“…it’s a privilege to have people come here.
They are like guests in my home and I want them to have the very best”.
When comparing the derelict building with the majestic building that stands proudly before you today, you can see how hard work and dedicated passion can lead to the creation of something very special.
“It was all in the plan – I was given the strength, courage
and foresight to make it happen.”
Phone +613 5348 3211
7 Daly Street Daylesford 3460
Thursday to Monday 10am-4pm
(Closed Tuesday & Wednesday)
Adult: $10, Concession: $8, U12: $5 and U5: free.
The Convent acknowledges the traditional owners, the Dja Dja Wurrung people, on whose land we meet, share & work.
We pay our respects to their Elders past, present & emerging.