From the Northern Rivers Echo:

When Michael Philp burnt out from his welfare job several years ago, a friend suggested he try painting as therapy. It was a suggestion that changed his life.

Five years on Michael couldn’t imagine his life without painting, saying the self-expression and stress relief he gets by being creative has helped heal his spirit.

It has also brought him unexpected attention in the art world.

He has sold work privately and through galleries, and is one of 25 Aboriginal artists being included in the soon-to-be-launched book, A Special Kind of Vision, which celebrates local contemporary Indigenous art.

Michael is also one of the artists exhibiting in this weekend’s The Art Of The Bundjalung Nation, a showcase of Aboriginal art designed to generate income for these aspiring artists and enable ongoing opportunities to sell work. A percentage of the profits will go towards mounting further exhibitions.

Michael said when he started painting he didn’t have a clue what he was doing but soon found he couldn’t put his paintbrush down.

I’d have an idea and I wouldn’t be able to sleep until I’d got it on canvas, he said. I don’t have any technical skills, I just paint from the heart, and it’s been very healing for me. When I first sold something I thought ˜Wow, what’s going on here? This is freaky!’ It still blows me away every time I sell something.

It seems this is a common story for many Aboriginal artists, who get profound health benefits from creating art “ something exhibition convener Dr Malcolm Tester has seen time and time again.

Art can often channel a person’s energy into something productive, and they get a tremendous amount of pride from creating a work of art and having members of the public admire it, he said. If someone buys an artwork, these artists also get a huge boost to their self-esteem. That can then encourage them to continue creating more art, which can lead to employment and create a really positive cycle.