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Colin Lewis still had the ink running through his veins

A print industry veteran is remembered for his unwavering support for the industry.

It was during Melbourne’s extended COVID-19 lockdown last year, that Australian Print Workshop (APW) Director Anne Virgo OAM decided to take a brief walk through Melbourne cemetery as part of her daily exercise routine.

She stumbled across two ornate gravestones commemorating the lives of sisters Catherine and Barbara Collie. Barbara had set up the charitable Collie Print Trust in 1967 in memory of her father and brothers, who built the iconic R. Collie and Company, later known as Collie Australia Ltd.

"I took a photograph on my phone and sent it to Collie Print Trust chairperson Colin Lewis and said, 'Guess what I found?' He loved it. Colin was a direct link back to the Collie print company – he had worked at the company, as had the previous Collie Print Trust Chairperson Michael Hanlon."

Colin passed away in August this year marking the end of an era. He was both a director of the Collie print company, which was taken over in 1979, and the Chairperson of The Collie Print Trust, which continues to support the print and design industries to this day.

Colin was always available and took a genuine interest in the organisations the Trust supports, such as APW, as well as the Australia New Zealand Flexographic Technical Association, the Design Foundation, and the RMIT School of Architecture and Design.

He played a crucial role when APW's building, in the inner-Melbourne suburb of Fitzroy, was put up for sale in 2006, helping APW raise funding from donors so they could buy the building and secure the future of their organisation.

"Colin and The Collie Print Trust could see the vision, the urgency, and they gave me the confidence to head off on a huge fundraising drive," Anne said. "Their stewardship and support enabled us to raise the significant funds required and within six months we had bought the building debt free.”

"If we'd been having to pay rent during Melbourne’s COVID closures over the past 18 months, our organisation would have had to fold. Building ownership has been our saviour in these very challenging times. We are indebted to Colin for his support, guidance and belief in our organisation that continues to have lasting impact."

APW, which supports artists using traditional printing techniques, still houses some old cans of Collie company ink made decades ago.

Equity Trustees Grant Program Manager, Emily Cormack, remembered Colin as a gentleman.

"People would describe how he still had the ink running through his veins," she said.

"What I really loved and valued about him was his ability to give people the time of day no matter what their role or position was, or their interaction with the Trust."

The Collie Print Trust is a perpetual trust and continues under the trusteeship of Equity Trustees and Sarah Hearn.
"Colin was a great mentor to me as co-trustee – his passion for the print industry was contagious and we will all miss his support and guidance," she said.

The Trust will provide ongoing support for technical education in the printing industry and allied trades.

Vale Colin Lewis. His kindness, wisdom and contribution to the sectors will be missed.

This article and more appears in Edition 4 of Generation magazine – View this edition here and previous ones.

Photo: (Left-right) Mr Peter Smith, Mr Colin Lewis, Rev. Robert Collie, Mr H.M. Hearn AM, Mr Michael S.D. Hanlon AM and Mr Charles Williams
at the launch of The Collie Print Trust publication at Australian Print Workshop (18 April 2005).