9 May 2024

Exhibition aims to stimulate conversation about medicinal use of psychedelics

| Zoe Cartwright
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The Sporulation exhibition at Project Contemporary Artspace in Wollongong is designed to spark conversations about the use of psychedelics.

The Sporulation exhibition at Project Contemporary Artspace in Wollongong is designed to spark conversations about the use of psychedelics. Photo: Melissa Errey.

Art, psychedelics and science combine at Project Contemporary Artspace in Wollongong this week.

The annual Sporulation Art Show – billed as an “exploration of the psychedelic renaissance” – is the brainchild of exercise physiologist and artist Melissa Errey and other members of Mind Medicine Australia Wollongong.

Mind Medicine Australia is a charity that advocates for the use of psychedelic-assisted treatments to treat a range of mental illnesses.

Melissa described the exhibition as an art for social change project designed to spark frank conversations around the use of psychedelics, particularly their potential for improving mental health.

“We use art as a fun way to engage people, and art therapy is something that can be of benefit for mental health so there’s a bit of a tie-in there,” she said.

“We also bring in the science so we’re not ignoring the real medicinal value of psychedelics and the hard science that supports it.”

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Mel developed an interest in psychedelics after her experience trying MDMA later in life.

She said it was “profoundly transformative” and helped her to deal with past trauma.

As a scientifically minded person she immediately dug into the research and was impressed by the results of clinical trials in the US, and Australia, that have shown psychedelics to have potential for treating PTSD, treatment-resistant depression, and supporting people with terminal illnesses to come to terms with their death.

She was concerned, however, by misconceptions about psychedelics in the community.

“Psychedelics are unique and special, but because they’re illegal there are plenty of misconceptions about them,” she said.

“On one end of the spectrum people worry that they’re ‘gateway drugs’ and lead to addiction or the use of other substances, that they’ll ruin your life.

“On the other end of the spectrum people can be overly relaxed about them and think, ‘Oh I’m feeling depressed, I’ll just take a bit of this and be fixed’ and that’s not true either.

“Psychedelics can help to support the work you do through therapy, but you still need to do that work. And people can have very negative experiences on them.”

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The exhibition is particularly timely – just last year the Therapeutic Goods Administration rescheduled MDMA and psilocybin so both drugs can now be prescribed by some medical professionals in controlled circumstances.

“We’re the first country to legalise these drugs in that sense, so it adds a lot of impetus to the conversation,” Mel said.

The first Sporulation exhibition was held in 2022, and included a panel discussion with experts, including psychologists to discuss the potential and pitfalls of psychedelics.

This year’s event includes cactus growing and psychotherapy workshops alongside art.

Sporulation runs until 5 May at the Project Contemporary Artspace, 255 Keira St, Wollongong.

Tickets are available online at Sporulation Art Show | An Exploration of the Psychedelic Renaissance.

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