|Joan at the dedication |
of the Gallery at BAG
Joan’s contribution to art, sculpture and ceramics in Beaumaris was considerable. A gentle, warm, friendly and welcoming person she was loved by all. Her drive, enthusiasm, intelligence, creativity and practical abilities were endless. Through her work the Beaumaris Art Group began.
She completed her studies at RMIT, but it wasn’t till years later that she built a kiln behind her garage at home. This set her up to make pots which became very sought after. As a teacher her classes were so popular that there was always a waiting list. A larger studio was needed so with the help of the Council a small plot of land was acquired. Along with the young mums and their husbands with expertise in engineering, building and architecture, a two room studio was built. Charles Bricknell, was the architect of the original building which had two rooms which were` opened in 1977. The later extension was designed by John Thompson who is still a member of BAG. Joan was the first tutor in the new ceramics room. Later Betty Jennings joined Joan becoming Joan’s assistant and good friend, eventually following Joan as the ceramics tutor. One of the original rooms is now a gallery and with due ceremony when everyone including the family attended was named the Joan Macrae gallery, where art works of all kinds are displayed.
Joan was competent in so many areas being able to turn her hand to anything. Some examples of her sculptures are still to be seen around her garden. A piece of note is the ceramic chain which holds the gate open. Through her textile weaving and dying, she created exquisite dolls and articles of clothing, in particular the children’s clothing. Some of the household furniture she had also made. Apart from making her own bread, yoghurt, jam etc, she was a gourmet cook giving parties and serving the food on her own dinner service. I found her still in her last years making her own cumquat jam from her own home grown cumquats. Her garden was a beautiful rambling bush garden where she loved to spend time. Even in her last weeks and months you could find her gardening. In past years her garden was part of the Beaumaris Open Gardens event where various gardens were open to viewing by the public. Being one of the first gardens in the area it had remained true to the bush setting, and even now the road to her house is still not curbed. She was also a member of the conservation group till the end. Joan loved to make the fire in the lounge room every evening and was still doing it this winter. She was also part of U3A travelling there whatever the weather in her motorized wheelchair.
On Friday 22nd Sept a party was held at the Sandringham Yacht Club to celebrate Joan’s life where some loving tributes were made by the family and friends. Her daughter Mary gave a moving overview of Joan’s life, relating some special memories, such as when mum made her a new dress she also made her a doll with the same dress. Ian her son gave an amusing account of when the kiln was switched on and firing they could not use the stove, thus delaying the meal. Some of Joan’s beautiful dolls and pottery and garments were displayed on a table. One knitted top, made from thread unravelled from parachute cord, particularly drew my eye, as it was so fine and intricate. Sadly we said farewell to a well loved and talented person whom we shall miss very much.