College News

An Open Artist

‘Well I remember as a child sitting on the beach in Yepoon, and capturing the beauty of that beach and the people on it. Then I went to school and started drawing on the black boards,’

Vivienne Heckles is no accidental artist. It seems her talent and love for capturing scenes and emotions were cemented as a child.

‘I remember someone at the school exclaiming that I was going to be an artist one day. So when I entered a piece in the Toowoomba Junior Art competition, I was amazed it attracted my very first customer,’ Vivienne remembers, and tells the story of a gentleman arriving on her doorstep offering to buy the Junior Artwork.

‘I didn’t know what to say – I was quite shocked so I just gave it to him!’ she laughs. But the next day the man returned with a box full of art supplies, and told Vivienne it was for her, to start her career.

‘And that’s where it all began. As an adult I moved to a farm in Millmerran and began capturing wonderful scenes.’

But the drought brought a new emotion into the paintings, and before she knew it, Vivienne was making headlines for her emotion charged, and thought provoking paintings.

‘I remember listening to a man talking about the drought, and he mentioned he’d been out shooting sheep that were suffering through the drought. Then he said, “I feel like shooting myself”, and I was moved by the darkness hanging over him.’

Vivienne went on to paint people who had been locked out of their own farms, unable to keep up with high interest rates, and the prolonged drought. She was flown to Canberra to promote the work that highlighted what was happening in rural Queensland.

Her career continued to flourish well after the drought had broken, but she had found a new sorrow. Vivienne’s husband, John, had become very ill.

‘I had always painted things so realistically, and then one day I just put the paint on, and created these two whimsical people just floating through the air with kite like things, and I sat back and I laughed. And I thought ‘you mean I can paint like a child and still be an artist?’ That was a wonderful moment because John was so sick and painting like that made me so happy – it was something to be happy about.’

Vivienne has worked on a piece from the veranda of the Fairholme Homestead, which she will exhibit at Facets of Fairholme, in October. She shared her journey and stories with Fairholme students, while she worked.

Facets of Fairholme runs from October 13 to 15, at the Fairholme College Assembly Hall.