Mental Health Awareness Celebrated on Canvas as Art Takes Centre Stage
Five gifted emerging artists in Ailsa Walsh, Samuel Dunn, Marie Robertson, Liz Pepper and Spectator Jonze have been selected for Anglicare’s award winning mental health awareness campaign, Arts&Minds 2018.
The five emerging artists from South East Queensland, each of whom has been touched by mental health challenges, were standouts from more than 400 who applied to be part of the campaign. They will now be paired with five established artists to create individual canvases which will be auctioned at a gala event in May, to raise funds for Anglicare Southern Queensland
Back for its second year, Arts&Minds is Anglicare Southern Queensland’s dedicated campaign to increase the public conversation about mental health. Anglicare believe more transparent and open dialogue about mental health will remove fear and help more Queenslanders talk and seek help when they need it.
Anglicare Executive Director Karen Crouch said Anglicare is incredibly proud of Arts&Minds and the platform it provides in supporting the conversation around mental health in the community. “We’re absolutely thrilled to announce our five artists for 2018 and privileged they’ve shared their stories and talents with us. To have over 400 artists apply is astonishing and it’s also reflective of the fact that so many people are affected by, and touched by mental health challenges in Australia today,” Ms Crouch said.
Arts&Minds is a very special collaboration this year which sees the emerging artist paired and mentored with renowned established artists. Through the added element of mentorship, important connections will be made, and conversations had, taking the creative process to another step and importantly forging really strong understandings between the pairs of artists. This will be turned into a web series and the campaign culminates in a gala event where the pairings artworks will be auctioned off with all proceeds going to Anglicare to help continue its work supporting more Queenslanders in need.
Each of the five emerging artists will be paired with an established artist. Sitting together in The Bromley Room at West End, each pair will paint individual canvases in response to a mental health topic. This 8-hour session will be filmed, and a web series created, to be aired over Facebook Live and public comments will be streamed to GOA’s digital billboards across Brisbane – bringing to life the conversation and creations in front of 950,000 people each week. The artworks will be auctioned at a gala event in May, with all artists present.
Anglicare’s Arts&Minds 2017 just last week won the 2017 Grand Prix overall prize at the Outdoor Media Associations’ Creative Collection competition.
The five emerging artists are:
Ipswich-based Aboriginal Visual Artist Ailsa Walsh was first taught the art of her people at five years of age by her Uncle, and for the past 25 years she has been continuing that form as well as moving into acting, film making, script writing and photography. Her artistic journey is paralleled however by a lifetime of dealing with mental illness – last year her brother committed suicide in the community and she suffers both depression and anxiety. Ailsa paints in acrylics and is currently studying a Bachelor of Contemporary Indigenous Art at Griffith University and a health diploma. Changing perceptions about Aboriginal mental illness through her art, and inspiring Indigenous communities to celebrate their own art forms and stories is now one of her life goals.
Eighteen-year-old Liz Pepper is already a survivor who uses art to escape and to celebrate. The Woombye artist was 13 years of age when she first succumbed to chronic pain, and she now uses a wheelchair. As a result, she found school and maintaining friendships difficult, and has suffered depression, anxiety and OCD. Her story is not one of woe however; over the past few years she has redefined herself, forged new support groups and has channeled art for inspiration, excitement and incentive. Often experimental and always expressionistic, her artworks range from drawings of people with a simple ballpoint pen to acrylic to digital creations, across multiple media. Her art tells her story - she wears her heart on her sleeve and her art on her heart.
If strength of character was an Olympic sport, Marie Robertson from Brisbane would be a gold medallist. Hers is a story of cyclical alcoholism – she was born into an alcoholic family and while she dreamt of going to art school, she started drinking at 13, and lived the next 25 years under the spell of alcohol. After acting on a single moment of clarity in 2009, she is now nine years sober. For the past six years, she has been painting, and thriving. Fascinated with faces from her earliest memory, Marie paints portraits and abstracts with acrylics, and holds nothing back. She is also mum to five children aged from 19 to seven years. She has never had an art lesson, and she still dreams of going to Art School.
A standout talent, Gold Coaster Samuel Dunn’s art is tongue-in-cheek, pop-art with a twist of nostalgia, focusing on consumerism and capitalism, with many of his works social commentaries. He works with pencil and technical pens, as well as digital platforms and experiments with print making. His first mental health challenge came after he graduated Graphic Design studies at University in 2014 – it was a bout of depression which spiralled for months. While he studied Honours, he worked on managing his depression, developing ways to avoid negative thought processes; and art remains a large part of this. Samuel works as an illustrator, artist and mural creator. Remember his name, it will one day be up in lights.
Born in Japan to a Taiwanese mother and an Australian father, artist Spectator Jonze moved to Brisbane when she was seven. She grew up in many different situations - not quite an orphan, not quite belonging anywhere. Her disjointed early life meant she was often subject to demons, which pushed her into the safety of PTSD where suppression, depression and disassociation became a survival tactic. At 25, and perhaps the result of a quarter-life crisis, she tackled her mental health, quirks and trauma – and art became a vital medium for her. Her works of art now bring mental health to light by depicting the often-taboo subject of individual battles using a colourful, comedic displays of imperfectly perfect beauty. She shares her life story with others as a way of helping, and then creates artwork based on these conversations. She has been painting and illustrating for 10 years, lives in Eight Mile Plains in Brisbane and has had no professional training.