Cheryl Finlayson with the painting of her family that she commissioned artist Helen King to do.
Cheryl Finlayson with the painting of her family that she commissioned artist Helen King to do. Kari Bourne

Art unearths our inner animal

THE dilemma: a passionate daughter who wanted to pictorially represent her closeknit family.

The solution: a bright, creative depiction of a modern family in their animal alter-egos in Go Arty's creation, Saturday Night at the Dynasty Stomp.

Gold Coast resident Cheryl Finlayson was holidaying in Africa, observing the native animals, when she realised that the animals reminded her of her own family.

She noticed that while her husband resembled the watchful and alert nature of a giraffe, she was like an elephant: very sociable and enjoying surrounding herself with people.

"From this concept, we began to think of our family members in terms of their animal characteristics," she said.

What started as a small idea on her holiday soon turned into a vision she desperately wanted to see come to life.

"I had this burning desire to transfer these personalities into a painting as a time-in-memorial depiction of my parents' wonderful descendants," she said.

Enter the creative team at Go Arty Art Gallery, Maroochydore, owner Wanda James and artist Helen King.

"I came in looking to get some homewares, and discovered all this art," she said.

"I asked who painted them, and Wanda told me about Helen.

"I asked if she would be able to paint a jester picture I had wanted done for some time, and Helen did such a great job. I let them know about my other idea."

Cheryl wrote down every characteristic of each family member and the animal which she felt they most depicted, as well as personality traits which set them apart from the other family members.

From her immaculately groomed, prancing-poodle daughter, and her righteous "let's fix the world" billy goat gruff husband, to her career-climbing mountain antelope daughter, everyone has a unique place in the painting.

For Cheryl, the depiction is exactly how she imagined it.

"Helen not only had the ability to paint, but to actually actively listen to put my thoughts that I have carried around in my head for years on to a canvas," she said.

Every year, Cheryl and her family have a Christmas in July, three-day weekend celebration, which sees large dinners, laughing, and the annual concert.

Each year, every member in the family plays, sings or dances in the big production.

Now, next year, the annual family shindig will take place under the brightly covered spectacle of their animal counterparts, which Cheryl say is a "fun, yet meaningful, way to etch these memories for always".

Cheryl is extremely proud of her boisterous family and their depiction on canvas.

"I was the architect who had the ideas, but the creative Go Arty people have been the master builders, who have transformed these ideas into a vibrant, fun-filled party painting," Cheryl said.

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