Tragedy reignites passion
THE loss of her husband of 15 years is what pushed Sally Marshall to reignite her love and passion for painting.
Mrs Marshall spent 10 years as a full-time carer for her late husband, who suffered from Chronic Pain Syndrome, forcing her to push her desire to create art to the side.
After his sudden death in 2015, Mrs Marshall said she had to find a purpose again.
"It was sudden, and being a carer, that's all your life is,” she said.
"When you're finished with that, you need to find something to take its place, otherwise you just drift.
"It's just the way it is.
"Painting saved me because it gave me something to dive into and put everything into.
"It was like a double edge, I guess.''
The return to painting led to Full Circle, the art exhibition currently on display at Emerald Art Gallery.
"Full Circle is basically for the rest of my life,” Mrs Marshall said.
"Where I started as a child I have now picked up, and I've decided that life's too short not to follow your passion.
"I'm going to follow my passion, and just see where it leads.
"I'm not pushing hard in any particular direction, I'm just going to let it grow and see what happens. If you try and guide things too much, sometimes you miss things or you try and go too fast.”
The Full Circle exhibition was not the end goal for Mrs Marshall, but rather a blessing that has appeared along the way, with plenty more to come.
Living in the Gemfields, she picked up the brushes towards the end of 2015.
The exhibition showcases Mrs Marshall's journey to rediscovering herself.
"Having it here in the gallery is wonderful, but it wasn't something I aimed for,” she said.
"Some of these works were only my third and fourth attempt at painting again.
"If you had told me back then (2015) that I would have a gallery full of paintings, I would have said 'no way'.
"Artists are notorious for sitting back and letting it go by. Glenda (from the Emerald Art Gallery) was forceful enough to get me moving.”
Even as a child, art was a passion for Mrs Marshall, who thinks she was "born with a pencil in my hand”.
A piece of paper and a pencil could keep her quiet for hours, and they were her parents' go-to items when they needed her to occupy herself.
Art was always an interest, but rather than making a career out of it Mrs Marshall worked in other things until recently, when she "came full circle again”.
Rediscovering her passion for art was a huge step for Mrs Marshall, because it's the ongoing process of reinventing herself.
"When you're a carer, you do nothing for yourself,” she said.
"Even when things are done that make you happy, they are always done with an eye to someone else, it's just the way it is.
"When everything settled, I had to find something that was just my own.
"It wasn't easy, it wasn't easy to come back and think, right, I'm going to pick up the paints again, because you're just exhausted, and you don't know what it is that you want to do.”
Mrs Marshall said that learning to be okay with doing something for herself was an ongoing process, but now she is OK with following her own dreams and direction.
"There was a lot of guilt in the initial stages, but it's silly to feel that way,” she said.
"You are entitled to follow your own passions.”
A lot of her paintings feature the wide, open spaces that Australia is known for, the spaces that people don't tend to notice.
"The first trip that I did to the red centre changed something in me, and I was just fascinated with those vivid colours,” Mrs Marshall said.
"There are so many nooks and crannies that are just as beautiful. The red reds, the blue blues. It is all very intense.
"People just drive through the spaces and think it's boring but it's not.
"If you stop, get out of the car and think about it, that nothingness is full of things.”
Mrs Marshall also incorporates people and animals to highlight the hardship and drama that are faced in these landscapes.
She is now working with Anglicare, which helped her in the initial stages, and is aiming to shine a light on the work put in by carers.
"I really feel for carers because there's not a lot anyone can do for them,” she said.
"There's no break. It's not easy.
"I would like to do something, somehow, to draw attention to the plight of people who are caring full-time.”