'I wont let MS stop me painting': Janet Skinner in her Blackbutt art gallery
'I wont let MS stop me painting': Janet Skinner in her Blackbutt art gallery

World record holder beats depression with art

ART lovers travel from all around to appreciate the great talents of world record holding painter, Janet Skinner at her gallery in Blackbutt.

But they appreciate her work on a much deeper level after sharing a conversation with the artist about her experiences with depression and MS.

"I share a little of my story with people in the gallery and it's great because people then share their stories and journey with me," Mrs Skinner said.

"I don't withhold that I've had depression, I want to inspire people."

Mrs Skinner and her journey with depression and MS has been featured in a recent documentary titled A Shout Into The Void by 20-year-old Director, Jamie-Lee Tipo.

The young documentary maker first approached Mrs Skinner about doing the short film after her parents visited the Janet Skinner art gallery.

"The first time I watched the documentary, I cried my eyes out the whole way through it," Mrs Skinner said.

"Jamie-Lee did such a great job and she is still so young."

Mrs Skinner has painted more than 100 train stations throughout Australia after becoming increasingly intrigued by them when she first moved here from the UK.

"When I arrived in Brisbane 30 years ago, I noticed Geebung station was going to be knocked down so I asked the council if I could paint it," she said.

The Blackbutt artist was then commissioned by Pine Rivers council to create murals for the region.

"They asked me to create a 16 metre mural, it took nearly six months to complete," she said.

The oversized mural grew so popular it became a community art piece where 1000 people painted the mural via paint by numbers.

"The mural had over 20,000 sectioned pieces for the community to paint," Mrs Skinner said.

"It is still a Guinness World Record for the largest paint by numbers artwork in the world."

Mrs Skinner and her husband moved to Blackbutt after she became gradually ill with Multiple Sclerosis.

"I died six times, my heart flat-lined on a beach in Hervey Bay," she said.

"I didn't know at the time, but it was the MS that was affecting my heart."

The popular artist was only diagnosed with MS last year but she is determined not to let it restrict her painting.

"It hasn't affected my creativity, it makes you exceptionally tired and I can be a little bit forgettful but I won't let it stop me painting," she said.

Mrs Skinner offered the following advice for anyone struggling with depression.

"Any form of creativity will have a positive effect on the brain," she said.

"Get one of those colour-in books and just colour, that has been my therapy all my life."

The eight minute documentary A Shout Into The Void is now available on YouTube.

For mental health support:

  • Talk to a GP or health professional
  • SANE Australia Helpline 1800 18 SANE (7263)
  • www.sane.org
  • beyondblue support service line 1300 22 46 36
  • Lifeline 13 11 14 www.lifeline.org.au
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