“Thank you to my dad who taught me to fly.” It was a tweet that inspired this series of paintings. Back in January this year, Nisha Varghese asked me to prepare a series of lipstick paintings to help her raise funds for two causes that are close to her heart: Miss Earth South Africa and Jumping Kids.
The opportunity couldn’t have come at a better time. After giving away most of my paintings in December, I was feeling utterly drained of creative energy. I harboured a sneaking suspicion that I would never paint again because, after failing spectacularly to make a go of art as an income stream, why bother.
But if Nisha of all people asks, I’ll do it. If you’ve never heard of Nisha before, you certainly won’t forget her after reading her blog or watching her YouTube videos. Nisha has cerebral palsy and, while her body is confined to a wheelchair, her irrepressible personality has spilled onto social media, where she has connected with thousands of people across the world. Every year, she focuses on a worthy fundraising cause, and every year, she persuades her friends to support her. In 2015 it was the Malala Fund; last year, it was Smile Train.
It took me a long time to decide how to approach the challenge. Miss Earth and Jumping Kids are both great causes that give opportunities to young people. But how could I connect them? How could I turn them, and Nisha, into a visual story that made sense? In the end, it was that tweet that provided the spark of inspiration I needed. Nisha has learned to fly. Of course. Because that is what Nisha has been doing ever since I first connected with her over Twitter.
It was that story that led to the idea. Most of us start out as eggs on Twitter. We hatch and find our identities, and grow, and gradually grow wings and fly off into the world where we have adventures and, if we are lucky, change lives for the better.
Each painting in the series follows Nisha from egg, through to first emergence, growing confidence and finally fulfilling her potential. She turns 26 on March 25, so those wings are only going to grow bigger and stronger.
Each painting is A4 in size, and slightly larger together with the mount. They have been mounted by the framers I’ve worked with since 2011. Their work is superb, and the love and care they put into everything they do is second to none. Each unique, original painting is priced at R1000. Ideally, they belong together as a set telling a story, but we’re in tough economic times, and I don’t know if anyone will be able to afford to buy them as a set.
(I will be honest: I am scared that nobody will want any of them, and that I will have failed Nisha and the organisations she’s supporting.)
What I am really hoping is this: that these paintings, and the story behind them, will inspire a greater interest – and more donations – than selling them possibly could. Both Jumping Kids, which helps young amputees, and Miss Earth South Africa, which connects with young women in order to entrench messages of sustainability, are organisations that do great work. They need your support.
To purchase one of the paintings, or donate to either of these two very good causes, simply tweet Nisha at @Nisha360 or me @Anatinus and we will take it from there.
I hope that Nisha, and the story of how she has learned to fly, inspire you to be give what you can.
Here are each of the paintings:
- #NishaLearnsToFly I
Thank you for reading.