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Friends join forces to show artworks

September 30, 2016

Leith Park residentAnne Partridge's crochet

Anne Partridge, like so many older people, defies stereotypes. At 80 she is celebrating the first exhibition of her stunning, experimental free form crochet works at the Eltham Library.

Anne, a resident at the Old Colonists Association of Victoria’s aged care facility at Leith Park, has been creating masterpieces for almost 60 years. She paints watercolours, writes and has designed the free form crocheted garments, wall hangings, quilts and furniture pieces that comprise the month-long exhibition.

The ten works are all made using an intricate spiral crochet technique. The vibrant coloured threads used are very fine and the stitches so small they create the look of a fabric. On closer inspection you can identify the millions of stitches that have gone into each piece. Anne makes the separate pieces and then stitches them together to create a floral, and sometimes abstract looking fabric.

Anne’s work might have remained unseen by the public except for mosaic artist Shaaron Smith, a volunteer at Leith Park. She began volunteering at the aged care facility a couple of years ago and met Anne during a craft group session. Shaaron was struck by Anne’s work and recognised her extraordinary talent.

“Anne’s use of colour and shape is stunning. One of the pieces, a large quilt is made of very small spiral designs that Anne creates bit-by-bit and then stitches together. It really is amazing work,” Shaaron said.

“Her work is interesting because she can go between creating roses and flowers to very abstract designs in the one piece. Then another piece, or flower is created and stitched over the top.”

Anne’s work is made using scraps she found lying around her house. The base of the pouffe she made is a biscuit tin that is then covered in cardboard, paper and foam and finally the crochet fabric is stretched over it.

Anne, a widow, first moved into Leith Park’s independent units in 2009 and she herself began volunteering straight away.  With a background in nursing, she felt comfortable volunteering to drive people to doctors’ appointments. Interestingly, as an artist she also helped with the craft group, and is well known to many people in the village. Last year she moved to Leith Park’s aged care facility.

Shaaron and Anne don’t just share a love of the creative arts; they have forged a lovely friendship over the past couple of years. Shaaron encouraged Anne to exhibit her work, though Anne ‘had never in her wildest dreams thought she would have her work exhibited’. Volunteering at Leith Park has brought Shaaron great joy and inspiration.

“Lot’s of people think that to create something you need to go out, spend a lot of money buying kits or bits and pieces. But Anne’s work shows how you can just look around your own space and find things to use. Anne herself is a great example of how you can just get out there and do it,” Shaaron said.

“So many older people have ‘treasures’ hidden away; talents that have enabled them to create things, to do things that are really special.”

“That’s why I encouraged Anne to show her work, I mean why not let everyone see how wonderful this is.”

Anne is awaiting surgery on her eye and until then her creative pursuits are on hold. She also suffers a bit of arthritis on the tips of her fingers, but doesn’t let that stop her.

Anne Partridge’s exhibition at the Eltham Library ran throughout September 2016.








Volunteering is important to Deb, enabling her to contribute in the aged care sector. “I love it when the residents get downright cheeky. I love it when we get a bit too loud with laughing."

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