Introducing Su Hely â€“ following our recent AGM we are lucky enough to have Su continue on as our trusty Chairperson for 2016. She also agreed to be our fourth face in our new Creative Faces section! Each month we will be tracking down our clever locals doing fabulous things for the local arts scene and ask them a few questionsâ€¦read on for the low down on Su.
Hello, what is your name and how old are you?
Lawyer, artist and musician is quite the random mixâ€¦tell us about that!
Although I am a self-employed defence lawyer my love affair with both visual arts and music is life-long. The only things that I loved at school were art and music. I grew up in Sydney and when I was 21 my brother Alan was killed in a motor bike accident; the shock of my brotherâ€™s death was a catalyst for enormous change in my life. At this time I was a retail executive and I literally â€˜dropped outâ€™ and drove my Landrover and my dog and my guitar out of Sydney eventually landing near Byron Bay. I then found out that Lismore had an art college, so I argued my way in to Northern Rivers CAE and after four years I obtained a Bachelorâ€™s Degree in visual arts. I am a dreamer who learnt that earning a living as an artist and musician was really hard and I could barely afford paint. So I worked on a macadamia farm for years so I could always be with my dogs as we went everywhere together and at 35 my dog Shady Pop Star got really sick and she became the catalyst for me going to university and study law so I could earn money to pay for her medication. I never intended to be a lawyer I just wanted to know more about the â€˜systemâ€™.
And you run your own business?
I finished my law degree and came out to Dubbo to work in the Community Legal Service and ultimately ended up in Coonamble. I am self-employed because I hate the 9 to 5 mentality in all work places. I work very hard as a lawyer; but I work my hours which are definitely not the mind numbing 9 to 5. The only disadvantage of being self-employed is doing BAS statements; bugger the Government!
How do you split your time between the law world and being creative?
That is the million dollar question!!! Â I have a chain on my gate to keep people at bay as unfortunately a lot of people in my law world want 24/7 access to my ears and brain. I generally rule out a week in my diary and ignore my phone. I pencil draw every night to keep my ideas flowing so that when I finally get a chance to paint, carve wood blocks or lino tiles or write music; I am full of inspiration.
What else have you been up to?
I have been playing a guitar since I was 11 and I wrote my first song at 12. It was an anti Vietnam war song. I have always written my own songs. And my CD EP titled â€œFingers in the Dirtâ€ is now out! Here is a recent review:
Wrap your ears around this debut album from a Coonamble local with scruffy hair and a soft spot for sake. Su Hely, part artist, lawyer, musician, psychic and our trusty Chairperson has released her first EP titled Fingers in the Dirt. We loved it so much we thought weâ€™d write a reviewâ€¦here goes.
Fingers in the Dirt sees Hely knocking out some indie rocker anthems while also exploring a softer spiritual side. Helyâ€™s powerful folky vocals, winking charisma, and energy is undiminished. There are genuine soul searching numbers, like the reflective “Heaven & Fire” where she concedes â€œâ€¦Iâ€™m moving closer to that moment when the fire in my heart fades awayâ€ There’s an upbeat insight into her life through the album opener “Small Town.” My personal favourite is where Hely explores a different sound to the rest of the album on “My Saving Grace”, where whimsical guitars and a flowy beat take us into folk-progressive rock territory. All in all, the album is an exciting first taste of what Hely does and so obviously loves. The songs are full of nostalgia, reflection with a bit of dark stuff.
Apart from visual arts and music I have always had a love affair with the spiritual part of life. As a kid I loved going to church; however as an adult I donâ€™t do church or the Bible but I love goodness.
How would you describe your style?
My music is pretty much spiritual rock. To me lyrics are everything. I consider myself a wordsmith. I am not interested in lyrics about one on one love; I am interested in the spiritual nature of all things. My paintings are generally abstract oil on canvas and always about the feeling of spirit and life force. My songs are no different; except maybe one.
Why do you think itâ€™s important to provide creative outlets and opportunities for people, especially in regional areas?
Creative expression is life. Often the creative arts are seen as thing people do in the city. So to have a regional voice and workshops and a Gallery space in Coonamble has provided long overdue opportunities for anyone who wants to get creative in this Region. Everyone has the capacity to get creative. I have a great love of all things fast and mechanical and I love the creativity that goes into a rebuilt car or motorbike, a beautiful quilt or a good tattoo as much as I love seeing 2D and 3D works in a formal gallery.
What other artistic developments would you like to see occur in our region?
I would really love to see more life drawing classes and more classes generally to allow people to keep the momentum of their creativity alive and well. I used to argue at Art School that art is very therapeutic; I have not changed my view.
Where can we see more of your stuff?
I am hoping to exhibit some of my paintings later this year at the OBA Gallery, entitled â€˜Embryonicâ€™. All life, ideas and living things begin by seed or embryo. The exhibition will follow the narrative of an embryo in all forms, from images to text.
Lastly, Beatles or the Stones?
I was never really into the Stones or the Beatles; I was into the Sex Pistols and Talking Heads.