Pioneering champ of the arts missed

Derna Johnson, who died recently from cancer, with her painting
Derna Johnson, who died recently from cancer, with her painting "Dragonflies."Picture: Marie Nirme www.communitypix.com.au d376248

Talented in ink, watercolour, oils and acrylics, Mrs Johnson, who died on March 8 after a long fight with breast cancer, developed Ellis House in Bayswater as a Community Arts Centre in 2004 and was an avid promoter of local talent.

Daughter Emily Johnson-Bradbury said while her mum was a great supporter of local artists she too was a woman of many talents, something which only a few were aware of.

‘Mum was most known for her pastel roses and poppies, and her ink/water colour blue wrens, but she also dabbled in oils and acrylics,’ Mrs Johnson-Bradbury said.

‘She was a wonderful ballet dancer and taught at many different dance academies, many of which she started up.

‘Mum and my uncle Gary used to dance with the WA Ballet company and performed on ABC television frequently.’

As well as being talented in dance and arts, Mrs Johnson was a warm and loving grandmother to her five grandchildren, according to her daughter, and she created Ellis House with the blessing and support of the Bayswater Council.

‘It was a place of beauty and harmony for like-minded people to come, share and expand their artistic skills and to just enjoy the beautiful historical house and its gardens.

‘It was important to her that it not become a profiteering and cold business.

‘The spirit of Ellis House is its warmth and friendliness and this can be felt when you walk in the building. Mum considered it to be amongst her greatest accomplishments.’

Mrs Johnson-Bradbury said her mum died peacefully.

She said she would remember her mother’s friendly and beautiful nature.

‘I was lucky enough to be with her holding her hand as she took her last breath,’ she said. ‘She maintained her dignity and loveliness right to the end.

‘I’m enormously proud of the woman she was and all she accomplished professionally and personally. She is sorely missed.’

Derna Johnson’s funeral was held at Pinnaroo Valley Memorial Park and attended by Bayswater and City of Perth mayors Terry Kenyon and Lisa Scaffidi.

Derna Johnson was 73.