Nothing beats a creative life

April 17, 2018

Lyn Woodhead is the Cobram and District Art Society’s feature artist of the month.

Slightly hidden away on Punt Rd lies the Station Gallery.
What looks like a portable unit is brimming with the work of Cobram and District Art Society’s feature artist of the month, Lyn Woodhead.
Mrs Woodhead quickly points out all the paintings on the wall that are her creations. Her eyes gravitate to the most eye-catching piece in the room, titled Tigerland — a nod to her favourite football team.
She said the painting took a month to complete as its front whiskers looked too much like a beard for her liking, forcing her to alter the finer details.
Her voice sounds slightly strained as she describes the creative process — perhaps it illustrates the internal battle within for the artist, the constant strive for perfection.
‘‘I have been painting since I was five years old,’’ she said.
‘‘That was a long time ago but here I am, still going strong and have no thoughts of quitting.’’
For Mrs Woodhead, art is an extension of her personality.
‘‘Art gives me a peaceful and colourful expression to my life, and coupled with music, of which I am still active in, I could not wish for a better life,’’ she said.
‘‘If you are down and feel like life is passing you by, give art a try. You can lose yourself for hours while you paint or draw that next masterpiece.’’
While most artists have figures in the field that have influenced their work, Mrs Woodhead’s art is cultivated by her own perceptions of the world.
‘‘I don’t like to copy other artists. I try to better myself, which I find to be a great challenge,’’ she said.
‘‘I get inspired by own passions, my own feelings, which are triggered by the things I see.
‘‘Painting has been there for me at times of great tragedy.’’
Some of the life experiences that shape her work, and indeed her personality, are unquestionably traumatic.
Mrs Woodhead moved to Barooga 40 years ago, after her late husband suffered a severe stroke. 
Originally from Pakenham in Melbourne, her friends told her she could purchase a farm here, something she has found to be quite liberating as she has always loved horses. 
She still lives on the same farm today, although she has considerably downsized.
At age four she was told by doctors there was a chance she could die after being diagnosed with encephalitis, a disease which inflames the brain.
She believes she may have contracted it via a mosquito.
‘‘I was in a coma for three weeks,’’ Mrs Woodhead said.
‘‘Some people who contract the disease can be in a coma for 15 years or simply die.’’
Twenty years ago she was beset by another stroke of misfortune when she was diagnosed with cancer.
‘‘I never thought I was going to die. You have to make life what you want it to be,’’ she said with a twinkle in her eye.
Despite early turbulence in her life, Mrs Woodhead recovered and her love for art began to blossom.
‘‘I always wanted a horse when I was a young girl, but it was never possible because we lived in the city,’’ she said.
‘‘One day, Mum brought home a paint pencil and I would keep drawing horses to make up for not having a real one.’’
Mrs Woodhead she uses oils because they are ‘‘very compatible and easy to work with’’, but she considers her identity as an artist to be rather ambiguous.
‘‘Everyone in art has a speciality, but I do not know what mine is. I just like to start something and see where it takes me,’’ she said.
In the past year she has delivered painting lessons to the older folk at Ottrey Homes, a task she thoroughly enjoys because it activates their minds.
Mrs Woodhead finds it difficult to split her fondness for painting with her other great love, singing. 
She was playing in rock bands at 14, something you would find hard to believe from talking to her now, with her mild manners and easy-going nature.
She said at that point in her life, girls would ignore her or be rude because they were jealous.
She had a single released in the ARIA charts, and takes a great amount of pride in being heavily involved with organising the Carols by Candlelight every year at the Barooga Botanical Gardens.
Mrs Woodhead said she owed much of her happiness to Barooga and its people.
‘‘It is a beautiful place to live,’’ she said.
Mrs Woodhead has no intention of slowing down, and she can only marvel at her journey despite its ebbs and flows.
‘‘It has been a very interesting life and I have thoroughly enjoyed it,’’ she said.
he Station Gallery is open Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

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