Vale Kim Nelson

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RESIDENTS and art lovers in Yass are preparing to say farewell to one of their favourite sons, following the unexpected death of artist Kim Nelson late last week.

Nelson sketching plein air
Nelson sketching plein air

Although perhaps best known for his key role in establishing the organisation and website of YASSarts and the Classic Yass Festival, for which he was honoured as Citizen of the Year in 2013, Nelson was a familiar figure in the Canberra art scene too, having managed Lanyon Homestead ACT Museum for a time in the mid 1990s and been keenly involved in local arts activities.

Nelson, who moved to the region from Sydney in 1984, had studied at the Julian Ashton School, and painting remained his great love, although his work in heritage was widely acknowledged during the 11 years in which he managed the National Trust’s Cooma Cottage, now the setting for Sculpture in the Paddock, one of YASSarts’ major attractions each year.

As an arts entrepreneur, he spanned a broad range of arts, taking a particular interest in concerts and innovative projects for young people, in his private art practice Nelson moved away from landscape art and increasingly into a specialised area of painting about the occult.

For many years, Nelson worked in his home studio at Mountain Creek near Wee Jasper, from which he produced work is also featured in the Australian High Commission in London and the News Limited offices in New York.

Nelson with some of his 'occult' paintings at Oddfellow's Hall
Nelson with some of his ‘occult’ paintings at Oddfellow’s Hall

In 2010 he took up the lease of the Oddfellows Hall on Comur Street Yass, establishing it as a studio, working space and centre for concerts and exhibitions, passing it on to YASSarts in 2014.

It was impossible not to be moved by Nelson’s passion and enthusiasm for all aspects of the arts and his high aims for the Yass region, illustrated in a presentation about the potential of cultural tourism in the region that he gave to Yass Valley Council in 2010.

Kim Nelson’s death on August 13 from a heart condition, at the age of 57, has left the Yass community in shock. He is survived by his wife Therese, his daughter Caitlin and his siblings Diana, Chris, Nick and Tony.

Family and friends of Kim Nelson are invited to attend a celebration of Kim’s life to be held at the Yass Soldier’s Club commencing at 2.30pm tomorrow, Saturday, August 22 with a light afternoon tea to follow. A private cremation will precede the remembrance service. In lieu of flowers, please donate to UNICEF.


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Helen Musa
“CityNews” arts editor

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