Glimpse of a life: the unexpected joy from a gifted collection

There is something special about being gifted a collection of art books – or a collection of anything.

Rosemary’s mother was an academic, who, when she retired, took up painting. Amongst her bookshelf-lined walls were three rows of art books. Would I like them, Rosemary asked? My bookshelves are full to brimming, but how could I resist more art books? I will take them over time I said, and go through them at my leisure. So I piled about a third of the collection into the car boot.

Before I leave, Rosemary shows me a selection of her mother’s work, stacked in a wardrobe that is now devoid of clothing. It is an eclectic collection, the work of a hobby painter: still life studies; busy people populating the outdoors; landscapes; and stylised figures.

Collections speak of the person who created them. This collection tells me that Rosemary’s mother had a wide and varied interest in art. She must have read voraciously. There are books on Australian painters such as Robert Bunny and Tom Roberts. Scholarly works like Australian Surrealist painter James Gleeson’s book Australian Painters  sit alongside art books for the general reader.

Books on: Brueghel, Cezanne, Munch, Kandinsky, The Impressionists, Goya, La Belle Epoque, Life and Times of Durer, Graphic Works of the American 30’s, couple of weighty tomes on how to paint and much more.

At home, after making space in my bookshelves I begin to unpack the treasures, finding unexpected snippets of information.

In a book by Alistair Duncan entitled Fin de Siecle: Masterpieces from the Silverman Collection, there is a tiny clue to Rosemary’s mother’s creative process. A small piece of paper with the handwritten question “possible?” bookmarks a page of beautifully photographed Tiffany Lava Favrile vases. They are stunning vases, and I recognise the shape as similar to some of the vessels in the still life paintings.

Did Rosemary’s mother draw her creative inspiration and ideas directly from her collection of art books? Perhaps the figures from the detail of Bruegel’s The Corn Harvest inspired her outdoor scenes with busy figures.

Then a piece of scrap paper with a pencil sketch on the back drapes out of a book.. What inspired drawing and what do the figures represent – Matisse’s dancers, a piece of painted pottery or is it a narrative of some sort?

I am left with questions that will never be answered, and further thoughts about collections: of art, of memorabilia, in galleries, in museums, in libraries, grand and small collections, serious or quirky, public and private.

What makes a collection? Why do we humans seem to have a propensity to collect? As a child I collected stamps for a while because my Dad collected stamps. I still have my little collection – in a blue stamp book. Every stamp has one thing in common; it speaks of my love of horses.

Enjoying Noosa Open Studios

A mini gallery springs to life. These pretty flowers are in a jardiniere from my mother’s collection – a memory from my childhood. The encircling cards, miniatures of a painting series are, in my mind, fallen petals. Visitors to Noosa Open Studios like the space I’ve created too, which makes me happy.

Right now I’m thinking about how I can convert this room back into a work space that is less cluttered and more streamlined than its previous state; an organised work area to supersede what my neighbour’s children call the “Messy Room”.

It was the best room in the house for Hide and Seek. Still, under the iron bed comes a close second as a hiding spot, so if the “Messy Room” stays tidy, the boys will still have some good Hide and Seek places.

Collage gets a red dot

Although Open Studios is primarily about inviting people into your space to view your art and to see how you work, it’s always exciting when you sell a work.

It’s been really wonderful to have feedback on my art, to have conversations with art lovers and fellow artists, and to collaborate with the three local artists in my area to create the Marcus Mini Trail as part of Noosa Open Studios, 2021


This was a fun holiday project using silk fabric (old ties) and paper bought at Opportunity Shops in country towns on a road trip from the Sunshine Coast to Victoria. 


The inspiration:

A tree with the most extreme and precise trim to accommodate a power line that I have ever seen, caused me to pull over to take a photo.

It was part of an avenue along the Great Alpine Road in the Ovens Valley leading into the pretty town of Harrietville, a starting point for alpine hikes and the gateway to the ski fields of the Alpine National Park in North East Victoria.

A little gallery

I’ve converted my messy art room into a mini gallery that opens for business from tomorrow  for the next two weekends (Friday to Sunday) and next Tuesday (Oct 5) Hours: 10.00 am to 4.00pm.

After seeing the workspace in the garage, visitors will be able to see what the paintings look like on the wall, and gain some insight into how they evolved.

I’m not prolific but I work with passion and give art my all. The hard work of getting everything ready behind me, I can now relax and enjoy the next couple fo weeks of art making and meeting other art lovers/artists who enjoy a having glimpse into the world of  artists at work.