Happy home here to stay
Some might call it an eyesore and others might call it freedom of expression, but regardless this colourful Finley house — and quite literally the colourful character that comes with it — is here to stay.
Just under 12 months ago, Gwenda Darling (pictured) moved from Newcastle to Finley after a traumatic divorce.
To help cope with the experience the 65 year-old has gone to the extreme level of painting her Howe St house rainbow colours.
She said it was a remedy to help her overcome depression.
‘‘I have lived with bi-polar and depression since I was 15 and now I have a diagnosis of frontotemporal dementia,’’ she said.
‘‘I suffer quite severe depression from time to time and a suicide prevention speaker once said ‘if it makes you feel good do something creative’.
‘‘I bought the house and people said I was going to paint it pink, but I found that a bit boring. A friend joked, ‘why not paint the house rainbow?’ and I thought ‘why not?’.
‘‘Even before I bought the house, I told the neighbours I was painting it rainbow. I think they assumed it would be primary colours, like a traditional rainbow or the ones we see commonly with the LGBT flag.
‘‘While I’m a supporter of LGBT, I felt gelato rainbow was different and I wanted it to be known as ‘ happiness house’,’’ Ms Darling said.
She wants people —particularly children — to like the house and smile when they admire it.
‘‘If it brings a smile to a kid who’s having a bad day on their way to school, then that’s made my day.
‘‘If a truckie driving up the street is feeling bad and the house makes them happy, then I’m happy.’’
Ms Darling is aware not everyone likes her colour scheme.
‘‘It polarises the community and you either love it or hate it. There has been an anonymous complaint to the Berrigan Shire saying wasn’t in keeping with the streetscape, but there are many interesting things around Finley.
‘‘There’s a house with a cat on it, so what is the ‘normal’ street scape? Is it unmown lawns and broken fences?
‘‘If people aren’t happy and don’t like it, then drive straight past and don’t look at it.’’
It’s easy to recognise Ms Darling, who roams around Finley with her pink hair, pink clothes and two service dogs.
Not surprisingly she has earned the nickname ‘Pink Lady’ with the town’s younger children.
‘‘Kids don’t even know my name they just say ‘hello pink lady’,” she said with a smile.
‘‘Gwenda is a hard name to say for young kids — and a lot of kids do call me Gwenda.
‘‘I have worked in child protection and counselled young people; we must connect with children because they’re our future.’’
Behind the bright pink hair and clothes is a great grandmother who’s fighting every day with recovering from a tough childhood, rape and a divorce.
Ms Darling said she never had a normal childhood and it wasn’t until 15 years ago she could finally celebrate a birthday.
‘‘At 43 I was raped and survived that. I had my first birthday party at 50, which was a pink party and that’s when my childhood started.
‘‘Prior to that, I lived through incest, alcoholism and domestic violence. I survived all that.
‘‘Now I believe that if telling my story helps one person, then that’s a good thing.
‘‘I joined Blue Voices — part of Beyond Blue — and it helps bring forward awareness of suicide and depression.
‘‘It’s okay to be someone who lives with depression and you can still be in the workforce and function.’’
Ms Darling takes her love of pink can be seen throughout her home with its pink carpet, walls and even pink shower curtain.
She is planning to paint her kitchen benchtops with a special rainbow splashback.
To go with the rainbow house are colourful ornaments including a pink flying pig made from a small gas cylinder and other bits of scrap metal.
Adding to her art flair are old bed bases serving as a side fence and leading into her back yard are five large painted doors.
Her aim is to create a mini utopia for children to play in her front yard.
‘‘The kids know if they come here they get lollies and it’s a fun place.
‘‘I have a little fairy garden in the corner of the front yard and the kids will sit and play; they’re always welcome to come and play.
‘‘I go to the parks with the dogs and the kids love them. They love the attention; it takes a community to raise a child.
‘‘We need to give kids something positive to think about and make them feel good.’’
■ Anyone requiring crisis support can contact NSW Mental Health Line on 1800 800 944 or Lifeline Australia on 13 11 14. Beyondblue also offers support on 1300 224 636.