Sandy Graham pays tribute to Patricia Convery, a long-time member of THA, theatre historian and librarian, who died earlier this year aged just 70.
Patricia Convery was the third in a family of four children. Her father, James Patrick (J.P.) Convery was, for many years, Stage Manager at the National Theatre, working with Gertrude Johnson. The theatre, therefore, was a presence in Patricia's life virtually from birth.
After leaving high school, Patricia spent two years training as a librarian at the State Library School and then worked within the library system for almost her entire career. She was employed in many municipal libraries around Melbourne and also in Port Moresby, Townsville, at the Braille and Talking Book Library, where she taught herself Braille, and at the Southern Memorial Hospital before returning to the State Library of Victoria. During her early working life Patricia put herself through Monash University studying for an Arts degree and graduating with honours.
Patricia was always interested in reading and researching material; even her interests outside work involved books and research. She adored Art Deco and was a member of the Art Deco Society, contributing articles to its magazine. She also attended and gave talks at Art Deco conferences in New York, London and Napier. Patricia was a member of the Port Phillip Historical Society for whom she wrote a history of the local gardens. Later in her career Patricia took groups for walking tours around the city (including tours for THA in 2014 and 2015) and was never happier than when delving into archives at the Princess Theatre and Her Majesty's, hoping to learn more about their histories for her talks.
For the last nine years or so of full- time work, Patricia ran the Research Service in the Performing Arts Collection at the Victorian Arts Centre, where her knowledge of, and passion for, theatre was used to great advantage. She also instigated the Spotlight series of talks by theatre professionals.
Patricia will be much missed by her family, friends and colleagues.
Patricia with Frank Van Straten and Adrian Turley - THA St Kilda Theatres walk
Patricia Convery Memorial
Patricia talking with Ross Turner at the Bourke Street Theatre Discovery Tour
Image credits: Top – City of Port Phillip event, 4 Dec 2009. Photo by Peter Johnson.