Our New Beginnings

When my paintings were exhibited overseas, I felt a wonderful sense of accomplishment

Artist LARA MELLON, 41, lives in Durban North, KZN with her husband, Patrick, and their two children, Andrea, 20, and James, 16.

I started painting 10 years ago and I’ve never looked back. I have always been an artist in my heart but never had the time to pick up a paintbrush and start painting. But in 2000, after giving a complex answer to one of the directors at work, he eyeballed me from over his glasses and said slowly, “Paint. Paint. Paint.” I understood exactly what he meant. I had to stop overcomplicating things and get on with it. So that is what I did.

When my paintings were chosen for an exhibition in Berlin in 2008, I found myself creatively. It was a wonderful honour and being recognised by the overseas art community gave me a wonderful sense of accomplishment.

I lead a bit of a double life. I work as a human resources consultant and love the corporate culture and structuring process. As an artist I relish being able to express myself, discovering new things and finding a place of wholeness and balance.

I got involved in the community when I read about Shepherd’s Keep, a home for abandoned babies in Durban. Abandoned newborn babies are brought there every day and the foundation is desperate for funding. I started the everyONEcounts campaign in September last year and invited artists from around the globe to each donate an artwork for an exhibition where they will be sold for R1 000. I’m very passionate about it. We’ve already received over 600 pledges and 400 artworks and many have been sold.

The most profound words ever said to me were from my grandmother. I used to hide

my hands under my clothing when I was younger because I thought they were ugly. My grandmother said, “Don’t be ashamed of hands that are not only in good working order, but create such beautiful things, too”. It had a huge effect on me, and not only on how I viewed my hands. It has, over time, made me contemplate the concept of beauty originating from ‘non-beauty’.

I try to look my best most of the time, but I’m much more comfortable in a pair of jeans, with my hair in a ponytail. When I’m working in my studio, there is no chance of me stepping out because

I look a fright. When I’m at work I dress up and you can’t go wrong with a chic power suit.