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Anne Marie Graham is a remarkable woman. Beautifully dressed and presented, she is every bit the doyenne of the Melbourne art world and a member of an exclusive group of practicing nonagenarian artists. Born in 1925, Anne has been painting for more than 80 years; and there are not many artists alive today in Australia with such a vast survey of work.anne-marie

Anne had painting lessons as a child in Vienna through a government supported program where they chose talented children who were given special lessons. She was 14 when she emigrated from Austria with her parents and sister, just before the start of WW2. Her father had a job to come to in Melbourne with industrial brush maker Thomas Mitchell. Anne married Bill Graham and had two children and now enjoys her four grandchildren, and five great grandchildren. Anne’s cousin arrived in Melbourne after the war and he now lives next door to her at the Coppin Centre.

Anne was passionate about painting as a young child, and continued to paint while raising a family, which was made possible by her supportive husband and family. “Bill loved music and art and was very tolerant of me and my work. My children have not followed in my footsteps, although one grandchild showed some interest in art – she enjoyed mucking about in my studio and being with Grandma,” said Anne.

Anne moved to the Coppin Centre 3.5 years ago after her husband died and says that it’s wonderful. “There are no dishes, no cooking or cleaning – and I get to paint every day. I’m very happy here.”

Anne’s art studio is located in the older part of the centre, near the library and lecture hall. It’s a sun-filled cozy space cluttered with artwork, sketchbooks, paints and brushes. “I love my studio, I still paint most days, and get up early to take the short walk across the courtyard which is a bit of exercise for me. I try to start before 9am and this morning I did two hours work. Mornings are better for me these days, I tend to get tired easily.”

Anne said that she likes the discipline and the satisfaction of work as well as the subject matter, “I like getting out and about to get inspiration and ideas. If I go for a drive with my daughter or friends we go somewhere that’s nice for them to walk while I draw or paint. Because I am a painter, I am probably more aware of my environment, and I think I see more than the average person who does not paint.”

Anne Marie Graham is represented in the collections of galleries across the country including the National Gallery of Australia and the NGV, and in many notable private and corporate collections such as the Janet Holmes a Court Collection. She has held over 70 solo exhibitions since 1957 in Australia and overseas.

“What I want to do as an artist is to celebrate life. Throughout my work I try to illustrate the message that life goes on in all its richness and possible renewal. And if the picture turns out well it will hopefully give someone pleasure.”

Anne Marie Graham has spent her time celebrating life, and now we have the opportunity to celebrate her. From 7-24 August 2016, she will exhibit a survey of her life’s work at Without Pier Gallery, 320 Bay Road Cheltenham.