Art with Soul in the Anam Cara Art Show

Artist, Joy Durran, has hundreds, maybe even thousands, of pastels in every colour of the rainbow. In her studio, elegant wooden boxes and sturdy fishing tackle containers are full to overflowing with pastels grouped by hue and shade. A half finished landscape sits on an easel near the window where the natural light is brightest, and on the floor a large felt bag protects finished paintings ready for the inaugural Anam Cara Art Show. The art show is a fundraiser for Anam Cara House, a palliative care and respite facility in Geelong.

Judging by the number of paintings hanging on her studio walls, Durran has been prolific. In fact, she has completed 500 pastel paintings since her retirement from a 30-year teaching career in 1994. “I did a lot of drawing when I was a teacher,” Durran says. “Because I was used to drawing on the blackboard, it was easy to go from chalk to pastel. I retired early and straight away I booked into a class. Glenys Bryant taught pencil, charcoal and pastel and it was her influence that I got to love pastel.”

Durran is well known for her pastel paintings of Port Fairy where she stays every Christmas but she also paints rural and coastal scenes around Geelong which she often completes plein air. Some of these paintings are in the Anam Cara Art Show such as Bannockburn Hero, a pastel painting of a magnificent gumtree gnarled with age, situated on the outskirts of town. The land used to be owned by her husband’s grandfather who planted vines there and later an apricot orchard. “I called it Bannockburn Hero because the tree has lasted all these years and hasn’t fallen down.”

Although inspired by coastal scenery, inland waterways and high country views, Durran is also interested in the history of the areas she paints. She has depicted the Fyansford Cement Works and other sites of historical interest. Durran has won a swag of prizes in regional art shows including First Prize in the Colac Art Show, Port Fairy Art Show, Geelong Art Society Open Show, and the Geelong Agricultural Show. Despite this success she keeps her feet firmly on the ground and she often donates her work to organisations for fundraisers.

True to her generous spirit, she is donating 50% of the proceeds from sold paintings in the art show to Anam Cara House. Durran and her husband Jim have been long time supporters of the hospice. ‘Anam Cara’ is Gaelic for ‘soul friend’ and opened in 2008 to provide care for people who have a life-limiting illness – many of whom may only have days or weeks to live. It also offers accommodation for families visiting relatives in the nearby hospitals.

“I like the idea that if you’re at the end of your life, you’ve got somewhere almost luxurious to go, to die peacefully,” says Durran. “And it is good for people who live out of Geelong. They can come in and stay and be with their relative in the last part of their life.”

Volunteer coordinator and palliative care nurse, Jane Denning, says guests walk in to Anam Cara and feel at home. “It’s a home away from home. We’re not a hospital. We’re not a nursing home.  We’re in-between. We don’t have visiting hours so family and friends can come and go as they please. They are given a key to the front door. They can bring in their pets. It’s their home.”

Anam Cara offers holistic care which addresses the spiritual, emotional and physical care that people need, especially when dealing with the difficulties of illness or impending death. A range of other services are offered which include day activities, complementary therapies and education.

As a community service Anam Cara relies on volunteers and donations to keep operations going and this is the first time an art show has been organised as a fundraiser. Durran is exhibiting seven paintings in the show including Pomegranates which won Best Exhibit in the Geelong Show. Other artists participating in the show are Bev Coridas, Steve Tyack, Lauren Barton, Lisa Craig and Marg MCGillivray. There will also be photography by Gloria Wolfgang and jewellery by Tina Hales.

The Anam Cara Art Show is on Saturday 2 July, 10am to 4pm for one day only. It is being held in Pioneer Hall, St Mary’s Hall, 150 Yarra Street, Geelong. Entry to the show is with a gold coin donation.

You can find out more about Anam Cara at
Joy Durran’s work can often be found in regional art shows and the Geelong Art Society’s Shearers Arms Gallery.

Thanks to Joy Durran for allowing me to publish the images below of her work.

Bannockburn Hero, Joy Durran.

Mr Highett’s Dam of the Barwon River, Joy Durran.

Pomegranates, Joy Durran.

Queenscliff at Port Phillip Heads, Joy Durran.

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