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Sunday, May 29, 2022

Jim Keays Exhibition

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Rock Legend Jim Keays fronted rock band The Masters Apprentices as singer-songwriter, guitarist and harmonica-player from 1965 to 1972, and had many Top 20 hits in their career.

Keays, as a member of The Masters Apprentices, was inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame in 1998. As a solo artist he recorded several albums.  From  2000, he performed in Cotton Keays & Morris alongside Darryl Cotton and Russell Morris.   But unbeknown to his fans, he was also talented in creating beautiful and evocated watercolour paintings with strong emotive powerful  and yet often subtle connections to the landscape or subject matter.  Within this exhibition we get true insight to the multi talented legend.

In July 2007, Keays was diagnosed with myeloma and died in 2014 aged 67

“Jim Keays was a true artist in every sense of the word. A wordsmith, he was best known for crafting lyrics to music, creating songs that became timeless hits – songs that move the spirit of all who hear them.  Such a gift would be more than enough for one lifetime but there was more than meets the eye to the man who was my husband and life-partner for over 25 years.  Jim was also blessed with an innate talent for drawing and painting delicate watercolours. Two years and one month after his passing, it is my privilege and pleasure to invite you to enjoy Jim’s first ever art exhibition, The Secret Life of Rock Legend Jim Keays.   KARIN KEAYS.

When Jim and I first met in 1988, he lived in a big, pink house in high ‘80s style in the Eastern suburbs. We called it the House of Love. Perched on a wall in the family room was a watercolour painting, a period scene, unmistakably Scottish in a small battered frame. It was completely lost amongst the excesses of ‘80s design and flamboyant music memorabilia.

Still, something about it drew my eye; a delicate, almost whimsical quality that would often have me pausing to look into it. One day, I asked Jim how old it was, thinking it had come from Scotland with the Keays family. His answer was not what I expected, “I did it when I was 10 or 11.”

Jim said he had rarely touched watercolours – his favoured medium – since the Masters Apprentices took off in the 60s. He was uncharacteristically shy and self-deprecating about his ability, which I found very touching. Jim’s painting talent was a part of himself that he kept hidden, a vulnerability that he felt safe sharing with me.

Soon after our wedding in 1989, we moved to a period house and I asked Jim if he would do some pictures for our home. He started out with pencils and ink. Jim’s talent for drawing was innate and we soon had beautiful still life drawings decorating our home. His watercolours and brushes were old and his first attempts left Jim feeling frustrated and inadequate at what he felt was a lack of technique. Art supplies became favoured Christmas and birthday gifts and gradually his art kit began to build.

A family holiday to the UK resulted in a series of pen and ink drawings of my favourite medieval locations. Jim would choose a spot with the perspective he liked best, settle on the green grass and create beautiful, delicate pictures that he would present to me… a gift of love so special that our friend, Liz Reid, made them into a series of personal greeting cards for us.

Back in Melbourne, Jim began watercolour classes at the local community centre and thrived on his weekly classes. His fellow students were mainly retired ladies and Jim enjoyed their company, learning new techniques and painting at home, on family holidays and when on the road with Cotton Keays & Morris.

He would bring his latest painting into the lounge room and sheepishly prop it up on the mantle, prefacing its display with an apologetic comment. This was so unlike the man who had put himself and his music on display to the world for decades. I often described Jim’s rock star persona as having more front than Myer and the hide of ten rogue elephants. He never suffered stage fright and any criticism of his antics washed over him like water off a duck’s back but with his painting, he had no armour at all. Jim would give his art away as a gift and paint for charity when asked but he never felt able to exhibit.

Eventually, Jim changed art classes and, under the tutelage of Greg Allan, developed his technique even further. By this time, Jim had been diagnosed with an incurable blood cancer. His paintings became less frequent as the gruelling treatment took its toll. There were periods when the treatment was scaled back and I would encourage him to pick up his brushes again but, as time went on, he felt like it less often.

In the ultimate gift of love and trust, Jim bequeathed all his paintings and artworks to me saying, “They are for you. You’ll know what to do with them.”
Two years and one month after his passing, I now feel ready to share some of the beautiful and poignant art of the creative spirit who was my husband and partner.

It is my privilege and pleasure to invite you to enjoy Jim’s first ever art exhibition, The Secret Life of Rock Legend Jim Keays. ….. Karin Keays

Mick Pachollihttps://www.tagg.com.au
Mick created TAGG - The Alternative Gig Guide in 1979 with Helmut Katterl, the world's first real Street Magazine. He had been involved with his fathers publishing business, Toorak Times and associated publications since 1972.  Mick was also involved in Melbourne's music scene for a number of years opening venues, discovering and managing bands and providing information and support for the industry. Mick has also created a number of local festivals and is involved in not for profit and supporting local charities.