News • 02 Aug 2018

Enabling an artist to follow his dreams

Enabling an artist to follow his dreams

“With my artwork and the support of CREST, my future now looks very positive!”

Dennis Riley is a 45-year-old Aboriginal man from Townsville, pursuing his dream of becoming an artist.

Dennis has had a passion for painting canvas landscapes for over 20 years, inspired by watching his uncle paint in their hometown of Mount Isa.

Some bad life-decisions led to Dennis being in and out of prison for the last 10 years, and as a result, his dream of being a full-time artist fell by the wayside.

Until recently: when Dennis began working with Open Minds in May 2018 following his release from the Townsville Correctional Centre.

But before he could focus on painting, Dennis urgently needed accommodation or he’d face the prospect of becoming homeless.

The Open Minds team assisted Dennis to get relevant ID and documentation required, in order to find stable accommodation.

Within just two weeks of Open Minds assisting Dennis with submitting an application to Coast 2 Country, Dennis was successful in securing a one-bedroom apartment.

Open Minds CREST Case Worker, Scott Griese, had told the team at Coast 2 Country about Dennis’ talent.

The team at Coast 2 Country were so impressed that they purchased one of his pieces to display in their reception area.

Elvene Whitbread, CEO of Coast 2 Country, said: “Dennis has a special talent for painting and it’s clear that he is dedicated to making his dream a reality. We are proud to be supporting the local community and to display Dennis’ beautiful artwork on our wall. We wish Dennis every success in continuing his great work as an artist.”

Open Minds provided Dennis with funding for the essentials he needed to move into his new place straight away, such as furniture and kitchen crockery to enable Dennis to cook nutritious meals.

This also included a push bike, to enable Dennis to travel and find work without the cost of public transport.

The Open Minds CREST team didn’t stop there. Having seen his talents as an artist, the team got to work linking him with artists, galleries, markets and exhibitors.

This allowed Dennis to network with other artists, and showcase his artwork to a wider audience. Dennis said: “Open Minds CREST Team have assisted me in gaining documents and navigating the processes needed for every day needs such as setting up a bank account, obtaining ID, and more. This allowed me to apply for my own accommodation where I can live independently and start to build a future for myself. With my artwork and the support of CREST, my future now looks very positive!”

Dennis’ longer term goals are to setup his own art studio, and purchase a car with the money he makes from selling his artwork.

In the mean-time Dennis has been completing a construction course to ensure he can be financially stable whilst working towards his longer term goals as an artist.

Dennis’ Case Worker, Scott, has been working closely with Dennis every step of the way to give him the best chances of success.

“Dennis is really flourishing, he’s focused, driven, and has a real talent for painting. After he sold his first piece, he had the biggest smile on his face and will be painting more pieces ready to sell at the local markets.”

Dennis said: “My Case Worker, Scott, and the team have always been there to support and guide me, they were there when I needed help to increase my success on Parole.”

The painting Dennis sold to Coast 2 Country



The latest painting by Dennis, a landscape at night-time