K ATE KELLY-DUKE, 49, PAINTER, HAMILTON
Painting can be the most exhilarating, relaxing and meditative activity. It can also make you want to tear your hair out. But then it pulls you back. I know I’m meant to keep painting because when I get frustrated and want to give up, I always get the urge to go back. My home studio is a converted garage – my little haven. It’s a simple, special place and I hope no-one ever wants to park a car in it.
Mum and Dad [Aileen, 72, Ned, 82] aren’t creative, so I’m unsure where my artistic streak comes from. I was born in Ipswich. Dad was a police sergeant and the family [with sister Trish, 48] moved around for his job – to Townsville when I was 10 and Brisbane at 15. My love of painting blossomed during high school at Loreto College, Coorparoo. I studied fine arts at the Queensland College of Art [then at Seven Hills, also in Brisbane’s east]. I left in my third year of study to start a fabric and clothing design business, which lasted nine years. It was successful but I yearned to get back to painting.
In 1995, my husband Phillip, 54, an orthopaedic surgeon, got a fellowship to study in England so I took a year out, had my daughter Chelsea [now 19] and rekindled my love of painting. When my son Tom, 18, started high school at St Joseph’s College [Gregory Terrace, Brisbane], I wanted to get involved somehow. My interest was sparked by an immersion project the boys can do in East Timor where they spend a week in a local community. There was a call to do something to help the community in an ongoing capacity.
From there, the Terrace Timor Network was formed and several projects were set up to help. I was part of a group of parents who started a card-making program where women of the villages were empowered to make greeting cards from materials we send them. We also help design the cards. There are now 65 women employed by the program and about 10,000 cards made each year. Bike-riding is another love. I ride about five times a week, anywhere from 30-80km, and I paint about bike-riding as well. Often when I’m riding I’ll see the most amazing sights and I’ll stop to get a photo for inspiration, often in the morning light.
Being a painter is humbling and when someone stands in front of my work and is moved by it, there’s no greater compliment. Annual Timor Village Festa in aid of Terrace Timor Network projects, next Saturday: terrace.qld.edu.au/college-events