Anne Gardiner will be missed by her family and her friends and colleagues from the Toowoomba art community.
Anne Gardiner will be missed by her family and her friends and colleagues from the Toowoomba art community. Contributed

OBITUARY: From lady of land to devoted art enthusiast

ANNE Gardiner was born in Tamworth, New South Wales to John and Ada Lynch.

She was the 11th of 13 children.

Anne was reared and schooled in a farming valley in the Tamworth district, where her parents and brother operated a tobacco farm.

When she finished school at age 16, she became a government subsidised teacher at a one-teacher school in 1942 where her younger sister attended as a student.

She moved on to a teaching job in Scone, where she met her future husband, Fred Gardiner, who was in the remount depot of the army as a horse trainer for the war effort.

Fred and Anne were married in Tamworth in 1945 and journeyed north, where Fred gained employment as a station manager in Mungindi.

Their first daughter Lynne was born in Tamworth and in 1947 they headed north again, this time to Goondiwindi.

Fred was employed as a station manager and horse breaker.

Their son Phillip was born in Goondiwindi that year as well.

In 1948 Fred and Anne had the opportunity to move to Hannaford in southwest Queensland, where they bought a virgin brigalow block with Fred's brother Ken, and so began the development of a working sheep property.

Clearing the scrub to make way for the sheep wasn't a job for the faint hearted.

It was all pure physical labour.

When the rains came, the dirt tracks were accessible only by heavy vehicles, so for weeks on end the family was marooned at home.

The only entertainment was a few books, a battery wireless and a party-line telephone.

In one flood in the mid-1950s, Fred began whittling small animals and figures from local timbers.

He won prizes at the Brisbane Exhibition, which led to a keen interest by Anne and Fred in the art world.

Their ambition and drive was directed to becoming artists.

Three further children, Alvin, Jan and Susan, were born in Tara during the 1950s.

By the middle of the 1960s they sold their sheep property and built a new home on acreage on the western outskirts of Toowoomba.

This enabled the children to live at home and complete their education in Toowoomba, while Fred and Anne were able to follow their dream of building an art gallery.

Anne later looked back on the experience.

"At this stage we weren't aware of how much we had to learn to be even on the bottom level of art appreciation," she said.

"The beginning was the start of a wonderful adventure.

"It led us from an isolated life on the black soil Downs with its sheep dips, blow flies, shearers and brigalow suckers, to one of painting, sculptures and art galleries."

The new challenge occupied their lives for 22 years.

They built a gallery complex and slowly established their integrity as gallery owners and their reputation as artists.

The many art exhibitions at Tia Galleries were renowned in the Toowoomba district and beyond.

The gallery was renowned as Queensland's largest provincial art gallery.

Anne became an accomplished artist and won numerous prizes around the Downs.

Fred became known for his unique wood sculptures.

He further developed his talent of sculpturing in stone and bronze.

The bronze statue of famous racehorse Bernborough, in Oakey, is testament to his skill.

Anne became involved in the Toowoomba Art Society in 1967, teaching children's art classes from 1968.

Anne was an active member of TAS, holding the committee positions of vice president and secretary for many years, and was heavily involved in fundraising and the establishment of TAS in its current location in Godsall St near Queens Park.

Anne won the TAS Members Only Art Section in 1971.

Her contribution to the organisation was recognised with the establishment of the Anne and Fred Gardiner Memorial Prize.

After Fred's death in 1988, Anne travelled extensively for many years around western Queensland, where she became well known as an art tutor to remote country women.

Anne sold the gallery property in 1992 and retired to Prince Henry Drive.

She became actively involved in U3A as a tutor and student for many years, and a valued member of her book club.

Far from being just an artist and art enthusiast, she was also a talented seamstress and also developed a keen interest in quilting.

She also enjoyed chess, Scrabble, gardening and was a prolific reader until the end of her life.

She enjoyed robust and in-depth conversations with her grandchildren on any subject and showed a great interest in their careers.

She always kept abreast of current affairs.

In later years, Anne re-located to a unit in Nort St, where she remained until 2016.

Her last year was spent at Bupa Glenvale, where she was admired by the staff members for her quick wit and sharp mind.

Anne is lovingly remembered by her family as a strong, fiercely independent, practical, learned, intelligent and generous woman.

She is sadly missed.

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