Reconciling histories through creative storytelling
Since the 2009 Apology to the Forgotten Australians and Former Child Migrants, by then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, organisations like Micah Projects and Lotus Place, Micah’s dedicated support service for people who experienced abuse in an institutional settings, have provided various opportunities for survivors of this neglect and abuse to shed light on their experiences during their time in ‘care’. State Library has even worked closely with Micah Projects in the past to ensure that oral histories and other relevant materials and records are available in our collection so this difficult chapter in history is available to serve as a warning Queenslanders in the future.
However, repeatedly being asked talk about and ‘relive’ their damaging experiences can take a toll on survivors. Focusing on the strengths and resilience that individuals have drawn on to not only survive but to thrive, prosper and live rich meaningful lives in spite of abuse they experienced in childhood, can have a powerful impact. As a result, the 2021 Reconciling Histories project seeks to support members of this community to explore how visual arts paired with a strengths based approach, might be used to construct new narratives, positive understandings of their lives – to reconcile their histories.
The long-term aspirations
Reconciling Histories 2021 - mark-making and sculpture
The core focus of the project in 2021 has been a series of six mark-making and sculpture workshops. During the course of these workshops, participants have attended and been remarkably focused and productive. The group of participants are made up of both practicing artists and what could be consider new artists, but all have courageously engaged with trying new techniques. As the program has progressed, participants have identified new courses for artistic exploration that will be presented in the work in progress showcase and provide inspiration for future investigation in their individual creative practices. The works in progress shown at the showcase will be a mix of on traditional works paper, canvas and found media sculptures and a range of works made using the digital fabrication resources of the Fabrication Lab. The showcase will also contain displays of physical ephemera and audio-visual media showing participants process over the 12 week workshop program.
Even during the uncertain times associated with COVID 19 restrictions and lockdowns, participants have enthusiastically engaged in a the fortnightly workshops and have courageously experimented with new approaches (including digital fabrication techniques) to art-making. It has been an exciting project to be a part of and I look forward to seeing the showcase.
The Reconciling Histories work in progress showcase is a public display of these artists experiments in both traditional and contemporary mark making and sculpture as creative vehicle for expressing the impacts of institutional abuse and the determination, hope and aspirations to heal.
The Showcase will be on view from 8-22 September in The Edge River Lounge and Reception.
You can also check out the progress of the project via their Facebook page.