Rachel flourishing through art

For her 21st birthday Rachel Gillow isn’t having a party – she’s hosting her first art exhibition.

It is something Rachel and her family would have not dreamed possible.

Rachel, who has autism, was withdrawn and rarely engaged in any activity outside her home. That was until her mother Sandra Gillow discovered Carinity’s Bunderra disability support service in Boonah three years ago.

“Finding out about Carinity was a godsend: their programs have helped Rachel so much. At first she would not speak or make eye contact,” Sandra says.

“With the support of Carinity’s staff, Rachel is now having her first art exhibition and working in a community-based café.

“She loves baking, getting out in her community, going to art galleries, art shows and museums as well as learning life skills like shopping and cleaning.”

Carinity Bunderra House Client Services Coordinator Kerry White says Rachel has “flourished in all her endeavours”.

“At first she would sit on another table and only talk with her mum. She would answer when asked a question but there was no eye contact. She will now look you in the eye and have a discussion with you,” Kerry says.

“Rachel was quiet and withdrawn but is now excited about her future which includes working in the Carinity Fassifern Community Centre café, increasing her independent living skills and hosting her art exhibition. This is something she was not game to dream about before.”

Rachel’s first art exhibition, Welcome to Disneyland, features more than 40 clay sculptures and plaques, acrylic paintings and drawings inspired by Disney stories, from Winnie the Pooh to Frozen.

The exhibition at Able Gallery in Loganlea from April 27–May 11 features artworks for which Rachel won awards at the Beaudesert Show and Jimboomba Art Show.

“Rachel has always liked art, colouring and drawing from an early age and loves Disney. She combined her passions for this exhibition,” Sandra says.

“Rachel still needs a lot of help but she is happy enjoying the new life she is making for herself where she is encouraged to try new things, and this has helped her to grow and learn.

“The staff at Carinity have played an important role in Rachel’s growth as a person.”

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