When I heard in mid Febuary that my friend and mentor,Toni Smith,
had died I just couldn't process it.
Maybe it was a prank message?
I had not been told any funeral details.
No suggestion of illness.
I was holding on to a hope that it wasn't true.
We had been keeping in contact but only via mail, email and Facebook.
It was one of those friendships that asked no restraints of visits or attention.
Months or years could pass and it would feel like no time had passed at all
and there was not the slightest waver in fondness and understanding for one another.
How could she just not be there anymore?
It was only when I realised her Facebook profile had gone that I started to really believe it.
Finding her obituary was the final confirmation.
Antonia Mary (Toni).
11th February 2015
Beloved wife of Leon and wonderful mother of Martin, Leonie and Fiona.
Grandmother of Esther, Gabriel, William, Angus, Chloe (dec), Amelia and step-grandmother of Luke and Holly.
Will be sadly missed by her family, extended family and friends.
- See more at: http://tributes.smh.com.au/obituaries/smh-au/obituary.aspx?n=antonia-smith&pid=174142966#sthash.uX6Xkjgb.dpuf
Toni taught me to make plant fibre paper.
But we had many cross overs of interest.
I had gone to high school with her dear son
who was the person who had sent me the notification.
Thankyou so much Martin you must be missing her so much.
We had lived in the same area many years ago
and Toni had also been a potter but it took going out to Orange to her paper making workshop for us to meet and make the connections.
Thank you Toni for being you.
You enriched my life and I am a lucky person to have enjoyed your friendship.
Later in life Toni discovered her love of digital photography.
Here are some of her works
Some years after her workshop I made these pieces
as part of an exhibition celibrating how
some of my teachers had inspired me.
It was these pieces below, 'Flower Heads'
made from plant fibre paper
that were dedicated to Toni.
With out Toni's workshop all those years ago
I would not have enjoyed the adventure
of all the following acts of creativity.
The development /connection between
my garden and my art is thanks to Toni.
The last few years I have had to farewell
most of the strong artistic female mentors in my life.
I miss them all.
I thank them all.
photo by my brother Chris Donaldson
only days before she died.
Vale Toni Smith
My heart is full of gratitude for your friendship and inspiration.