Reconciling histories through creative storytelling

The Reconciling Histories project is part of a wider creative process of Truth, Justice and Healing that Lotus Place (Micah Projects) are delivering with survivors of institutional abuse in the wake of the recent Royal Commission and National Apology.

In 2021 the Reconciling Histories Project has been a series of visual arts workshops in The Edge Fabrication Lab that will be followed by a work-in-progress showcase presented in The Edge River Lounge during Child Protection Week in the first week of September. The project is being delivered via a partnership between State Library and Micah Project’s Lotus Place and is funded by Regional Arts Australia and Arts Queensland grants.

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.      

Gloria making a positive/ negative drawing of the public art in the winter sun during morning tea on the The Edge Plaza.

Jewels searching for inspiring material in the Fabrication Lab.

Alex showing fcilitator Moji Khakbaz his progress. 

The long-term aspirations

As part of a the process of Truth, Justice and Healing,  Lotus Place and its community have long term aspirations to create a major public art installation that will not only acknowledge the abuse but also celebrates survivors’ strength and resilience.  The Reconciling Histories project works towards this goal by building the artistic skills and confidence survivors so that they can contribute meaningfully to the design and realisation of this significant public art work.

Fran exploring new materials and techniques

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

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