“I was bought up in Penneshaw as a 6th generation Islander. The Willson’s came to the Island in 1864. I was one of 6. We had a lot of freedom, spending our childhood riding our horses around the peninsula, swimming around the coastline, jetty jumping and walking everywhere.

This was my home until I was about 15 years old when I was then sent to Adelaide to complete my high schooling. I boarded in a hostel and went to Adelaide girls high which was in the city centre. It was a huge culture shock for me and I didn’t like it. I was meant to be there for two years but only made it to one. A job for a nursing position in Kingscote came up and I applied for it. Nursing wasn’t even a job I’d considered but I thought it would get me back home.

As a 17-year-old I started here at Kingscote, boarding in the Nurses home right behind the hospital. Kate Stanton, Toni Buick, Karen Bruce and Kath Noble were some of the girls living there. It was a fun time. I started a Nursing career which I never thought I wanted to do and found I loved it, and here I am 45 years later and still doing it.

I have great parents, who are both still very active and vibrant people. They set really good work ethics. As kids we were milking the cows and feeding the pigs. Dad provided milk to the shops and school in Penneshaw. Mum made butter, grew our veggies, and sewed our clothes. She did everything. At the same time, she managed the occasional art workshop, was on committees and ferried us to our sports.

She is my number 1 role model. She taught me to be a ‘do it ‘sort of person and a ‘make it’ sort of person and that nothing is too hard. I have always liked to “make and create things”.

My mother-in-law, Maureen, was also very much admired and respected by me. She also never sat still but was always building or making something. I’m very fortunate to have these amazing women in my life.

Gloria Holden and Jenny Clapson were influential in my art giving me lessons for a while. I haven’t really had any formal art education, just reading, and workshops in many mediums. I never stick to any one medium or style; I want to try everything. I love my art and I see art and ideas to paint and recreate in everything and everywhere. I am not really a sociable person so art can take me to my own zone. I find it easier to chat to people while painting a mural than going out for a coffee or drinks.

I’ve had so much positive feedback from the mural project. The mural project wasn’t as a consequence of the fires; it just happened that we were doing it at the right time. I hope that each year we might expand upon them. A lot of people have said they have loved seeing them popping up everywhere. That’s also why I love doing community art. You can put your art in galleries and exhibitions, a few people see them, you sell them, and you go and buy a pair of shoes or something. It’s gone, whereas street art is there for years to be enjoyed, criticised and talked about by everyone that passes by it. It can be collaborative and brings people along with you.”

One of Jan’s many community murals around the township of Kingscote on Kangaroo Island

Published by sabrinadavis5223

I am a German living in South Australia. We lost our home and farm in the Kangaroo island summer bushfires. I love travelling, reading, beach walks, board games, watching movies and spending time with my family.

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