Raising awareness for mental health through art

AUTHOR:  
Published:  October 1, 2015
Maggie Hellyer

What makes a charity event a success? This is what I asked myself as I walked into Work-Shop in Fitzroy last Friday to attend Golden the Exhibition. Is it the turn out? Is it the amount of money raised? I pondered these questions as I noted upon entry that the entire space was thriving with people smiling, chatting, laughing, and perusing the framed art along the walls with a beer in hand.

 

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About 300 people attended the art exhibition within a three-hour period of time, all of them contributing to the overall buzz which encouraged an atmosphere for creativity to shine light on a dark topic. Now generally I would say the amount of people who attend an event is a large factor in assessing what constitutes the success of the evening, however perhaps more importantly it comes down to why people are there.

Image courtesy of Valerie Bong (Big Picture Stuff)

Image courtesy of Valerie Bong (Big Picture Stuff)

Golden the Exhibition in particular was a charity art exhibition supporting Australian Youth Mental Health Foundation ‘headspace‘.  The fundamental goal of the night was to raise funds for a foundation that supports and brings awareness to a very serious issue in Australian society. Depression, anxiety, and mental health are non-selective however if left untreated can have serious effects on the development of our youth.

Statistics suggest that on a global scale over 800,000 people commit suicide each year, and the contrast between the sadness this figure evokes and the young faces smiling around me last Friday in support of ‘headspace’ was deeply evident.

Image courtesy of Valerie Bong (Big Picture Stuff)

Image courtesy of Valerie Bong (Big Picture Stuff)

As the event organiser Kate Pullen puts it, For me a big part of Golden was young people helping to support other young people, and we couldn’t have drawn such a crowd without their wonderful work.” Pullen couldn’t have worded it better. Not only should the attendees be proud of the fact that the majority of the framed pieces sold out within the first hour, but the artists who donated their time and work deserve recognition for wholly applying themselves to such an important cause. Young people helping other young people and connecting through art and creativity to draw focus to deeper issues; that was the true success of the event.

Image courtesy of Valerie Bong (Big Picture Stuff)

Image courtesy of Valerie Bong (Big Picture Stuff)

The artists in question were Bianca Cash, Jess Cruickshank, Bonnie Eichelberger, Spencer Harrison, Carla McRae, Ashley Ronning, Eliza Svikulis, Sid Tapia, Marc Martin, Thomas Jackson, Karan Singh, Sean Morris and Alice OehrCarla Hackett, Wanissa Somsuphangsri and Jeffrey Phillips, whose creative talents span across mediums of graphic design, illustration and lettering.

Image courtesy of Valerie Bong (Big Picture Stuff)

Image courtesy of Valerie Bong (Big Picture Stuff)

These artists and the people who came to support the event were key contributors in creating a wider platform for discussions surrounding mental health issues. As Pullen noted after the event, “We can only hope that by talking more openly about mental health, reducing the stigma that continues to surround it, and supporting organisations like headspace, that those struggling won’t feel so alone.”

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You can learn more about headspace and the work they do.

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