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I left the house again and it was wonderful.

Updated: May 31

Every second Friday, I leave the house and find wonder.

I drop the kids to school then turn my car in a direction less-travelled. Anyone who's ever lived in Brisbane will know what I mean when I say I'm crossing the river. Heading to the 'other side' is not something we do comfortably.

My friend C and her family left an indelible mark on my childhood. They introduced me to small beautifully curated art galleries, bookshelves heaving with capital L Literature, the concept of being quiet and thoughtful, Trivial Pursuit and a family car with enough room to transport things we did not know we needed until we saw them at the local antiques shop (as well as the four kids, dog, surfboards, tennis racquets, musical instruments etc etc).

This family's influence was so great that I now drive a minivan that I call the caterpillar — it's long and slow. I sit in the head and drag the accoutrement of our lives around as if at any moment we might come upon a desk or a low boy or an enormous house plant and 'need' to shove it in the cavernous boot that is sometimes used to lug a few extra humans.

So a while back, C phoned to ask if I might fill every second Friday morning by working as a support worker for her sister (B) — with the main event of the morning being: Art Gang.

I said yes. Then I panicked — was I strong enough? Kind enough? Good enough? What if I totally hated it? What if B hated me? What if what if what if... the knot in my stomach and tension in my jaw became obvious. Ugh.

But then my sense of 'saying I would do something and then following through' pulled through just a touch stronger and the following Friday I drove B towards Art Gang — a most precious cargo. We listened to Billy Joel on the way — she sang along, clapping and grinning at me as the Caterpillar's copilot.

And y'know what? It all turned out.

The things I have gained from this tiny space of my life carved out for B and me? It's rich, I tell you. Painting with B, in amongst a tribe of individuals with varying abilities, who geniunely love their art gang leader (Sue Loveday, a treasure indeed). Listening to stories of childood connection and parents who so obviously have loved these people into the humans they are today. Not all the stories are magical. In fact, some are tinged with hopelessness and loss, some with brutality and some with the loneliness only experienced by people on the margins. And some days, B really does seems to want me to just bugger off (because nobody ever wants to be hovered over with no agency over their own sense of self).

There is so much beauty and so much treasure to be found out there — at Art Gang and all the river crossings in between. I'm so lucky I said 'yes' when I could have just as easily let that clenched jaw and anxious knot win for the no.

A larg canvas with abstract shapes painted in blues with red highlights and pastel undertones.
B with one of her beautiful artworks made at Art Gang.


Find out more here

Art Gang at the West End Comunity House: Instagram and the WECH website

Sue Loveday, art faciliator at Art Gang, every Friday 9am-11am:

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