Courtesy of The Queensland Country Life 2014

9 Ante Portas – History

Women reach a particular age and stage.

Call it what you will, but there comes a point – a tipping point, perhaps – when the years of giving come to an abrupt and rather shocking halt.

Suddenly! Behind you is the complicated topography of motherhood, with all its hills, valleys, forests, pathways and obscure places. You realise with a kind of jolt that you have managed to navigate your way, somehow, through those endless, exhilarating years of mixed degrees of blessing.

Before you now stands a vista of a different sort; a vast empty plain, under an enormous, cloudless sky.

Fear not! For this is the Plain of Possibilities. At its edge stands the Crucible of Choices, bubbling away, cauldron-like, tended by a hooded crone wielding an enormous wooden spoon, her lips pursed around what appears to be a mournful dirge.

But take courage and draw closer. You will see that it’s not an old woman at all; it is your old self, albeit in a new, slightly-used and rather shop-soiled form. And far from chanting horrible incantations you are whistling in a rather jaunty and not entirely dignified way, and not altogether discreetly, either.

And what is boiling in that big pot that is engaging your rapt attention?

Aha! That is YOUR call. To the sum total of all you have become through your life’s experiences you are free to add whatever you like! It’s time to take stock, before you embark upon a journey of a different kind.

And so, in July 2008 a group of women friends of long standing – very long, in fact, friendships going back generations, in the Queensland way – and at that stage of their lives, found themselves at a Wake together, celebrating the life of one of their husbands.
Chrissie and Susan got their heads together over the champagne and canapes. Susan confided her decision to take up a latent talent, held over during many years of motherhood, duty, love and obligation, and become the Great Artist her childhood art teacher had said she could be. Already, a little over a year since she had decided on her new course, she was well on the way.

Chrissie offered her moral support and suggested that an art exhibition was the way to ensure that  Susan’s burgeoning endeavours reached the attention of the greater world.
And, she added, looking around the room, there are other women amongst us who need just a little nudge into the limelight to throw off their cloaks of self-doubt and rise to new opportunities in grand and colourful style.

And so, out of death, was 9 Ante portas born. Because surely, having gone the hard yards as had Hannibal when he arrived at the gates of Rome, there is no better time for nine talented women to throw off their shrouds of anonymity. Step gloriously up into the light now, girls, and showcase the talents that have lain dormant during all those years of duty, love and obligation.Introducing the 9 Ante Portas ladies who have boldly broached the gates to the Plain of Possibilities. They are – photographer Chrissie Higgins; artists, Susan McConnel, Heather (Chandler) Moore, Binnie Donovan, Peta (PeeWee) Trude and Louise Durack; jeweller Lyndal Calcraft; author Jane Grieve; and mystery exhibitor Rob Skerrett.