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The Yarra River is the main and most striking feature of ‘Life is but a Dream’. The river runs through the 3.6 metre long work, providing the theme that allows the residents of Dowell Court to represent their lives. 

The artwork consists of nine equal parts, each representing a decade of life. In the lower left hand corner rich threads are stitched together to form the patchwork of the fabric of life. The hearts and the roses, the bottlebrush and the camellias and the cyclamens represent an instinctive love for our home and family and friends. And love of our domestic animals and our gardens is represented across the width and depth of the work. 

The heart in the stained glass window is symbolic of Dowell Court’s place in the residents’ hearts and the landscape. The frame that surrounds the heart acknowledges Mr. L Roy Dowell, window manufacturer and benefactor. 

We all know that the fruit of the cherry is sweet, we can also identify with the American comedian who quipped “If life is just a bowl of cherries, how come I always end up with the pips?” 

In these times of global instability it is easy to lose sight of our privileged position living under the great Southern Cross, basking in the glorious Australian sunlight. We have, after all, so many wonderful things to be grateful for. 

The residents fondly remember the simple pleasure of meeting a friend ‘under the clocks’ at Flinders Street Station, or a tram trip to St Moritz or Luna Park, ‘just for fun’ on a Saturday night. Or dancing ‘every night of the week’ - including Sunday! - and family picnics in the Botanical Gardens.

No one will ever forget their first pie and sauce at the MCG or the day Collingwood and Fitzroy clashed in ‘a fight to the death’. Nor the unforgettable drone of the lone Spitfire as it limped home ‘on a wing and a prayer’, nor the awful but stunning images of silver bombs falling to earth in the first days of the Second World War.


The five circles that punctuate the work represent Ivanhoe’s 1956 Olympic connection and are metaphors for life’s struggles. Penny the dog represents the human desire for faithful companionship. The Dancers portray our many efforts to dance in step with our life partners. Life, as the saying goes, is rarely a picnic, especially as we learn to sprint like champions so as to complete our tasks before age catches up. The final Olympic ring, encircling the tranquil Buddha figure, represents our life’s search for inner peace and spiritual enlightenment. In old age we try to use the tools of wisdom that come with experience and remembrance to reexamine life in the hope of unraveling its strange mystery.




of DOWELL COURT [Anglican Aged Care Services Group]



3.6 m X 1.2 m

“All that we see
and seem is but

a dream within

a dream” 

Edgar Allan Poe

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