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Thursday, 10 October 1985
Page: 981


Senator WATSON(1.01) —Mr Deputy President, there is an unfortunate Australian tradition of seldom recognising artists or people of distinction as they progress along the journey of their chosen careers. Fortunately, there are exceptions or pockets of light where encouragement is given to Australians of national and international repute. Sale in Victoria is one such town which has become a mecca for artists, writers and other creative people. However, while much revenue is generated from this area, little is returned to the arts. To compound these difficulties, the Sale Gallery has not received funding from the Visual Arts Board of the Australia Council since 1976, despite annual submissions. However, a number of craft items on display at the gallery from time to time have been purchased with the assistance of the Crafts Board of the Australia Council.

Fortunately, such financial or material matters have not dismayed people such as: Charles McCubbin, a painter and an expert in butterflies and a consultant to the Zoological Board of Victoria; writer Marion le Cheminant; and artists Marie Ingrouille and Annemieke Mein-to name but a few.

Earlier this week I was one of a number who were privileged to be invited by Peter Synan, the Mayor of Sale, to attend a public reception given in honour of, perhaps, Australia's most talented artist, Annemieke Mein, in recognition of her creative genius in designing of the six bronze sculptures erected in the Sale Mall. Peter Synan is not the typical town mayor coming from the traditional backgrounds of the legal fraternity or the business community. Peter is a school teacher, with special interests in history. He envisaged the need for the council to acknowledge in an appropriate way the efforts of some of the district's early pioneers. It was Peter Synan's brainchild to erect a `Wall of Fame' on to which Annemieke's bronze sculptures were erected.

I believe that the Mayor and the City of Sale are to be congratulated on their vision in supporting the installation of these six fine sculp- tures depicting such important local identities as Nehemiah Guthridge; Angus McMillan; the explorer, naturalist, scientist and anthropologist, Alfred William Howitt; Shire President, Premier of Victoria, and first member of the House of Representatives in Federal Parliament, Allan McLean; a royal command singer, Ada Crossley; and the well known author of the Billabong series and author of other famous works, Mary Grant Bruce.

This artist, Annemieke Mein, who was responsible for the design of these sculptures, has skills in a variety of mediums, including sketching, painting, applique and machine embroidery. She has received both national and international acclaim. In fact, those who know her will remember her highly successful exhibitions, which have been held in Hong Kong, London and Edinburgh, and the frequency of her work appearing in Australian journals and other periodicals. Her work is held in such high regard that she was asked to prepare an exhibit for the permanent display in the new permanent Parliament House in Canberra, which is due to be opened in 1988, our bicentennial year.

Unfortunately for Australia, government red tape imposed just so many restrictions on both her time and her creativity that she felt that she had to decline this invitation. Like so many other outstanding artists, Annemieke has found that the spark of creative genius stems from an empathy with nature. There is an obvious love of life-of all creation-in her work. Her brilliance is tied up with her attention to detail and her knowledge of what makes living things tick. So often the great achievers of this world are to be found not in the metropolitan areas but in the country, closer to the world of nature. I am sure that those bronze sculptures displayed in the Sale Mall will be much admired and cared for by the people of Sale and be a source of pleasure and inspiration to all those who take the time to stop and examine them.

Mr Deputy President, I seek the leave of the Senate to table some notes regarding the inspiration, ideas, concepts, philosophy constraints and execution of the six historical bas-relief bronzes, so that the wider community can appreciate the genius and the meticulous attention to detail of a great Australian artist, Annemieke Mein.

Leave granted.


Senator WATSON —I trust that many may be inspired by her works of art.

Sitting suspended from 1.07 to 2 p.m.