Jimcent returns support to community

Francesca MannGeraldton Guardian

Being diagnosed with a debilitating disease hasn’t stopped Jim Evans, instead encouraging him to use the forced downtime to help others.

Evans has been painting for more than 25 years, working under the name Jimcent and specialising in realism.

Although the 64-year-old has always been able to draw, he didn’t pick up a paintbrush until he was diagnosed with Meniere’s disease in 1990.

The disease affects Evans’ inner ear, hearing and balance, and he was told he couldn’t drive and was placed on the disability pension.

“I was just sitting at home feeling very sorry for myself,” he said.

“My wife Leonie read about art helping people with depression.

“She thought it was a good idea and bought me a box of oil paints.

“I said ‘I don’t know how to paint’ and she said ‘there’s a library up the road’, so I went and got some books and videos and thought ‘this isn’t too hard’.

“So I started playing around, experimenting, and eventually I’d put together some decent paintings.”

In 1995, Evans won the Dalwalinu Art Festival Award for best oil painting and best in show.

Inspired by his surprise win, the father-of-two continued working on his craft, learning as much as he could about art.

Evans and his family moved to Geraldton in 1998.

It didn’t take long before he was passing his skills on to other people, working with at-risk youths at Geraldton PCYC.

In 2002, Evans started running art classes at the QEII Seniors and Community Centre, which now has about 50 people painting away in the main hall on a Friday morning.

“If you’ve never picked up a paintbrush in your life, that’s fine, it doesn’t matter,” he said.

“Art is in all of us, you just need someone to help you.

“The group I’ve got at the moment is like a family.

“There’s no animosity there.

“We all come in and have fun.

“This gives people that facility to sit there and spend some time together, without having to worry about what’s going on in the world or the community.”

Although an attack caused by Meniere’s can happen at any time, this hasn’t stopped Evans from putting his talents to good use.

The grandfather-of-eight hopes to make a living from art.

“I don’t want to stay on the pension, there’s nothing worse than having to depend on it,” he said. “That’s why I volunteer so much, I don’t like sitting around taking things for nothing.

“I got kicked in the teeth years ago, but through my own guts and determination I’ve achieved something. I can see myself painting till the day I die.”

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