Haydn Radford -A freelance writer born in Adelaide, who loves living here. I write about movies, theatre, entertainment, literary and art events. I am happy to promote & review your events. www.weekendnotes.com/profile/121822
Back in 2006, just two days before his youngest son's 6th birthday Wolfgang (Wolf) Karschimkus, at only 52 years of age unexpectedly suffered a major stroke, which resulted in his life changing forever. It is difficult to comprehend the adustments Wolf and his wife, Meri and their large family of five children would need to make.
After he had his stroke", say Meri, "Wolf spent the next two months in Flinders Hospital in Intensive Care fighting for his life. The stroke resulted in the loss of movement through his right side, and being right handed he had to learn to do things with his left hand. He was left with aphasia and dyspraxia, which affects the language centre of the brain and makes it difficult to find words when he wishes to speak."
As part of his rehabilitation, Wolf went into the program, BIRCH - Brain Injury Rehabilitation Community and Home and BINSA - Brain Injury Network SA Inc., which provide the services of Speech Therapists, Occupational Therapists and Physiotherapists. Through the BIRCH program a Recreational Therapist got Wolf into table tennis. He was also an artist and with his expertise, he helped Wolf to develop a keen interest in painting in acrylic on canvas.
When Wolf's time with BIRCH came to a close, "says Meri, "the BIRCH recreational coordinator put an advert in the lcoal church newsletter for a support person, who was available for once a week for two hours, We couldn't believe our good fortune, along comes this angel."
At this time Wolf had been suffering epilepsy seizures as a result of his stroke. We were looking for a support person, who had training as a nurse. The woman, who applied, was Di Rawnsley, a physiotherapist assistant, who knew Wolf from his days after his stroke, and she had worked with him on a voluntary basis; and on top of that she is an Art teacher. Now thanks to the grant we now have, she comes to our home and gives Wolf lessons."
After I had the stroke my painting was a new world for me", says Wolf. "I had to learn to paint with my left hand. My first painting took about half a year. Now I have the grant, Oh boy! I am learning to paint and learn how to promote my paintings myself, so I can earn a living from it."
Some of Wolf's early paintings he has donated to help raise funds for organizations like LIons Hearing Dogs, Country Fire Service and worthy charities in Vanuatu and Africa. "Wolf's current painting of an African lady is for a church in Africa, because people are passionate about the cause; the money will go towards helping them."
There is a need for different styles in his work. In the beginning he painted houses, later he painted a series of Australian animals, a naked woman. He is currently looking to explore cartoon characters and will attend a TAFE course to develop his skills.
"The reason he painted the Tawny Frog Mouth Owl, it is part of his Christmas cards series of Australian animals; so if you could imagine it with a christmas cap on. There are a lot of different styles in Wolf's work; they have different purposes.
"I go into a doctor's surgery and I see them on display. I do cleaning for people and I'll see they have Wolf's painted mugs in their homes. People will look out for him and they'll say, "I will always get Wolfie's cards."
He has a bit of a reputation now as the card man, he has been written up in the Blackwood Times, which has been good in that way; readers know a little bit about him personally because of that...what has happened and what Wolf if trying to do," says Meri.
Some people can be a little scared of someone sitting in a wheelchair, but now that they know a lifttle more about his background and they realize his intellect is perfectly intact, and he has no psychological issues, many of them feel a connection.
"People read the article and they now come up to me," says Wolf.
"The biggest lesson that we have learnt from Wolf discovering art, is when a catastrophe occurs in your life it doesn't have to result in a negative outcome. He has got so much out of being able to paint and now possibly being able to make it into a new career."
"We have found magic in our lives in all sort of ways. We now look at everything differently, we appreciate everything so much more... people are really important, relationships, family are really important, I think you learn that what you have got can be taken away from you in a heart beat ...it's just gone. You don't really believe that until it actually happens to you. If it does happen, life can still go on; if you have got the skills to be positive you can rediscover new things in your life. Wolf can't play soccer with the boys now, and that was such a passion; he can't now kick the ball with his son..." says Meri.
"Hmm," laughs Wolf as he demonstrates a left footed kick from his chair.
"Well he still tries," agrees Meri. "Wolf was a very active man; he used to go in the City to Bay fun Runs, and so many things he can't do, but now he has started sailing, which he had never done before. He was lowered down in a lifter, which is very confronting. You have to rediscover new thing in your life," says Meri.
Despite his brain injury Wolf is trying to put his life back together. He would like to be able to earn an income like he did before. He no longer works as an accountant but strives to improve his painting. Wolf and Meri, and their family's courage and determination show life doesn't have to stop; there is always something you can do.
Wolf produces bold brightly coloured images in acrylic on canvas, which are scanned and printed as Christmas cards, greeting cards, T-shirts, Canvas prints block mounts and coffee mugs. He sells them in the Blackwood shopping area or they can be purchased by contacting Meri on mob 0448 767 279 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org.