Post by Makayla Rimington
Burrinja’s Mission Statement endeavours to ‘build community through arts’ and a shining example of this is the Burrinja ‘Arties’. The Arties is a Burrinja Planned Activity Group who, in 2016, celebrate a decade of weekly meetings. The program involves adults of all abilities, from many different circumstances, joining together to create individual, expressive art.
Edges & Echoes is the chosen title for this year’s upcoming celebration. This involves gaining inspiration from subtle realms of both the imagination and reality. An opening song, followed by performances and exhibitions are planned for this significant occasion. Lynette and the volunteers have worked with The Arties for many weeks in preparation, including a dress rehearsal to practice the meaningful opening number.
Managed and funded by Burrinja and The Department of Health and Human Services, The Arties gives people that may feel outcast from the public a chance to fit in, to be accepted by a group of like-minded people in a community and arts focused facility while creating and performing. An extremely positive outcome from this Burrinja Arties program is mental wellbeing; giving people aged 20 to 70 a chance to use their individual abilities to overcome obstacles, both physical and mental.
It is an arts-based skills and learning program that emphasises cultural participation while enriching understandings of culture and community. The program also teaches socialisation skills and many art techniques.
Lynette Forrest, an experienced Creative Arts Therapist, facilitated and designed the program that assists members of the community who are affected by mental illness and expands social support for those who are ‘at risk of homelessness’. Many of the people involved have had experience with anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, but having the involvement of working with other Arties gives a sense of achievement, peace and connection. Arties ‘challenges the participants to take positive risks by trying new activities, learning with artist mentors, exhibiting, performing and more’.
Lynette believes in the healing power of art, it moves beyond language and understanding, becoming instead about the physical and the pleasure of ‘doing’. ‘Anyone can do it, they can’t fail, they trust me to help them create and learn’ says Lynette.
Being treated as welcomed and individual members of the public is integral to supporting and encouraging the Arties participants to create art that tells their story.
Each week the partakers create art-work that they have a chance to exhibit and sell once a year at the annual Arties Event. This involves painting, photography and construction all the way through to dance, music, drama and narrative.
‘The Arties get so much out of special programs like this, it is wonderful to experience’ – Dr. Ross Farnell, Executive Director, Burrinja.
‘If only everyday could be Friday’ was remarked to Lynette recently, each meeting is looked forward to by the artists, and the yearly exhibition gives the participants and their works prominence and appreciation from the community.
Lynette has found a link between art, music and mental wellbeing, she observes a positive transformation in her participants; ‘when they return next time, with a little spark, I can see that it has been a lasting change’.
Lynette puts these amazing outcomes down to music and the arts changing and improving a participant’s self-esteem and mental wellbeing.
The latest event fell on November 4th and the Arties’ had planned an opening song with the help of Nicole from Harmonious Melodies. ‘Edges & Echoes’ is an exploration of the thresholds of imagination, space and time. The theme centres around making meaning out of reality and dreams, and the pieces created are an echo of each member’s world. The song, with the assistance of Nicole, has been written by the group, with the chorus ‘chase those bad dreams away’ coined by a participant. The song takes the members to the edge of their imagination, meeting both good and bad aspects.
Celebrating 10 years of The Arties at Burrinja is an incredible achievement and shows the passion and determination of its facilitator, Lynette Forrest. ‘It’s amazing, my favourite job. I wish I could do it every day’. Lynette creates a happy place, an environment where the members can understand themselves and learn creative techniques to express their individuality. This year’s milestone gives recognition to the great work of Lynette, the volunteers and of course, The Arties.
The Exhibition runs from the 27th October to the 27th November at Burrinja.
Cnr Glenfern Road and Matson Dr, Upwey.