Since 2015, The Adelaide Review has partnered with SALA to present the Outsider Award, which recognises exciting works created outside the established arts scene. This year’s winner is Len Harvey, a 90-year-old Helping Hand resident, who won thanks to his oil portrait, Jim.
“Jim is a friend of mine who also lives at Helping Hand,” Harvey says of his winning work. “I decided to paint his portrait after I saw a photo of him that was taken on Melbourne Cup Day last year. I thought the photo really showed Jim’s lively personality and would be a personal challenge to paint the portrait for my own enjoyment.”
Harvey didn’t enter Jim for the Outsider Award. That was done by his Helping Hand Art Club facilitator Cassie Thring, who only mentioned to Harvey that she submitted his work when he was announced as a finalist.
“I have forgiven her,” Harvey, whose work is part of the Young at Art exhibition at Helping Hand, jokes. Harvey, who started painting 40 years ago, says the weekly Art Club is an “afternoon of good company and inspiration”. He started painting eight years before he retired and then Helping Hand rekindled his passion.
Len Harvey, Jim
“My wife (Jean) and I would enjoy going to exhibitions and noticed that the art we liked was often sold, which made us think we must know something about what a good painting looked like,” he says. “I was invited to join a painting group for General Motors Holden [where he worked as an engineer], and having never painted before, went and bought the materials needed, fitting them in a shoebox. The first painting I made of some sea, sand and sky had me hooked, and from that moment I couldn’t wait for the painting sessions. We enjoyed many painting sessions, good company, day trips to places like Victor Harbor to paint, and glasses of red wine.
“I had been struggling to get back into painting and I am so grateful that the group has rekindled my passion, and put interest into my life at Helping Hand,” he says. “It’s a credit to Cassie [Thring], the way she has encouraged us all to take risks, and recognise that the attempt is worthwhile. I feel like she has created a very supportive group that is gaining momentum. Full credit to the wonderful lifestyle staff at Helping Hand for their support too.”
Young at Art
Helping Hand Aged Care, 49 Buxton Terrace, North Adelaide.
Until Thursday, August 31
Monday to Friday, 10am to 4pm