By Penelope Green
Jan. 5, 2016, 8:30 a.m. Newcastle Herald
CAROLINE Christie is candid about where she found the drive to open her quaint new Hunter Street business Gallery 61 Revisited.
“I was in one of my manic phases and I get creative and impulsive and I thought ‘I just want to start an art gallery’,” says the 31-year-old bi-polar artist.
“I think it’s important to talk about mental health, it’s nothing to be ashamed of.”
Raised in Merewether, Christie’s love of art was nurtured in high school before she began an arts degree at the University of Newcastle.
She soon dropped out, feeling she had nothing to make art about because she hadn’t experienced life.
For a decade she roamed the world and Australia, working and creating art inspired by nature and love.
In 2010 she enrolled at the College of Fine Arts at the University of New South Wales, took a year’s sabbatical in New York then returned for her third year at COFA only to hit a low: “When I was manic I’d get high distinctions but the next semester when I was depressed I’d be lucky to pass.”
After treatment in a mental health hospital, she returned to Newcastle this year, moving into her parent’s home for support.
On medication that “still makes me feel like myself”, the gallery also feels right.
“Sometimes it’s good to run with the mania so you set things up, then when I’m depressed I have a reason to get out of bed in the morning,” she says.
Named after a Bob Dylan album, Gallery 61 Revisited showcases emerging local and foreign artists, a mix of abstract and figurative art both whimsical and moody.
“I hope to show the work that I know is out there but isn’t being seen because it’s perhaps a little less conservative ,” Christie offers.
She serves robust coffee from a San Marco espresso machine, a variety of tea and home-style sweets. Next week she will offer life drawing and open art classes.
Christie’s advice to those who may relate to her is to not equate support with weakness: “I always felt it was less of an achievement because my parents helped me, and I’m on medication, but that makes me fortunate, not weak.”