Irena Dobrijevich Hatfield: Artist

Surry Hills has a unique quality of vibrancy and colour and I don’t just mean that in an aesthetic way, but colourful people and it’s quite unique. What other suburb has the police horses clippity clopping past your front door at least once a day? I think that’s just beautiful. That’s unique. I don’t know where else that happens. I look forward to that.

Surry Hills has evolved. Because of its great location it’s becoming much more gentrified. Surry Hills is now what Paddington was 20 years ago. I can see it becoming like that eventually. I hope it won’t, but I don’t think you can change that.

The litter is shocking. The garbage is left out. People just don’t seem to care. I’m painting something now. It’s a crunched up coffee cup thrown onto the ground and I call it “Take away please”.

People generally are really friendly and I like that. I prefer my own company. I’m not an out and about person. I like to potter around the house. My home is like a little “she cave”. It’s very precious to me. But when I’m out and about it’s always “Hello how are you?” The guard at the Westpac back has always got a smile and a nice word. I feel comfortable and I feel happy here.

I’ve had several struggles. Shit happens to everyone.

It does change you. But it can change you for the better. And I’d like to think although I’m scarred, I feel that I can lift myself above it.

“You are not responsible for the misfortunes in your life. But you are responsible for doing something about them.”

I’m a survivor of child abuse. My husband was murdered. Then I was charged with his murder. I was acquitted. All those things have an affect. I went to a counsellor and I didn’t realise until I had to quantify. Four times I tried to commit suicide. What a struggle it’s been to come to terms with all that emotion.

What would I say to people? Don’t give up. Every cloud has a silver lining.

It might be cloudy today but the sun will come up. I believe happiness and serenity is a state of mind just the same as being sad and unhappy. So sometimes things happen to you and you become unhappy, go with it. Allow yourself to be unhappy. Say “Look this is not fair and I’m going to wallow in it”. And wallow in it as long as you need to because eventually, guess what? The brain will want to go out. Let the brain follow its natural course and then you will just emerge.

To be without hope is to deny the wonderful possibilities of the future.

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