I love art, I love sculpture, I love visual arts, I love performing arts, I love theatre, and I trained initially as a drama teacher. In every area of the arts I find inspiration.

At the moment I volunteer at the National Gallery of Australia. One of the things that I have as my rationale for doing this is, at the very, very end of the day if kids love and enjoy and appreciate art, they’re less likely to go out and pick up a gun and shoot someone or decide to go to war. For me, there’s a correlation between those two things.

Part of my voluntary commitment is as deputy chair of M16 Art Space in Griffith. We’re at a turning point for M16 and I really want to explore how much more embedded in our community we can become through the visual arts, and also, what alliances we can make across arts bodies and other arts practices in the ACT.

I’m going to be 65 this year and that means I’m post retirement. I’ll have more time to actually work on community issues, to work with community—so volunteering has taken a larger role in my life. One thing that has remained constant is that I am passionate about the arts and I’m just as passionate about a strong and vibrant, healthy community wherever I live and wherever I am.

Maintaining your health and wellbeing in Canberra is very easy. Doctors, fantastic. Health services, fantastic. You can also say to your mates “which doctor did you go to?” and “were they good or bad?” There’s a terrific choice of really high quality of service provision.

Being a woman means I’m probably always going to have weight issues! On the positive side, however, it also means that I’m aware that there’s a female sensibility and I think the older you get, the wiser you get. One of the important things as far as that goes, is that women bring different things to the table than what men do. We need both, we need to be much better at complementarity of the sexes, rather than setting up false dichotomies. I think there are differences, and that differences need to be honoured, to be respected, and they need to actually be brought to the fore, and to act as a challenge. I think feminine perspectives are as valid as male perspectives and one is not necessarily more valid than the other.

The hardest thing about being a woman in Canberra? I think as you get older you become more irreverent, so nothing is that hard. I think the thing that I personally find hard—and it has nothing to do with Canberra—is standing up for myself. I’m always going to be a better advocate for others than I will ever be, and have ever been for myself. I know that’s a career limiting thing for women in Canberra and I don’t think we’ve all got around that yet. I mean you meet the most extraordinary women and yet they don’t always know that they’re extraordinary.

The best things about being a woman in Canberra? Everything. Going walking with women friends. And what a place to play tennis! Canberra’s a joy because everything is accessible, and being a woman in Canberra you have access to some incredibly bright, intelligent and committed women who all have extraordinary stories to tell and who have done amazing things in the public and private sectors. You have access to the most amazing people and to top it all off, your dinner conversations and your lunch conversations are fantastic.

Another favourite thing of mine is that I canoe. Three months of the year I’m away and I live in a very beautiful part of the world. I canoe around this island or group of islands in the Mediterranean. It is the best hit of meditation, peace and love. There are moments when you’re out there and you feel like you are absolutely at one with the universe.

If I could confront the colour of the lake I would start my perfect day by canoeing! If not, I would walk down to the foreshore and have a cup of coffee and then have a look at Megalo, the Glassworks and Photo Access. Then I would go to Manuka, and to M16. I would have lunch at one of the galleries—that’d be the Portrait Gallery, I really like the Portrait Gallery. And finish up with the Canberra Theatre Centre seeing Bell Shakespeare or something equally fantastic, like Bangara.


Image created by Josey Carnovale as part of Canberra’s You Are Here festival.