Or­di­nary peo­ple


The Courier-Mail - QWeekend - - UPFRONT - ELISSA LAWRENCE

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

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