Celebrating a community man

By Madeline Fogarty

They say it is never too late to try something new.

Mooroopna’s Tom Dumaresq found this out when he was asked to be a life-model at an oil painting workshop recently.

That decision not only launched his career as a model but as a town muse — and eventually as the subject of an exhibition in Mooroopna later this month.

“I was standing in the wrong place at the right time,” he said with a laugh.

The workshop was held at Mooroopna Education and Activity Centre, where the exhibition will be held.

The centre's manager Jan Phillips was unapologetic for recruiting Mr Dumaresq as a model for the workshop.

“He always helps out people, so he came for the weekend and sat and modelled for six or seven artists as they painted his portrait,” Ms Phillips said.

The artists were looking for a model, someone with personality and life experience.

“They wanted someone with a bit of character in their face,” MEAC office manager Linda Davidson said.

“Tom has a lot of character in his face.”

The many faces of Mooroopna's Tom Dumaresq - 'the man with a personality and life experience' - will be featured in an exhibition coming up on October 18.

One of the artists who helped organise the workshop, Mooroopna’s Penny Hamilton, sent a picture of her work to Ms Phillips, who then decided to hold an exhibition.

“(The paintings of Tom) were so beautiful we had to have one,” Ms Phillips said.

And so Mr Dumaresq’s modelling career was launched.

While he thought his time as a model would be more like a “try everything once'' experience, the people at MEAC disagreed.

They thought the oil paintings were such a success, they engaged the centre's art department and photographers — and the exhibition was realised.

MEAC now has a collection of images of Mr Dumaresq in a number of mediums, from pastels to watercolours and everything in between.

His granddaughters have even tried their hand at drawing him. Their work will appear alongside the rest from the community at the exhibition.

The exhibition will be on Friday, October 18, and everyone is welcome.

It will be open for a few weeks from 9am to 3pm, Monday to Friday.

And what is Mr Dumaresq’s opinion on all of this?

“The education centre has got to be promoted,” he said.

“It’s a great asset, so when the opportunity is there to promote it (we should take it).”

Ms Phillips said MEAC was an important part of the community.

“Neighbourhood community houses are important to their areas.

“They’re all about making people feel welcome and giving them opportunities for activities that are cost-effective.

“Our focus is on health and wellbeing, and art is a significant part of that.”

What started as one small workshop for a handful of artists has developed into a community project, with one driving force behind it — the admiration of Tom Dumaresq.

“Tom is an extraordinary community member,” Ms Phillips said.

Interested people should RSVP to MEAC by phoning 58251774.