Maureen Cooper

Textile maker and passionate environmentalist

Originally from Northern Queensland, Maureen Cooper has called Beechworth and surrounds home for the past thirteen years. On arrival in the region, Maureen settled into retirement by purchasing a property in the Woolshed Valley where she immediately set to work rehabilitating the land, planting native trees, shrubs and grasses and turning unwanted farmland into a sanctuary for birds and wildlife.

An enduring commitment to Nature has taken Maureen down many paths. She is a passionate Bird Surveyor with Birdlife Australia, an enthusiastic volunteer with  the local Landcare group while living in Woolshed Valley and a committed campaigner for many national high profile environmental causes. This life long commitment to our Native flora and fauna drive Maureen’s recent foray into textile arts and crafts.

In the tradition of centuries of home craft and making, Maureen is largely self-taught. Her focus is primarily on the Art Quilt but her ambition and industry as a maker has led to the design and adornment of re-useable shopping bags, handmade aprons and other apparel. Local and tourists alike will be familiar with Maureen’s many market stalls over the years, showcasing her intricate craftwork .  All fundraising, including the Bimblebox Calendar, which is designed by members of The Bimblebox Alliance,  has gone to help her beloved causes – the most noteworthy of which is the fight to protect the Queensland Bimblebox Nature Refuge from mining and development.

For the 2023 ART in Autumn exhibition, Maureen has set herself the task of learning the art of fabric dyeing with natural plant species and fashioning scores of delicate leaves to adorn a sheer screen drop.  

Bimblebox Quilt by Maureen Cooper, Quilting ,applique and embroidery, Private collection

Gardeners bloom into spring

BEECHWORTH, Murmungee, Stanley and Wooragee gardeners are being encouraged to enter Beechworth Bloom spring edition to be staged in Beechworth Town Hall on November 22-23, 2019.

The show – the third in Beechworth Arts Council’s revival of the 1882 North East Agricultural and Horticultural Association’s flower show first held in the hall in October 1882 – is open to anyone in postcode district 3747

The schedule includes opportunities to exhibit flowers, arrangements and produce from this year’s spectacular spring flush and harvest, ranging from specimen roses and spring bunches to peas and leafy greens.

It also again lists two themed flower arrangement categories – ‘Nebbiolo’ or ‘Chardonnay’ – in recognition of Beechworth Vignerons’ Association and its annual Spring Tasting, also held this month.

Last year’s ‘Stormy weather’ attracted strong competition.

Bloom will also award a champion exhibitor trophy.

The inaugural recipient was Michele Forrest in spring, last year, followed by Joan Simms in autumn, this year.

Entry forms are available from Explore Beechworth Visitor Information Centre and Beechworth NewsXpress or find it here.

Entries can be delivered with a completed form and gold coin entry fee at the Town Hall between 9am and 11am on Friday (November 22). The show will open from 12 to 4pm.

It will be open ion Saturday (November 23) from 10am to 4pm. Hall entry by gold coin donation.

For information call Jamie Kronborg on 0409 912 967.

Beechworth shows autumn ‘Bloom’

BEECHWORTH, Stanley, Murmungee, Woolshed Valley and Wooragee gardeners and growers are encouraged to enter Beechworth Arts Council’s ‘Beechworth Bloom’ autumn flower and produce show which runs March 29-31.

The Arts Council revived the district’s formal flower show during its five-week long celebration of Spring Arts last year, attracting 75 entries across a limited range of categories.

This autumn show, like last spring’s edition, will be staged in Beechworth Town Hall, where the long-defunct North East Agricultural and Horticultural Association’s first flower show was held in October 1882.

Arts Council president Jamie Kronborg said the limited-category autumn show is open to all gardeners and growers from postcode district 3747. The only proviso is that exhibits must be grown and arranged by the entrant. The autumn show also includes kitchen garden produce categories.

Intending exhibitors can collect an entry form Explore Beechworth Visitor Information Centre or Beechworth NewsXpress or download it in PDF version. Exhibits are to be delivered to Beechworth Town Hall on Friday, March 29, between 8:30 and 10:00am, together with a completed entry form and a gold coin donation.

‘Beechworth bloom autumn’ will open at 12:00pm and run until 4:00pm on March 29, and from 10:00am to 4:00pm on March 30 and 31.

The flower show will also be set within Natürlich, an exhibition of Arts Council member-artists’ works inspired by nature and curated by vice-president Daren John Pope. Natürlich opens at 6:00pm on March 27 and runs 10:00am-4:00pm March 28-31.

Flower show information
Call nor text Jamie Kronborg on 0409 912 967 or email


Bainz Gallery reveals photographer’s eye

LANDSCAPE: Rock forms and eucalypts. Image: Tina Fraser

BEECHWORTH photographer, gardener and Arts Council member Tina Fraser is staging an exhibition of more than 60 works on paper, canvas and glass in Wangaratta Library’s Bainz Gallery between February 3 and 26.

EYE-TO-EYE: Beechworth’s James Toole with one of the works in his extensive art collection. Image: Tina Fraser

Tina says Nature, garden, landscape stems from everyday use of her camera in the large garden at the Beechworth-Chiltern Road property developed with her husband, Gavin Doherty, and which has long formed the heart of their Out of Town Nursery enterprise.

FRAMED: Old Hospital façade, Beechworth. Image: Tina Fraser

“My camera has principally been a tool of our business,” she says. “In recent years I’ve used my photography to celebrate my love of nature, plants, animals and wildlife. My photography tends toward the artistic side rather than magazine-style.”


Tina says much of her digital photographic work involves an amalgam of nature, colour, light and technology. “I try, by tampering with ordinary photographs, to cause the viewer to stop and investigate more carefully an image that they might walk past without taking any notice. By using the computer I try to emphasise the subject or even shock and surprise the viewer with enhanced texture or colour.”

Tina’s solo exhibition at Bainz Gallery opens on February 2 at 6:00pm with botanical artist and Mayday Hills Art Society president Christine Cansfield-Smith and photographer Dirk Wallace invited to speak about her work. The show runs until February 26 during the library’s standard hours: from 9:30am-6:00pm Mon, Tue, Thu, Fri, 9:30am-8:00pm Wed and 9:30am-1:00pm Sat.

More information
T 03 5726 1554

Old flower show blooms again

A BEAUTY: Rose ‘Lamarque’ flowering in a Beechworth garden. Image: Jamie Kronborg

BEECHWORTH, Stanley, Murmungee and Wooragee gardeners are encouraged to enter Beechworth Arts Council’s revival this weekend – November 17 and 18 – of the district’s long-defunct formal Spring Flower Show.

The Arts Council has included the fresh show in its packed five-week Spring Arts 2018 program. It will be staged in Beechworth Town Hall, where it first was held on October 19-20, 1882. The Ovens and Murray Advertiser reported on October 21, 1882, that the North East Agricultural and Horticultural Association’s first spring flower show had attracted a “fair attendance” and that exhibits were “good of their kind”.

FLOWER POWER: Exhibitors admire blooms in this 1955 image of dahlias on show. Image: State Library of Victoria

Arts Council president Jamie Kronborg said the limited-category show was open to all. The only proviso is that exhibits must be grown and arranged by the entrant. He said the program had been devised so that anyone could enter exhibits from garden or kitchen. 

Intending exhibitors can collect an entry form Beechworth Visitor Information Centre or Beechworth NewsXpress or download it in PDF versions.

Exhibits are to be delivered to Beechworth Town Hall on Saturday, November 17, between 8:30 and 10:30am. Exhibitors must also complete an entry form and submit it with a gold coin donation.

The Spring Flower Show will open at 11:00am and run until 4:00pm on Saturday, offering opportunities for visitors to Beechworth Vignerons’ Spring Tasting in the nearby Soldiers’ Memorial Hall to take a short walk to see some of the North East’s finest cut flowers and kitchen garden produce. It will also open between the same times on Sunday.

Prizegiving will take place at 3:00pm on Sunday.

For more information call or text Jamie Kronborg on 0409 912 967 or email

‘Elements’ cuts new cloth

FINE CRAFT: Detail of casuarina and eucalyptus leaves and paddock flowers in Maggie Hollins’ ‘kilt’.

BENALLA and Beechworth textile and visual artists stepped into frontier interpretations of Beechworth Arts Council’s inaugural Elements of Indigo art-to-artwear project in Beechworth on November 10.

Maggie Hollins, Inga Hanover, Kay Hampton and Daren John Pope exhibited their radically distinctive takes on the brief for the Spring Arts 2018 project – to design and make a navel-to-knees garment that expressed connection to place in a way similar to that by which Celts display ‘cultural badging’ with tartan.

Arts Council president Jamie Kronborg said the creative idea stemmed from the tradition that forms and styles of clothing throughout history have evolved to identify a people’s tribe, clan, community, place, culture and even country.

EPHEMERAL: Beechworth artist Inga Hanover created this garment from recycled plastic shopping bags in native plant material from Beechworth Gorge.

“In this project, as the Arts Council’s contribution to the development of Beechworth’s longstanding Celtic Festival, participating artists were encouraged to tease apart the idea and tradition of tartan and re-work it to identify the communities of Indigo,” he said.

The two-phase project – a visual design and a created garment interpreting the form of a kilt – asked entrants to depict or express ‘elements of Indigo’ – its sky, landscapes, colours, seasons, geology, topography, plants, crops, animals and birds, and other inspirations.

TRANSLATION: Moss on rocks in Beechworth Gorge inspired Inga Hanover’s first design for ‘Elements of Indigo’.

“A kilt is a traditional skirt that covers from navel to knees and has a deep history in Gaelic, Norse, Mediterranean, Tartar and First Peoples’ cultures,” Mr Kronborg said. “The Old Norse word kjalta means ‘pleated’ – of a ‘garment or cloth tucked up and around the body’. Australia’s First Peoples wore skirts or coverings made from grass, bark, and kangaroo, wallaby and possum skins decorated with feathers and echidna quills and tooled imagery.”

Ms Hollins, from Benalla, used a re-purposed woollen blanket as the base for her work.

“The choice of materials has been deliberate,” she said. “It was dyed with commercial indigo dye. Indigofera australis is a plant that grows in Indigo Shire and the First Peoples of this place used the flower of this plant to produce a blue dye. I want the viewer to remember their own blanket, how it felt safe and warm when it surrounded them. To highlight the landscape’s beauty I layered the base textile with vegetation. When heated pigments are drawn out of the plants and leave marks on the material.”

Ms Hanover created two designs and garments – one inspired by moss on rocks in Beechworth Gorge and the other using recycled plastic and partially-dried leaves, seeds and flowers.

“The influence for (the first) design has its starting point in the geology of Beechworth and the repetitive nature within a traditional kilt fabric. The repeated motif is taken from the left hand corner of the image below of lichen on granite from the gorge. I chose the granite as Beechworth sits atop a granite outcrop, with its ancient, degraded granite soil, in Indigo Shire.”

“In (the second), a wearable garment, I have sourced a selection of native grasses, seeds, leaves and blossoms from the Gorge. Using heat, these native items have been ‘trapped’ within supermarket packaging. These items are encased/laminated in clear and white plastic bags. In some sections, the natural items are covered by several layers of clear thin plastic and their colours are subdued and hidden, in other areas the colour comes through more vividly hidden only by one plastic layer. It’s a commentary on contemporary consumerism.”

HUMOROUS: Beechworth colourist painter and illustrator Kay depicted Indigo as a village scene with playful creatures and objects adding to the scheme.

Beechworth painter Kay Hampton created a rural village scene with a mixed farming landscape.

“It is a small snapshot of an intended larger finished work, which would be incorporated into a wearable garment showing this particular style of artwork,” she said. “It would be more comprehensive by including more villages so as to be representative of towns that make up Indigo Shire in Victoria’s North East.

“The colours I’ve used, while coming from an ancient landscape, have a contemporary relevance as the LGBTQI community uses them as the colours of diversity. This diversity, as illustrated, is also strongly evident throughout the Indigo community where wide diversity is paralleled by strong acceptance.”

CHALLENGING: Beechworth fabric artist Daren John Pope used overhead projector transparencies to craft his ‘Elements’ garment.

Beechworth fabric artist Daren John Pope explored photographic repetition using historic images of Beechworth and Indigo and smart phone images with a deliberate emphasis on casual, non-discriminatory composition.

