Artist Pat Elkin is well known for her contribution to the local arts. she has been the recent recipient of the very prestigious imagine award.
How long have you lived in Armidale?
I came to Armidale with my husband Peter and our children Anthony, Stephen and Cathy in 1972, when Peter was appointed Head of the English Department, UNE.
We lived in an old house on 200 acres at Kelly’s Plains and built on another part of the property, where we remained until 2000. Anthony went to live in Tasmania, Stephen joined National Parks and Wildlife, where he still remains and lives in Armidale with his wife and two daughters. Cathy went to school at PLC and Armidale High and now lives at Yellow Rock with her husband, three sons, a daughter-in-law and grandson – our first great grandson!
As I was always a keen horsewoman, I was able to establish a Connemara Pony stud, combined with some cattle and sheep, and I taught horsemanship at PLC. I also became involved with Pony Club, the Armidale Riding Club and the art community.
Tell us about your recent award?
The IMAGinE Award is presented annually to an individual who has been a regular volunteer in either a museum or art gallery within NSW and the ACT.
I knew nothing about this award before receiving it, but now realise it is quite prestigious. I don’t know how many were put forward to compete for this award, but feel excited and privileged to have received it. I’m sure there are many volunteers in NERAM who could have received this award, but I hope I can encourage others to become volunteers.
What personal rewards do you gain from volunteering at NERAM?
I was involved with the group of artists and townspeople who planned the building of NERAM, when it was originally just a couple of rooms above the old fire station and have helped and watched it grow to the fine gallery it now is.
As an artist myself, it helps me to see and be familiar on a personal basis with the wonderful collections held in NERAM and to feel part of the staff (as a volunteer). It’s exciting unpacking and helping to hang a travelling show, or one featuring some of the NERAM collections – even doing mundane work like filing and cleaning walls before an exhibition.
It’s all in a happy atmosphere. I enjoy just being there and absorbing all the artwork as each exhibition changes.
How has the Packsaddle Artists Studio evolved?
Packsaddle started 25 years ago, when a group of artist friends and I closed our commercial gallery The Gallery Image, and as we had made good connections with well known artists and Sydney Galleries, we decided to hold annual fundraising exhibitions to help the newly built NERAM.
Our aim was to bring the best of Australian art we could obtain from well known and emerging artists together, so the community could compare different styles of painting or printing and to educate and assist young artists and school groups.
It has been a great success, with funds directed to various projects such as acquisitions, gallery lighting, conservation and the Packsaddle Artists Studio.
Next year we plan to purchase a major work to fill a gap in the present collection.
Describe your Lake Eyre experience.
That flight was something special, with the water still flowing into the lake from Cooper Creek. The charter plane organised by The Men’s Shed with only 8 seats was able to fly very low, so we all had a great view. We stayed overnight in Maree and took a land tour to the southern edge of Lake Eyre with a wonderful guide and were able to walk on the salty edge of this huge expanse of water. Quite a unique, exciting experience.
The colours were beautiful pastel blues, pinks and whites, with the occasional ochre, sandy red and olive. I was inspired to paint my recollection of it – to be sold, with proceeds divided between the Men’s Shed and NERAM.
Plans for the future?
I shall remain as involved with Packsaddle and NERAM as much as I possibly can, and of course, go on with my own painting and play a round of golf or two.
Thank you Pat.