CREATIVITY and imagination play a big part in the life of 27-year-old Owen McCaffrey and his use of his artistic talents to communicate and share ideas.
McCaffrey, of Blairgowrie, is autistic and has limited language skills, but when it comes to telling a story in pictures he shines. His first animation, Owen, Friends, Family and Imaginary Friends, was applauded by 180 guests when shown on Friday at Rosebud Cinema.
The animation, written and drawn by McCaffrey and brought to life with the help of a professional animator, showcases his amazing drawing skills and his simplistic yet clever messages about the importance of friends and family.
McCaffrey’s long-time carer and family friend, Debbie Watson, said the animation is “amazing”, and all the more special given a specialist’s prognosis many years ago that he would never speak or independently complete simple daily tasks.
“He lives in an imaginary world, but he is extremely intelligent and lives a full life … he goes to the gym, he has a girlfriend, he has even had his drawings exhibited at Federation Square and the Frankston Arts Centre,” Watson said.
“During COVID lockdown Owen wrote a book with illustrations about his experience in lockdown which he sent to [then prime minister] Scott Morrison and [Victorian premier] Daniel Andrews. Both of them replied to Owen with lovely letters.
“But his dream has always been to be an animator, so to get to this point has been such an amazing experience for him and for us.”
Talent seems to run in the family, with McCaffrey’s grandfather Barry Patten, an architect who designed Melbourne’s Sidney Myer Music bowl, Victorian government offices and BHP House.
Watson’s sister Michelle spoke at the animation opening, saying the families “couldn’t be prouder of what Owen has achieved”.
“Who would have ever imagined that we would be here today, with a young man who is such a beautiful, caring, kind hearted and thoughtful soul? He has brought so much joy and laughter to our family and is always fun to have around,” she said.
“Seeing him standing here delivering his speech, singing and presenting his hard work for you today is truly incredible and I’m sure it’s just the beginning of much more to come for this talented young man. To succeed you must reach for the stars and let your imagination find its own path, and Owen is certainly a testament to that”.