Lyra Parker is 28 and lives on the Granite Belt. This is her first major exhibition.
I am a mum and a wife. Art is my adventure in life, part of my journey. My mother is part indigenous, and an elder in Texas, and my father is of English heritage, though Australian born, a brilliant artist himself, this combination of colour and culture reflects within my art pieces, but nothing more unexpected than my vibrant use of colour for landscapes. I love using unnatural colours for natural scenes and exploring my indigenous culture with dot point technique for texture on the rocks and trees.
Being raised in indigenous communities most of my life I learnt a lot about my heritage and culture, and was welcomed into the lives of many adoptive aunts and uncles who each shared something new, incredible and inspiring about art, each exploring with different materials and techniques.
My Aunty Wibble a woman who was victim to the stolen generation, having been taken from her family at a young age, sadly Aunty now has passed on, she taught me to use everything, and the importance of wasting nothing, even fish bones can be used to create some thing beautiful. Together at my my mum's kitchen table we made boomerangs with fish bones that ended up looking like a bunch of wild flowers in the end. Wonderful life memories all now expressed and carried with me through every brush stroke.
However my mother is a teacher, and my father a minister, and this meant a lot of moving around from community to community. I found art was the only way of having consistency in my life, and a healthy outlet for expressing myself for a young woman always on the move was through pencil and paper.
As I grow up nothing has changed for me, only circumstances. I still paint to keep me sane, and I still feel like I’m always busy and on the run, even though I’m no longer moving every year, chased by that familiar feeling, that constant state of unrest. Possibly now more so than ever.
I’ve been diagnosed with Tourette’s late in life at the age of 25, and it’s been a rocky road since that diagnosis. It’s only been by the blessing of Christ, who gave me the gift of art in the first place that I now have peace and rest in my body again to write this. Confusing use of words I know. I’ll explain.
I’m now medicated heavily at such a young age, never having needed medication in my life it’s one of many new adjustments that needed to be made. Happy pills, anti depressants, convince my brain it’s always relaxed and content, never stressed or anxious, an answer that came one day when my husband persisted on buying me a notepad and pencil to get back into drawing, anything to keep me from falling into a depression as my body wouldn’t stop ticking, always moving constantly or paralysing itself, mimicking the condition epilepsy.
This condition had worsened one day after driving a car home. I collapsed completely immobile behind the wheel of a moving car, and Rohan was able to steer us into the driveway and stop the car safely, but I was still unable to move. Since then it was doctors appointments and tests, one after another, all inconclusive, nothing making sense until the final diagnosis after Rohan proved with that moment of assuring me I can draw again if I just try. I did and it was that wonderful peaceful zone that calmed my body enough for them to work out that there is something here to medicate and treat, and the diagnosis was rare but existed it was Tourette’s. Rare because no one in my family has this version of Tourette’s, and to be diagnosed at 25 so late in life without showing any major symptoms till now it’s bizarre.
So here I am, 3 years later preparing for my first major exhibit. I’ve had a few opportunities to share my ability to paint or draw throughout town since and it’s been a non stop wonderful chance to still do something for the community even with my condition. Sadly it’s not entirely cured, I build up an immunity to the medication over time and now they are looking into the possibility of bipolar disorder after a deep depression earlier this year but apparently if their ever was a career you can get away with suffering from a mental illness such as bipolar, it’s definitely this one. If anything it’s almost a required qualification, but with these findings it does mean this rare condition of adulthood born Tourette’s has more options for medication, more hope to keep the condition at bay.
My depression earlier this year stemmed from the concern that if I continue to build up immunity to the current medications there isn’t much more they can do, there isn’t much choice, and this would mean my condition was developing back into what looks like Parkinson’s but with an intense paralytic tick that would take over every few minutes and render me immobile but conscious.
But I’m back. God has redeemed my body and mind, and with the wonderful generosity of some great figureheads in this community who have volunteered their time and their honesty, they would love to share their experiences with all of you. To break down the barriers of judgement. To show you that what your first impressions are of someone, from what you see in a magazine, or a photo, or even the first two minutes you’ve observed of a person after shaking hands, it’s not always an accurate assessment of who they are.
I’m pushing the boundaries of how we approach people in hoping that with a few questions, and honest responses from these chosen random community members, accompanied by a more humble image, not at all like what you would see in a paper or magazine. The intention is for you to see them on a more personal level, and therefore see people in general in a different light.
That summarising someone by their most intense key emotions they have experienced at a point in their lives, should give you a more accurate idea of who they are, and their character as a person.
Allow you for a moment to understand they are human as you are, and feel the same level of feelings with intensity as you do, therefore create a deeper more connected bond than the normal five minute greeting. After these questions you know them more intimate and with understanding and with total absence of judgement.
This experiment is designed to entice you to ask a random person these same few questions. Become friends with a stranger, prevent further assessing, or passing judgement, we have been programmed to perceive. Let’s shatter how things are done in this community and make the granite belt a closer family rather than neighbourhood. For an autistic mum to a daughter who is always under judgement and perception, this would be ultimate paradise. Maybe you want to ask someone you know very well, curious to see if you know them as well as you do? This is meant to provoke you into thinking and ask yourself about how you perceive people and what you feel yourself . How honest are you with sharing your hardships. It wasn’t easy for a lot of people to step forward with their stories but when they did. They knew that it was for them self as much as to help me with my cause because a small part of them was frustrated with being judged as well. Is that something you fear? Is this something you would yourself have the courage to do? Would you be one of my models if I had asked? Would you answer these questions and let your community hear your answers? Please applaud those that did, I feel they are incredibly brave and the cause was for the GRANITE BELT community as a whole to remember who we are and when we look out for each other what that’s really asking us to do. It means to love and care for our neighbour as we would love want them to love and care for ourselves.