Story by Peter Rowe, with the assistance of Tracey Wiggins
I first started painting in 2003 as a form of therapy, to assist with overcoming post-traumatic stress, from abuse I experienced in a care facility. Creativity allowed me to paint through the darkness and the pain into a place of peace, happiness and colour.
Today because of the wonderful support of my mum and people like my art tutor Cheryl Nonmus of Paintbox Art School, I have grown as an artist and as a person. I love to paint because it gives me another means in which to express who I am and how I feel.
My art gives me the opportunity to connect with people and allows me to be seen as more than just the man with Down syndrome. I am an artist, a children’s book author, and many things beyond the disability that people first see.
I was so happy to be invited by Down syndrome Queensland to make a design for the ‘Lots of Socks‘ fundraiser for World Down Syndrome Day. Together with my art tutor Cheryl and fellow artist Kendall Perkins we decided on a fun Australian Barrier Reef theme.
I worked with my art tutor Cheryl drawing, painting and creating each individual fish for the sock design with the aim for it to be fun for everyone to wear while raising funds awareness. I had so much fun creating my sock for ‘Lots of Socks’. I hope everyone enjoys my funny fish, each one different and unique, each one swimming in their own way just like you!
I have been part of various exhibitions locally on the Sunshine Coast and in Brisbane.
Being connected to people within my community is so important to me, so last year was very hard indeed, but I stayed connected with video chats and on my social media. This year I am so happy I can get out and about in my community and enjoy where I live and the people within it.
I have family, friends and supports who are all part of keeping these connections happening and this makes me very happy. I think being connected to your community is very important for everyone.
I am always working on new art creating and looking for ways to share it, so I am hoping to have my art in exhibitions this year.
I visit local cafés, coffee shops and galleries, and just like anybody else the more you visit the more you get to know people. It is always nice being recognised by staff or local people at places I visit, this often leads to me sharing more about myself. When they find out I am an artist and children’s book author they are often quite amazed and interested to hear more about my story.
There are many people in our communities that I think still have never met someone with Down syndrome, and that can make it hard meeting new people sometimes. Because I communicate differently and I look different, I think some people are unsure how to act.
What I find is a smile and laughter breaks down many of these barriers and when a person takes the time to get to know me that certainly makes me feel valued and connected to my community.
See Peter’s website here.
See Peter’s art on Facebook here.
See Peter’s art on Instagram here.
See Peter’s art on Bluethumb here.
Peter has also written a new book with his mum Betty called The Sun in my Heart, which you can buy here.