Artist Peter-Jon Keast, whose exhibition opens on March 5, has overcome years of illness. 
Artist Peter-Jon Keast, whose exhibition opens on March 5, has overcome years of illness.  Rob Wright

Solo exhibition at Willo&Wiska

PETER-JON Keast will open his first solo exhibition at Coffs Harbour’s Willo&Wiska coffee lounge at the Jetty at the end of this month.

The pictures will go up on the walls of 26-28 Orlando Street on February 28 for a month-long exhibition, with an official opening on March 5 from 6-8pm.

The Boambee-based artist has waded through more than his fair share of troubles to get to this point but Peter-Jon says he has used his years of illness, pain and hospitalisation to bring a balance of joy and sorrow to his work.

The artist, who was diagnosed with diabetes at the age of 10 and spent years on dialysis machines, had a kidney transplant in May 1999.

“I was given a second chance at life and it really changed the way I viewed life and the world around me,” he said.

“It saved my life but you also go through a grieving process for the person who died (the transplant donor). It made me appreciate the time you’ve got, the life you’ve got.”

He has since been hospitalised with two serious blood clots, lost the tips of several fingers; been diagnosed with osteoporosis and undergone a hip replacement but his art work shows a different life.

His paintings and drawings reflect an optimistic spirit, a subtle and appealing use of colour and a finely balanced design sense.

He returned to his childhood hobby of ‘funny little drawings’ to pass the five and half hour sessions attached to a dialysis machine and his skill was recognised by a fellow patient, who kept on urging him to take his art more seriously.

He enrolled in his first TAFE art course in 2003 and found to his surprise he enjoyed it.

He has since completed art courses up to Certificate IV as well as a private art course in Sydney.

A pending operation has meant he has had to refuse an offer of another exhibition in September but he hopes to work towards a larger exhibition in the next three years.



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