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TAFE NSW Students test if Fine Art is Good Medicine

TAFE NSW Lismore

TAFE NSW Students test if Fine Art is Good Medicine

Unconditional Stories on exhibition at the NSW Parliament House Gallery | © Ministry of Health 2023

An inspiring visual arts exhibition by TAFE NSW Lismore students was held this month at the New South Wales Parliament House Gallery.

The exhibition, entitled ‘Unconditional Stories’ was produced through a collaboration between TAFE NSW Lismore students and Ballina District Hospital’s General Medical and Rehabilitation Unit.

As part of their studies, ten visual arts students interviewed patients to produce a diverse collection of artworks. This resulted in a captivating visual exploration of illness and injury and the impacts to quality of life and day-to-day living experiences.

The collaboration also looked to serve as part of a wider research initiative led by Griffith University, exploring how storytelling and visual art can improve the community's understanding of health information and better their ability to make informed decisions.

For TAFE NSW Lismore student, Penelope Sienna, participating in the exhibition helped broaden her audience and development, after her studies were disrupted by the pandemic.

As Penelope stated, TAFE NSW has been agile in their approach to deliver dynamic learning experiences outside of a traditional classroom setting.

“I’ve been an exhibiting my art for over 20 years, but I returned to study at TAFE NSW to refine my practice, refresh my training and gain more experience to achieve my long-term goal of becoming a professional practicing artist,” said Ms Sienna.

“It was an honour to be invited to make artworks in response to very challenging and personal stories. It taught me a lot about the arts’ role in recovery, and how the creative sector meaningfully intersects with and effects communities.

“Having my work exhibited in the Parliament House Galley was a career defining moment for me – with exposure to share the positive power of art in the community,” Ms Sienna said.

Visual Arts graduates will play a vital role in the economic growth and vibrancy of regional communities, like Lismore. Across Australia, the arts and cultural sector in regional areas across Australia generates approximately $1.7 billion annually and employs over 36,000 people [1].

Head Teacher of Creative and Design Ideation, Rohan Langford, said it was fulfilling to provide students with career advancing experiences, considering the adversity that impacted their studies.

“Our students have shown incredible tenacity while navigating the complexities of the pandemic, and the devastation brought on by the floods.

“Collaborating with a number of diverse and large institutions, this was a great opportunity for our students to engage with industry professionals and make valuable connections to help further their careers in the arts,” said Mr Langford.

Media contact: Vanessa Lista, Communications Specialist | |0450 442 109.

[1] Australia council for the Arts