On Tuesday, 24 October 2023, the Lane Cove Historical Society (LCHS) announced its 2023 History Prize Winner.
The Winner – Jane Van Balen
The winner was Jane Van Balen.
Jane’s Prize-winning essay was named, ‘A Gentle Artist: The Life of H. Leonard Greening (1904-1984)’.
As the name suggests, the essay celebrates the life of Jane’s grandfather, known as Len Greening, who emigrated from England to Australia in 1924. Trained originally in England as a machinist, Len had also commenced his studies in art before he left England, and he continued his art studies at the East Sydney Technical College. He found work as a commercial artist with WD and HO Wills, eventually joining the advertising department, where his artistic skills found expression.
Len Greening’s Life in Lane Cove
After their marriage in 1932, Len and his wife, Jessie, settled in Longueville in 1936 and Len became friendly with the painter George Lawrence (who he originally met singing with the Sydney Male Choir). George Lawrence was one of the notable Northwood Group. This group of painters, who, apart from Lawrence, included Lloyd Rees, Roland Wakelin and John Santry, went on painting excursions around the Harbour, and they became famous as a significant group of Sydney’s painters. Len Greening was friendly with them, and sometimes joined them on their excursions.
Move to Hunters Hill
Len and Jessie had two daughters before the outbreak of the Second World War. Len served in the war, and the war years proved disruptive, affecting Jessie’s health. Sadly, she died in 1953. Len later remarried, this time to Helen Molesworth, a resident of Longueville. Len and Helen enjoyed a happy family life, and they moved in time to Hunters Jill, while retaining their connection with the Lane Cove/Longueville area.
Len’s career with WD and HO Wills had prospered over the years, and he became the Art Superintendent in the Advertising Department for Wills by his retirement. Painting remained an important activity throughout Len’s life, and in retirement, he travelled extensively, producing many paintings. He exhibited quite widely in Sydney, holding exhibitions in Pymble, Hunters Hill and Ashfield, while he also exhibited in galleries in Adelaide and Christchurch, New Zealand.
Celebrating a Lane Cove Artist
In all, Len Greening remains one of our significant, if lesser-known, local painters. He died in 1984, a much-loved father and grandfather.
You can still buy Len’s paintings on this site.
Purchased as a house museum, Carisbrook remains an important reminder of Lane Cove’s past history. Carisbrook is a survivor of a time when the land around the Lane Cove River was a world away from Sydney Town. Built in the 1880s from locally quarried sandstone, the house sits handsomely overlooking Burns Bay on the east and the Lane Cove River to the west.
Carisbrook was purchased by the Lane Cove Council as a gift to the Lane Cove community. The Heritage Council of NSW placed a permanent conservation order on the house in 1981. It is now maintained by Lane Cove Council and curated by the Lane Cove Historical Society.
Find out more about Carisbrook House here.
Members of the public can tour Carisbrook House on the Monthly Open Weekend. The next weekend opening is 18/19 November 2023. Tour the house and have Devonshire tea.