HENRY’S ART TRIBUTE
Henry Lucke’s work remembered in art exhibition
HENRY Lucke had big, strong “workhorse” hands matched, his daughter says, only by his big, strong heart.
Rosalie Lucke, the youngest of Mr Lucke’s three daughters, says her father’s agile hands have left a legacy that will be passed through the generations, and celebrated at an exhibition in Springsure tonight, four months after he died at the age of 88.
While Mr Lucke was a talented sportsperson, a successful farmer and businessman, and a keen dancer, it was his lifelong love of cross-stitch – sparked many years ago during his recovery from polio – that will be remembered at the ‘Counting Stitches’ gallery display of more than 50 of his needlework pieces.
“And his very first piece is now part of the exhibition, and was found in his drawer after his death in May,” Rosalie says.
Mr Lucke – “a true gentleman”, says Rosalie – was well known in the Mt Larcom districts of Cedarvale and Bracewell where he grew up and his family dabbled in dairy, small crops and peanuts, eventually becoming pig and poultry producers on the family farm, ‘Sunny View’, in Bracewell.
“As a young man, he would walk for miles to go to the dance at night and he played tennis and cricket all over the district,” Rosalie says.
With his three brothers, he went on to run a successful poultry abattoir and piggery business, C Lucke and Sons, in Mt Larcom.
But, when he was 21, Mr Lucke was struck with polio and, while recuperating and rehabilitating for 10 months in the Rockhampton Base Hospital and Royal Brisbane Hospital, he was taught needlework and leatherwork as part of the prescribed therapy to regain dexterity in his fingers.
“He really liked it, but he’d never done it before. He’d always worked on the land and done physical work like ploughing and working the horses,” Rosalie says.
“He had been very good at sewing up the peanut bags when he was about 16, so he had always been good with a needle and thread. He was the fastest bag sewer in the district!”
Rosalie says that when her father – the second of seven children – returned home in 1952, he worked again for the family business.
“Polio left him unable to run, he walked with a limp and was unable to raise his right arm above his head.
“He was very lucky to survive but, in those days, he wasn’t thought of as disabled.”
Rosalie says her father – always a man with an aptitude for maths, numbers and counting – was in charge of the books and managing the people, while also continuing to be very physical on the farm.
“He used to chop the heads off the chickens and he worked very hard. Nobody made allowances for his disability and he was proud of the fact that he always contributed.
❝ He said he couldn’t draw to save his life, but he could do this. — Rosalie Lucke
“He lost his sporting side but he enjoyed still being able to work and have interactions with other people.”
In 1962, Henry met the “love of his life”, Hazel Adams, at the Mount Larcom tennis courts.
The couple married in Rockhampton in 1963 and had three children: Irene, Ailsa and Rosalie.
Years later, in 1978, Mr Lucke again picked up a needle and thread and finished his first cross-stitch.
Rosalie says her father had copied a simple street design from a Family Circle magazine, and then found himself pursuing his hobby with a passion as it helped him to relax from the pressures of running a family business.
“In the years until his retirement in late 1994, he also tried his hand at matchstick craft, pebble craft and paint by numbers,” she says.
“He was always very good at figures and numbers and there’s lots of counting and detail involved in cross-stitch. He said he couldn’t draw to save his life, but he could do this.”
After he retired, Mr Lucke devoted more time to cross-stitch and bowls with his friends, and in 2006 he and Hazel moved to be closer to her family in Croydon Hills. near Springsure.
“His later years were a prolific time for cross-stitching and much of his work was completed over the last 20 years. He could often be found sitting in his chair, his loom over his lap and the ABC news on the television. He’d spend hours and hours on it each day.”
In 2014, however, Mr Lucke suffered from post-polio, and lost his ability to walk.
He used a wheelchair, and eventually moved into the aged persons home, Woodbine Lodge, at the Springsure Hospital.
He had won “countless” awards at local shows and at the exhibition for his cross-stitch pieces, many of which have now been collected from around the state to display.
“Right up until his got sick the week before his death, every day was spent sitting in his chair doing his beloved cross-stitch,” Rosalie says.
“Throughout all his battles, needlework was his constant.
“It kept his mind and hands busy and he enjoyed the routine it gave his days. He loved numbers and counting stitches became his ‘thing’.”
Counting Stitches, which runs until November 4, will be held at the Springsure Art Gallery, opening tonight from 6pm.
Counting Stitches is a collection of more than 50 needlework pieces, including cross-stitch, tapestry and some long stitch by Henry Lucke who spent every day sitting in his chair doing his beloved cross stitch.
Counting Stitches exhibition will be at the Springsure Art Gallery from October 20. It is a collection of more than 50 needle work pieces, including cross-stitch, tapestry and some long stitch by Henry Lucke who died in May 2017. Right up until his got sick the week before his death, every day was spent sitting in his chair doing his beloved cross stitch.
Henry Lucke spent every day sitting in his chair doing his beloved cross stitch.
Some of the exhibits from Counting Stitches.