Brushes with Life exhibition to be held at Manning Regional Art Gallery October 10 to 14

Many artists have been busy at work ahead of the Brushes with Life exhibition at the Manning Regional Art Gallery next month.

The exhibition coincides with Mental Health Month and involves a series of art workshops that give insight to mental health issues and promoting mental well-being.

The works include paintings, drawings, sculptures, photographs and paper mache pieces.

They will go on display from Wednesday, October 10 to Sunday, October 14.

The exhibition will be launched at 5.30pm on Thursday, October 11 at the gallery. 

About 60 participants from across the Manning and Great Lakes have been spending recent months preparing more than 200 art works at workshops in Taree, Cundletown and Forster.

Peter Evans put the finishing touches to his piece ‘Golden Trees’ at a workshop in Cundletown on Thursday, September 20.

“One of the hardest things to do is come up with a name,” Peter said.

The landmark initiative stems from community based mental health support provider Flourish Australia.

Although most participants are people who have experienced mental health issues, the program is also open to anyone with an interest in mental health including relatives, carers and the public.

Flourish Australia Manning and Great Lakes manager Chris Cassar said it was a thrill to hit the ‘big-time’ of exhibiting at the regional gallery.

“Brushes with Life started six years ago as a loose idea of banding people together to teach and promote art as mental health therapy.

“It’s got bigger every year and we’ve found ourselves shuffling from different premises on an ad hoc basis to make the exhibition possible.

“Exhibiting at the regional gallery is an enormous breakthrough, a validation that the concept has come of age as a premier annual fixture,” Mr Cassar said.

Flourish Australia mental health worker and Brushes with Life coordinator Carolyn Williams said the program proved that art was a game-changer when it comes to mental health recovery.

“Two big keys to mental well-being are participation in meaningful activities and interacting with other people.

“The Brushes with Life initiative offers both in spades. It’s more than just producing art works – it’s a ticket out of the isolation that often goes with mental health issues, an opportunity to mix with and relate to other people.

“It’s also a means of expressive therapy which can break down so many stigmas and misunderstandings around mental health.

“The art works tell so many inspiring stories,” Ms Williams said.

Anyone interested in producing art works or attending the exhibition can contact Carolyn Williams on 9393 9415.