An interest in painting led Christa Thewes to join an art group in Beaconsfield over a decade ago.

She loved this dynamic gathering of fellow artists. But never guessed she’d end up leading it.

Christa always liked art, but the group brought her talent to the fore.

South Eastern Community Connect needed a new teacher to run it. And Christa was the obvious choice.

Over the next 10 years, she took on her volunteer role with great enthusiasm. Christa, 85, hands over the baton to a new art teacher this month.

This week, she took the time to sit down and reflect on her experiences as a volunteer with SECC.

About Social Painting

Every Friday, she led the group in what she called “painting for pleasure”.

And even though Christa is retiring, the group is still going.

“There are people coming and going all the time,” she says.

“It’s not ‘academic’ – it’s for enjoyment. Anyone can paint and enjoy its therapeutic benefits.”

She would teach the class to paint in “non-toxic, versatile, and colourful” acrylics.

Participants shared their stories with one another, and would brainstorm solutions.

“When you run a group that meets week after week, you start to share things about yourself,” Christa says.

“It’s a wonderful thing to be able to share your burdens. Some would be going through cancer treatments… others were caring for ageing parents. Many people find the classes a good respite. And very comforting.”

People with a range of ages, abilities and experiences would take part.

“I always tried to get the best out of students. Connecting people in this way is a form of therapy,” says Christa.

“I loved what I did. It played a big part in my life.”

Christa recently made the decision to move away from Sydney and down to the South Coast. She will live in Moruya to be near her daughter and has plans to connect with a new creative community.

“There are lots of working artists in Moruya,” she says.

“I’m looking forward to making more friends there, and continuing to live a creative life.”

Volunteer Manager Sue Ohanian would like to acknowledge Christa’s many years of dedicated and committed service to the painting classes.

“She was the face of the painting class for so long and we were lucky to have her,” she says.

All the very best, Christa. Thank you for your decade of service to South Eastern Community Connect as a volunteer.

You have made such a difference to so many people.

Find out more about our Mascot Social Painting class, now run by Yvette Haidar.

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