Celebrating life through art
In August 2022, then 80-year-old Jeffrey Kelson and his wife Margot were hiking up to 12kms a day through North Queensland, and riding pushbikes along the beaches and back streets of Port Douglas. By late September, Jeffrey had been diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer.
“He was super healthy, strong, and active. No one truly believed that Jeffrey was 80 because he looked 60 and had the energy of a 40-year-old. Then he started to feel unwell and went to the doctor who quickly diagnosed pancreatic cancer. He began chemotherapy treatment immediately, and things just changed overnight. He really had the rug pulled out from under him, and he had to learn to assimilate to that.” said Margot.
However, it didn’t take long for Jeffrey to come to terms with his diagnosis, turning to art as a form of self-expression.
“I’ve been an artist for some years, but I’m an architect professionally. I’ve been painting portraits for a long time, and when I retired some years ago from architecture, I moved full-time into creating art.” Jeffrey said.
From Margot’s perspective, seeing Jeffrey turn to art in this difficult time was simply incredible.
“I like to say Jeffrey is an incurable creative. It was probably within about three weeks of him receiving this diagnosis and starting chemo that I walked into his studio and there he was working on this beautiful, bright, colourful collage. I then watched him start creating a series of amazing bright works that were full of life force. It was like his reaction to his diagnosis was to affirm life itself.”
Since his diagnosis, Jeffrey has worked tirelessly to create a series of bright collages under the theme of ‘Celebrations of Life’, which he is now selling with all proceeds going toward PanKind’s research program.
“I originally started creating colourful abstracts, but after discussion with some friends, I found that people tended to prefer colourful landscapes, flowers and pets. I call them ‘Celebrations of Life’ because my life has been so colourful.
I’m really pleased to have partnered with PanKind to sell these works with all proceeds going to the Foundation. The impact that these funds will have, not for me personally, but for people in the future who go through this disease will be truly amazing.”
As for Jeffrey and Margot’s final message?
“I think just encourage everybody to follow their passions for as long as they possibly can.” says Margot.
Chiming in, Jeffrey offers a simple piece of advice.
“You never know how long you’ve got, so don’t leave a minute spare.”
If you are interested in purchasing one of Jeffrey’s wonderful ‘Celebrations of Life’ pieces (with all proceeds going to PanKind), you can do so here.