Mixed Media on Canvas. Height 81 cm, width 102cm.
In an Albury/Wodonga medical, mental healthcare facility, a partnership had been forged between creative arts and health sciences. A need, identified in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, was for the provision of life enriching visual arts experiences for well-being. Thus, was initiated group art therapy, a crevice community formed in our challenging times. My intention, as a crevice community member and its art therapist, was to participate in our program’s well-being art responses about the pandemic.
I explored through my art response whether, art making that integrated the tactile and emotional application of paint, with the use of cathartic text and visual metaphor could enable program participants to, externalise feelings and work through concerns resulting in healing expression for well-being in our COVID impacted environment. A subsequent mind-map hand-drawing documented my thoughts and making. Below are outlined my art program process steps and insights:
I began by dribbling paint onto a canvas to depict the flow of the Murray River along the NSW/Victorian border. Then I sponged water paint onto the canvas for tactile anxiety management. From that soothing point I focused on feelings and emotions around my concerns such as anger and sadness for ongoing isolation from family due to the pandemic. Through gestural brushstrokes I ‘action painted’ dark colours onto this canvas to express these issues. The next stage of self-expression was to overlay text and visual metaphor to unburden my concerns. Words “To No Where” were added to illustrate the ‘stay at home’ orders. I identified barriers to my well-being as the COVID virus and the resulting enforced travel restrictions. Unconscious barrier metaphors emerged in my work via ‘the beast’ and fence line markings. Text was added to identify personal strengths as a positive affirmation of self through the word “here” which was a mindful acceptance of my situation; I added brighter colours. Fence lines in the work appeared to contain ‘the beast’ and so too my fears as I resolved my painting. This program’s art making steps can create a safe art receptacle for an individual’s COVID narrative. My mind-map articulated a process ‘dialogue’ and notion of a redirected roadmap out of lockdown. The updated roadmap communicated the need for a mental health-creating society with the addition of life enriching creative arts, crevice communities’ programs.
WELL-BEING HAND DRAWN MIND-MAP 2021.
On paper. Height 60cm, width 87cm.
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Lynette Callaghan is an Albury/Wodonga creative arts educator, artist and registered art therapist. As a mental health advocate, she instigates local community creative arts well-being projects. A former secondary school art and special education teacher Lynette now coordinates university creative arts subjects and works as an art therapist in mental healthcare.
Provenance: Peer reviewed submission.