A Place In Time: Cover Story
Noosa can mean many different things to many different people. John Caruso explores the connection between our cover artist and the place we call home; and how it helped her through a long bleak lockdown.
The traditional image of winter for us differs greatly from the postcard-like, snow-covered sceneries of the northern hemisphere where rugged up, beanie wearing kids pelt each other with snowballs and snow ploughs clear roads and driveways. In fact, even in our own country, a winter chill in Noosa has a completely different connotation to someone chillin’ in Melbourne.
Anna Bektash was a primary school teacher living and working in the Victorian capital.
“Every time holidays rolled around, if I had enough money saved, I’d escape the cold and head to Noosa, lugging my surfboard on the train heading north and then once I arrived, I’d carry my surfboard around on the local buses because I didn’t have a car,” she said. “My health was good back then and I’d hike through the National Park, I was young and single and it was such a special time in my life. Those memories have always been special to me,” recalls Anna fondly.
Why have southerners, especially those in the Victorian capitol, earmarked Noosa as their preferred holiday destination?
“For Melbournians, visiting Noosa is like going to another country,” Anna says. “Well, that’s what it’s like for me anyway. The climate is different, the air is different, the water is different. It just feels completely different to Melbourne.”
Painting had been something that Anna had always dabbled in as a hobby, selling the odd piece now and then and just before the long Melbourne lockdown of 2020 she received some news that was life-changing.
“I was diagnosed with Lyme Disease and that meant I couldn’t hold a brush for long periods of time, and I was unable to do lot of narrative work that required a lot of detail, so I started using a palette knife and my artistic style evolved in a new direction,” she explains.
A call from design house, Greenhouse Interiors offered Anna an opportunity to promote and sell her work online and her hobby developed into somewhat of a full-time career.
“Just before this happened, I had to quit my job as a social worker because of health reasons so this opportunity was like a gift. Working as an artist was really the only thing I could do,” she explains.
Lyme Disease produces chronic pain throughout Anna’s body and even using a computer can be difficult.
“I haven’t lost brain capacity as such, but it does inflame a part of your brain that makes it difficult to process things. Being able to paint and create and sell my work; it really is a silver lining,” Anna says.
Noosa Nights is the name of the piece featured on our winter 2021 cover.
“The Melbourne lockdown last year happened during winter and my husband and I were stuck indoors with two kids and creating this piece really helped me mentally by taking me back to a happier time when I felt free,” Anna said.
“The work represents the end of the day. A day where I’d hiked and surfed and as the night rolled in, I would enjoy a beer or a wine on Noosa Main Beach and I’d have this feeling of contentment,” recalls Anna.
The piece is also loosely based on a John Witzig photo.
“John was a famous surf photographer from the ‘60s and ‘70s,” she said. “I love all things retro, and John had taken a photo of Noosa, long before there was all this development, and my memory of that old photo has worked its way into Noosa Nights as well. Using the palette knife allowed me to create a lot of texture in the piece, giving the impression that the water was moving.
“I was stuck in Melbourne during that lockdown, seriously unwell, and this work simply reminds me of those carefree healthy days, holidaying in Noosa and carrying my surfboard everywhere I went,” says Anna.
Interviewing Anna for this story and hearing how special Noosa is to others makes me grateful for being able to call this place home.
A Noosa winter is my favorite kind of winter. Wouldn’t you agree?