Creative Conversations was a forum held on the 10 & 11 July at the Wallan Multipurpose Centre and was the result of a collaboration between Regional Arts Victoria, MCRAG Community Foundation, City of Whittlesea, Nexus Primary Health and Mitchell Shire Council. The aim of the forum was to increase conversation around the positive role that art and creativity can play in recovery from trauma both for individuals as well as whole communities.
The forum was a vibrant two-day event that forum saw artists, community members, community groups and service providers come together to hear from an amazing array of speakers discussing art as a tool for building community and personal resilience. The forum officially opened with a moving Welcome to Country by Ian Hunter a Wurrundjeri Elder.
Day one saw a presentation from Greg Ireton who is the Chair for the Creative Recovery Network, which is an online platform www.creativerecovery.net.au that enables a growing network of artists to take the lead in helping their communities recover from the impacts of natural disasters through creativity. Next saw Dr. Patricia Fenner and Libby Byrne from La Trobe University discuss Art Therapy and the variety of roles art can play in health care with individuals, groups and communities. Later we heard from Prof. Lou Harms and Rhonda Abotomy from the University of Melbourne about Post Traumatic Growth, which is ground breaking research into profound creative, personal and spiritual transformations that can occur after traumatic events.
The afternoon saw real life examples of creative recovery projects in response to the 2009 bushfires including the Kyneton Mosaic, a mosaic made from personal treasures by artist Kathryn Portelli, The Blacksmiths Tree which is a 10m high forged steel gumtree created by a collaboration of blacksmiths from 23 countries and the Into the Light festival which is an annual candle lit lantern parade that uses art as a tool for community recovery.
Friday night saw the wonderful opening of the Mitchell Makers Exhibition, Mitchell Markers are a collective of artists that create works based in, on or around the Mitchell Shire, you can get in touch with them by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Saturday saw people getting hands on and involved with dance therapy, singing, lantern making as well as felting. There were talks on Working Creatively With People and Communities Who Have Experienced Traumatic Events with Shelley Hewson from Nexus Primary Health, Neighbourhood Houses and their role with art in Communities and Art in Public Places with Kristen Cherry from Mitchell Shire and Sandy Caldow from City of Whittlesea. A moving sunset ritual marked the closing of the forum.
Feedback from audience members was positive and powerful with one participant commenting “Best art event in Oz history. Breaking totally new ground-nothing to compare it with has happened before but plenty will style themselves on it in the future."
The forum was recorded and will be available soon via the YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCQ3EWbKAzmnGQ0wDwHRTlOw