If you have not heard of Tim Sharp, you will very soon. Tim is a world-renowned artist whose bright and bold artwork has graced album covers, been exhibited in many respected galleries and has even been made into a cartoon series.
What’s more astounding is that when Tim was a toddler, his mother, Judy Sharp, was told that Tim was severely autistic and that he would never talk, never be able to go to a normal school and, worst of all, that he was incapable of showing affection towards anyone. This was devastating news for Tim’s mother, but with utter devotion and love, she raised Tim to become a warm, talented, funny and doting son.
This story is not only Tim’s. It is also Judy’s – about how she struggled as a single mother of two and became fiercely resourceful in order to ensure her boys had the best chance of success and, for Tim, of a normal life. She fought to maintain possibilities for Tim despite his diagnosis, and made sure that he was educated in a regular school and not an institution. She took opportunities when they arose and found ways to support her family to give them everything they needed on very, very little. Most of all she saw in Tim a talent for artistic expression and she nurtured it. Very soon Tim’s drawing, which was initially therapeutic, became the thing that propelled Tim into the spotlight. From his exhibitions of his most famous and funny character, Laser Beak Man, to presenting at TedX, Tim Sharp has shown the world what he has to offer.
This story is one of the most inspiring I have ever read. The opening chapters about Tim’s early years and how Judy coped with his intense behaviour – trying desperately to find solutions – shows Judy’s amazing strength and love for her child. The chapter about the doctor’s early diagnosis is utterly heartbreaking, yet Judy’s commitment to Tim takes them on a journey that ultimately finds ground and then quite literally takes off. By the end of the book I was almost jumping up and down with excitement for Tim and his family and their fantastic future.
Time again we are shown how the diagnosis does not make the person. If Judy had taken the doctor’s advice all those years ago and institutionalised Tim I doubt we would have seen his amazing body of artwork. Through Judy’s encouragement, Tim has found the perfect vehicle to express his feelings – those feelings he was told he would never have – his infectious humour and his enthusiasm for life. Whenever I grab a Birthday card picturing Laser Beak man saying, ‘Have a Filthy Disgusting Birthday,’ it never fails to bring a smile to my face, and I am reminded of this wonderful book and of Tim’s fabulous work. His artwork has a unique quality and his execution of linework highly skilled. On the one hand there is a restraint and organisation to his art, yet also an exuberant flow of shapes and colour. I guess that is the beauty and contrast of Tim’s highly complex mind. It is a joy to see.
I can guarantee that you will be moved and inspired by Tim’s story.
A Double Shot of Happiness is published by Allen and Unwin and is available in June 2015 from all good bookstores for $32.99.
For more information go to www.allenandunwin.com
To purchase Tim’s artork and find out more about him go to www.laserbeakman.com