Anne Collins describes her journey to Australia

The regenerative spirit of creativity

YOU would never guess. Not about the place or the people that flourish behind a bland white Besser block building in a quiet corner of parkland, in an established Brisbane suburb.

The building, owned by Brisbane City Council has been leased by a couple of spirited artists for more than 30-years, the two, who met at the then Brisbane Art Institute, cheerfully share the space with a small group of like-minded multi-skilled artists. There's not a great deal of room inside, nevertheless, they have made space for a dark room, kitchen and library, together with a comfortable old lounge suite and tables for painting, printing, dyeing, felt-making and art installations.

Besides that, the shelves, walls, windows and benches are cluttered with brushes and bushes, canvases and books, materials and dyes. This is a scene built from rich imaginations, creative spirits and warm friendships.

During the last three decades the two artists Ruth Francis and Anne Collins have made this a place where discussion, painting, making and developing original art is the top priority.

At 94-years-old Anne Collins claims much of her vitality is due to her artistic interests. Although art in many of its forms has long been part of her adult life, as a 15-year-old she could also claim the title of 'High Sea Adventuress".

In 1939, Anne with her parents and friends left their home on the Channel Islands boarded an old French fishing boat to head for Australia. The trip took 18 months and was full of hard work, continuing school studies and amazing, memorable events. Besides sailing through many a stormy sea, they enjoyed stays on exotic islands, made new friends and dropped off some others.

"And remember, these were the days before everywhere was turned into a holiday resort," she said with smile.

Finally, Anne clearly recalls the day they sailed into Sydney Harbour.

"I always remember that," she said.

"We sailed through the harbour and anchored at Berrys Bay." Anne stayed on board for another three months before finding lodgings.

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She eventually married and had four children. Her husband's work in the public service saw them move from Sydney to Canberra to Mt Isa and eventually to Brisbane, where she studied at the Brisbane Institute of Art and sat on the committee.

Yet, no matter where she went, she was always involved in making art. In Mt Isa she plunged into ceramics.

"Those were the days when we dug the clay form the side of the road," she said.

But Anne wasn't there to just learn the wheel and make cups. She wanted to experiment.

"I did learn on the wheel, she recalled.

"But I really wanted to play with clay."

That desire to make something different has remained with her and is evident in her abstract works streaked with gold and bold colours, or her recycled masks, or the works she has made with leaves and used paper.

If you would like to see the works that have been made with the inspiration sparked in this marvellous art room then you can't miss the upcoming art show.

The exhibition named REGENERATION is on show between 20-30 June at Aspire Gallery at 53 Kennedy Tce, Paddington. Opening night is on Saturday, June 23, 4.30-6.30pm. Artists featured include: Catherine Carolan, Aaron Micallef, Jennifer Bell, Corrinne Russell, Kathy Sullivan, Rose van Oyen, Ruby Purple and of course, Anne Collins.,   

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