In the bear beginning...
The bear story started in the winter of 1995. Linda had successfully completed her Bachelor of Arts, which had led to several exhibitions, a purchase of a piece of her work by the Holmes a'Court collection, and commissions of her sculptural works,and an exciting commission of 9 large pieces for the Burswood Casino on its opening, which was a wonderful experience . She then went onto flirt, sometimes briefly, but always passionately with a range of things including photography, decoupage, doll making and collecting. The collecting thing turned out not to be a brief interest and included collecting bears, which sparked the whole bear making thing in the winter of 1995.
So next thing you know she's signed up with a bunch of like-minded people on a bear making course doing the bear thing. Like-minded except for the latest 'stealth' sewing machines they all seemed to be using whilst Linda banged along on her old beast. Was it going to be just another one of Linda's brief encounters? Nope! For those of us who knew Linda well, the quirky gleam in her eye was enough to warn us that this 'bear thing' was more than a passing fancy. That and the sudden acquisition of a new sewing machine!
Lombard Bears Australia Was Born!
So why Lombard Bears? Is she Italian? Nope. A touch German, Irish, English, Russian and way back even Viking, but not Italian. It's like this, Linda Hilder, as she was then, grew up on a farm in a small town in the Southwest of WA, Tambellup, with her Dad, Rob Hilder, Mum, Val Hilder and brother and sister Brett and Christine Hilder. The farm was run by two brothers, Rob and Warren (Mic) Hilder with his wife Gloria Hilder and children , Sheryl , Julie, Nicole and Michael..... the two families, grew up together and had a ball. It was a fun and rowdy way to grow up and was the perfect breeding ground for a fertile imagination. It was also the inspiration for the name. The farm was called 'LOMBARDIA' and was purchased as bushland by Linda's grandparents, Frederick Charles Hilder and Christine Winifred Hilder , from an Italian farmer in the early 1900's.
Dad-Rob, Mum-Val, Me with Elkie
When making her bears, Linda focuses on attention to detail and creating a bear with it's own distinctive personality. A bear with character. A large part of this is pushing the limits of accepted bear features when she's drawing the original pattern. The character then evolves through construction, finishing touches, even to the final angle of the bear's head. Throughout this Linda brings together the finest quality materials with a natural diligence to make sure she creates the best quality bears.
So that's how it began. Now what's been happening?
Well let's see. A tree change along with a successful business, a sea change and another business, a wedding (finally), a gorgeous addition to the family and more collecting. Okay with all that going on anyone would find it tough to keep the focus on the bear thing. Until that is, she went to a bear fair and a demonstration on felting. She didnt stand a chance! The gleam is back and now she's working on a range of 'chimps with character' Never intended as a true replication, Linda is again experimenting with designs and draws inspiration from the materials, colours, textures and of course the real thing!
And so the story continues...