COLOURFUL LIFE: Jackie Carstairs, with a painting from a previous exhibition, has new artworks on display in Grafton. PHOTO: ADAM HOURIGAN
COLOURFUL LIFE: Jackie Carstairs, with a painting from a previous exhibition, has new artworks on display in Grafton. PHOTO: ADAM HOURIGAN

Paintings reveal a young spirit

SOUTH Grafton artist Jackie Carstairs may be 77, but she is a big child at heart.

Which is why her latest exhibition at the Grafton Regional Gallery, Child's Play, depicts just that.

"I would love, at 77, to be able to climb on those rides out the front of supermarkets that you put the coins in and rock back and forwards," Mrs Carstairs said.

"It looks such fun, and I've never really grown up."

So instead, she paints them.

Her works are colourful, playful and a joy to view, and they're the exact intentions Mrs Carstairs had when she first put paintbrush to paper.

"It's a happy show - an exhibition to make you smile," she said.

"There is no drama, no angst, just joy."

Painting children hasn't always been Mrs Carstairs' style.

"I went overseas and painted murals in a Down Under Club in Fulham, London, but I was getting fed up hovering over a gas meter and little bed," she said.

"I had met all these South Africans and Rhodesians and they had said what a wonderful country it was.

"In 1962 I flew to Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), married an Englishman and started painting there."

The bulk of her works were inspired by the African people.

"With their pink hands and dark skin and their clothes - the colours were just lovely," Mrs Carstairs said.

When her husband died she started up her own business, Zuva Tapestries.

"I built a gallery and workshop in my garden and employed African women," she said.

"We sold wall hangings and rugs to people all over the world."

Mrs Carstairs moved back to Australia 10 years ago and settled in South Grafton.

Now she paints every day - up to five hours at a time.

"I'm a very slow painter, so I use oil paint because it's slow, like I am," she said.

"I always work to a theme and always work on all of them at one time, so I've usually got 16-20 paintings all at various stages and I work on them all.

"Then suddenly they're all finished at the same time."

Mrs Carstairs said while some made the mistake of thinking art was easy, that was not always the case.

"The finished product is where the fun comes," she said.

"It's hard work. You get down and do it and it's not easy, but it's totally worth it when it works."

Child's Play will run at the gallery until October 20.



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