Anne Collins

Artist Extraordinaire

Artist Background

 

At 93 years of age (yes, you read that right), Anne Collins is one of Brisbane's oldest practising artists. But age never enters into the equation, as Anne is also one of the most active individuals you could meet. Furthermore, Anne isn't known for her age, but rather her story, her work and the messages she has to share.

In 1937, Anne, alongside her family travelled by boat from Guernsey Island (part of the Channel Islands) to Sydney, Australia - a trip that took almost three years. With a multiple generation family now strewn all across the world, Anne has travelled far and wide - but never as a tourist - capturing history to share through her artwork.

In 2016, Anne and Ruth Francis hosted a joint exhibition at the Royal Queensland Art Society, titled 'A Journey of Faces and Places'. This exhibition was a testament to Anne's curiosity over the many inhabitants of West End and their stories that have never been explored.

Anne's sense of humanity and her insatiable appetite for experience, perhaps is the driving force, not only behind her work, but also her life. This is why during her spare time, Anne can be found in a couple of places: -

  • At Aspire Gallery, exhibiting in Group Exhibitions;
  • At the Silk Shed Studio in Toowong - which she runs with Ruth Francis;
  • On a street in West End, capturing the many interesting characters she comes across;
  • Adventuring with one of the many, many art groups she is a part of; or
  • Enjoying a documentary, exhibition or display to stimulate her mind.

Available Artwork

Snake Road
  • Acrylic
  • The Sogeri Road, or 'Snake Road', between Port Moresby and Sogeri weaves back and around itself along the curving foothills and mountainside. Originally built as a walking track, the road was expanded during wartime to facilitate military movement to the start of the Kokoda Trail. Then, from 1942-1943, many hospitals, Salvation Army Red Cross stations and other support units were placed along this road - hence the cross, in my work.
$800
We Are As One
  • Photography
  • My concept in my art work is that we are a throw away society with both people and things nothing is lasting, there seems to be no safe home or country for so many human beings . So I used cardboard from the recycle bin to make my figures that can also be easily disposed of. The world today is in a frightening situation so what is to become of it and us?
$150
Down the Slippery Path of Life
  • Photography
  • My concept in my art work is that we are a throw away society with both people and things nothing is lasting, there seems to be no safe home or country for so many human beings . So I used cardboard from the recycle bin to make my figures that can also be easily disposed of. The world today is in a frightening situation so what is to become of it and us?
$150
Goulies and Ghosties
  • Acrylic
$700

From the Channel Islands to Australia

At 93 years of age, Anne Collins is one of Brisbane's oldest practicing artists and certainly has a story to tell.

Early Life

Anne was born on the Island of Guernsey in 1924, and because of this, the history and traditions of her ancestors has had an enduring influence on her.

Anne had a happy childhood - playing amongst her family's large gardens or escaping to the attic as the bookworm she was - and was also blessed with the finer things in life - from electricity to the radio. Her parents, in their early thirities, were a modern thinking couple, rather unconventional, with ideas not always acceptable to the island society of the day. She was provided with freedom, as the Island was considered very safe during that time; however, rules were still a very promient part of her upbringing: -

"Looking back, it appeared rules controlled our lives. To exist happily we have to coexist with one another, if we have no discipline, respect or rules, the world around us would be chotic. To survive in an ordered society, it is important to be aware of our obligations in life".

Considered a child from "a good family", Anne was expected to conduct herself in a manner that befitted her so called status in life, but often her halo frequently slipped. This attitude might semm pretentious in today's society, but Anne and her family lived in a small community where division in society were observed and status was everything. "The emphasis was not on money, it was focused on class and breeding".

Anne was sent to a private school run by three maiden ladies educated at Durham University, in an era when few women were educated to a high level. Their teaching methods were highly original - encouraging students to progress at their own pace, with an emphasis placed on intelectually stimulating young minds with free thinking ideas.

Anne says she believed this idyllic life would continue forever, but at one point, the depression finally reached her shores.

Life Changes

During a holiday in London at age eleven, Anne's grandfather tried to explain, as best as he could, the events leading up to the depression. Looking back:

"The catacylsmic collapse of world trade, combined with the miserabke economic situation was blamed for toppling Democracies, bringing Facist governments to power in Germany, Italy and japan, and was to provoke the Second World War (althought we weren't to know it then), and strange as it seems, mobilization of manpower following the outbreak of war finally ended unemployment. It's rather ironic to think the frabic of society changes because of war. Unemployment caused by World War One, employment empowered by World War Two."

But this dreadful depression, affected the entire world, including Anne's home of the Channel Islands, and its ramifications changed her family's lives forever.

Tomato growers, including Anne's father, suffered greatly with serious drops in prices (the biggest since 1916), expenses doubling and cheap imports from Holland. Money became scarce, and a decision was made to sell her much beloved childhood home and rent at the other end of the Island. Anne and her brothers moved school, to one that was kind but firm - making Anne question if young ladies were allowed to do anything at all. Times were tough, but Anne's parents were determined to give her and her brothers a good education, so her time at the new school proved happy for her.

But the move was stressful to all, - with Anne's father often found gazing nostalgically out to see, with his attitude placing a lot of pressure on Anne's mother:

"Furious battles ensured. Poltically we [the children], knew when to disappear and when to return. We were the proverbial meat in the sandwich, with my father trying to soothe the savage beast (my mother) and mother frustrated with father's obdurate behavior and lack of understanding".

Whilst some pedigreed goats were purchased to assist family finances with service fees and milk sales, eventually this new business went downhill over the new two yers along with the sliding economy. After many heated discussions, Anne's parents finally decided to buy a boat and sail to Australia - a land of opprtunity they told us.

When the lease expired on their house, Anne's father, unable to find alternative accomodation, suggested camping on the clips. Family offered to put a roof over their head until a boat was found; however, Anne's family declined with respect - knowing they were struggling with their own lives as well. Anne and her youngest brother still attended school, with friends fascinated with their way of life. Anne and her family, lived camping on the cliffs for a month, before Anne's father found a boat. Believing their hardships were over, they sighed with relief - but unfortunately it was just the beginning.

The boat was a dilapidated fishing vessel,with questions raised over whether it was even seaworthy. But after some large alterations, the boat was finally livable. Anne's mother was allowed to bring a small collection of her family's possession - but, unbeknowst to her mother, her father systematically plundered them to sustain their living (Anne once saw a collection of pewter in the Sydney museum, and is postive it was the family pewter brought out by boat). Moored in the Albert Dock - local inhabitants placed bets on the improbability of Anne's family ever leaving their safe haven, but alas a departure date was decided. And on October 16th 1937, Anne's family became pioneers, boat people, refugees - leaving freiends and family behind. 

The Trip

From the Channel Islands, to Cancale, to the Canaries, to the West Indies, to Panama Canal. Then to Balboa to prepare for the Pacific, and mastering the Pacific Ocean before arriving in Tahiti, then Western Samoa and stopping in Fiji, the last stop before Australia.

"Each child was in charfe of the ship under sail in the Pacific Ocean, for 156 hours, on that particular leg of the voyage from the Fiji Islands to Sydney heads".

On December 15th 1939, nearly three years after sailing from their home - Anne and her family arrived in Sydney, Australia.

"A pilot boat "The Capitain Cook" pulled alongisde, and asked where we hailed from, "Suva" was our reply. "Where is the shop from?" "Guernsey". He gave us a disbelieving look and waved us inside Sydney Harbour"

Customs and Doctors finally caught up, after searcing every corner of the harbour when they moored at Berry's Bay - finding it very hard to believe they had sailed from the Channel Islands with such a small crew, and very little in the way of navigational aids, shaking their heads and leaving them with puzzled looks.

Want to see more from Anne Collins?

 

Whilst Anne is incredibly savy with technology for her age, this is currently the only online platform for her work.

But you can check our 'Artists on Show' to see if Anne is exhibiting, follow our Facebook to see what Anne is currently up to, or drop Aspire Gallery an email if you have any questions.

 

Interested in Buying?

WORKS ONLINE

Anne Collins has elected for any purchases to be made through Aspire Gallery.

If you are interested in viewing or purchasing a piece or for further details you should contact:

email: info@aspiregallery.com.au

phone: (07) 3368 1514

**please note that any purchases may incur an additional cost for packaging and posting**

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