“WELCOME to the mad house.”
Opening the door to her North Albury home, it’s immediately clear MariJana van Zanten has a creativity that can not be stifled.
There is hardly an empty space, down the narrow hallway to her living room.
Canvases are stacked against the walls, piles of sketches cover the table and chairs.
Through the next door is a room which resembles a kitchen.
It has a kettle and a cook-top somewhere among the paints, brushes and plates.
These plates are not for eating — they’re for mixing paint colours.
“It used to be a kitchen. Now it’s a studio I cook in,” she said.
Creating art absorbs Ms van Zanten’s days.
She has so many pieces she’s finding it hard to choose those for her first exhibition, at Wodonga’s GIGS Art Gallery.
Just three years ago, her life was too busy for art and she picked up a brush only a few times a year.
She would drive hundreds of kilometres a day from her Upper Murray home to clients at her Shia Tsu massage clinics at Corryong, Tallangatta, Albury and Walwa.
“An old person once said to me: ‘You go around so fast you will catch yourself coming back one time’,” Ms van Zanten said.
She was so consumed with her work that she did not acknowledge she was exhausted.
Next thing she knew, she woke up in hospital — she had been unconscious for weeks with pneumonia that had almost killed her.
“Looking at it retrospectively, I was headed for that,” Ms van Zanten said.
“And it was a big wake-up call for me that I had an ability and I needed to pass this on.”
After her illness, Ms van Zanten moved from the Upper Murray to North Albury to be closer to her family and friends.
She still sees clients here and there, but her time now is mostly spent doing what she loves.
“There’s a saying, if you don’t like your work don’t do it,” she said.
“Every day is now a wonderful day, not just an ordinary day.”
Ms van Zanten’s exhibition will open at Wodonga’s GIGS Art Gallery on the Lincoln Causeway on Friday, at 6.30pm.
A Different Place will run until November 3, from 10am to 4pm, except on Mondays.