Day Two: Autism Awareness Month
Today is World Autism Awareness Day – declared by the United Nations, no less. But last night belonged to Tim Sharp.
A crowd of about 100 people gathered on a footbridge over the Brisbane River as one of our stunning autumn days turned to dusk. There were kids running around (including mine) picnic blankets with food and drink and a wonderful feeling of excitement as friends and families gathered to watch one of our landmark bridges become a canvas.
Tim Sharp has autism. He is 23 and he is an artist. He invented the character Laser Beak Man who appears in all Tim’s artworks, usually with something to say. His work is uplifting and humorous and Laser Beak Man is a very unconventional and literal superhero.
It was an evening of firsts. It was the first time that the William Jolly Bridge had been lit up with projected artwork that had a (very worthy) cause attached to it. It was the first time Tim’s work had been projected onto a structure in this way. It was so exciting to see the images slowly emerge as the natural light faded and night became darker. The bridge looked amazing.
Tim’s mother Judy and brother Sam were there. Judy spoke of the journey that brought their family to this moment. She’s an amazing woman who, without all the services and support we have today has guided both her sons (Sam has just finished competing in the Olympics swimming trials) towards their future with heart and intelligence.
Judy then took everyone by surprise when she announced the launch of the Tim Sharp Foundation. It will be a non-profit organisation which helps to connect young volunteers with autistic young people. The volunteers commit to taking them out once a week to an event or activity, that anyone their age would enjoy. It could be going to see a band, going to a movie – whatever works. What a fantastic idea! I can’t wait to see the Foundation get off the ground and I hope I can be a part of helping to make that happen.
At this point, there was another first. It was the world premier of the Laser Beak Man song. A while ago now Tim was contacted by a band based in Nashville, Tennessee. They had googled the words ‘happy colorful art’ when they were looking for artwork for their album. Laser Beak Man came up in that search and a unique friendship was born. That group is the Ghost Ballerinas and together with Tim they have written the Laser Beak Man song. Last night the song was played publicly for the first time ever. There was a lot of crazy dance moves going on – the kids loved it!
I finally had to drag my three boys home as they were exhausted from having too much fun and it was bedtime for them. As we left, some of the kids had taken over the microphone and were taking full advantage. I could hear 5yo Jack reciting the alphabet backwards perfectly. A great way to end the night.
Congratulations to Tim and his family. What a wonderful achievement. So much to look forward to.
Here’s some of the media coverage: