Written by April Spadina
At 93-years-old, Audrey Reece has experienced more adventures than most could only imagine, and she still enriches her life daily with her creativity and the connections with fellow creatives in the community.
Throughout her home is an array of artworks that bring her happiness and evoke beautiful memories.
But it’s the paintings on the wall across from her favourite chair that bring the most cherished memories. These are the echoes of her friendships and travels, her tranquil view from her island home in New Zealand, the time she rode an elephant, and the incredible morning scene of her view across Mount Everest. Many times, during our conversations Audrey’s memories shift back to that row of paintings and her face lights up as she recalls her adventures.
She tells me of her “Big OE” in the 1970s – her Overseas Experience spanning 10 months and travelling to numerous countries around the world. This was how she chose to celebrate her 50th year on earth and there was no doubt that it was a life changing experience.
Audrey returned to New Zealand a different person, packed up and moved to Australia, eventually calling Maryborough her home.
A caring soul, for her 80th birthday Audrey wanted to do something big (not like jumping out of a plane) but something she could share with others.
Hearing about the Nepalese orphanages run by the Forget Me Not Foundation, Audrey contacted founder Lars Olsen and decided she would crochet a blanket for each of the girls in the orphanage. One year and 25 blankets later, Audrey travelled to Nepal to hand deliver them to each of the children, a wonderful experience for everyone involved and a testament to her kind heart.
This month, Audrey will celebrate her 94th birthday, and while life is different now, it hasn’t slowed her down. A recent road trip with her niece to Cooktown to celebrate her son’s 70th birthday proves the gypsy soul is still strong in her heart. She cherishes her regular gatherings of her “Mudlarks” – the local pottery group she started 12 years ago at Bottlebrush Crafts in Maryborough, and it’s here that she builds her clay characters from “a lump of dirt”; the colourful birds and masks in her garden, the little villages, the quirky creations that have their own personalities.
She is an inspiring human, eager to share her vast skills, encouraging others to have creative outlets and leave their stresses at the door and just be artists. Because it’s in those moments that you can reflect back on your life, and re-live those memories through art.