The art of helping othersDecember 11, 2023
Diane Foster is using her experience as a teacher and artist, a generous nature and interest in people to help Anglicare improve its services.
A client of our Aged Care service since 2017, Diane has been a member of the Anglicare-wide Participant Advisory Group (PAC) for the last three.
PAC provides a forum in which clients contribute to organisational decision-making. It has regional sub-committees which are attended by clients from across Anglicare’s service areas. They come together four times a year with Anglicare CEO Chris Jones and Margaret Savage, Parish and Community Development Worker. Diane looks forward to the meetings as she values the opinions of other group members and has a keen interest in contemporary issues.
“The meetings provide a platform for me to bring up issues which affect me and other Aged Care clients but there is so much more that we talk about, for example child safety, homelessness, people with mental health issues and the Needle and Syringe Program,” she explains. “It’s all very pertinent in today’s world. I enjoy meeting people. It keeps my mind alert. It amazes me that there is so much to learn and think about. Anglicare covers many interests, far and wide.”
Diane is an accomplished artist who graduated with a Masters degree from the University of Tasmania’s School of Art in 2003. Her practice has included printmaking, ceramics and making books, boxes and baskets. Before this she was an infant teacher who taught first in England and then at Clarendon Vale Primary School for much of her career. “Art helped children to tell their stories, before they learned to write,” she recalled.
Diane gained a diploma in printmaking from TasTAFE in the early 90s and then enrolled in a fine arts degree at the Hunter Street campus of the University. She used an experience of being caught in a bushfire in New South Wales and also a family connection with Goat Island near Penguin where her grandfather blasted rock to build the break wall at Ulverstone, to inform her undergraduate practice.
Diane was listed on the Dean’s Roll of Excellence several times, before achieving First Class Honours. Once she reached Masters level, her focus changed:
I found beauty in industrial landscapes,” she explained. “I did a body of work based on photos I took at the Nyrstar plant and when I was underground at the Mount Lyell mine in Queenstown and a crocoite mine at Dundas. I also explored the open cut mine at Savage River.
She took up as many opportunities as she could to learn from leading Tasmanian practitioners, including Raymond Arnold, Michael Schlitz, Milan Milosovic and Helen Wright. Lithography – a specialised printmaking process in which Diane drew images with oil-based crayon and pencil onto large stones and fixed them with a chemical reaction – felt a natural next step.
When working with this large-scale medium became difficult she moved back to lino-cuts and is currently exploring computer-based work.
Diane has been a finalist in the prestigious Burnie Print Prize three times and has also featured in Clarence Art Prize exhibitions in the Schoolhouse Gallery in Rosny. For 20 years she showed her work at the Long Gallery in Salamanca. She has always been keen on sharing her knowledge, through her participation in Living Artist Week exhibitions to a 15-year stint volunteering at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery in Hobart.
Today, her work features in collections in the United States and other parts of the world – and she can still see Nyrstar’s zinc works from her living room window on Hobart’s eastern shore.
A long term member of her local Book Club, Diane also enjoys lunching with friends, knitting and crocheting and keeping connected with community via social media.
PIC: Diane is pictured with one of her prints that she based on convict ‘love tokens’ she saw at the Richmond Gaol. Men being transported to Van Diemens Land made the tokens while on the ship, intending to send them to their sweethearts back at home.