A HEYFIELD woman is making an indelible mark during these COVID-19 times, painting a bright mural at Heyfield Memorial Swimming Pool.
The mural is Tams Hesz's gift to the community in which she grew up, and a bright focus for the children and adults of Heyfield during these challenging lockdown times.
She can often be spotted in overalls and wind and wet weather gear, outside the swimming pool complex with brush in hand, painting her larger than life size mural.
It's not a Wellington Shire Council commission "it's just my gift to the town I grew up in - with my mother and four other siblings," she said.
Tams enjoyed a typically happy childhood growing up with her four siblings in Heyfield.
As a young child, she took up ballet to help with a hip injury - and discovered she had considerable talent as a professional dancer.
Europe was calling, and Tams left Heyfield for the stage lights of Paris - Montmartre's Moulin Rouge, Lido de Paris on the Champs Elysee, Para'd Latin and Cirque d'hiver.
In early 2013, Tams came home for a month's holiday to be with her mother, who had been diagnosed with cancer.
Sadly, five months later, her mother - and muse - passed away.
The acclaimed Lido de Paris cabaret girl gracefully 'called time' on her dance career.
She put away her feathers and top hat, packed her bags and returned to Heyfield.
Tams now runs her business Soul Stories, from her studio in Heyfield, two rooms connected in the suburban brick home where she grew up, and now lives with her stepfather Ray and cats Dantechicken and Etienne.
The business was borne out of a need to write stories.
Tucked away in her home studio - with her mother's spirit gently urging - Tams quietly pursues her 'soul stories'.
Wild Heart Sunseeker: Collected and Nurtured Soul Stories is a collection of poems, aphorisms and soul stories offering messages of hope and healing.
With watercolour dreamscapes and whimsical dance-like figures, this unique book is Tams' final bow to her mother.
Tams and her mother had a special mother-daughter relationship and a history of story-telling.
"Each Sunday morning, whilst the sun and I were still sleeping, I remember mum gently waking me in the dark so we could jump in the minivan and arrive at our market destination just after sunrise," Tams wrote.
"It was during these long drives I would listen to mum's stories and words of wisdom.
"Quite often I would dig out my notepad and write about the wild sunrises that unfolded before us - milky swirls of gold and crimson sprawled across the sky, as if a pot of paint had been tipped over with no beginning or end."
Soul Stories keeps Tams fully engaged, selling her cards, calendars, calico bags, and her latest book at markets and other outlets across the state.
Now, in these lockdown times, she is most often found working on her mural, or walking along country roads into Heyfield picking up rubbish.
She is affectionately known by locals as "the rubbish girl", and the irony is not lost.
Wild Heart Sunseeker is Tams' first of many books, she says, each a limited edition, personally signed and numbered.
Tams' contribution to the people and native wildlife affected by the recent bushfires in Victoria will be $4 from every book sold, to be given to Wildlife Victoria and the St Vincent de Paul Society.
Her website is soul-stories.com.