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About Norma (1935-2008)

Norma had a lot of passions in her life – but there was one she was exceptionally good at – her art. She was, in the true sense of the word, an artist.  She constantly went to workshops and attended courses to learn and keep exploring the dimensions that art could offer. She produced great work with watercolour, oils, charcoal, enamelling, copper and screen-printing. She made silverware, pottery, and quilts and even helped make some of my teacher aids – I still remember her ‘greater gator’ she stayed up all night to make so I could use it for my Year 2 class the next morning . She was an outstanding colourist and could blend and use colour to express form and function like few others could.


In 1978, together with her friend Ann Sutherland, mum helped start the Merredin Fine Art Society. It was a sort of equivalent to the famed Heidelberg School - a social network of local artists getting together to develop their skills and capture the beautiful Merredin landscapes. It was mum and Anne’s vision that the Society would help produce such a high standard that they could hold an exhibition in their own right - which they did  in 1998 in Perth; and have since held more exhibitions.


On the 25th of October, 2008, the Merredin Fine Arts Society celebrated their 40th anniversary. In honour of a remarkable legacy and as a tribute to mum, the Society decided to create a special award category named the “Norma Holmsen Memorial Award”. This award was proudly sponsored by the Holmsen Family and was given annually for encouragement and improvement in the recipient’s work.


Norma entered many competitions and won a number of prizes around the districts of Merredin, Southern Cross, Kalgoorlie, Kellerberrin and Bruce Rock. Anne and her also did a considerable amount of art judging themselves.


There are probably hundreds of people around rural WA, Perth and Australia who have a piece of her art. I am reliably told that her art was so good; she could have made a substantial professional career from it.


But there was a reason why this didn’t happen; and that was because of another passion of hers - her family. When I recently asked what her greatest achievement was, it wasn’t her art - it was her family. I spent the last few years of her life selfishly asking her to paint for me. And she painted right up to the last.


I hope that those who are fortunate enough to own a piece of mum’s art get as much enjoyment and inspiration from it as I have. Norma was a great artist and an even better mother. I am incredibly fortunate to have gotten to know both sides of her endearing and wonderful spirit.  


David Holmsen, 2018

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