Dianne Hoschke supervises work on the Labyrinth Project at Southern Cross University's Coffs Harbour Campus. University chaplain Jan McLeod was inspired by   labyrinths in cathedrals in Europe.
Dianne Hoschke supervises work on the Labyrinth Project at Southern Cross University's Coffs Harbour Campus. University chaplain Jan McLeod was inspired by labyrinths in cathedrals in Europe. Rob Wright/Coffs Coast Advocate.

Dianne has forged stonemason career on learning, teaching

HERITAGE stonemason Dianne Hoschke says she must believe in continuing education.

She has spent most of her life either learning or teaching and usually both.

Dianne left school without her Higher School Certificate, a move which left her mother so unamused she did not sign her daughter's apprenticeship papers.

Dianne describes her trade as the stone masonry equivalent of a cabinet maker in wood, creating carved stone mouldings for the surrounds of doors and windows.

"This is not like freestanding sculpture, it is more like bas-relief," Dianne said.

Cutting and grinding stone looks like extremely hard physical work.

Along with 19 male apprentices, Dianne joined the Public Works Department in 1980 to learn her trade, in which training had resumed after a 50-year hiatus.

Theoretical training in bricklaying and carpentry was included in the technical college course and after Dianne was asked to teach part-time, she also completed her clerk of works course.

Her trade took her to England to work with a heritage stone masonry firm in Wiltshire.

When she returned to Australia she continued to work on public buildings, creating architectural mouldings and stone features for the PWD and the City of Sydney, then taught full-time at TAFE.

Along the way she made plaques for centenary celebrations at Karangi and Upper Orara and for Woodford railway station.

After her husband retired and their son Alex reached high school age the couple abandoned their two-hour commute from their home in the Blue Mountains to Sydney and moved to a small farm in the Coffs Coast countryside in 1993.

Dianne taught full-time for 16 years, diversifying from teaching stone work, construction and landscaping into also teaching primary industries subjects after she gained her Diploma of Horticulture and adding teaching about management, sustainability and greenhouse building.

But Dianne says her "third age'' won't be about teaching, but practising what she has learned.

She is now enrolled in a Diploma in Creative Arts course and her own stone work is moving from repairing old buildings and enhancing architecture to designing and making sculptural pieces using stone and durable found materials.


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