Exhibition to honour ‘gentle giant’

Sarah IsonBusselton Dunsborough Times
Trisha Lee has organised an exhibition of her late son James Lee's work, which will feature about 50 pieces including this self portrait.
Camera IconTrisha Lee has organised an exhibition of her late son James Lee's work, which will feature about 50 pieces including this self portrait. Credit: Sarah Ison/Picture: Sarah Ison, Sarah Ison Busselton Dunsborough Times

It’s not always a life goes on to touch the community after it has ended, but that is the hope of Trisha and John Lee for their late son James, who died almost a year ago and will be remembered through an exhibition of his work running over the next two weeks.

About 50 of James’ works will be hung at the Courthouse Gallery, some of which explore the dark side of mental illness, which he grappled with, while others show the bright soul persisting beneath the young man’s struggle.

All funds raised through sales will be donated to organisations Lamp, Richmond Wellbeing, and Enable — the very services James relied on while living in Busselton.

“Those local groups all supported James and enabled him to live within the community and enjoy his independence,” Mrs Lee said.

“This exhibition is not just a celebration of James’ life, but of the people of Busselton, who knew James and looked out for him.”

Mr Lee remembered people referring to his son as “a gentle giant”, standing at almost 2m tall, who touched a lot of hearts in the community.

“He always loved art and was very good at drawing,” he said.

“He used to go to the art societies, standing at six-foot-four among all these little old ladies.

“It was quite a sight but they absolutely loved him.”

Mr and Mrs Lee said much of the work being displayed was “quite raw” and told a powerful story, with both of them hoping the exhibition would drive home the significant role art can play in working through mental illness.

“Given his challenges, painting really gave him an identity,” Mrs Lee said.

“It mattered a lot to him that he fulfilled that dream of painting, and he did.”

Local band Lamplight will play at the official opening today and perform the song dedicated to their friend James, A Picture Tells a Thousand Words.

The opening will run from noon until 2pm at the Courthouse Gallery.

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