Event. A unique exhibition has opened in Smithton, promoting the benefits of art as therapy for positive mental health.
The ‘Rural Art Roadshow: Promoting Positive Mental Health in Rural Communities’ was launched at Time Out on Emmett on Tuesday night.
The roadshow forms part of the University of Tasmania’s (UTAS) 125th anniversary celebrations, and is a collaboration between MI Fellowship and the UTAS Centre for Rural Health.
Managing the project is Centre for Rural Health’s Heather Bridgman.
“The project came about with the recognition that particularly in rural communities there’s a lot of stigma and not a lot of access to mental health support services,” Dr Bridgman said.
More than 20 artworks form the display at the Emmett Street cafe, each telling its own story.
The works were first exhibited in Hobart as part of MI Fellowship’s ‘Minds Do Matter’ art exhibition. They have since featured in Scottsdale, George Town and Queenstown as part of the roadshow, with Smithton the last stop.
“The artists are members of the (northern Tasmanian) community who have been affected in some way by mental illness,” Dr Bridgman said.
“There’ll be something there to appeal to every person . . . We want to use it as a vehicle to start a conversation, to gently open up a conversation and get community members talking about mental health.
“We understand more and more now that art as therapy can help people deal with their mental illness and express themselves in way that can be transformational.”
Dr Bridgman said it was an opportune time to remind people that “mental illness does not discriminate” with one in four young people and one in five adults affected.
Formally opening the exhibition was Circular Head Mayor Daryl Quilliam.
“It’s great to see now that mental health doesn’t have that stigma that it [once had],” he said.
“To see the positive side of mental health is fantastic.”
Rural Art Roadshow is funded by UTAS Community Engagement Grant and the School of Health Sciences.
The exhibition will be on display at Time Out on Emmett, Smithton until Saturday December 19.
If you or someone you know is experiencing issues with mental illness, call Lifeline on 131 114 or Rural Health on 6452 1266.