Claude Teyssier brought light to community life

For Claude Teyssier life was not about whether you succeeded or not, what was important was the 'doing'.

And for him that meant pursuing his creativity prodigiously ... as a master mask maker, a lantern sculptor and a painter.

The Parisien-born artist, who brought light to so many community events, passed on September 19 after a short illness.

He has left behind not only many grieving friends, foremost of whom is his partner and fellow-artist Margrit Rickenbach, but also an amazing body of work. His home is full of energetic portraits (always painted on Japanese rice newspaper), intriguing animal masks and spaces filled with his much-loved festival lanterns.

The couple first met in 1984 at the world famous masked Carnival of Basel ("Basler Fasnacht"), which Claude attended at the suggestion of sculptor Jean Tinguely.

Life took the pair in different directions with Claude coming to Australia in 1986. He lived and worked in Blackheath and Sydney before heading north (to North Arm) in 1995, moving to Wauchope in 1997 and then Kennaicle Creek in 2008 with Margrit, who had relocated to Australia in 2002.

He immediately made his mark in the community with the masks he created for the annual Back to Bowra Festival.

There followed the creation of lanterns and other props, which added colour and light to festivals and protests including Bellingen's Global Carnival and the anti Iraq war actions in Port Macquarie in 2003, which featured a giant Dove of Peace.

Claude made art with and for the people and was happiest surrounded by those who wanted to learn and with whom he could share his craft.

"Art is for everybody - it should lift the spirit" was his refrain.

Many will remember the garage in the heart of Bowraville - the perfect space for the rice paper lanterns.

His final work was a magnificent lantern display for Port Macquarie's Art Walk in July - 14,000 people attended.

Retrospective exhibitions of his work are in the planning.