Clare artist Holly Geyer has a unique way to help schoolkids cope with mental health issues.

Holly could be forgiven for initially being a little taken aback at the suggestion her mural art might be best suited for the toilet.

But once she heard the reasoning behind painting toilet doors in schools, she embraced it wholeheartedly and is now making an impact on young people in schools across the state, one toilet block at a time.

“I giggle at myself as I’m kneeling down with my face near a toilet and think is my career going forward or falling behind?” Holly said.

“I laugh at myself about the space I’m in, but I’m absolutely thriving on working with kids, hearing their feedback, hearing their excitement and knowing that I’m making a difference.”

The concept of painting toilet doors and walls was based on a Western Australian initiative, but with Holly’s help it is now taking off in South Australia too.

“I approached one of the local schools and I said to the principal, ‘I’m a local muralist, do you have any walls to paint? And he said how about my toilet doors?’” Holly said.

“I was almost offended to start with because I was not aware that in Perth there was a teacher a couple of years ago that designed this Toilet Door Mission and painting toilet doors to uplift an environment that was probably daunting and scary for kids or where kids may retreat if they were being bullied.

“If you can put some inspirational quotes and colourful designs and have the kids involved it can just transform a space.

“It’s so empowering for young people. Everything I do has come from the kids’ heads and their creative minds are wonderful once you get that conversation going.

“Their ideas can be hilarious, which is great because I want them to feel happy in that space.”

From a koala driving a pink Cadillac to warrior women, sports stars, animals and inspirational quotes, there is really no limit to what Holly and the students might come up with through her bold, bright artworks.

But behind the door, there are some very important messages the Clare-based mum of two little girls, former African park ranger and underground mining truck driver hopes to portray.

“Art originally was very much, paint something, put it in a gallery, try and sell it, but I’ve gone down a totally different path that I could never have predicted and I feel like I’m making a difference with what I do,” Holly said.

“Kids’ mental health is so important, myself having battled mental health issues, it is very special to me that through my art – and I know it’s just a drop in the ocean – I’m trying to make a difference.

The empowerment of giving the kids a voice and then hearing the feedback that it’s actually making a difference and making them feel happy and excited is wonderful.

I try to channel myself back to when I was a kid when I’m painting these spaces.

“I remember going to the toilets at school and crying or having a fight with my friends, so I try to think about what I would have liked to have had back in those days.”

Holly has completed seven school toilet door missions so far, along with community art murals and other commissions, has led art workshops for groups including isolated parents and students, and art therapy sessions at the local high school.

Her enthusiasm is contagious as she sets about inspiring others through her own evolving art and life journey.

Words & Image: Gabrielle Hall