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Artist Beats Obstacles To Gain Degree

March 19, 2012

Grant, with a painting of his father restoring his classic FC Holden.

Taradale artist Darryl Grant embarked on his degree after a horrendous workplace accident mangled his fingers and post-traumatic stress ruled out a return to his workplace. 

Darryl had been employed at the manufacturing plant for 21 years when his hand got caught in a machine.  His index finger in particular was a mess and after nine months of treatment and numerous operations, he decided to have it amputated.

Learning how to wield a paintbrush again was always going to be a challenge, but just six weeks after starting Bachelor of Visual Arts and Design studies at the Eastern Institute of Technology, Darryl suffered another massive setback.

“I hadn’t been on my old classic motorbike for two years,” he recalls.  “My hand was feeling okay and it was a nice day.  After staying on late for a class, I was on a roundabout close to home when I was sent flying into the air by a hit-and-run driver travelling at speed.”

Darryl was badly hurt.  His right arm was broken in nine places and, with a smashed ankle, he needed plates in his foot and wiring for broken toes. 

“Everyone’s reaction was, oh my God, not again.”

After a fortnight in hospital, he was back at EIT but there have been more operations since.   He is still seeing a pain specialist and recently underwent two month-long hyperbaric oxygen treatment sessions aimed at helping the recovery of damaged tissue.

Ironically, it was overcoming severe depression triggered by the first accident that assisted his mental recovery from pokies online the crash.

“It’s the power of the mind,” he says – a phrase that peppers his account of these last five years.  “What helped was the training from my psychiatrist.  I used strategies she had given me and promised my wife Jodie that I would be going forward.”

It was Jodie who suggested he enrol at EIT.  

“She pulled back the curtains.  I’d been mucking round with art, but work and family were always more important.  I bounced out of my interview for a place at the Arts and Design School – my self-esteem went   straight up.  They were really cool with me and I couldn’t wait to get home to tell her and the kids.”

After the second accident, Darryl was eager to get back to his studies.

“EIT lecturers want students to succeed and they offered me extensions but I didn’t take them up.  When there was an operation coming up, I’d do the work expected and a bit more to keep ahead while I recuperated.  I spent long hours at the school, starting at 5am.”

Darryl is proud of his study achievements and is looking forward to graduation on 23 March.  His aim now is to train as an art teacher.

Having left school at 15, he says the accidents set him on another path.

“Maybe deep down I knew I could better myself.  I did really well at EIT, and my relationships with other students were awesome.  I was a bit of a mentor to them and it helped me.  The environment helped me to heal.”