Healing power of art utilised
By EMMA CORNFORD
WHEN Kate Bender started painting around two years ago, she never thought her work would end up at the Grafton Regional Gallery.
The Woodford Island resident had taken up art as a form of therapy to help her cope with the extremes of bi-polar disorder.
"It's definitely helped me through some of the toughest times of my life," Miss Bender said yesterday, as her artwork was being hung as part of the gallery's Healing Hearts, Healing Minds exhibition.
"It started out as a form of therapy for me, but then I became hooked. Now it's a bit of a sanctuary and helps to get away from the rest of the world."
Miss Bender's work is a combination of oil and acrylic works. She also adds texture to her paintings through beads and shells.
"It's a huge deal being able to have my work in the gallery," she said.
"I've been here quite a few times to other exhibitions so this is a real privilege."
Clarence Valley Community Programs' Cassandra Plesman, who has helped to organise Healing Hearts, Healing Minds said the exhibition had been years in the making.
"Everybody did heaps of work for this and ... all of the artworks really have profound messages and meanings," Ms Plesman said.
"With an exhibition like this we're trying to address the stigma of mental health because people do need to come out and be more open about it."
There are around 12 artists displaying their work in the exhibition, including Diana, who suffered from schizophrenia and recently passed away.
"She was incredibly inspiring for everyone and always said her artwork had kept her going," Ms Plesman said.
"The message is that having a mental illness is no different from having asthma or anything else. You can still achieve huge things."
Healing Hearts, Healing Minds will open at the Grafton Regional Gallery today at 10:30am.
It will run in the studio for the next two months and entry is free.