As a student in his native India, Sharat Walter Rao was more interested in music and sports than art. He was the lead guitarist in a band, a championship sprinter, and the life of the party.
Then, when he was 21 and finishing his degree in hospitality management, a motorcycle accident changed Sharat’s life. He experienced a severe traumatic brain injury which resulted in right-sided hemiplaegia and aphasia. He underwent intensive rehabilitation, learning to walk and talk again.
Sharat moved to New Zealand 10 years ago and lives on the North Shore of Auckland. He participates in music therapy, and has started to play the guitar again. Last year, his liaison officer from the Brain Injury Association suggested that he try art therapy at Māpura.
Working with tutor Margaret Feeney, Sharat soon discovered a hidden talent for visual art. “Sharat is a focused and dedicated artist; his compositions are bold and daring depictions of nature,” says Margaret. “The human element is always present in the composition as a quiet study of love and relationships.”
Sharat has now started painting at home, and looks forward to his Monday morning class at Māpura each week. “He loves to go to Māpura, “ says Sharat’s mother Miriam. “It’s a sort of home for him.”
When he first started painting, Sharat used a lot of black and dark tones. Now he has started to broaden his range of colours, particularly in his series of beach paintings.
“What he can’t express in words,” adds Miriam, “he is gradually learning to express in painting.”