If you’re looking for a relaxing hobby in a supportive environment with lots of laughter, the Art Matters group is for you!
I went along to visit and was welcomed with a bubble of chatter and a cup of tea, and left energised and inspired. Here’s why.
Art Matters is a group for people who would like to be creative, reduce stress, improve self-esteem and share a friendly space. No previous art skills are required, although long-time members have seen their talents grow and are learning new skills and techniques.
Alycia, an enthusiastic artist, writer and advocate for creative pursuits, explains:
“We are a vibrant, supportive and welcoming group that meet regularly on Thursday’s. Happy to share stories and paintbrushes or pencils, our mission is to grow as Individuals and help each other as a group. We come from diverse backgrounds varying in culture, age and life experience and among us, share a sense of community and belonging.
From day one, an Autumn day in April 2017, I found the group open and warm towards me. I walked in and after having taken a seat, was offered a coffee and passed a soft pastel and sketchbook. Over greetings and conversation, I turned to page one and sketched a life drawing of a vase with flowers.
Twelve months later, I have not turned back. I chat amongst the group and have busy hands that draw, colour and write.”
When I visited the group at their regular meeting point at our East Reservoir Health Centre the first thing I noticed over the bubble of chatter, was the cockatiel hopping onto my shoulder!
Atalia has been coming to the group since November and her parrot and cockatiel, are also regular attendees! The birds often appear in the art work and are a great conversation starter with new group members. Some more experienced artists prepared their work spaces with pastels, watercolours and large drawing pads, whilst others favoured adult colouring books.
Atalia has a Bachelor’s degree in Visual Arts, being a fulltime carer for her mother and her two children, she never has time to herself. That’s why the group has been so important to her.
“Socialising. That’s what I like best about this group – we have all become quite good friends”, she tells me.
Jenny has been coming to the group for 18 months. “It takes your mind off things coming here. It helps with your mental health and stimulates your mind”, she says. “The Art Matters outing to Bundoora Park was a wonderful place to go to draw trees, and also a very relaxing place for ones’ mental health. It was family friendly also. Playing music on the phone was great too. The bird was a wonderful pet therapy for all. I had a lovely day thanks to Debbie and Michelle [the group organisers]. I hope we all have more to come”.
The group is welcoming to all new participants and visitors – and everyone has different reasons to be there.
“Art Matters to me because it’s the meaning of life. It’s about finding your gift and the purpose of life is to share it” – Bruce, quoting Picasso
“It’s fun and I love it” – Yvonne
“Art matters fosters friendship and confidence building” – Stav
“I like coming here” – Lorraine
The opportunity for self-expressions and relaxation is apparent through the pictures that cover the walls and the warm, welcoming and happy faces that greet you.
It doesn’t take long to see that when it comes to health and wellbeing, art really does matter.
Anyone is welcome to Art Matters. If you or someone you know would be interested in joining the group, call Debra Thorpe on (03) 8470 1111.