Well For Life – COME SIT A WHILE WITH ME…
This program was initiated by Warrnambool City Council and the F Project and was delivered by my dear friend and favourite collaborator, Julie Poi Kelly & me. The brief was to provide participants who have experienced brain injury with positive social connections and recognition of their rich life stories and contributions to our community.
“Come sit a while with me…” emerged
On Friday afternoons through February, March and April 2014 we gathered around a long table at the Archie Graham Centre in Warrnambool with seven (mostly) mature aged participants and their carers. Different techniques for making artworks were explored and individual visual languages developed. Each artist generously shared photographs and stories revealing the unique histories that have helped to bring them to this table. The goal was for each participant to create eight autobiographical artworks that would become the pages of their own “life story book”. This goal was reached through stellar performances! Julie and I then undertook the process of collating each artist’s work into a single, 60 page hard cover printed book.
The final page of each story includes a picture of each participant on their favorite chair. This acts as an aesthetic marker of their personality and also provides a common position for audience members to engage- we all have a favorite spot to sit after all.
This project culminated at the Artery Gallery in an installation designed as a series of small living rooms each embracing a participant’s autobiographical art book. This installation was to unfold in the Ozone Walk as a part of the Hidden Histories Laneway Festival but early May rain sent us inside! I must give due credit to Julie- as I was recovering from surgery the task fell on her to curate our borrowed furniture, and she did a wonderful job! The space felt warm and personal. The Artery reported on the show’s popularity and how common it was for gallery visitors to spend time reading through each book.
Our busy Friday workshops together always finished with a cuppa and Julie & I always left feeling positive. It was been an incredible privilege to get to know this cast of characters- we have been moved by the stories shared, opening for us worlds within time, affirming the priceless value of relationships with loved ones and the breathtaking power of human resilience.
Taking the time to sit a while with these stories allows you to imagine the worlds they reveal and the strong spirits who live within them…
Above are links to two Warrnambool Standard Articles about this beautiful project 🙂