Local writer Jane Atkinson has provided this tribute to her friend Margaret Forster.
Margaret Forster was a special person and when she died suddenly in May this year, her family and friends gathered to celebrate her life. We heard the myriad tributes to her at the recent memorial in the Franklin Palais. Hundreds of Margaret’s companions, family and friends filled the Palais. There were samples of her artwork, offerings, and poems and prose from the talented wordsmith that she was. Margaret had just been shortlisted for the Tasmanian Writers’ Prize 2016 with her story My First Volcano.
A tribute compiled by Jilly Archer, reminded us, “Margaret was a potent force who inspired creativity in others, a radiant star, colourful, engaged, genuine and vibrant. Friendliness oozed from her beautiful face and she could be mischievous like a cat, revealing parts of herself but never explaining the whole. She was wise, loving, compassionate, intuitive, kind, generous, supportive and gentle. She railed against her life being limited by illness. She was like sunshine with political savvy, a visionary, a polymath, a good friend”. And in the words of son, Ben, “if you think Margaret was a great friend she was a better mother”.
My dear neighbour and friend, Margaret, had, within a short time of meeting, enabled in me a lifelong ambition: of writing a book. We had grand ideas, wavering themes, and an evolving plot. She had an outstanding talent for turning a small recollection or a vague idea into a grand plan for a part of the book.
Her positivity and encouragement filled me with a can-do attitude, as I walked away after each visit, through Margaret and Richard’s green and shrubby, small-bird-enticing garden. That was our link–our common love of a garden. Our book is a garden book—with a difference. Margaret was different. And though, over the last few months, big blocks of Margaret’s time were given over to visits to her parents and her own quiet days of malaise, our book lived on. And so it shall continue to live on as I finish writing Unfolding the Gardener, dedicated to Margaret.
Margaret Forster shone. She shone through the dullness of ordinary life; she shone in her working life; and shone for her family and friends. Margaret had a marvellous way of believing in her friends and instilling confidence; of releasing the inner simmering creativity; enthusing, arousing and praising. Her weekly art group was testament to her great imagination and companionship.
Knitting, paper maché, painting, drawing, felting, printing, sewing, fabric, flag-making, writing, thinking, gardening, conversation, community: you name it, she was great at it. Her art friends describe her as loving, generous and very clever. Words which come up time and time again when we hear stories of Margaret. Her friend Barb said she “stood out, gold coloured and really bright…she really was a star”.
Thanks to the Forster family for all photographs.
Written by Jane Atkinson