“In transferring these onto a patterned tableau, these photo snaps have been printed up, arranged in a grid format and stitched together to create a single graphic.”

  • Elements of Indigo’s five interpretations will be exhibited in Beechworth Town Hall from November 12 to 25.

Fresh take brings history to life

PROUD ADVOCATE: Kay Hampton’s completed gouache depiction of Kate Sutherland and Max as Beechworth suffragette Margaret Trim and her dog. Photo: Jamie Kronborg

BEECHWORTH artists Nina Machielse Hunt and Alan Phillips on Saturday led a public art class ‘en plein air’ in Beechworth’s historic Town Hall Gardens – a feature of Beechworth Arts Council’s month-long Spring Arts 2018.

The pair helped to guide participants to translate in contemporary media a photograph of Beechworth’s Margaret Trim taken in 1891 by leading colonial-era photographer James Bray in his Camp Street studio.

Bray was highly regarded for the quality of his work by which he documented much of Rutherglen’s development after 1866, and Beechworth’s after 1870, and its people, including many associated with the Kelly Gang outbreak.

He was one of four photographers at the Glenrowan siege in June 1880, when Ned Kelly was captured and the other three in the gang killed.

GARDEN SCENE: Beechworth’s Margaret Trim and her Saint Bernard hound against a painted backdrop in James Bray’s Camp Street studio in 1891. Photo: James Bray

The image of Margaret Trim – modelled on Saturday by Beechworth Burke Museum Friends’ committee member Kate Sutherland, and Mrs Trim’s St Bernard hound, modelled by Max the brown labrador – was one of a series taken by Bray in 1890-91 to record the women and society organisations advocating for women’s suffrage, or the right to vote “on equal terms with men”.

Mrs Trim was one of 30,000 women throughout Victoria who signed what became known as the Great Petition, tabled in Victoria’s Parliament in September of the same year with the support of Premier James Munro.

The petition also played an important role in Federation in 1901, when Australia became the first nation in the world to give women both the right to vote and the right to stand for Parliament – although women did not achieve the right to vote in Victorian Parliamentary elections until 1908.

Bray took the Trim photograph in his Camp Street studio against a painted backdrop of a forest glade or garden, the Arts Council’s inspiration for setting Saturday’s class in Town Hall Gardens.

Artists Kay Hampton, Tania Sutton, Jill Keith and Daren John Pope and photographer Pamela Thomas participated, their workings across the morning attracting the interest of passers-by in the park and on Ford Street.

FINE FRAMES: Nina Machielse Hunt and Alan Phillips helped to guide participants in ‘Fresh take’. Photo: Jamie Kronborg

KEEN EYE: Pamela Thomas sets up her Leica camera to photograph, as Daren Pope prepares to paint, the Margaret Trim ‘fresh take’. Photo: Jamie Kronborg

ART GARDEN: Kay Hampton with her gouache sketch of Kate Sutherland as Margaret Trim with her dog. Photo: Jamie Kronborg

FRESH TAKE: Kate Sutherland as suffragette Margaret Trim and Max the brown labrador as Mrs Trim’s Saint Bernard hound in Beechworth Town Hall Gardens for ‘Fresh take’. Photo: Jamie Kronborg

Indigo landscape springs into frame

FRAMED LANDSCAPE: Beechworth Arts Council is opening Spring Arts 2018 at the Old Hospital facade in Church Street on October 26 at 5:30pm.

INDIGO mayor Jenny O’Connor opens Beechworth Arts Council’s Spring Arts 2018 at the Old Hospital façade in Church Street on October 26 – launching a month-long program of creative events and exhibitions that place Indigo’s landscape in the frame.

Shows of works by Beechworth artist Valerie Crosse in Christ Church and printmaking trio Tania Sutton, Janet Sutherland and Chris Dormer in Indigo Library Beechworth open on launch day. Sponsor Off Centre Gallery in Milawa also opens ‘Flourish’, new works by Fleur Rendell, and a tantalising array of objects – in ‘O for object’ – appear in a number of places across Beechworth.

SPRING: Valerie Crosse explores beyond her window.

