We travelled 30 km through the beautiful rural countryside – over ramps, through creeks, sharing the dusty roads with cattle and kangaroos to visit the home and studio of artist Bernice Hope Carter. Over tea, scones jam and cream, Bernice told us that she began painting and drawing as a child and of her love of sketching faces and scenery. Growing up on her parents’ remote property of “Bareen” she loved to paint rural scenes of her home environment as well as her impressions of the snowy, Rocky Mountain scenery of Canada. Bernice told us of how, at the age of 13, her mother told her about an ad she had read in the paper from a girl called Phyllis Marks from Canada, who was looking for a pen friend.This began a correspondence that continued for 73 years, until Phyllis’ passed away. Bernice told us of her excitement when her parents would take the family to Manly Sydney for an annual holiday. Her father would give her holiday spending money and she would go straight to Coopers Art Supplies to buy pencils, paints, paper and rubbers. Bernice had some formal art lessons at Calrossy Boarding School in Tamworth and then, many years later, in 1980, she studied under John Faulkner who taught art at TAFE in Barraba. Bernice received the TAFE prize for best artist that year. Mrs Carter likes to paint landscapes for preference and loves beautiful traditional art. She has sold a lot of paintings over the years. Several pieces of Bernice’s work from her private collection are featured in this blog. Bernice is also an enthusiastic gardener, accomplished poet, lifelong keeper of a diary and is writing a journal of her experiences, which will be published later in the year.
Happy to share her gift for and love of painting, Bernice has taught art to Barraba Senior Citizens for the last 22 years. Many of her students have won prizes for their work. Bernice places particular importance on perspective. Her favourite medium was originally oil, but she moved to acrylic 30 years ago. At the age of 88, Bernice drives into town to conduct her regular Monday morning art class in Barraba, after which the group convenes to the Barraba cafe for lunch and cappuccinos.
Bernice Carter played an integral role in “Frost Over Barraba” since its inception in 1974 – 40 years ago.
Now Bernice Carter is is really “Aunt Bernice” to Rosie/Sandra… and was the childhood and lifelong cherished friend of Cynthia Powys, Rosie’s late Mum… So Rosie (Sandra), and by default, myself, are always very warmly welcomed indeed in the home of Aunt Bernice and this time we brought along our ukuleles and prevailed upon the esteemed company to sing some old Elvis tunes and such with us … Well !!… What a Hoot we had ! and I can’t wait to get out there “over the hills and far away” again … to sit in that beautiful livingroom near the kitchen, looking at photos, listening to stories, tea scones an’ jam an’ cream up to our ears and singing our hearts out !