Radio Interview with Ann Creber 3MDR 2018

The Good Life: 26 Feb 2018
It was a great pleasure to have Maggie & James with us and a delight to know that the Ian Armstrong collection is in such capable and loving hands. I really enjoyed a rather self-indulgent session on this week’s The Good Life!
Many years ago, when our children were very young (so was I!), we lived in a newly opened up “forest” surrounding Blackburn Lake. All our houses were new, none of us had much money, and we lived a cloistered life in our own little kingdom.
Of course, over the years things changed. Roads were made, Blackburn Lake Primary School opened and new people arrived. However, that original group of “pioneers” stuck firmly together and shared our lives, our meal tables, and our kids!
Three of those kids were Maggie, John and James, their parents were Kathy and Ian Armstrong and Ian, a well-regarded artist, was our local celebrity!
Sadly both Kathy & Ian died several years ago, but it was Maggie (Shaw) and James who were with us in the studio!
They now jointly care for Ian’s collection of artworks and this was the topic of our conversation. They had so many interesting stories and details of Ian’s life of which I had been unaware.
As a lad he had worked with blacksmith/panel beater James Flood, before the aunt and uncle with whom he lived after his mother died, recognised his artistic potential and he became a student at the Gallery School.
There was an interesting period in his young life when, together with fellow artists Fred Williams & Harry Rosengrave, they bought a block of land in Lilydale where they spent their weekends painting and sharing a caravan.
Subsequently Ian won a scholarship which took him to England to study there and it was on his return voyage home that he met Kathy, whom he married.
After their early life together in South Yarra and the birth of John and Maggie, they moved to Blackburn where James was born. Ian continued to teach at the Gallery School with John Brack and to paint. From 1966 Ian worked as a full-time artist, holding more than 50 solo exhibitions. Misfortune struck when Ian suffered from a heart attack, followed by bowel cancer.
He recovered well and in the years that followed they lived in Wedderburn and Anglesea, with Ian painting constantly. Much of his work was influenced by travels in France and at one stage he was awarded a Grant which gave him a year’s residency in Paris. Many of his artworks were portraits of family and friends and you can see a wide range of his art on a website set up by Maggie & James. They are also making plans for his next major retrospective exhibition!