A painting hangs on your wall with a hand creeping slowly along
it, red droplets following close behind. The hand comes to an edge,
fingers holding the side of the canvas. A trail of red painted letters
follows: "Don't forget me..." scrawled beneath, a message to an
onlooker unknown.

The canvas has been created over the
last year and is now being presented to the City of Townsville as part
of a Youth Art exhibition. Taking on the role as Curator for tonight's
exhibition entitled Give us a Break, is Shane Keen.

Shane was
an inspired artist at school, and art was his best subject. He
recognised the amount of talented young artists in Townsville and their
inability to express their creativity to the public. Realising that
there wasn't an outlet for young artists to show their art, the idea of
a Youth Art Exhibition came about.

"It is near impossible to get a chance to show you artwork in a professional environment, "says Shane.

Shane is in his final year at the Barrier Reef Institute of TAFE, and
is about to receive a diploma for Visual Arts. Being accepted into TAFE
gave him further ambition to pursue the opening the exhibition. He
decided to apply for a Youth Art Grant and was successful in his
application. The process then began of gathering photographs of art
from a selection of Townsville schools.

"Every week, Alex
Castorina and I went to schools putting together a portfolio of youth
art in Townsville by taking photos," says Shane.

Shane and
Alex slowly sifted through the photos of artwork and finally narrowed
them down into 30 pieces of art from 25 young artists. The artists were
then invited to partake in the exhibition and each had to prepare an
artist's statement. Their statements will appear in the exhibition
booklet along with a photograph of their artwork.

"For many of these artists it will be their first exhibition," says Shane.

The whole idea behind the exhibition was to give young people a chance
to exhibit their artwork in Townsville. The exhibition gives young
people a chance to be recognised as artists. With only one art gallery
in Townsville, the opportunities to exhibit artwork in a gallery are

"So I took the initiative and decided to do something
about it. Give us a Break is about helping young artists to take the
next step," says Shane.

Showing his art at the exhibition is
Aaron Richardson. He is also studying at the Barrier Reef Institute of
TAFE. His artwork has been created over the past eight months and the
majority was completed at TAFE. He feels pride in showing his artwork
in a professional environment. "It is good to be acknowledged as an
artist," he says.

While completing his final year of TAFE,
Shane has been doing a lot of work with the gallery in preparation for
the exhibition. He has been constantly busy with writing letters to the
artists, completing the booklet for the opening night, and preparing
the space for the exhibition.

"The title of the exhibition
'Give us a Break' is self-explanatory," says Shane. "The Youth Art
exhibition is a social commentary expressed through visual art which
enables young people to have their say."

"I want people to see youth's opinions and views.

"Young people feel passionately, they don't really get the chance to
have an opinion. The art is the young peoples opinion, it is there
social commentary," says Shane.

Shane wants to pursue a
career in the arts and has the ambition to open his own art gallery one
day. The whole experience of putting together and finally opening an
exhibition has been a huge learning experience for him. Working with
the gallery on the exhibition, he has received lots of training in the
arts, which has helped him get vital professional arts practice. The
exhibition is a one 'off-event.'

"I want to hold more
exhibitions. It just depends if I get the support to hold more. I guess
I will see what the future brings," he says.

Two years of
hard work and persistence has seen Shane Keen's vision of opening his
own art exhibition become reality. The exhibition will open tonight at
7pm on the top floor of the Perc Tucker Gallery. Invitation is by RSVP

"Anyone can do art if they want. Do not be afraid to
put your art forward. Other people's opinions do not matter. It is what
you believe about your art that counts," says Shane. Although mellow
about the opening night, Shane is excited that he is able to finally
give a voice to the voiceless and give the youth of Townsville a break.