Valerie McMillan’s life story has been represented in a HSC major artwork by former Ulladulla High School student, Nicola Watkins.
Nicola had been looking for someone to inspire her Year 12 major artwork earlier last year, and came across Valerie McMillan.
She produced an artwork which incorporated Valerie’s image, quotes and life history using acrylic paints and lino prints.
IRT Lifestyle Services manager Mark Surace explained that IRT Sarah Claydon and Ulladulla High School often take part in intergenerational activities and when Nicola got in contact, he put her in touch with Valerie.
“She’s had such an interesting life,” Nicola said.
“She was born in England, immigrated to South Africa and her father was part of the team that built engines for the Spitfire planes.”
Nicola spent four months creating her final artwork, which involved interviewing Valerie and taking photos, from which she drew sketches and created lino prints.
For her major artwork, Nicola did three paintings.
One was of Coventry Cathedral which was bombed during World War II. This is significant since Valerie grew up in Coventry.
Another was of a Spitfire plane, and the third is an African sunset scene.
“I did a lino print of her face over each painting,” Nicola said.
Nicola also incorporated quotes from Valerie into the artwork.
When talking about the images in the artwork Valerie said “there is nothing like being in the African bush at sunset.”
The Sarah Claydon resident was more than happy to volunteer her time for the major art project and to share her life stories, background and family history with Nicola.
Valerie and her ex-husband moved to South Africa from England when Valerie was 26.
She raised her family in South Africa and has fond memories, which were expressed throughout Nicola’s artwork.
She moved to Australia in recent years and has applied to become an Australian citizen.
“I was very impressed with the artwork,” Valerie said.
“I think she is very talented.”
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.