IF I am honest, I had tears in my eyes when I interviewed Diana Edwards. She told me how life had been pretty tough for her having married at 18 years of age and having four children before she turned 25.
Divorced only a few years after that, she had to move in with her parents and help run the family restaurant in Croydon. Tired and worn out, she was driving to work one day and looked at the landscape shimmering with ethereal light. It was so breathtaking that she felt she had to pull over. As she did so she heard the words, “You are an artist”. She had always known there was something planned for her – and now she heard the words that were to shape the next 40 years.
She immediately joined workshops run by the tonal painter Ron Crawford and spent a full day every week painting in his studio. Her holidays were spent at holiday farms where her children could engage in all sorts of outdoor activities whilst she sat at her easel capturing the lights and colours of her surroundings. She continued to work hard at the family business but in the end it all became too much and she sold the business.
Diane Edwards: “Light is what gives the magic to a subject. Light transforms something ordinary into something extraordinary.”
“I had this strange dream which was rather unrealistic,” she says, “that I would become a full-time painter.” That was in 1992 and, as fate would have it, she met her future husband, David Taylor, the celebrated water colourist. He encouraged her to teach. She says of that time now, “I was really naïve in what I thought I could do, but somehow it worked”.
They both sold their houses so they could build their beautiful home and studio in the Christmas Hills, where Diane and David taught art workshops with up to 12 live-in students for a week at a time. But after 20 years it was time for a sea change.
They looking at various places at the Mornington Peninsula – but it wasn’t until they came to Phillip Island a week after their own house sold that they found their ideal location and new home. Fate was once again on their side as they were “homeless” for only one day between the settlement of the two homes.
Their first priority on their one acre of land in Silverleaves was to start to build a studio/gallery. And so they have started teaching again. Diana has Thursday morning classes for beginners to intermediates and David has Wednesday afternoon classes from intermediate to advanced. You might be lucky enough to find a vacancy.
There is no doubt that Diana’s great love of beauty and the outdoors is integral to her painting. She has painted everything from boats, land and sea scapes to street scenes, busy markets and golden rays falling on local landscapes. She is always inspired by the light. “Light is what gives the magic to a subject. Light transforms something ordinary into something extraordinary.”
Others think so too. In 1984 she was awarded the prestigious A.M.E. Bale Award for oil painting. More recently in 2010 she was awarded the Notable Women of Nillumbik Award for her contribution to the arts and culture.
Diana has exhibited in many solo and joint exhibitions since 1987 with sales to private and corporate collections in Australia and overseas.
Asked if she will keep on painting, she replies, “Before painting I can feel quite ordinary. But then when I am painting I am at my happiest – there is a real connection beyond the personal ‘I’.” She went on to say, “The wonderful thing about being an artist is that we artists have the ability to lift the spirits of people through our work.” I couldn’t agree more.
Diana won the award for the best body of work at the Bass Coast Artists Society’s Easter Exhibition, which was sponsored by ArtSpace Wonthaggi. She was also part of the Creative Gippsland SWAP exhibition between ArtSpace Wonthaggi and ArcYinnar.
This month she will exhibit at the Australian Guild of Realist Artists, located at the corner of Camberwell and Inglesby roads, Camberwell. David Taylor will officially open her exhibition, “Rhythms and Colours of my Heart”, at 2pm on Sunday, July 19.