BIOGRAPHY/CV Mary van den Berk

Biography/CV Mary van den Berk - picture of artist

Mary van den Berk

BIOGRAPHY/CV Mary van den Berk BSW (Hons),  (Massey) PhD, (UNSW) M Art, (COFA, UNSW)

I am a Potts Point based artist. I was a social worker and researcher before I was an artist. The sum of my work and life experiences informs my art focus on depicting people, narrative and community. I aim to capture figuratively a brief moment in time – an “essence” of a person, moment and context. I also make a form of commemorative art called Tribute-Art which celebrates people’s lives and creates a permanent legacy. My current body of work focuses on Potts Point Propinquity – where I Live.

I have created a business in Tribute-Art helping individuals or members of groups to create collaborative mixed media works that celebrate a person, place or event. This combines my skills in art and social work. I teach part-time art classes for seniors at Coast Seniors Centre in Little Bay and provide volunteer assistance at CanTeen camps and  have run both Tribute-Art and other art workshop at the annual “Good Grief” camp.

I  was a part-time student of Master of Art in painting at COFA, UNSW graduating in 2010. Prior to this, in my late 30’s,  I rekindled my love of art and took up art classes at Kuringai Arts Centre, Waverley Woollahra Art Centre, and National Art School. I was also involved in art volunteer work at “Lou’s Place”, a drop in centre for women in crisis, at Kings Cross and the Art Therapy programme at Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick. In 1993 I completed my PhD (after 8 years part-time with a deferral following the birth of each of my 3 children, an interstate move and 3 house renovations ). The PhD focused on the effectiveness of a Genetic Screening Programme for the Fragile X Syndrome.

I held numerous positions after graduating with a BSW  (Hons) from Massey University in 1981, including a position as lecturer in the Department of Social Work at Monash University, the Genetic Co-ordinator Counsellor with the Victorian Clinical Genetics Services, based at Monash Medical Centre and as the Genetic Social Worker/Counsellor, for the Fragile X Screening Programme based at the Prince of Wales Children’s Hospital, Randwick. In the early 1980’s an extended overseas trip found me working at Newham Social Services in the East end of London as well as residential relief work in various parts of the United Kingdom. I was born in Waipukurau, New Zealand, and the second of seven children. I have lived in Australia since 1985 with my husband and we have three grown children.




Grants, selected publications and presentations

  • 2011                ArtStart Grant, Australian Council for the Arts  
  • 2011 June     Presentation on “A Trans-disciplinary approach to Memorial Art” at inaugural “Death Down Under” Conference, Sydney University

Turner, G Robinson, H Laing, S van den Berk, M Colley, A Goddard, A Sherman, S Partington, M 1992,’Population Screening for Fragile X’, The Lancet, May 16, vol. 339 pp. 1210-1213.

Fook, J Carew, R Ryan, M van den Berk, M 1991, ‘A new direction in Social Work Education: Teaching by Distance (The Monash Experience)’, Advances in Social Welfare Education, pp. 169-180.

van den Berk, M 1990 ‘An Introduction to Genetic Counselling” AASW, NSW Branch Newsletter, May (vol.2) pp.9-14.

van den Berk, M 1990 ‘Evaluation of BSW Courses provided internally and externally from Monash University Social Work Department” April – internal report for use of Social Work Department and Faculty.

van den Berk, M 1989, ‘Effective Genetic Counselling – discussing client questions and concerns’, poster for Australasian Human Genetics Society Conference, July, Alice Springs, NT.

van den Berk, M 1988, ‘Comprehending and coping with genetic Information’,  poster for Australasian Human Genetics Society Conference, May, Brisbane, Queensland.

van den Berk, M 1987,‘Genetic Counselling and Social Work’, paper and presentation to Australian Association of Social Workers Bi-annual conference, September, Perth, WA.

Education and Employment History

2010                    Master of Art (in Painting), UNSW, College of Fine Arts

1994                     PhD, UNSW

Thesis: “Screening for the Fragile-X Syndrome: effectiveness, consequences

and a model for social work practice”.

1981                     BSW (Hons) Massey University, New Zealand