I was born a true double Aquarian, on the 17th of February 1953, in the small town of Pinjarra in Western Australia. My parents gave me the name Kelvin Paul McKenney.
It wasn't until 1988 that an aboriginal elder bestowed the name NgAng upon me. His grandmother had told him, as a small child, that when his hair was silver, he would meet a white man with white hair and he would know him as "NgAng" by his words and his ways. Two years later I learned that NgAng means "Peace" in the Nyoongar aboriginal dialect from the region of my birth. Since Peace is an important goal in my life and work, I am proud to wear this name.
Unfortunately music and art were not taught during my school years but I always knew my vocation would take those directions. After an early career in town planning and architectural studies, I took up my paintbrushes in my mid twenties.
In late 1976, while working on my fifth oil painting 'Stirling Inspiration', much to my surprise my creativity was ignited through a burning bush (midway on right boarder). I later realised this was a powerful kundalini experience. It took twelve years for me to fully come to terms with it.
In 1978 I held my first solo exhibition, which sold out. This initial success was followed by two other exhibitions, as well as awards in most art competitions I entered. I married Sue palmer later that year.
By 1980 I was ready to travel to New Zealand to launch my art career abroad. Instead, bowing to family pressure, I stepped back(wards) into the Australian workforce and became an entrepreneur for several years.
My beloved daughter Tara Joy was born in 1981. In 1982 we moved out of the Perth metropolis to open a coffee lounge, a short-lived venture that was succeeded in 1983 by the Kelsue Arts Centre in the city of Bunbury. My adored son Simon Edward was born that year.
For seven years I became more enslaved, with my artistic energies submerged while running the business and helping all the other artists in the region. It left little time for my own creativity. Nevertheless, much art was created in my mind and stored away, pending future time and opportunity, and that art was released on arrival to NZ in 2002.
My workload increased when we decided to open a second Kelsue Arts Centre 800 km away in the mining city of Kalgoorlie/Boulder during the onset of the 1987 recession.
During 1988, despite my workaholic business life, I revived my personal art and held a successful exhibition at our Kalgoorlie Kelsue Gallery. Now, twelve years after my kundalini experience, another spiritual awakening rapidly unfolded, which proved too much for my conservative family. July of 1989 saw me unjustly committed to Graylands Mental Hospital. That began the collapse of the Kelsue Arts Centres and the end of my detour as a "businessman."
After three dark months in Graylands, I was finally released "on parole" (euphemistically called "aftercare"), a shattered zombie unable to function due to the unjustified "anti-psychotic" drug injections that were forced upon me. This soul destroying saga is described in detail in my forthcoming autobiography 'ARTIST INTERRUPTED'. I had eight further involuntary admissions over the next seven years.
Like many other artists throughout history whose creative and intuitive abilities were incomprehensible and threatening to their conservative kin, I was labeled "mentally ill" and involuntarily drugged into deep, suicidal depression. As the saying goes: "Those who hear not the music think the dancers mad." I steadfastly maintain I never had a mental illness, but I became very mentally ill from the criminal "medical" abuse I experienced.
Looking back now, I can see how this seven-year "descent into hell" was a blessing in disguise. Without it I couldn't have reached where I am today either personally or spiritually. At the time it took away my marriage, family, business, home, and nearly my Soul and my life.
Into the Light and Beyond
From my experiences with the so-called "mental health" system, I now understand the medical system to be the sickest and cruelest of all professions, particularly the field of psychiatry. After nine admissions and nine suicide attempts, I finally "succeeded" in 1996, when an intentional overdose of prescribed pills left me clinically dead for three hours. During that time, I experienced an incredible journey without space or time, into the Light and Beyond, which my painting by that title can only hint at. On my recovery from a three day coma, my life took a completely new turn and the years of abuse stopped. In 1997, in the aftermath of my return to Life, I found myself moved to the heart-shaped island of Tasmania. There I commenced my healing and my return to Art.
Life is Politically Religious
In Kingston, Tasmania, just outside Hobart, I bounced back strongly through the major painting "Life is Politically Religious". My revived art career was about to take off again with two exhibitions booked. However, the draw to be back with my children in Western Australia overrode artistic opportunity ? they were still in high school and needed a dad. I sacrificed my artistic "comeback" to return to what I knew was a dangerous environment, given Western Australia's draconian "mental health after-care" laws.
Keen to co-create and bring my inner Peace to the outer world, I turned to the Art of Politics, forming an alternate party called "United Society" or "US" (as in "Vote for US"). While it attracted some interest, the weight of apathy proved too strong. That project too was set aside for a more fertile future. I did help mobilise the population; leading 10,000 in a march to successfully stop the logging of old growth forests in Western Australia.
Simon and Tara graduated high school and became independent. Before long Spirit was calling me once again to New Zealand and new beginnings. I gave away most of my possessions, to break free for a fresh start in this "Land of New Zeal." In February 2002, I arrived in Christchurch on the eve of my 49th birthday and 13th vibrational year. Within a few weeks I was guided to find "home at last" in Golden Bay.
In early 2003 I was diagnosed with cancer. Recognising the tumour as a physical manifestation of hurts and resentments from the years I lost to psychiatric abuse, I refused mainstream medical treatment beyond surgical excision. I healed myself through mind and heart, nutritional, herbal, energetic, and music therapies. In this healing process I met my soulmate and life partner, photographer and healing harpist Lethea Erz. These events, which coincided with my Chiron return, initiated me as a "wounded healer." Now healed myself, I stand ready to assist others in their healing journeys.
Confirming the rightness of following my heart to New Zealand, during my first year in this artist's paradise, I managed to present three exhibitions, more than I had shown over the previous 23 years! Until now I had kept free of galleries and the commercial markets; you might say I was "Passing Time" like the subject of my 1979 masterwork by that title. The original of that painting was stolen from the Kelsue Arts Gallery and is still "walkabout" as of 2012. I have reissued the print edition, symbolising my belief that "Tyme Haz Kum" for humanity's reawakening to its deepest spiritual potential, guided and facilitated by the Arts, to bring about the human conscious shift needed.
In February 2006, during a joint exhibition in Devonport, Auckland, my partner Lethea and another Golden Bay artist Judith Hoch (both Ph.D.'s) presented me with my own M.A.D. degree: Master of Artistic Dementia, with Honours in Mental Acuity & Discrimination. As the only person in the world (to my knowledge) holding such a degree, I have opened my own school to train other prospective MAD artists!!! The M.A.D. Skool of Arts.org
In 2006 my painting "Sacred Aum Mandala" received the Supreme Award (and tied for People's Choice") in the (Golden) Bay Art Competition, and in March 2008 my pastel "Rush Hour, Union Station," won the top prize in the annual PANZ (Pastel Artists of New Zealand) National Exhibition/Competition.
With that recognition and affirmation, I feel energetic and inspired, ready at last to produce many diverse new works and to put them out into the world. My years as "Artist Interrupted" have come to an end.
Having come through a long and difficult "initiation," I now say whole-heartedly: Life is good, alive with possibility. It is ours to enjoy and be happy with. By expressing our deepest essence through the Arts, we can co-create a new vision that can heal ourselves and all humanity. My dream and goal, through this website, is to assist in that process.
In Love and Peace,