When Peter first took home a piece of his artwork, his mother, Jan was convinced it had been done by someone else.
“Peter had never really shown any interest in art (before joining OC Connections three years ago), so when this piece came home I rang to say that I thought he had the wrong work,” recalls Jan. But no, Peter’s signature on the piece showed it was indeed his.
“To say we were shocked is an understatement,” she laughs.
So in awe of his artistic gift, Peter’s family have since created a Facebook page and website for friends, family and former teachers to visit and follow his progress.
Peter’s work, much of which draws inspiration from Picasso’s eclectic style, was featured on the organisation’s 2015 Christmas collection of cards, gift tags and paper. Also featured was artwork by participants Joey and Mitchell, with all three among the art program’s most prolific.
Run by Val Rowe, OC’s art classes offer more than just opportunity to while away a couple of hours with a paintbrush. Rather, Val takes seriously each class, discussing different types of art and providing participants with books and examples to inspire and motivate. So successful are the classes, that for the past two years, OC Connections has featured an exhibition of participants’ artwork at its annual open day. And some artists, like Peter, have had their work featured in public art exhibitions. Peter was part of the 2019 group exhibition held at Toot Artspace in St. Kilda.
For Val, each artist’s difference is their greatest strength.
“Peter’s style is free and fun loving, featuring quirky images of people and animals. He works rapidly to translate what he sees in front of him into his own version of the image,” says Val.