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Welcome to WellArt 2017.
We are a Wellington based Arts Therapists collective.
We use this blog to share information about WellArT, our Arts Therapists, and Arts Therapy updates.
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Artful Transitions – A Resounding Success!The Artful Transitions Symposium in Christchurch celebrated the vital role that the arts and arts therapies have played in the aftermath of the earthquakes and the ongoing recovery process.
The Friday 'Ruins, rubble and rebirth ramble' started at the recently reopened Christchurch Art Gallery who kindly provided a special arts and well-being tour of works being shown in the gallery. An arts therapy nook was set up in the foyer and it was a delight to see so many arts therapists, both local and visiting, gathering to stitch hearts out of fabric and haberdashery and to meet other attendees of the Symposium. Many took the two guided walks to explore the art and architecture and the effects of the earthquake which are still so evident in this recovering city.
This orientation in the city gave participants context in which to receive the first morning of the Symposium where locals Dr Deborah Green and Bettina Evans gave a moving presentation of their experiences during and after the major earthquake events, all the while we stitched more hearts to help us process the strong emotions that were evoked. This was followed by a fascinating and literally moving presentation by Hong Kong dance and movement therapist Prof Rainbow Ho. The Saturday afternoon offered a variety of presentations and workshops. The day ended with a visit to the Dance-o-mat in the central CBD where lots of attendees got the chance to be both DJs and dancers!
Sunday morning saw the space transformed into the Festival of Artful Transitions. This was a huge success with Symposium participants and members of the public all enjoying the wide array of creative activities. Many of these were generously provided by local practitioners who had played an important role in the creative recovery after the earthquakes. Particularly popular were the mosiacs made from earthquake damaged crockery, the wood sculpture construction from demolition timber, the doll-making and the jewellery-making stands. The spacious time given to the morning's activities was greatly appreciated, giving participants a much welcome chance to informally interact and enjoy creating together.
The afternoon consisted of the AGM for ANZATA members, while the CTAA hosted workshops for non-members. We all came together for a heart-felt closure lead by music therapist Heather Fletcher and Rainbow Ho. Thank you Christchurch, Ntec Tertiary Group, the organisers, all the volunteers from Whitecliffe College and ACATA, and to everybody else who made this event happen! It was fabulous.
As art therapists, the WellArT members love an opportunity to do art therapy experientials. Throughout the year the members take it in turn to offer experientials for the group at our monthly meetings.
Here are two examples from our October and November 2016 WellArT meetings.
October 2016 Meeting - Facilitator Irena Stenner
We were invited to make a picture of something we felt we needed more of. Mine was "wellness". Each of the WellArT members wrote the word on the paper and began to make an image, then we passed the image to our right and added to our neighbours's image - this process continued until we received our own image back again. We then shared how this process was for us. We then were asked us to choose an "Oracle card" - my card was "Regeneration" - and make an image from this cars and then again share with the group how the process had been for us and any themes and meaning we had identified. (See pictures below). Thank you for this experiential Irena.
November 2016 Meeting - Facilitator Sandra Eddings
Thank you to Sandra for leading the experiential for the November group.
Sandra invited us to reflect on 2016, including what has been special about 2016, and also invited us to think forward to 2017. Sandra invited us to use 3D materials and "think up". Sandra then asked us to place our works around the room and reflect on them. See photos from the WellArt members below.
In October 2016, WellArt art therapist Pat Hay curated an exhibition of a creative stitching project she had done with a group a Syrian Women refugees. This group was funded through Creative Communities (Creative NZ). Most of the women had never used sewing machines before. There was a great outcome for the women as many of them went on to join the Sew Good Social Enterprise Cooperative with Community Unity at Epuni Primary School. Pat says "It was so nice to stitch these women into the community".
In September 2016, a local Wellington newspaper published an article about the work WellArT art therapist Pat Hay was doing with residents at a local rest home.
On 6th May Irena Stenner and Mary Brownlow were invited to present a workshop at NZ Association of Christian Counsellors Annual Conference using Interactive Drawing Therapy. The presentation was about "How to work with anger using IDT". We enjoyed the 2.5 day conference held at Wellington Amora Hotel with two key note speakers Pieter Roussow and Ruth McConnell speaking on neuroscience, trauma and healing the brain.
We were happy to see that our workshop was a good fit with the predominant theme of the weekend. There was a lot of interest in our topic, with more than 55 participants choosing to do our workshop.
IDT works so well, because different parts of the brain are being activated in quick succession. The theme of anger was also very interesting in the context of the conference, because anger is such a raw emotion, which at times impedes clear thinking, or - in the language of the neuroscientist - the involvement of the prefrontal cortex. Doing anger work with IDT offers the opportunity to name the feeling, reflect on it, and release it in a safe way through expressing it on the page. This involves different parts of the brain.
Our presentation included a brief introduction to IDT, some examples of clients' work, a demo, to show how working with anger could look in a counselling session. Mary did a brilliant impersonation of an angry client.
After that we led the whole group through a guided drawing process on anger. We wanted people to have the experience of putting something on the page, using strong energetic movements with the crayon, such as scribbling and banging the crayon onto the board, to experience the release of energy that happens, and the brain chemistry that changes as a result. At the end we invited them to make a choice of what they wanted to do with the page, rip it to pieces, scrunch it up, or even to stomp on it.
There was a lot of ripping and some throwing. All of this activity made for a lively workshop.
It was a great experience to present a workshop like this in the context of neuroscience. IDT and art therapy have a lot to offer, this was acknowledged a couple of times by the keynote speaker who called art therapy a "primitive" therapy. He explained that by primitive he means that art therapy has the ability to access the primitive parts of the brain (unlike the more cognitive therapies), the amygdala and the limbic system and through doing this then provides an opportunity to activate the prefrontal cortex, which is the place that enables self-awareness, insight and choice.
In short, it helps our clients to express and resolve powerful feelings while feeling safe to do so and to establish new neural pathways so critical to wellbeing.