IN just 19 years, artist Ada Clark has become a well-known fixture in Millthorpe.
She is perhaps as well known as the old bluestone cottage on Victoria Street where she once ran her art studio and gallery.
Ada has painted since she was just four years old, and now, at 83, she has decided to close the doors to her beloved gallery.
Simply called Ada’s Place, the gallery has become well known for great art, hospitality and the chance of a freshly-baked cake.
Ada has lived a life most artists would dream of. She has travelled the world painting and has been able to make a career out of what she loves.
She has travelled to Turkey, Morocco, Italy, Greece and Botswana, among others, over the years.
“I paint it in-situ, I think I can capture it better,” she said.
“I love sitting there and listening to the sound of the birds.”
It was an incident on a painting trip to Portugal earlier this year that led to her decision to close the gallery.
“I was painting and there was a precipice and the wind came, and I thought my painting would fly down the precipice so I supported it with my foot,” she said.
It was the awkward position that reignited an old back injury and she wound up in hospital.
Following an operation and rehabilitation, her surgeon advised she no longer lift the huge canvases and bags that were part of her life as an artist.
“I don’t want another operation, it was ghastly,” she said.
“It’s with terrible sadness, it’s been a very hard decision but you have to be realistic.”
In the lead-up to her final exhibition and sale, Ada says she still has things she wants to do.
“I want to finish my book, it’s about travelling as a painter,” she said.
Ever-organised, she even has the book’s title picked out.
It comes from a message she received while on a painting trip to Athens from her husband Clifford Abbott (now deceased).
It simply said, “On no account ride donkeys”.
It is this message of concern from her husband that will be the title of her upcoming book.
Ada’s sister and best friend Kathleen Clark shares her home and is an artist in her own right.
It was her sister that she consulted when deciding on whether they should close the gallery.
The sisters are as close as anyone could imagine. They are both creative, while Ada focuses on paintings and pottery, Kathleen’s love is embroidery and jewellery making.
“We talk to each other for advice,” Ada said.
While the sisters will close their beloved gallery next month, Ada and Kathleen hope to hold a small exhibition once a year.
“I’m giving up the gallery but I’m hoping to have an exhibition around Christmas with smaller paintings, jewellery and pottery,” she said.
UPDATED June 6, 2019: Ada's Place is now open on Saturdays and by appointment.