By Luke Voogt
Blind painter Robert Kelly has won the top prize at a Geelong art competition ahead of almost 100 other artists with disabilities.
Robert’s piece My World of Touch impressed the judges at the Karingal St Laurence MyPath Art Unlimited Fusion exhibition last month.
“I’m really happy,” 44-year-old said. “It’s my first prize from my artwork.”
The St Albans Park local loved getting outdoors and his regular trips to plant nurseries inspired his tactile masterpiece.
He made the collage out of everyday objects before spray painting it black to give viewers a powerful insight into his world.
Despite being blind since birth, Robert described himself as an art connoisseur and that he loved using colour and papier-mache.
“Here are paintings that I like to touch,” he said.
“I can’t see the colour and texture but I can feel it.”
He also rides horses, practises yoga and cooks at Karingal St Laurence’s East Geelong hub.
But perhaps greatest talent is the piano, which he has played since year 8.
“He is incredible on the piano,” said support worker Christine Clancy.
“He loves classical, he loves jazz and he plays it all by ear.”
Christine described Robert’s win and his painting as extraordinary.
“You get a real connection with it,” she said.
“That was just a feather in the hat for Rob, he’s just so talented. Everybody loves him.”
MyPath Art Unlimited curator Elida Luciarte said each artist brought an amazing story to their artwork.
Fellow artist Lyn Dingley also impressed judges Jill Shalless, Steve Salo and Jedda Robaard with her piece Waudi of Land.
“Robert and Lyn were just so impressive, they really amazed us with their artwork and it was such an exciting and emotional night,” Elida said.
“It has been such a great exhibition and we’re so proud to give our artists a space where they can celebrate their work and learn more about each other and the art community.”
She said Robert’s piece My World of Touch allowed viewers to explore his world, where touch and feel are integral to his day-to-day life.
“It’s a very powerful piece that moves every person who stands in front of it.”