Creativity comes to Berwick artist Glo Edkins in sweeping, colourful brush strokes.
But the energetic painter, who has entered six portraits into the prestigious Archibald Prize, says creativity seems to be a dying art.
Ms Edkins has had her third portrait accepted at a state-based Salon des Refuses – a select exhibition of paintings that didn’t make the Archibald final cut of 42. Or also known as the ones that got away.
This year’s painting was of a treasured friend and arts volunteer Jill Page, who recently received an Order of Australia Medal.
“I tell all my friends they should do something special, and I can put them in the Archibald,” Ms Edkins jokes.
“I drew (Jill) as if she’s on stage holding a sheet of music in her hand.
“She’s sort of smiling at us like Mona Lisa.”
It’s what Ms Edkins calls a traditional portrait, something different to this year’s controversial Archibald winner.
“I thought the aim of the Archibald was to get a likeness of a person,” she says of the winner.
“If that’s what they want, next time I won’t make the effort!”
Ms Edkins says the skill of portraiture – which requires studying human beings – is being overwhelmed by photo realism. Even among Archibald works.
“People are tracing and colouring in their photos. It’s all the rage and look lovely.”
It points to a dying in creativity, she says.
“It’s extremely important that people have their own thinking and tell their own stories in painting or in writing.
“Now they’re just referring to Google!”
Her other Archibald entries have been former mayors Shar Balmes, Janet Halsall and Lorraine Wreford as well as Casey arts administrator Megan McMahon and surgeon and lecturer Bruce Waxman.
Halsall, McMahon and Waxman were subsequently selected for the Salon des Refuses.
A great inspiration was working as a PA to the late Dr Joseph Brown, a prolific Australian art collector whose collection was donated to the National Gallery of Victoria.
Staring at the genius of Arthur Boyd on a daily basis was both intimidating and inspiring, she said.
Hidden Faces: The 2017 Victorian Salon des Refuses is on from 28 August-10 September at Pan Pacific Melbourne , South Wharf, 2 Convention Centre Place, Melbourne.
Ms Edkins is also guest portrait artist at Prominence Art Society and Berwick Art Society’s “The Greatest Art Show” at Nossal High School auditorium, 100 Clyde Road, Berwick, on 23 and 24 September, 10am-5pm.
Outgoing Narre Warren South MP Judith Couacaud Graley says she’s proud of her legacy but won’t miss the “toxicity” of today’s politics.
Ms Graley says she was overwhelmed by a long list of Facebook well-wishers soon after she posted her decision on 19 August not to seek re-election.
Since then, Treasurer Tim Pallas feted her with flowers in her parliamentary office and Premier Daniel Andrews took her aside to wish her well, she says.
Days before, when she rang Mr Andrews to tell him, he said: “That’s not the news I wanted to hear.”
Ms Graley says her decision to end her 12-year tenure was her own.
Like Western Bulldogs great Bob Murphy, she didn’t have enough “petrol” in the tank to commit to another four-year term.
“Politics is a really hard gig. It takes 110 per cent of your effort.
“I’d feel I’d be letting people down if I couldn’t do that.”
With ALP pre-selection for the seat set to start in September, it was best to declare her hand early, she said.
“I’ve been contemplating it for a little while,” she said.
“It was becoming difficult to pretend I hadn’t made the decision.”
She plays down the “beat-up” of her three-page report into a taxpayer-funded international trip into a possible boutique museum in Melbourne in 2015.
It tells of a politics that is “a lot more toxic than it used to be”.
“People are much more cruel … on both sides.
“There’s a damaging view on politicians. It’s been fed by social media and it’s not helping to preserve a good democracy and a good civic culture.”
She says she has since submitted “Part 2” of her travel report to Parliament, which she would later elaborate upon.
“I believe that trip has an incredible value to every woman and family in Victoria.”
In her remaining 14 months, Ms Graley plans to see in the opening of Casey Tech School, as well as upgrades to Kambrya College and Narre Warren South P-12 College.
There is also the removal of a level crossing and upgrade of Thompsons Road, and the start of a Casey Hospital re-development to come, she says.
