The need to share my values – to evoke a world that carries these deeply held feelings and beliefs – drives and nourishes my creative process. My painting is influenced too, as most art is, by my own story: the two countries I’ve lived in, and the experience of connecting to a new land.
Living, as I do now, in the exotic mountain ash forests of the Dandenong Ranges, east of the cosmopolitan city of Melbourne, I am now deeply connected to these hills. I relish the misty mornings after rain, and how low lying clouds create mysterious cover. I love the velvety darkness that spreads a blanket of safety over the hills at night. I savour the cooler climate that the elevation allows, and which reminds me of my chilly, damp homeland.
These mountains inspire my painting and have helped me find my new place of belonging.
Relocating to Australia reinforced for me knowledge first learned working in the UK with homeless people. Important though it obviously is, we don’t just need a roof over our heads, we want to feel that we belong. To be happy, most of us need to feel connected – to other people, to our environment.
This involves using and contributing to our community’s resources and respecting its environment. And it means being able to be useful, in whatever ways we can, to others, and to draw on the goodness and goodwill of the people around us – not to mention benefitting from their advice and skill!
This brings me to our generous and talented local printer and graphic designer, Mark, at New Artworx, who has helped me (and contributed brilliant artwork) from the beginning of this project. Mark produces our cards: earth – and therefore Dandenong Ranges – friendly. They are made of 100% recycled and carbon neutral card, using 100% renewable energy.
See the top of this page for bookmarks, and below, the appearance of the back of the cards – all designed by Mark.
I’ve been so fortunate too in the other amazing local people I’ve met and connected with during the development of Granny Liz on the Mountain
Right at the beginning I had the advice and enthusiastic help of Nathan Earl, a talented young friend of my granddaughter, Martha. Nathan is a journalist, and he wrote my early Facebook posts, and helped me with the technology.
Closest to home is Nell at our village store, the Kalorama Post Office – the heart and soul of the township (and purveyor of delicious pies and cakes). Nell stocks our products, and has my pictures on her walls: one of them – Nell in her Garden – painted in tribute to her.
- This painting of Nell in her garden hangs on the wall of the Kalorama Post Office
We sell cards, pictures and bags in a delightful shop on the mountain, the Belgrave Emporium. The generosity and encouragement I’ve received from the Emporium, especially from Lucy, has been crucially important to me while I find my way.
I’ve recently joined a new venture on the mountain, the refurbished art gallery, Kapi, opened and run by Heather Bradbury, a well known photo realist artist. I’m showing paintings there, and joining in the activities – next up for me is a demonstration of my teapot painting!
Our bags are now available at a beautiful shop called Seven Pages in the township of Sassafra, up here in the hills. And I have a valued connection with Sharon at Itty Bitty Greenie, based in the Dandenong Ranges. Sharon sells a lovely collection of fair trade and eco friendly products for children – and Granny Liz cards.
I mustn’t forget my family, several of whom have made major contributions to my venture. I will be telling you more about them later! I’m thinking about a blog, and will certainly be posting on Facebook and Instagram.
But before that I must mention Nick, without whose skill and tireless efforts this website would still be nothing more than a hopeful gleam in my eye!
- Rachel, my daughter, and Peggy the poodle, in the pink coat, on a cold morning at Kallista Market
- A window of Granny Liz wares in the Belgrave Emporium
One of the main objectives of this new small company is to make a wider contribution, which carries with it an expression of gratitude to my new country.
So we are happily dedicating cards to Australian charities: Animals Australia, and now, also, the McGrath Foundation.
We are giving all proceeds from the sale of these cards to the charities – small amounts at the moment, but we hope they will grow!
Home For Us All – card dedicated to Animals Australia
- Resilience – card dedicated to the McGrath Foundation
All these themes, like many people’s lives, have an underlying nurturing purpose.
The contribution to Animals Australia has a special significance to me as a way of showing respect and care to the other creatures who share our country and our world, and whose welfare we humans have often forgotten.
I wanted to call the picture I painted for Animals Australia “Home for us all” because the huge importance of home – as an idea and as a practical reality: as a refuge, place of safety, place of renewal – is one I cherish, and return to often in my painting.
I also like to feel that in a small way my work spreads a realistic optimism. I often have cheerful themes to the stories the pictures tell. I usually use vibrant colours, which in themselves raise the spirits.
Sometimes customers tell me that the paintings make them feel happy.
What more can an artist ask!