PAM Diment has always enjoyed being hands on in anything she has attempted, and has earned the respect of all who have gotten to know her.
Mrs Diment was born in Ceduna in 1955 to parents Neil Bergmann and Doreen Nicholls.
She described her life on the farm as being an “excellent childhood”, which taught her important life skills on the environment and independence.
Mrs Diment grew up with six other sisters and one brother who are her “best mates”.
Losing sister Sue in a car accident three years ago has left anincredible sadness in their hearts.
Some of the activities she remembers taking part in include rabbit trapping and skinning rabbits, her mother teaching her to milk cows, bird nesting, and spot lighting.
One memorable bird nesting day was sitting in an eagle’s nest with brother Ernie having lunch.
Mrs Diment said this was also when she had her first exposure to the indigenous culture, both on the farm and at school.
“My father employed indigenous people on the farm to pick stumps, and I always had contact with the Millers who lived at then called Duck Pond and the Faulkners,” she said.
“Mrs Miller cooked the best bread in an underground oven, and Mr Faulkner did pictures of kangaroos with mud on the walls of the underground tanks he cleaned out.”
Mrs Diment attended school at Ceduna Area School but didn’t enjoy her schooling, especially as at the time girls weren’t allowed to do hands on subjects like woodwork and metalwork.
But she said it was at school when she started to develop her love for art.
“In Year 5 we had drawing classes and I can remember Bronwyn Sleep (nee Coleman) also being very good at art,” she said.
“Moving up into secondary school there was a choice of either art or typing; I took the art.”
“Up until the last year of school I had an excellent art teacher in Alison Kirk, who encouraged my interest in art and organised me to go to Adelaide to the SA School of Art for work experience.”
Out of school and not knowing what to do as there were few job opportunities at the time, Pam applied and was accepted for an interview at the art school, which was competitive as they accepted only 90 people.
But she was accepted and did the full four-year course, doing a general course in her first year before taking on pottery as her specialised subject for the remainder of her time there.
Mrs Diment said making the transition from the country to the city was challenging.
“Going to the city life was such a huge change and challenge for me, but I was lucky one of my sisters Chris (Gascoyne) was living there so I felt more comfortable with the move,” she said.
After her time at the school she worked for six months at the Paris Creek Pottery on Strathalbyn Road, as well as meeting her eventual husband Graham Diment through a mutual friend from the art school.
Mr Diment was working as anengineer on a prawn boat andtogether they moved to Cairns and worked all around the Gulf of Carpentaria, from Weipa to Nhulunbuy.
Mrs Diment spent seven months on the boat with Mr Diment, where she learned how to navigate, mend prawn nets and not to be afraid of some other marine life coming up in the nets which include sea snakes, swordfish, tiger sharks and turtles.
The couple married in 1978 and welcomed their son Chi at the Grafton Base Hospital.
They also welcomed daughters Jo and Shosharna in 1982 and 1984 respectively, also at Grafton Base Hospital.
Mrs Diment set up a pottery at Sealands as the family lived in an 80-year-old house on the bank of the Clarence River, which had no running water or electricity.
They then decided to buy a property near Nymboida, where they built a small 3×5 metre shed and built new kilns and pottery and started the pole frame house from the tall straight iron bark trees that grew all around the area.
Once again it had no running water but did have a good old Lister diesel generator, and it proved to be hard living.
Mrs Diment said one good thing about that area was there were rivers and substantial creeks everywhere and the property was on the end of the Commonwealth Games white water canoe course so there was plenty of running water, just not out of pipes in the shed.
After six months there, a family visit brought them back to Ceduna.
“My sister Sue came over and was amazed with how we lived,” Mrs Diment said.
Graham was making pottery wheels with a limited market so we decided to come back to Ceduna in 1984 for a few years to make some money to build their house.”
They farmed on her father’s property for four years and while Mrs Diment loved being home, all four years were in drought.
Ready to leave to go back to Grafton, Mr Diment had the opportunity to apply for a job at the OTC station in Ceduna.
He took on the role of Senior Technical Officer at the satellite earth station maintaining the critical power generation and refrigeration, and also maintaining the 16 houses in Ceduna until the station closed in 1994.
After the closure he started his own air conditioning and refrigeration business.
Meanwhile after about 28 years of working as a full time ceramic artist, Mrs Diment applied for the coordinator position at the Ceduna Arts and Culture Centre.
She said it was a good chance to give something back to the community.
“I was always been interested in indigenous people and their rich cultural stories and their connection to country and the wealth of knowledge of their environment,” she said.
“I thought it was only for two years, but I got attached and passionate to see the progress of artists such as Beaver Lennon, who has become very well-known artists.”
The role also gave her a connection to the traditional people at Yalata and Oak Valley and she learned from people who still speak their traditional language and still practice their culture.
She also developed a close connection with three women at Oak Valley; Kumanara Hart, Margaret May and Mabel Queama.
She went on cultural trips where she learnt how to hunt and look for witchetty grubs, dig for wombats, how to cook kangaroo tails and taught how to make bush medicine.
She said these things would stay with her for the rest of her life.
Mrs Diment said in her eight years in the role she has built connections not only with galleries and funding bodies but also all communities.
“I watched the centre grow and provide financial return for the artists, not just from selling their artwork but also from the exposure of exhibiting artworks and artists work entered and being selected in Major Art prizes,” she said.
“I’ve been fortunate to live in a place with great support from the community and the many special people I have been involved with over the years.”
After eight years she felt she still had the passion but had run out of drive to engage with people to come and support what she believes is a wonderful facility that is there to develop artistic skill, to empower artists and what has achieved positive outcomes for artists.
She stepped down from her position this year, which has allowed her to spend time with her son Chi and daughter Shosharna who recently had twin girls.
An accident in September 2010 paralyzed Chi from the waist down and Mrs Diment said it was life changing for everyone.
“It was unfortunate because the week before we told him he could take over his dad’s business,” she said.
“What the community did to raise funds was overwhelming, we live in an awesome community.”
“Chi was very capable, he also previously awarded apprentice of the year.”
Her other interests are propagating and planting trees around her property, and has also taken numerous photos, and finds it important to document events and people which is important for future reference.
“I do it because I am passionate about seeing people develop in the arts, seeing what art does for communities and the exposure it has provided to the Ceduna and Indigenous communities,” she said.
“I do it out of love of teaching, and I have great support from Graham and other people.”
POTTY: Pam Diment displays one of her pots amongst other artworks in her home.
This article first appeared in Hangzhou Night Net.