I have just received the incredibly sad news that my artist friend Derna Johnson has passed away after a long battle with illness.

Derna took me under her wing when I first decided to try my hand at fine art. She guided me toward exhibitions and galleries that she felt would assist me on my art journey. I often showed her some of my works for critique, before I exhibited them.

I wrote about our friendship and her mentoring in October 2010. She was a pocket rocket filled with ideas and the drive to see them through to reality. Bayswater’s Ellis House, converted to a now-thriving community arts centre in 2003/04, is a prime example of her tenacity.

It was in 2010 that I received the news that Derna was undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer. She fought it like a trooper and when I saw her again, some six months later, she didn’t look like she’d been sick at all. It appears that, rather than wallow in sickness, Derna took her own cancer as an opportunity to find ways to help other sufferers.

You can see some examples of Derna’s blue wrens on the Boranup Gallery website.

Farewell Derna. You will be sadly missed across the art community.