An artwork that puts recovery from alcohol and other drug addictions into focus has won a major regional award.
Mercy Regional College student Sarah van der Schans’ `Finding Focus’ has won first prize in the annual WRAD Art in Schools competition, now on display at the Outlaw Gallery in Warrnambool.
The artwork was described by judges as an aesthetically striking piece that took a unique approach to the theme, ‘Optimism the key to recovery.’
Ms van der Schans said that in creating the artwork she tried to symbolise that even if stuck in the bottle, it is always possible to find a way out.
“The act of focusing on what is outside the bottle depicts optimism, which is the key to recovery from addictions,” she said.
“It is the first step to breaking out of the bottle and finding the path to a new beginning.”
Second prize was won by Ahliya Harris from Timboon P12 with, A Sanguine Life and third prize went to Brauer College’s Zhane Rodgers with Lotus.
Encouragement awards were presented to Kaiting Stott, Kings College; Jack Conlan, Brauer College; Dimity Moloney: Mercy Regional College; Charlotte Rose Cossens, Brauer College; and Samuel McNamara, Brauer College.
WRAD Staff choice Award was won by Jessica Treble of Timboon P12 for Contentment from Within.
Ms Treble said the picture presented the journey a girl has taken from being abandoned, where addiction was the only thing she knew, to where she was free from the dark past. Birds were depicted to symbolize eternal freedom.
People’s choice award was won by Samuel McNamara of Brauer College.
The competition attracted 31 entries from Brauer College, Emmanuel College, King’s College, Mercy Regional College, and Timboon P-12 School.
The theme encouraged young artists to highlight the positives of life and to consider the potential the future can hold despite past impacts of drug and alcohol addiction.
All entries will be exhibited till the end of August at the Outlaw Gallery at the Fletcher Jones complex
WRAD Improved Services Coordinator Angela Alexander said the WRAD Art in Schools competition has been held annually since 2012 and continued to prompt discussion among art teachers and students about the impact of drugs and alcohol in the community.
“WRAD remains committed to working with the community to promote good health on a number of levels,” Ms Alexander said.
“This year we had 31 diverse and striking works and we received positive feedback from teachers that once again the competition has provided a powerful and valuable opportunity for discussion and exploration of sensitive, complex and controversial topics,” she said.
“Students report they have benefited from the experience, gained insight and thoroughly enjoyed the process.”
Funding from Commonwealth Department of Health for project funding made the competition possible.
Samuel McNamara of Brauer College.
“When creating this piece I was trying to bring attention to the small victories people accomplish and how they should be celebrated – especially in relation to addiction and mental illness.
What one person can do easily may be a struggle for the next and just because you can do something easily doesn’t mean it isn’t a big deal for someone else.”
“This artwork was inspired by a series of selfies.
I took a series of photos and put it into a photo collage. The original images were full facial photos.
I then cropped them to focus in on the eyes. I believe they capture some sort of story, and many emotions, I wanted to communicate different moods and really show how much people hide behind their eyes.
The message I’m trying to convey is what people show on the outside is completely different to how they feel on the inside, and the eyes are a portal to that very complex place.”
“The hand is the most tactile and comforting part of the body. We use our hands to convey thoughts and emotions, often subliminally. Our hand-body language signals what we don’t say with words and conveys messages and feelings to others; beckoning for help or reaching out in comfort.
In my realistic illustration I have depicted a hand falling into the depths of despair, whilst reaching out to others to prevent an inevitable decent. By recognising the hand in need we are able to help and support those around us. A gentle touch, a firm grasp or just a friendly gesture will provide the trajectory to change lives. These vectors have both force and direction; the hand can be pulled and persuaded to make positive choice, whilst resisting temptation.”
“The two young girls symbolise and represent the dual issues of substance abuse and its connection to mental health. Their vulnerability, isolated and alone in the forest, reflects people suffering from dual diagnosis. The smiling group of faces, surrounding the children, represent the support a healthy strong community can provide. The entwining roots symbolise how we as a community are all in this together, I was inspired by the recent incident of the young autistic boy lost in the bush and the community rallied around to save him.”
“This piece of artwork was created using range of different pencils and charcoal. This drawing consisted of creating the shape of the eye and the eyelashes, filling in the detail within the eye, then finally adding the pupil into the centre. My inspiration came from a historical artist named M.C. Escher and his artwork “Eye”. The detailed artwork he crated greatly inspired me to create my own eye using the similar aesthetic qualities. This drawing I have created symbolises a drug addict looking towards new hope; which is in this case is their family giving them support. I believe that this expresses the idea of family support from an interesting perspective, really capturing the raw emotion this particular person and family are feeling.”
2015 ENCOURAGEMENT AWARDS
“Poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans) is known as a toxic weed that can consume and completely take over. I have used poison ivy as a metaphor for conveying a message of how substance abuse can completely dominate, destroy and devour one’s mind, emotions and life. The twisted and distorted ivy growing from inside of the skull represents how one can be poisoned from the inside out.
My realistic rendering illustrates how life can be shattered through the wounds inflicted by substance abuse and mental health issues. My powerful visual aesthetics aim to convey the message that ‘open minds’ can be tempted and fall prey to poison at any time, any age and anywhere. The enigmatic lips and gaze of the eyes allow us to question the hidden stories and secrets within while the beauty suggests help is always within reach.
The WRAD Art in schools competition enabled me to explore the theme of dual diagnosis and incorporate this into my artwork titled Hello my name is Ivy.”
“In my painting for this year’s WRAD Art in schools competition, I wanted to highlight the changes that substance abuse can make in a person’s life. I painted this digitally by scanning my original sketch and using it for a template to create the finished artwork.
To portray my idea, I used the story of Little Red Riding Hood. As a child, I was fascinated by Red and the Wolf. I asked myself, if Red were to fall for the wolf’s tricks, what would have happened to her? This is my interpretation of that idea. The wolf being above Red’s head is symbolic of the fact that even the most kind-hearted people can be overthrown by their demons. In this case, substance abuse.
Substance abuse can change people, which is why I’ve painted Red with a more mischievous expression. Red’s demon is the wolf. Story tales are told to children and often have darker underlying messages, which can be interpreted in many different ways. This is my interpretation of ‘The Little Red Riding Hood’.
My art work explores the perception that through the vast extent of help and assistance that is available in our convivial community, it is possible for a sufferer of dual diagnosis and mental health to change and grow.
From what was once days full of obscure emotions and inconsistency with the reality of their existence, thus becomes a bright and healthy future; all with the help and guidance of our healthy strong community. Mental health is everyone’s business and we can all lend a helping hand to those who need some support to get back onto their feet.
‘Don’t ruffle my feathers’ visually supports this year’s WRAD Art in schools competition by highlighting the theme: “Everyone’s Business – Healthy Strong Communities”.
“My drawing portrays Kurt Cobain, an iconic and troubled musician who endured both substance abuse and mental health issues. The surrounding border represents us, a community needing to reach out, understand and support those like Kurt Cobain that suffer with dual diagnosis.”
Below is a sample of some of the other works which made up the overall collection and we commend all of the artists who took part in this special event.’