It all began with Margaret Preston! In 2005 Rhonda Davis put together the exhibition Berowra Visions: Margaret Preston and Beyond at Macquarie Art Gallery. Robyn and Ann were enthusiastic visitors and agreed that this wonderful material should last beyond the exhibition. At their first meetings the questions asked were ‘how can Berowra permanently celebrate Preston?’ and ‘how can we share our enthusiasm with the community and school children’?
In 2006 the team were welcomed to the four primary schools and at St Bernard’s Catholic the then principal, Philip Ledlin, introduced us to long time Berowra resident and grandfather of one of his students, George Thompson. George reminisced about his boyhood encounter with Margaret Preston when she warned him of the dangers of racing his billycart down the hill past her house. As George talked on about growing up in Berowra, the project was born!
In the weeks, months and years to follow many of the senior residents shared their stories with the team and we have come to call them friends. These oral histories have been the primary thrust of our project, collected to share with the community. In 2007 we held our first exhibition over two days at the original Berowra primary school, now a heritage hall. The first day was for the community but on the second day we welcomed the schools and stationed our participating senior residents at points in the exhibition to speak with the children.
The teams second exhibition was in 2009 at the Berowra Village Tavern and in the display window of Berowra’s Bendigo Bank. The official launch brought the community together to celebrate our local history. Held in November, it coincided with the 150th anniversary of the birth of C.J. Turner, an enterprising resident of Berowra after whom Berowra’s Turner Road is named. Our outreach to local children was through the invitation to try to identify our Mystery Object on display in the bank window!
Elissa has now joined us and together with her love of people, places and all things historical, she will help move the project towards culmination in a virtual museum.