I owe a lot to my Aunty Betty, she was the first person to nurture my interest in creative practices at a young age. Giving me a book on how to draw when I had been spending time trying to draw from life. She let me use her basement as an art studio during my HSC years which helped me come in the top ten per cent of the state in HSC art. Later in 2006, she let me use her basement for a year as I made a body of work. I have always run at a loss with art and her help was pivotal in those early years. I had a studio space at university and then I decided to keep practising aerosol art as all I needed was documentation and no studio. She was always the type of person to give, she would make time to do what she could. I always enjoyed talking to her, mostly over the phone at Mums, we would have a good talk about creativity and projects, artists and I enjoyed going to her place and having her signature coffee with a little bit of honey in it.
I think the past two years had been hard on Betty, she was the local conversationalist in her neighbourhood, sitting on her porch talking to anyone who had the time for a yarn. Then out of nowhere a mean spirited developer moved in next door and knocked down, then knocked up an eyesore as bad as his manners. He was rude, he was mean, he was horrible and poor Betty who wasn’t at all an easy target felt vexed at having this plastic fantastic developer right on her doorstep. It was a worry and Betty wasn’t her usual self during the noisy disturbance of a developer making a quick buck next door. Then when the developer finally left after selling his polished turd, so did her health, she was in hospital then after many tests and treatments she was advised that she wouldn’t be able to return home as the outlook wasn’t good.
Betty took it in her stride after the initial shock, she didn’t have much time left and she needed constant care. I will always have fond memories of Betty, it is rare for people to look out for you. There aren’t a lot of functional creatives around, as the world can seem against those with creative urges and some in their self-loathing turn to drugs or any number of unhelpful obsessions. Betty was a teacher, after all, I think she taught me that it was ok to be different, to be a bit strange, to think outside of the box and if it wasn’t for her I may not have found the calling for art and instead found myself like so many revolting youths on drugs, in jail, or on the drink. A lot of my old friends didn’t have someone like Betty and they ended up addicted to drugs, abusing alcohol, they never found their creative voices and even today I am sending letters to old friends in jail.
Betty was a positive influence, and I have tried to be like that to others. Betty though taught a lot of people and had a huge network of people who were touched by her influence. She taught self-reliance, a positive attitude and to nurture yourself no matter what the critics say. I feel happy that some of her influence has helped me be the person I am today.
One thought on “Rest in Peace Aunty Betty, you will be missed by many.”
This is a lovely tribute to your Aunty Betty Derek. I barely knew Betty, though I was aware your mum was very close to her sister. I’m so sorry for your loss, sending heartfelt condolences to you and yours.