An innovative arts project, Arts&Minds, in Brisbane, Australia is bringing together seasoned artists with emerging creatives to bring mental health out of the shadows. Journalist Nance Haxton interviews two featured artists for their views on the campaign:

Many artists struggle with mental health challenges, and Arts&Minds 2018 is recognising that by bringing mental health into the broader conversation, as well as raising money through the auctioning of commissioned art pieces to fund a wider range of treatment options.

Five established Brisbane artists have donated their time to pair up with five emerging artists at the cusp of their careers, all to create works that will be auctioned at a gala event in Brisbane on 31 May 2018. Ten canvases were created over eight hours each, with each process filmed for a web series in the Bromley Room in Brisbane’s West End. A wide spectrum of art styles is represented from social commentary inspired pop-art, to fine and indigenous art.

Arts&Minds 2018

Matt Stewart

Brisbane-based contemporary fine artist and street artist Matt Stewart, who has works hanging in private collections around the world, said he did not hesitate when approached to be part of Arts&Minds,

“That’s one of the reasons I said yes to this because it’s a great segue to talk about it. It’s bringing the medium of visual art, which in general makes people happy to look at beautiful pieces of artwork or colour or shapes, taking that and using it as a medium to talk about a topic which by and large is taboo in society.

“It was a no brainer – as soon as I saw the concept for it I went ‘yep I’m in’. So it was exciting from the word go.

I think it’s a really good way of talking about mental health and bringing it to everyone’s attention”.

He was paired up with emerging Brisbane digital artist Spectator Jonze, who sees this as an incredible opportunity. She was one of only five emerging artists selected from more than 400 who applied for the opportunity. At 25, Spectator tackled her mental health and art became a vital medium for her. Her works of art now bring mental health to light by depicting individual battles using colourful, comedic displays of imperfectly perfect beauty. She has been painting and illustrating for 10 years and has no professional training.

Arts&Minds 2018

Spectator Jonze

“For me it was challenging – I’d never done anything like that, I’d never collaborated like that in any sense, I’d never been on camera to draw. That was a huge nerve-wracking point for me,” Spectator said. “So for ages I was super indecisive and so riddled with nerves and anxiety.

“For me it was about my mental health and the release of everything I’d been going through in this last year. I was told I had PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and I had to learn a lot about that.

“That’s totally the whole point to the campaign. It’s a comfortable safe space – if one person talks about it, then another person does and it becomes an acceptable thing to talk about your mental health rather than taboo.”

Arts&Minds 2018

Spectator Jonze

Both artists were given the topic for their artwork only a week before its creation, the single word ‘release’, which they could take in any creative direction they chose. Their works are featured on 35 giant digital billboards around Brisbane, telling the story of their commitment to increasing awareness of mental health.

The event, Arts&Minds 2018, is the brainchild of charity Anglicare, who aim to use the money raised from the gala auction on 31 May to help fund their their mental health support projects. Executive Director Karen Crouch is incredibly proud of the event and the platform it provides to support conversation around mental health in the community.

Arts&Minds 2018

Matt Stewart

Arts&Minds is our dedicated campaign to increase the public conversation about mental health.” commented Karen. “We believe that more transparent and open dialogue about mental health will remove the fear so many people have about the issue.

“The five inspiring emerging artists have all been brave enough to share their experiences with mental health challenges, and for this we incredibly thankful; them coming out & talking about their experiences, and then sharing these experiences via their artworks, is humbling to say the least.”

There are more than 2,000 suicides and 65,300 suicide attempts every year in Australia and one million people in the country live with depression. Mental health overall affects one in five Australians.

 

 

Arts&Minds 2018 is a campaign organised by NPO Anglicare. The Gala Auction of the produced art takes place on 31 May 2018. For more information, visit the website.

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