11 June 2024

Innovative arts initiative tackles healing from gendered violence through creative expression

| Kellie O'Brien
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Sketching will be among the three components of an art initiative focused on healing from gendered violence. Photo: guyswhoshoot.

An innovative multimedia arts initiative, Women’s Recovery and Healing Arts Project, is exploring recovery and healing from the trauma of gendered violence using photographic activism, sketching and creative writing workshops, culminating in a public exhibition.

Illawarra Women’s Health Centre has partnered with award-winning author Helena Fox, award-winning photographer Sylvia Liber and highly regarded art therapist Sally Conwell for the collaborative creative arts project to raise awareness about the importance of recovery and healing from gendered violence.

Centre project specialist Emma Rodrigues said the issue of violence against women and children was a problem of epidemic proportion in Australia.

She said National Plan to End Violence Against Women and Children statistics showed one in three women had experienced physical violence since the age of 15, while one in five women had experienced sexual violence.

“These devastating statistics reflect the financial, social, psychological, emotional and physical impacts of gendered violence experienced by women that can lead to trauma and often long-term health consequences,” Emma said.

“In order for victim-survivors of gendered violence to feel safe, healthy and secure, it is imperative we focus on the importance of recovery and healing.”

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Emma said the Women’s Recovery and Healing Arts Project would explore those themes of recovery and healing from gendered violence using the three artistic processes of therapeutic photography, pencil sketch and creative writing as modes of creative expression.

She said it was viewed as an extension of the 2020 photographic exhibition by the centre in partnership with Illawarra Mercury photographer Sylvia Liber to generate greater public awareness about the issue of domestic and family violence.

“This project provides participating women with the opportunity to explore themes of recovery and healing in a creative, safe and supportive environment,” she said.

She said an introductory workshop would be held for participants to meet project partners and other group members, receive information about each project phase and ask questions in a safe and supportive environment.

“Participating women will attend a series of creative writing workshops facilitated by Helena Fox to develop a written narrative exploring the major themes of recovery and healing and what this means to them,” she said.

READ ALSO Illawarra called to action to stop national nightmare of violence against women

“Sally Conwell will then work with participants to create concept sketches that will be used as a creative reference point to help shape and inform the development of photographic images.

“As the third creative component, Sylvia Liber will work with participants to bring their ideas and symbolism of recovery and healing to life in photographic form.”

Emma said the project would culminate in a public exhibition of the works that were created to raise awareness about the importance of recovery and healing for victim-survivors.

She said she hoped it would also help contribute to a broader conversation about the need for collective social action.

All Women’s Recovery and Healing Arts Project workshops will be held at the Illawarra Women’s Health Centre in Warilla, with the first workshop on 7 August.

Expressions of interest are open until 12 July by contacting Emma at the Illawarra Women’s Health Centre on 4255 6800.

If you or someone you know is in need of crisis support, contact 1800RESPECT (call 1800 737 732 or text 0458 737 732) or police on triple zero.

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