A work of art

Yarra Ranges Mayor Fiona McAllister and Reggie Clark. Picture: JESSE GRAHAM

Reggie Clark was recognised with the Mayor’s Lifetime Achievement Award for her contributions to the arts.

Ms Clark has had a lifelong connection to art. Her late father, Ernst Fries, was a renowned sculpture artist who created works such as the 2009 Bushfires memorial in Yarra Glen, along with public art sculptures in Wandin and the Victorian Coat of Arms at Melbourne Magistrates’ Court.

She has been involved in Yarra Valley Arts for years, serving as president and working on cornerstone events such as the Yering Station Sculpture Exhibition and overseeing the opening of Yarra Valley Arts’ (YAVA) Gallery and Arts Hub in main street Healesville.

Ms Clark has held numerous exhibitions at Art at Linden Gate Ernst’s property in Yarra Glen. The property was sold in November as Ms Clark retired.

Ms Clark said receiving the award was an “honour” and that it came as a surprise since selling the property at Art at Linden Gate and retiring in

“I was inspired by my father who was very creative and a sculptor and he introduced me to a lot of the artists in the Valley,” she said. “Once I started meeting them and running the gallery, it was a no-brainer to become involved in the arts and then to start looking at different ways of encouraging people and promoting it.

“There is a lot that people don’t see or know about, so I just want to promote it. There are all these amazing artists here and I think, hello, why doesn’t everyone know about you?”

For several years Ms Clarke would host YouthArt, an exhibition aimed at encouraging the next generation of Yarra Valley artists to showcase their own work.

“I had been running the gallery for three or four years and thought I hadn’t seen any young artists. They’d come visiting but I don’t see their work,” she said.

“I was wondering if all the young artists had a forum for them to exhibit their work and really, apart from the high schools they didn’t. So I thought, we’ll do a youth exhibition for 15 to 25 year olds.”

The major prize for YouthArt was a solo exhibition at Yering Station.

“It’s amazing for them, it gives them confidence and tells them that their art and what they are doing is worthwhile.

“Some of those artists have remained artists. That was their goal in life and some of them went on to art school.”

Despite her retirement, Ms Clark said she plans to stay involved in the Yarra Valley Arts community. She said she had missed the Yarra Valley since temporarily moving to South Yarra.

She said she has high hopes for the future of the arts in the Yarra Valley.

“I’d like to see it keep growing a bit more. I’d like to see it involving a lot more of the other arts like music and dance and not just the visual. It’s all there in the Valley it just needs to be a bit more obvious I think.”