One of my favourite sayings is from John Lennon: ‘life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans’. My determination is not to just let life happen while I’m making other plans, but to enjoy it. I’ve been in Port Hedland for 23 years, it was going to be a temporary thing; we followed my girlfriend Lil’s parents up from Whangarei in New Zealand. I come from a country that is hilly and green, whereas here it is flat and red so it’s like earth and Mars. But I love this rusty country!
We had always meant to move on, we got married, then travelled, but came back here and started to have a family. Lil’s Mum and Dad were staying here and it was of great value for the children to have their grandparents around.
For 10 years I was a manufacturing jeweller, an occupation for which I had trained in New Zealand but which, during the 1990s, I began to find less fulfilling. At the same time, my involvement with the local C3 Church in South Hedland had grown. I had been raised in a Christian family so when I first came to Hedland I sought out a church to join. I loved the place. I saw Pastors come and go, and realised this is disruptive for people, but I knew that I would stay on. I decided to re-train, this time as a Pastor. Our church values connection with community, we exist to serve the community. Love People, Worship God, Serve the World. C3 has about 100 churches across Australia and our tagline is, Your Best Life.
My main role is preaching on a Sunday, and to raise up leaders and teams. We offer support on all aspects of life, financial, family and emotional. We host youth groups for ‘Young Adults’ mums and pre-schoolers - one of our most popular programs is one called ‘Mainly Music’, and many others. Some are recreational and some are spiritual. We are involved in the local markets, festivals and with the Carols by Candlelight, which now has over 2,000 people attend.
Throughout my life, art and painting have remained a constant, and I dedicate one day per week to spend doing artwork. My ‘studio’ is a side room at the Church where each Sunday, the canvases and tables have to be pushed to one side. My family are fairly artistic too, though most of them are musical. My kids have grown up with me painting in the lounge with a big roll out blind so I didn’t get the carpet covered with paint, which I usually do anyway. Almost all my clothes get paint on them, much to my wife’s angst. I am mostly self-taught, and I’ve learned through books, through practice, experience, and through teaching art. I started by trying to reproduce exact copies of what I was painting, but since then I have been trying to push away from photorealism, be a little bit more abstract.
What I’ve noticed about myself is that when I’m looking at an artwork, I love to see simplicity: simplicity but effectiveness. Anything worth watching in art, whether it’s a gymnast, or a diver, or something of beauty, they make it look so easy and yet it’s only because they’re putting all the effort beforehand; and so I like to see that in art: I want to make it look easy, but at the same time, attract the eye, and take you to a happy place.