Art Opens New World

Posted by Aboriginal Art Directory | 18.11.08

Belinda Nolan reports:

DISABILITY equals possibility.

That’s the message Brimbank artist Michael van Roehl not only believes, but lives by.

Although he suffers from an intellectual disability, the 35-year-old Sunshine man is determined to experience everything life has to offer.

In addition to working full-time at a local adult training centre, Mr van Roehl has recently taken up art.

It’s a hobby that seems certain to become a lucrative enterprise for the Sunshine man.

Many of his works have been exhibited to rave reviews, with four of his pieces chosen to be displayed at a Federation Square exhibition this month.

Carer Doug McCaw said that although Mr van Roehl had little previous artistic experience, he had drawn inspiration from his rich Aboriginal heritage to create the works.

“I think it was a bit of a gift that was innate in him,” Mr McCaw said.

“Michael is very proud of his Koori background and family and that is something that certainly comes across in his art.”

The exhibition, ArtAbility, showcases works from more than 60 artists with disabilities from ethnic backgrounds.

Mr McCaw said the exhibition had given Mr van Roehl the opportunity to express emotions he struggled to articulate in words.

“He’s extremely excited,” Mr McCaw said.

“For Michael to see his pieces hanging on a wall in a professional gallery and to have his pieces for sale in a catalogue, just means the world to him.

“It’s as if he’s just won Powerball.”

Mr McCaw said Mr van Roehl had not ruled out a career in art in the future but would most balance the hobby with his other pursuits.

The ArtAbility exhibition will run from 26 November to 2 December at Federation Square.

For details call 9372 5651.

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