FROM an early age, Kathie Bowtell was curious about people’s faces.
A real estate agent by day and artist by night, Ms Bowtell paints portraits of people who have died by suicide.
She has a strong connection to the subject and has described feeling ‘‘cheated’’ for much of her life.
Left without a father and separated from her brothers at age two, she spent the first 30 years of her life not knowing what her brothers looked like, studying every face in a crowd.
When she was five, her grandfather prematurely succumbed to a brain tumour and took his own life.
Ms Bowtell was recently reunited with her brothers but sadly, found her eldest brother had also ended his life two years prior.
The Morpeth artist said suicide made her feel angry.
‘‘If you have cancer, there’s not much you can do but fight it but suicide is so preventable,’’ Ms Bowtell said.
Her portraits are created with a mix of oils and pastels, which she said added character.
On World Suicide Prevention Day on Tuesday, Ms Bowtell will talk at a Lifeline morning tea about her latest project, working with 10 local families to transform photographs of their loved ones into paintings that will be exhibited at the inaugural stART talking exhibition in May.
FOR many of the families it affects, suicide is a taboo topic. World Suicide Prevention Day is on Tuesday, September 10, and promotes open and factual conversations within the community about suicide. It is sponsored by the International Association for Suicide Prevention and the World Health Organisation, and supported by Lifeline. The Lifeline suicide prevention team will host a morning tea in recognition of the day. This team helps those affected by suicide through the grief process and to find some meaning out of their loss. For more information on Lifeline’s suicide bereavement services, phone 49402005. Visit lifelinehunter.org.au to donate to Lifeline. Or go to Lifeline’s annual Bookfest, September 21 and 22, at the Newcastle Basketball Stadium. All proceeds will support local crisis support and suicide prevention services.