Brushes against the awful silence

KEY PARTS: Morpeth artist Kathie Bowtell with her painting of Kallan, one of 10 to feature in her portraiture series stART Talking.

KEY PARTS: Morpeth artist Kathie Bowtell with her painting of Kallan, one of 10 to feature in her portraiture series stART Talking.

WHEN Morpeth artist Kathie Bowtell found the silence surrounding suicide too deafening, she picked up a paint brush.

This month Ms Bowtell launched her portraiture series, stART Talking, raising money for Lifeline Newcastle and Hunter.

Consisting of 10 paintings, the exhibition aims to generate conversation on the taboo topic of suicide.

Having lost her grandfather and brother this way, Ms Bowtell said the matter was close to her heart.

"I just couldn't take it [the silence] any more. I had to do something," she said.

Ten local families who lost children to suicide volunteered to give faces to the statistics. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2535 Australians take their lives each year.

One face which features in the series is 21-year-old Kallan, who was serving in the defence forces when he took his life. Like the others, Kallan's portrait includes symbols that represent key parts of his life.

Ms Bowtell said photographs were often painful for bereaved families to look at, so this was a positive way of celebrating their child's life. While she volunteered her time and effort to complete the series, she has called on the public to donate during the exhibition. All proceeds will go towards Lifeline Newcastle and Hunter.

■ stART Talking will be on exhibition at Lovett Gallery, Newcastle Regional Library, until this Saturday, May 10.

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