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Community choirs, visual arts workshops, and music making for adults make up a multi-arts approach to building good mental health across the NSW central west.
Running in the middle of 2017, a series of eight small workshop programs ran in Bathurst, Orange, Lithgow, Cowra, Forbes, Parkes and Grenfell.
Arts OutWest set up the workshops on behalf of House with No Steps, who provided the funding.
Each of the programs specifically targeted particular groups, including adults living with a variety of mental health challenges; adults with learning disabilities; and carers. Some of the programs were set up for existing groups, others open to the public.
Arts OutWest built this program in close consultation with mental health and disability support services across the region.
“Arts is a great vehicle for assisting people with their mental health wellbeing, particularly when we’re able to strengthen these projects through relationships with the health sector,” Arts OutWest executive director Tracey Callinan said.
- Bathurst Wellbeing Choir, with Smith & Jones, Fridays at the HACC Centre Seymour Street Bathurst.
- Songwriting for men in Grenfell with Abby Smith
- Cowra Wellbeing Choir, with Mary-Ann Wright. Initially for 10 weeks but extended.
- Manga cartoonist Matthew Lim working with young people in Lithgow as part of the exisiting Subliminal Festival
- Workshops with clients at Bloomfield at Orange Hospital with mosaic artist Catherine Bennett.
- Forbes – Visual Arts workshops over 15 weeks.
- Parkes – Visual Arts workshops. 15 weeks.
Wellbeing art workshops in Parkes
Community members spent 15 relaxing weeks making art with professional artists Maralyn Nash and Pol Cruz.
Maralyn’s workshops focussed on ‘’Kintsugi’, the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with gold. “Reinforcing that embracing our imperfections and wounds can be transformed into something even more beautiful through art”, Ms Nash said.
Caring on from Maralyn’s theme but also looking at issues of recycling and caring for the environment, Pol Cruz used ‘raw materials’ like found objects, pottery, recycled materials, discarded bits and pieces of wire, tin and wood to help give the participants insights or creative ideas on how to create or produce unrelated objects into a piece of art.
Song writing for men in Grenfell
This project was such a delight it’s earnt it’s own page. Read more about this specific part of the program here.
Mosaics at Ameroo
The Ameroo Ward of Bloomfield Hospital chose a series of mosaic making workshops working with an Aboriginal art theme. Artist Catherine Bennett ran the weekly sessions with support from health staff and Arts OutWest’s Aboriginal Arts Development Officer Aleshia Lonsdale. The works make will be included in the building.
Subliminal in Lithgow
Through the Wellbeing program we supported the Subliminal community arts festival set up by Anna Carter to support mental health in the greater Lithgow area.
Subliminal ran in March and April 2017 with a program including an exhibition, poetry slam, social events, heavy metal concert, youth hang out space and art making for young people. The House With No Steps funding helped make many elements of this exciting program happen.
“Our aim was to create five base programs and invite members of the community to become actively involved in facilitating addition programs in the mental health spectrum. Our desire was to create a platform and bring together, a stronger social connectivity,” Subliminal’s Anna Carter said.
The workshops set up in Forbes and led by artist Ro Burns were specifically for carers of people with mental health issues including dementia.
Taking a twist on the Japanese tradition of creating Koinobori (fish streamers) participants created large decorative windsocks in symbolic exploration and celebration of your essence or the essence of your family. They learnt block printing, basic fabric painting skills. The windsocks flew alongside the lake at the River Arts Festival on 23 September 2017.
Wellbeing Choir sings at Sunday Serenade
Cowra’s Well-being choir celebrated their coming together with a performance at the Canowindra CWA Sunday Serenade in August 2017.
Led by respected local musician Mary-Ann Wright, the Wellbeing Choir Cowra was open to everyone, of all experience levels, who’d like to sing.
Sunday Serenade is a fundraising concert held each year at All Saints Anglican Church in Canowindra by Canowindra CWA to raise funds for the CWA’s music and voice scholarship. The three recipients of the 2017 scholarship will be there to perform, amongst other local talent.
“Reinforcing that embracing our imperfections and wounds can be transformed into something even more beautiful through art” – art workshop facilitator Maralyn Nash.
Location: Bathurst, Orange, Lithgow, Cowra, Forbes, Parkes and Grenfell
Funded by: The House with No Steps
Artists: Abby Smith, Sophie Jones, Kris Schubert, Maralyn Nash, Pol Cruz, Catherine Bennett, Aleshia Lonsdale, Matthew Lim, Mary Ann Wright, Ro Burns
Thank you also to: Ameroo Ward Bloomfield, Parkes Shire Council, Grenfell Men’s Shed and The Henry Lawson High School, Anna Carter
Images: Ameroo Ward in Orange (AOWt), Abby Smith leads Wellbeing Choir in Bathurst, works at Parkes Hospital (AOW), Wellbeing exhibition at Parkes Library, Parkes workshop, Ameroo Ward mosaic progress shot.