Matchbox Gallery Exhibition - Tricia Dennis and John Brown

The Artists - Tricia Dennis and John Brown

From September 15 to October 8, an exhibition hosted by Pip Nikodempski and Marie Ward of the Matchbox Galley at 36 Main Street Yinnar, was held showing the works of Tricia Dennis (89 years old) and John Brown (98 years old) who have led amazing lives. 

John Brown was born in 1925 in England and during World War 2 he joined the British Navy serving on a mine sweeper in the Suez Canal. After the war he enlisted in the Australian Airforce arriving in Australia in 1951.

His passion for the arts started in his early childhood. In 1958 he joined the Traralgon Art Group, which was the beginning of many art groups with which he was involved, and with which he tutored over the decades.

Always being enthusiastic and dedicated to the trade of how to paint, John completed his Diploma of Fine Arts at the Gippsland Institute of Advanced Education at Churchill in 1999.

His paintings which were on display have all been painted when in his mid 80s and 90s and he is still producing works with just as much passion and enjoyment.

John believes creativity makes your life wonderful. He enjoys the mastery the painter has over their medium and that he can apply his inventiveness to the scene he is painting. He says while he paints his world is free from hate.

Tricia Dennis with her book

Tricia Dennis has an amazing philosophy in life. She has written a book about her life and on the back cover are written these - her gifts of wisdom: Obstacles are just learning curves in achieving your dreams. Hope knows no bounds. Optimism is a key ingredient as you progress through life’s journey. Take heart and move through every setback with confidence. Persistence wins through. Make every moment of your life count and know you are not alone.

This philosophy was built due to many of her experiences which she details in her book From Hell to Happiness. It begins with the three and a half years as a child of four, as a prisoner of war in a Japanese Prison Camp at a University in Japan that could house 7000 inmates. Those years were tortuous with little to eat and confined behind tall wire fences with prison guards surrounding the area and eating delicious fruits while the little children inside the wire fence were duelling because there was nothing for them. Inside the prison was a man who was a double agent. He was able to read a letter to be sent out by the Commandant to authorise the killing of all 7000 prisoners. He was able to contact General MacArthur and in the nick of time all were saved. Then followed a period of rehabilitation for the starving children which involved very slowly increasing their food intake because they were so malnourished. Tricia describes the rescue as a joyous release.

Tricia’s parents who were also in the prison with Tricia and her sister, were given the opportunity to decide if they would go to America, Canada or Australia.

They chose Australia as Tricia’s Grandfather lived in Sydney. It was then that Tricia’s education could begin. The journey to Australia was scary with many hazards. She saw so much death and dying which was so negative, but she was grateful for the gift of life and resolved to make the most of each day and do as much as she could each day.

She has spent a lifetime of doing many wonderful things. ‘Never give up because sooner or later your dreams will come true’ is her thinking. For Tricia they did. She became a photographic model from 19 years old and won the All Australia Beach Girl Contest. At 21 she married and went to England with her husband Brian where she worked for a couple of year before starting their family of four girls.

They returned to Australia and one of their ventures was to run the Jumbuk Cottages B & B. It was there in the beautiful peaceful surrounds of the Jeeralang’s that she wrote her book and published it in 2014. Through Gippsland Tourism she met Pip and Marie and tried leadlighting.

Her love of colour and painting was inspired by a ‘most magical painting of a deserted house peering out of a winter garden behind a screen of bare branches in French’s Forest Sydney’ in a shop window in Melbourne. She wanted to paint like that and found a teacher and learnt how to paint using a pallet knife. Her natural curiosity has led Tricia to try a variety of mediums over the years. Colour fascinates her and energises her and is creativity healing.

Artworks from the artists - John (left) and Tricia (right)

A selection of artwork from the artists