An empowering art project

By John Lewis

Shepparton’s Kaiela Arts will offer a follow-up to its successful 2017 arts program Phoenix Rising, for women experiencing family violence.

Empowering the Phoenix workshops will take place from July 15 to February 17, 2020, with the aim of creating a safe space for women to create art and discuss issues of family violence that may be affecting them.

Project co-ordinator Tammy-Lee Atkinson said she was inspired to develop the new series because of the success of the initial one.

‘‘The pride I saw at the Phoenix Rising workshops and exhibition was amazing. It was life-changing. Some of the women didn’t know they could paint or weave, but they gave it a go,’’ Ms Atkinson said.

‘‘This one will be along the same lines — but now that the Phoenix has risen, we want to empower women to speak up in a safe environment,’’ she said.

The program will run every Monday from 10am to 2pm for six months.

Workshops will be led by Kaiela Arts artists and supported by a Primary Care Connect indigenous family violence support worker.

An exhibition of artwork created during the workshops will be held at Kaiela Arts gallery after the program has been completed.

Support worker Narelle said she will attend the workshops to listen and offer support to women who may be experiencing family violence.

‘‘Some of these women would not come into Primary Care Connect — but they would come here. My job is to listen to them and make them feel safe,’’ she said.

Ms Atkinson said Mondays at Shepparton’s Kaiela Arts studios on High St would be a male-free environment during the program.

‘‘It’s about building trust and respect. There’s something special about females coming together around a table — they open up and express thoughts among themselves. They know that what is said here does not go outside the room — so people can feel safe,’’ she said.

Workshops will be offered on painting, sand painting, screen printing, sewing and design.

Workshops are free with all art materials supplied thanks to support from the Dhelk Dja Safe Our Way 10-year Aboriginal-led family violence agreement.

For more information, or to book a place on the Empowering the Phoenix program, phone the gallery on 58219842 or via email at project.coordinator or call in to the gallery at 137-139 High St, Shepparton.