Raquel Stevens

Once I secured my interview with Jenny Hopkins I knew I was dealing with a woman who gets stuff done!  First of all, I called her on a Sunday afternoon and said, ‘apologies for calling on a Sunday.’ She replied, ‘no apology required.’

Then I followed it up with, ‘can I interview you tomorrow?’ which she happily responded, ‘absolutely, I might be tired, but I’m not retired.’

I soon discovered this is the type of woman you want co-ordinating one of the biggest events on the Daylesford Calendar:  The Daylesford Art Show.

Last year the event raised over $15,000 for Rotary, and already the hype around this year’s Melbourne Cup weekend extravaganza promises to be bigger and better.

Jenny, how is The Daylesford Art Show coming along?

It’s looking as if the whole Town Hall is going to burst with art.  It won’t just be paintings, which is a really important aspect of it.

On the stage we will have bonsai and some other lovely mediums of artwork. We’ll have quilting, bonsai, sculpture, and pottery.

The event is more than showcasing art, it’s about raising money for Rotary.  How does it help?

Rotary is a small team, but an enthusiastic team. We get things done for our community particularly, but also nationally and internationally.

The locals love an opening night too.

Oh, the locals, they all turn up, and I think people just enjoy getting together. A glass of wine, two glasses maybe, another painting sold.

But I also want to make sure everybody feels welcome, not just the locals. I’ll certainly be promoting it that way.

And we’ll have an auction. I’ll drop a big hint, if anyone wants to donate something fantastic for the auction, it would be appreciated very much.

How did you find yourself here, running the Art Show? 

I was living in the centre of Melbourne at Quay West Hotel, a one bedroom apartment. Then I looked around Daylesford, but nothing grabbed me.

Then I walked into ‘The Birches of Daylesford,’ which is in Central Springs Road, and I said to my sister-in-law, ‘this is it.’

A bed and breakfast is a wonderful way to meet people.

I’ve met literally hundreds over the last nine years, and such a mixture of human beings. I’ve only had trouble with one lot. I also have a lovely view and the lake nearby, that’s magic.

The Daylesford community is quite magical too.

Being involved with the community, I think is important.

I’m very keen on housing for people who are working in cafes, who don’t have accommodation. It’s not just cafes, its farms, it’s farm workers, health workers.

I worked at the hospital for a short time, and I think everybody came from elsewhere, not Daylesford. So there just needs to be accommodation for people like that.

If you had a superpower, what would it be and what would you do with it?

Oh, well, to start with, I’d like another 80 years. Then I’d be able to do more of what I want to do.

You’re not 80, surely you’re not 80?

Now, you’re embarrassing me. Oh, my goodness.

Well, I want to look like you when I’m 80.

Anyway, another 80 years would be good.  I’d like to do more studies.

And if you could describe yourself in a sentence.

I can only do one word.

Okay, if you could describe yourself in one word.

The only word that I can think of is unstoppable.

What’s the best advice you’ve been given?

If you’ve got something that you need to prepare for tomorrow, no matter what time it is, keep working on it until you finish it at night, so that when you wake up in the morning, you’d be ready for action.

If you could have three dinner guests, who would you have at your table?

Such an easy answer. The three women who spoke at the Rotary’s 70th anniversary. We had Tina from the Convent Gallery, Alla from The Lake House and Carol from Lavandula. Their speeches were outstanding, they came from the heart, and it was such a privilege having them.  It was so motivating.

If you were sent off to Wombat State Forest for the rest of your eternal life, what 3 items would you take?

My dog, Harry.  My computer with a long-life battery and a very large cup of coffee.

What’s next on your dance card?

I truly can’t think past the art show right now.

What’s important, I guess, for me is to make sure that I do the best job I can in organising the people who have wonderfully offered to assist me. Not just my committee, but volunteers as well.

Opening night’s going to be fantastic. Entries close shortly, are you happy with what has been submitted?

We do need some more nudes.

Okay, so a call out everybody, ‘We need some more nudes!’

More models or painters?

 Well, neither. That was wicked.

You have a wicked sense of humour Jenny, and no doubt The Daylesford Art Show will be a huge success with you at the helm.

Nudists need not apply, however budding artists entries close on October 2nd. The Daylesford Art Show runs from November 2nd to 7th at the Daylesford Town Hall. www.daylesfordartshow.com.au

Listen to a podcast of Raquel’s interview with Jenny Hopkins on the Hepburn Community Radio Soundcloud.

Raquel Stevens is a former Network Ten News Journalist. She has been a part time local for more than 25 years, and one day hopes to be a full time local.