News & Events

Seeing life through Dawn’s eyes

December 7, 2017

Dawn Sullivan started looking at the world through a lens more than 40 years ago. In those days it was to capture every step her daughter took. She still loves photographing her family but these days Dawn is also capturing on film the people, events and wildlife at OCAV’s Leith Park village. The bushland around Leith Park in St Helena has provided Dawn with many ‘subjects’ to photograph, especially the birdlife.


Many of Dawn’s photos, taken during her 13 years at Leith Park, will be used in the displays being prepared for OCAV’s 150th celebrations in 2019. She has unwittingly recorded much of the village’s development in the past decade or so. She is also photographing some of the current redevelopment, which involves a $14.9 million investment and an additional 46 state of the art independent living units bringing the total number of units on the site to 140.


“I remember when I first came to have a look at Leith Park and I thought, this is home, this is where I can live and feel safe. I fell in love with this place straight away and I still feel that way,” Dawn said.


Many of Dawn’s photos of events, people and wildlife are printed and put in albums that are in the community hall for people to flick through. She wants people to enjoy the view through her eyes.


“I think I must be a pretty simple person because I love to stop and look at the birds and watch how they move and relate to each other and how the birds feed their young, and then I photograph it. I hope other people get some pleasure from what I see. Some people when they get older seem to lose interest in the wonders of nature all around them. They don’t seem to just stop and look,” she said.


Dawn loves photographing some of the regulars around the Leith Park village, including her favourites, the rainbow lorikeets, kookaburras and echidnas.


In recent years Dawn has taught herself to use computer programs in order to enhance her work or turn it into a resource.  She made a series of greeting cards that were sold and all money raised went to buy large print books for the village’s hall library and for Liscombe House residents. To mark Leith Park’s 50th anniversary in 2013 Dawn put together a DVD, which featured a collection of her favourite images that best captured the life at Leith Park. She also included photos from the Leith Park archives to cover the five decades. These too were sold to buy books. The DVD has proved an excellent resource for the Leith Park residents working on a display for OCAV’s 150th celebrations.


“It’s exciting working out how to do new things with photos or on the computer. I really enjoy learning,” she said.


As well as her photography Dawn is also a keen gardener and has created a fairy garden, with a solar powered fairy house, that is also a bit of a show stopper. She delights in the pleasure the garden seems to give others who stop and smile. Many residents also bring visiting grandchildren down to Dawn’s garden to find the fairies.

Postscript: Dawn Sullivan has left Leith Park to live with her family.

"I love the fact that Rushall Park residents and volunteers are so active – contributing to life in the village. The sense of the community is strong which is why I put my name on the waiting list" - Maggie Birkett.

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