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Welcome to Ann’s stunning garden

November 13, 2018

Ann Greenwood might be a newcomer to OCAV’s Braeside Park village in Berwick, but in the art world, she has been admired as a textile artist for decades. Ann has spent much of her life telling stories and creating ideas using thread as her medium, firstly as a weaver and then as an embroiderer.

The Peacock Garden, an exhibition of Ann’s stunning embroidery, can be seen from November 24 at the Gippsland Art Gallery in Sale.

Ann came to Braeside Park earlier this year after spending many years in the Gippsland area. Moving to Braeside Park has provided her with welcomed security.

“I fit into the demographic of older women without enough superannuation to secure housing, so being accepted into Braeside Park is wonderful in this stage of my life,” Ann said.

At 79 Ann has acquired a reputation as a leading textile artist and teacher, since she took up weaving to try and manage post-natal depression more than 50 years ago.

Ann trained and worked as a primary school teacher in the 1950s, back in the days when a teacher had to leave her job when she was pregnant. She had thought to return to the primary classroom but discovered weaving and taught that to adults instead.

A friend had introduced her to the weaving loom on which she began to make functional pieces, such as rugs and fabric lengths, but soon progressed to large scale artworks

“It was my passion and I loved it. I also loved teaching weaving because it was an opportunity to encourage women to express themselves through weaving,” Ann said.

Weaving was not only a healing process but also a chance for Ann to express her creativity – something she had never recognised in herself. Others liked what Ann created and her large pieces have been shown in many Australian galleries.
Ann’s contribution to the artistic progression of fibre art in Australia is also featured in art and academic publications.

In 1995 illness put an end to Ann’s weaving, but opened up other opportunities. At almost 60 she started her artistic career over again and began embroidering small, abstract pieces of work, mostly within a circular format, and discovered that embroidery too was as much a medium for expressing ideas as weaving had been.

No one was more surprised than Ann herself because she only knew two embroidery stitches.

“I had been working for years on large scale woven pieces, but during my illness I had all these images in my mind and they flooded out. I needed to get the images onto cloth. For eight years I was compulsive in my embroidery,” Ann said.

“I never had any intention to show my work, it was always about trying to understand my own journey and it was a wonderful experience.”

While she has great regard for traditional embroiderers, Ann’s work is abstract, often circular in design and featuring strong colours, including silver and gold to create light.

This exhibition features some of the last of Ann’s embroidered works as her eyes no longer serve her well enough for that creative purpose. But as she did in 1995, Ann has peacefully let go of that part of her life and embraced her new life at Braeside Park.

She loves where she lives and the friendliness of the people in the village, who she joins for a tea or coffee every Monday morning in the community room.

“I love to read and I still keep a journal. There is so much still to learn and explore,” Ann said. “Some people have asked how I cannot weave or embroider any more. But I am very comfortable with where I am now in my life. Perhaps it’s more about living creatively as we get older.

“Living here means I have a home in a community where there is a great respect for privacy and personal space, the best of both worlds.”

The Peacock Garden exhibition, features 30 framed pieces from three series and is open until January 27th 2019.

Evon makes it a priority to help people make the move into a village as easy as possible. She also works to ensure the new residents feel a strong sense of welcome and belonging.

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