On October 27 the Arts Council hosts two 75-minute guided walks exploring Indigo’s art heritage, starting at the Burke Museum from 10am and 2pm – a ticketed event. There’s also a Young Creatives’ Extravaganza hosted by Beechworth Secondary College and Old Beechworth Gaol, at the gaol, celebrating young people’s creativity.

In the week ahead Beechworth painters Alan Phillips and Nina Machielse Hunt will lead ‘Fresh takes’, a community art class open to all, in which participants on November 3 in Beechworth’s historic precinct will re-work images with deep links to Beechworth’s past. Valerie Cross will also host a workshop, ‘Drawing from life’, on November 4.

Arts Council president Jamie Kronborg and Spring Arts convenor Daren John Pope said the program, which runs until November 25, was designed to challenge and encourage artists, crafters and the community to explore, discover and translate elements of Indigo’s landscape – its skies, seasons, colours, geography, topography, botany, animals, birds and cultivation – in fresh ways.

Alan Phillips charts the day

IT HAPPENED: Alan Phillips ’10 Rillington Place’ is among the works in Old Beechworth Gaol’s Carpe Diem exhibition.

AN exhibition of collage works by Beechworth artist Alan Phillips has opened at Old Beechworth Gaol.

Carpe DiemCollages is a retrospective, presenting 40 years of commentary on significant world events, bringing Alan’s sense of humour, inquiring mind and life experience into view as he interprets the consequences of people seizing the day.

Whether they be quirky, dramatic or life-changing, Alan documents such events as The Evolution of the Vespa, 9/11, Nirvana and the Uluru Hardback, to name a few.

Alan has spent 40 years maintaining visual diaries. The collages, some measuring 400 x 1500mm, feature pages from his diaries and materials gathered from places around the world.

Carpe Diem – Collages opened on 14 September runs 10am-4pm daily until September 24. Entry to the exhibition at the gaol in Williams Street is free.

Exhibition information

Readings refresh poet’s legacy

INSIGHT: Beechworth Secondary College former English teacher Jean Memery reads ‘Enlightened age’, a poem by Ada Cambridge published five years after she came to Australia in 1870.

BEECHWORTH Arts Council next year is looking to establish a permanent honour in recognition of writer Ada Cambridge and her contribution to Australian literature and colonial life in Beechworth and Yackandandah.

The words of the poet and gender equality advocate and descriptions of her times were recounted in the town’s historic Christ Church on Friday (July 6).

The English-born writer between 1885 and 1893 lived in Beechworth where her husband, George Cross, was Christ Church priest and rector.

Reverend Cross had earlier held ‘livings’, as church pastoral appointments were known at the time, in Wangaratta, Yackandandah and Coleraine.

The 44 people attending the readings – hosted by Beechworth Arts Council and Christ Church priest Thomas Leslie and parish council – heard that a deal of Ms Cambridge’s well-regarded literary work was written during her husband’s Beechworth posting.

The appointment coincided with the approach of Australian federation when women, in a changing political climate, were agitating for the right to vote.

Arts Council president Jamie Kronborg read an extract from a July 1887 Ovens and Murray Advertiser editorial in which then-editor Richard Warren wrote that “such a revolution should not be attempted without much more general consideration…”.

“Women are, undoubtedly, well-fitted to succeed in all the ordinary walks of life, but we very much question whether the arena of politics is suitable to their nature, their habits of thought, or their idiosyncrasies,” Warren said.

Ms Cambridge in 1891 was one of almost 30,000 Victorian women who signed ‘The Great Petition’, by which the colonial parliament in Melbourne was asked to give women the right to vote “on equal terms with men”.

Artist, printmaker and former Indigo Shire arts officer Chris Dormer described Ms Cambridge’s life and work to the audience before she introduced readers who included Wangaratta High School English domain leader Lesley Milne, artist and teacher Valerie Crosse, former Beechworth Secondary College teachers Helen McIntyre and Jean Memery, college current principal Patricia Broom, historian Jacqui Durrant, and Indigo mayor Jenny O’Connor.

Fr. Leslie said Friday’s readings were the start of what he hoped would be an ongoing collaboration between the Arts Council and Christ Church to develop the 1858 building as a centre for cultural activities and events.