Artist Sue Coburn with an example of her work at a Floating Land exhibition in Boreen Point.
Artist Sue Coburn with an example of her work at a Floating Land exhibition in Boreen Point. Geoff Potter

Former mayor pays tribute to love of his life

A CELEBRATION of life will be held to honour the memory of artist Sue Coburn, of Boreen Point, who has died following a long illness.

Ms Coburn is survived by her two adult children Cate Handlo and James Coburn, five grandchildren and her partner of 18 years, former Noosa and Sunshine Coast mayor Bob Abbot.

Mr Abbot said Ms Coburn had known her latest cancer battle would be her last.

16/03/08   n19973aNew Sunshine Coast Regional Council Mayor Bob Abbot relaxes at home with partner Sue Coburn and dog Toby.Photo by Geoff Potter
The late artist Sue Coburn and partner Bob Abbot with the family dog Toby at the couple's Boreen Point home. Geoff Potter

"She planned for it," he said. "Not everything went to plan, dying in hospital rather than at home."

Ms Coburn had lived with illness for many years having contracted an auto neurone disease at 32. First diagnosed as MS, it impacted badly on her for a long time.

"Sue was first diagnosed 19 years ago with breast cancer," Mr Abbot said. "It's been a constant thing.

"She saw herself as not a victim or sufferer but as someone who had a constant reminder she wasn't infallible.

"I think she was a beautiful woman inside and out that set her apart.

"She had such determination to live a particular sort of life.

"She had a willingness to share what she knew but she was not someone to impose herself on others.

"She would offer advice, not concerned if people didn't choose to listen.

"Susie had a lot of integrity and a considerable amount of generosity. She was generous with her time and to share what she had around her.

03/01/09   n22268gGreat Noosa Camp Out.(L-R)  Sue Coburn and Bob Abbot at the Great Noosa Camp OutPhoto Geoff Potter / Noosa News
The late Sue Coburn with her partner former Noosa and Sunshine Coast mayor Bob Abbot during a Great Noosa Camp Out. Geoff Potter

"But she didn't suffer fools lightly and had no time for people selfish with what and who they were."

The recognised artist and art teacher's body of work had been restricted by successive family arrangements in her youth but was to become a passion.

"Art was her saviour," Mr Abbot said. "It was always in her from a young age and she managed to do a lot later.

"The work she was producing when we were together was fantastic, but it could have been a greater body of work."

He said Ms Coburn's art showed a passion for where she lived and those around her.

"Not once did she raise any issue about her works' monetary value," Mr Abbot said.

"It was always about the life in her paintings."

A celebration of Ms Coburn's life will be held later this year at the Boreen Point property of friends.

She had not wanted a funeral but did want a celebration which would be staged when the logistics of getting family home from overseas and other issues could be aligned.

Johanne Meder said she and a colleague had first met Ms Coburn 12 years ago as an art course teacher but had become close friends.

"Gabi and I did a six-week course at Wallace House (Noosaville) with Sue and then another six weeks and another six weeks," she said.

"We couldn't let go. We continued with a core group who kept coming back."

Sue was to go on to be a facilitator for the emerging artists, pushing them to look more deeply into themselves and their experiences for inspiration.

"She had a great impact on my life and on many lives," Ms Meder said.

In her Muddy Waters studio at the home she shared with Mr Abbot at Boreen Point, there was no time for "mindless, decorative art".

Ms Meder said the artists were pushed to be honest and reflective, meaning that all facets of each other's lives had become matters to discuss and from which to draw inspiration.

"Sue was a very wise woman and we will miss her a lot," she said.