He is one of a kind! Fearless and unstoppable and relentlessly pursuing his dream, he refused to allow anything to stand in his way even at the risk of losing his own life.
After the fall of Saigon hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese desperately tried to get out of the country, running away from the madness and chaos that took over. Unfortunately countless people were shot and killed on their very first attempt. Numerous more lives were taken by the sea or by heartless fishermen turned into pirates.
Jimmy Thai did not attempt to leave until a decade later. But once he set his mind to it there was no turning back. His escape journey was horrific and heartbreaking. It took 15 attempts before he made it out alive and the cost was unimaginable. His brother was shot and killed. He was hunted like an animal and was captured, tortured and sent to labour camp.
Decades later Jimmy returns to the very country that almost took his life to build schools and serve the underprivileged. He is an amazing individual, one of a kind!
I’m borrowing today’s episode title from Gordon MacKenzie, an American artist. He used to talk to school kids from kindergarten to year 6, asking the same question: “Anybody an artist?”. And while everyone in kindergarten was enthusiastically raising their hands, as he progressed from one year to the next, the number of hands raised dropped. By year 6 hardly any kids put their hand up.
So Gordon Mackenzie asked the sixth graders: “Hey! What happened to all the artists in this school? Did all the artists transfer out? Did all the artists go to art school? I don’t think so. I think something much worse. I think someone or something has told you it’s not OK to be an artist. If you don’t remember anything else I say today I want you to go home and remember it’s OK to be an artist.”
I am so glad that my guest today – Brian Robinson – was not afraid to remain an artist even though some of his loved ones advised against it. At times it was a lonely road, working long hours, not knowing what the future holds, but that was the sacrifice he was willing to make.
Brian is the 2013 Recipient of the Western Australian Indigenous Art Award, the nation’s richest Indigenous arts prize for exceptional achievements by an Australian Indigenous artist. His works are displayed across Australia, at the Monaco Palace and at the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco. He spent more than two decades perfecting his craft and never once wavered in his pursuit.
Brian constantly challenges himself to create unique and amazing masterpieces. He uses a variety of methods from printmaking, painting, sculpture, installation and design. His work embodies the customs and traditions of the Torres Strait Islander people whilst also referencing mythological narratives from global cultures.
In this interview Brian gives us a glimpse into his life as an artist, the work involved, the unusual materials and tools he uses for his art work. He also shares a bit about his life journey.
Before you listen to our conversation I highly recommend you follow this link to see his talent on display.
I’ll end with another quote from Gordon Mackenzie’s amazing book on creativity Orbiting the Giant Hairball: “If you go to your grave without painting your masterpiece, it will not get painted. No one else can paint it. Only you.”
“Please help me. My daddy killed me with a knife and I’m gone. Can you please send the army men or the ambulance? I woke up suddenly, uh, my dad he was killing my mom. And then my dad told me to go on the other bed. And then he was like, ‘You’re next’, and then he killed me. And I was still alive. I kind of survived.” – Anthony’s 911 call.
He was 8 years old at the time.
His father brutally murdered his mother. He stabbed Anthony six times in the chest and face. He then left the house not knowing that his son was still alive. Anthony had a punctured liver and was bleeding profusely when he made that 911 call.
Today Anthony is a grown man and an aspiring musician. And after all the pain and suffering he’s been through, this exceptional and courageous young man still finds it in his heart to forgive and love the man that tore his life part.
“Every time I would think of my dad, I would think of hate,” Anthony said. “The only way I could find peace and love within myself was to forgive my father.”
Anthony is sharing his story with us today hoping to inspire and show us that it is possible to leave our past behind, forgive the unforgivable and move on with our lives.