A brighter future ahead for local artist

By Morgan Dyer

After living with the 'black dog' for almost two decades, Shepparton artist Marita Sleeth is beginning to see a brighter future.

Three months ago, Ms Sleeth was prompted to take part in an art class at the Mooroopna Education and Activity Centre. Little did she know the centre would become an outlet and a breakthrough in her battle with depression.

Ms Sleeth has been involved in art her entire life and studied art at university, and her teacher at the centre was overwhelmed by her talent and demanded she display her work in a community exhibition.

With her anxiety flaring, Ms Sleeth nervously accepted the opportunity.

“My heart is on display in the exhibition, which is quite confronting,” she said.

“I still have black days but I find I’m coming out of them, but I have to push myself.

“Coming to this centre is the best thing I have ever done.”

The exhibition is a combination of different mediums which incorporate bright colours and emphasises Ms Sleeth’s love for animals.

“I paint directly and how I feel at the time — whatever comes out,” she said.

“It feels like I was in a fog for 20 years and I’m finally coming out.”

Having lived in a negative mental state for years, Ms Sleeth said the centre reintroduced her to the good in the world.

“Prior to coming to centre, I was chasing my own tail and leaning on my mother.

“I feel comfortable here, I don’t feel judged, I go home and I have something to do and something to live for.”

Now volunteering her time every Wednesday at the centre, Ms Sleeth hopes to help other people who are in similar position to her.

“Everyone can find something they are good at, and if people hone in on that it will really help their wellbeing and sense of confidence,” she said.

“Confidence is key, and lack of confidence really does stop you, so a place like this gives you confidence.”

The exhibition ends today, however, Ms Sleeth's works will continue to be displayed and are available for purchase at the centre. Her work will also feature in the centre's new exhibition, which opens on Friday, about Mooroopna man Tom Dumaresq.

The free exhibitions can be viewed at Mooroopna Education and Activity Centre at 23 Alexandra St, Mooroopna.