Pictured are two of the masks that have been painted and decorated by Peter Mac volunteer radiotherapists over the past couple of months for children and young people undergoing radiation as part of their cancer treatment.   

Koala Kids and Peter Mac radiotherapists and other members of the paediatric team have painted and decorated more than 50 masks since the program was launched early 2018.  Koala Kids also provides all of the resources that underpin the program, paint, brushes, decorations and accessories.  The artists usually work out of a dedicated studio at Peter Mac and member of Peter Mac’s radiotherapy team provide the briefs from the children. Barry, Peter Mac’s 3D printer manager provides coloured 3D elements in his own time in response to the briefs from the artists. 

“I adore being able to use some rare and unique objects like the bee brooch for the ‘How to Bee’ mask we bought for half price from Jimmy Button from a collection of Gucci brooch remainders of previous years”, explained Joanna Weir. 

Joanna Weir, herself an highly acclaimed artist in her own right leads the Koala Kids team. Koala Kids volunteer artists are provided a brief from each child, detailing their theme or inspiration, like butterflies, Superman, unicorns or Despicable Me.  In their response, the artists can add anything to their painted design including 3D printing and all kinds of decoration.   

We extend very warm thanks and appreciation to Renae Thorson and a team of volunteer radiotherapists who have progressed the collaborative mask program at Peter Mac during the past two years while our volunteers have not been able to participate.  We are hoping that once restrictions are eased Joanna and a group of artists including some new volunteers will be able to return to the studio in the bowels of Peter Mac to continue their amazing work.   

It is Koala Kids hope to produce a duplicate of a number of the more special masks and with their stories become a travelling exhibition and maybe even a special art auction in time. 

Masks are worn by all children and young people having radiotherapy on tumors in the brain, neck and thoracic.  The mask is moulded to the child’s head using a warmed thermal plastic and when on the child, is pinned to the bed to prevent any movement whatsoever. Some are painted in time for treatment though most are decorated after treatment and presented to the child or young person later as a surprise.