Ms Graley is proud of $1 billion of roads being built in her electorate as well as nine new schools during her three terms.
Still more infrastructure, particularly roads, are sorely needed in the fast-growing South-East.
“I understand the frustration and the anger and talk to that all the time and relay it to the Treasurer.
“It’s almost like the growth is so incredibly quick that infrastructure lags behind it.”
Ms Graley says the government was playing “catch-up” after four “lost” years of the previous Liberal State Government.
In that term, “not one road was completed, not one school built and there was not one upgrade to our schools,” she said.
As parliamentary education secretary, she also plans to keep rolling out the schools Respectful Relationships program to tackle family violence.
After the 2018 state election, Ms Graley intends to continue being an advocate for education and women.
With her children getting married, buying a house and starting a business, she is also set to deliver “free labour from Mum”.
“I look forward to doing that again.”
John Hurley started his teaching career 55 years ago at a small school in the Strzelecki Ranges.
He was 19 years old. There was no electricity, no phones and 28 students.
“It was fantastic. I loved it,” he said.
The Thomas Mitchell Primary School principal relied on a scholarship to finish his own schooling.
“My parents were not at all wealthy,” he said.
“I think it was 50 pounds at the time.”
Mr Hurley was “very, very proud” that Narre Warren North MP Luke Donnellan recognised his subsequent service to education with a presentation at the Endeavour Hills school on Friday 11 August.
“It was a surprise – Luke coming out and having an assembly and all that sort of thing,” he said.
“He wasn’t asked to do it or anything like that. He organised to come along and he presented me with a lovely plaque and also a personal book on my favourite football team, Collingwood Football Club.
“The kids were spectacularly fantastic.
“The whole 800 of them were there, as quiet as can be when I went into the assembly area.
“After school, the staff got together and I had no idea about it, and put on a lovely party for me at school after school.”
Mr Hurley is in his 26th year at Thomas Mitchell, having come on board as founding principal in 1991 after heading up Cranbourne Primary School.
“For me the ultimate satisfaction for a job would be to start your own school, so I decided that was what I wanted to do,” he said.
“There were three schools opening at the one time.
“There was Coral Park, Thomas Mitchell and the other was Maramba.
“I did some research and the information I came up with was that this would be the most interesting school to start – most interesting because of the multicultural community.”
This multiculturalism has kept him at the school.
“They’re just wonderful families and kids because they get on so well together,” he said.
“There’s more than 70 nationalities.
“It’s just lovely to see them getting on so well and learning from each other and teaching me lots of things
“There’s so much that I don’t know – and I’ve travelled a fair bit – they can tell me so much.
“I’ve met wonderful people on the way.
“I’m still in touch with kids I taught 50 years ago.”
Former Casey mayor Mick Morland could be set to be immortalised in an annual community scholarship in his name.
Casey council is set to consult with the Morland family on how best to recognise the late councillor, who was fatally struck by a car in Berwick in June.
In a motion on 15 August, Casey will also seek to name a suitable facility or feature after Mr Morland.
The council will also seek to donate $25,000 to the philanthropic Casey Cardinia Foundation towards establishing a Mick Morland scholarship towards a purpose reflecting his interests.
The donation would come from the council’s 2016/’17 surplus.
Cr Susan Serey, who was Mr Morland’s most recent ward colleague, said it was an apt way to recognise his 25 years of community service.
Cr Amanda Stapledon said it was the most constructive way to pay tribute.
“I think Mick would definitely approve.”
Mayor Sam Aziz said the council would discuss the plan with the Morland clan to ensure their wishes were considered.
Since 2003, the Casey Cardinia Foundation has distributed more than $430,000 to community groups through its annual grants program.
Foundation director Paul Thomas welcomed the fitting tribute to Mr Morland.
“It’s a great initiative by the City of Casey remembering a man held in high esteem and who contributed significantly to the local community.
“It’s a recognition of all the hard work that Mick did with the community.
“It will be a great way to provide more assistance to the community through the foundation.”