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Vale Kim Nelson

More than 500 people, including many from the regional arts community of the Southern Tablelands, attended a celebration of the life of artist, Kim Nelson last Saturday at the Yass Soldiers Club. A private cremation preceded the remembrance service.

Kim, 57, died suddenly at his home at Mountain Creek in the foothills of the Brindabella mountain range, near Canberra on Wednesday, 12 August.

Southern Tablelands Arts (STARTS) Regional Arts Development Officer, Susan Conroy said Kim was a generous supporter of STARTS through his participation in events and the way he encouraged others through promotion and particularly through YASSarts, which he founded in 1996.

‘Kim opened the door and gave us entree to be able to engage with the arts community in Yass. His death is a great loss to everyone, even those who may not have known him all that well,’ Susan said.

YASSarts Chairman and friend, Al Phemister, said from Kim’s simple gesture of founding YASSarts grew an organisation that involves many, many artists.

‘This then grew to include a website, Facebook page, an arts trail and the instigation of Classic Yass and the Yass Public Art Committee. Kim was also a key player in beginning Sculpture in the Paddock,’ Al said.

‘After he was honoured with the Citizen of the Year award in 2013 he was often referred to as “Lord Nelson” or ”Our Aussie Kim”. I think he was very proud of his achievement, but often played it down claiming it was an award that should be shared.’

Al said Kim was one of the most generous people he had known whose eye was always on the big picture.

‘He was generous with his time, his praise and his effort, and sometimes this egalitarian stance came at a cost to his own career,’ he said.

But Kim’s career was a rich and productive one. Largely self taught, his only formal training was at age 17 when he spent a year at the renowned Julian Ashton Art School in Sydney studying life drawing.

Kim first moved to the Yass area from Sydney in 1984 working as the inaugural manager of the National Trust’s Cooma Cottage property – a position he held for 11 years before moving to manage Lanyon Homestead for a year.

He returned to the region in 1996 and embarked on a full time career in fine art. His work was included in a number of high profile group exhibitions including the Alice Bale Award in which he was a finalist.

Kim was committed to using his talent to assist others, and gifted art and design to many major and minor organisations and charities including UNICEF Australia, Hope for the Children (Rotary International), AMACC (Afghan Mother & Child Care), Koomarri Canberra, The Smith Family, NSW Volunteer Bushfire Brigade, CanAssist along with numerous local and amateur groups where he lived.

He is survived by wife Therese and daughter Caitlin; sister,Diana and brothers, Chris, Nick and Tony, and extended family.


Regional Arts NSW extends its condolences to Kim’s family, friends and arts colleagues. We thank Caitlin Nelson for the image of her father.