by former Gold Coast Writers’ Association president Gary Ivory
Karen joined Gold Coast Writers’ Association some 10 years back and quickly stepped up to take a role on the Committee, helping to steer the association forward during adventurous and challenging times. As a member of the committee and later Vice President of the Association, I got to know Karen well and had the privilege to work with her on a number of projects made all the easier by our shared background in education and the love of teaching and learning.
As our Membership Secretary, Karen worked tirelessly to streamline the process of membership, ensuring our books were kept up to date to meet audit requirements. As a general committee member, Karen worked quietly in the background, supporting each person in their respective roles. At the table, she often injected energy and excitement with her thought-provoking comments into forward planning and problem solving.
Karen stepped up to support “The Authors in Schools Program” expertly running workshops in various high schools as well as liaising with fellow authors. With a secondary teaching background in the Arts, Karen relished the opportunity to work with secondary students, encouraging them to appreciate literature and inspiring budding authors to write. Her understanding of schools ensured these sessions were well organised and expertly presented.
After completing her PhD (James Cook University) with considerable research into the concept of “Creativity” and “Extrinsic and Intrinsic Reward Systems”, Karen spent time lecturing at Southern Cross University. I had the privilege to partner with Karen to deliver workshops in this popular area of study and arts practice. Karen’s lectures always stretched the imagination and inspired writers to keep writing or pick up the pen.
While teaching at the College of the South West in Roma, Queensland, Karen researched in great detail the tale of the Kenniff Brothers, notorious cattle rustlers, tried and convicted in the outback courts of old Queensland. Her book, “Moonlighting in Moffat: tracking the Kenniff brothers” told a fascinating tale of a story almost forgotten.
Her considerable and creative painting talent, saw Karen produce visual images on giant, strong brown paper banners, helping to bring the story to life. After exhibiting in Roma in recent years, the paintings, of some historical note, are now the property of the Shire Council, with replicas gracing the walls of the Roma Airport.
Karen’s love of art and art history was put to good use as she regularly lectured at a number of Gold Coast Libraries. My wife and I, along with others from the GCWA, both young and old, who were interested in art history, enjoyed many sessions as Karen shared some wonderful insights into the life and works of the masters. Titled “Walks in Time”, Karen’s love of art always showed through. Her research was so thorough and always very well received.
Karen’s published work “Yarns from Yandilla” was indeed a challenge to us all to live by standards, with the hope of making the world a better place. A teacher called Mrs. M took up the challenge and, with multiple copies purchased, used Karen’s work to help guide the children towards gaining insight into everyday life and the many ups and downs it can present. In her creative, artistic style, she crossed over into the animal world and a unique fantasy land creating characters which captured the imagination helping us all “To tinker with the tools in our head”.
She continued using her creative imagination in “Boy from Bullamooluka”. Her introduction gives a clue to Karen’s unique command of the English Language.
“This is a story that explores the dilemmas of diversity and the conquering of conflict when fantasy, technology and every-day normality collide and envelop Watson in a personal web of dismay and discovery.”Karen Knight-Mudie
Watson, a 15-year-old at Bullamooluka High School student with all the trials and tribulations he faces, is the centre of attention as Karen draws on her considerable experience as a high school teacher.
In her words:
“During my years at school, I found the amazing magic of the written word and the surprising complexity of visual language. As a consequence, I’m still having an on-going affair with words and images involving lots of effort and lots of ‘tinkering with the tools in my head’. In other words, the affair involves learning and that, as you know, is a life-long voyage of discovery so I’m still travelling.”Karen Knight-Mudie
Karen certainly did a lot of tinkering in her head, designing and building her home in Tallebudgera Valley. Designed around a central living area, her home had plenty of space to show her favourite art works and special treasures as well as lots of natural light to create new ones. Her property also boasted a stable and a horse rink allowing her to indulge one of her favourite pastimes–dressage. My wife and I and others enjoyed many a sunset, looking across her green oasis.
Karen, to the end, was feisty and determined. Her considerable talent and creative energy led her to enter the Archibald Prize, indeed a testament to her enduring character. Her last days were spent at her new home in Nowra NSW recording on memory sticks to be left for each of her family members.
Karen cared greatly about Animal Welfare, Arts and Culture, Children, Education, Environment, and Human Rights. She will be missed greatly by her family and friends.