“I quite simply love his work, and I find it difficult to describe how much I admire him and what he creates.”
Married couple Ralph & Suzy Wilson
I’m the youngest of three girls. I was born in Sydney and we moved to Brisbane when I was seven. Dad [Don] was an engineer; Mum [Jean Armstrong] was one of the first women to become a social worker. She started one of the first women’s shelters in Queensland, Gareema at [Brisbane’s inner-south] Highgate Hill, now run by Save the Children.
I was an early childhood teacher but ended up teaching secondary for a while and then I became a lecturer in the education faculty at Queensland University of Technology before Ralph and I started Riverbend [bookshop] in 1998. I was 22 when we met [they married in 1986]. We connected through our mutual love of sailing – boats, sailboards, pretty much anything to do with coastlines and the sea. Not long after we met, I discovered he was an artist and became utterly fascinated and intrigued by this part of him. It’s part of the attraction; I think because I’ve never had talents in that area, I’m impressed [by those who do]. I don’t think people understand the discipline required when you work in a studio at home. Creating something beautiful and real that will continue to exist beyond our lifetimes seemed almost fantastical then, and still does. I quite simply love his work, and find it difficult to describe how much I admire him and what he creates. His drive, discipline, and the all-consuming nature of his work played a major role in inspiring me to forge a career that I could be equally obsessed by.
My love of books and reading, and my determination that literacy is a right, inspired both the birth of Riverbend Books and the Indigenous Literacy Foundation [ILF]. We’ve been very lucky to have a mutual respect for each other’s passions and obsessions.