The Healing Power of Art Therapy
‘Art for the Heart’ held at the Yarra Gallery, Federation Square in November and December 2014 was a significant exhibition whose objective was to educate society and provide people with a venue to tell their stories of Death, Loss and Grief, which for some are still taboo topics.
This exhibition was unique in that it provided professional support for people to explore their feelings around these issues and therefore it was so much more than just art at an art exhibition.
The AFTH exhibition is very powerful and can be a catalyst for healing. Those visiting the exhibit at times experienced feelings of grief that had been suppressed for years whilst others felt deeply moved by the stories and works on display. At these times the interactive Art Therapy table became a place of refuge. People sat to contemplate, cry, talk, to make reflective art pieces or a legacy piece of art to take home and treasure. Art for the Heart became a focus for the public to come together to share their stories.
Numerous children came to the table and many became tearful as they reminisced about loved ones who had died. Being allowed to make a gift to honour their memory was very special and healing for the children who were very creative and enjoyed their time at the table. A large number of children stayed and worked for an hour or two, while parents viewed the exhibits or sat down and created some artwork with their children.
Grandparents bringing grandchildren to the city for the day were overjoyed to see a free art activity table where they encouraged their grandchildren to ‘create’ while they discussed their own issues of grief and loss with me.
Tobin Brothers Funerals was complimented on the excellent quality of the art products it had supplied from which people made journals, calico bags, Christmas decorations and scratch art remembrance flowers. These materials made people feel special and also tempted participants to try some new forms of creativity.
As an indication that age is no barrier to art, the youngest person to use the table was only three whilst the oldest was 92. Art Therapy was an excellent addition to the exhibition and a great initiative by Tobin Brothers Funerals as a positive way to engage and guide the public in their grieving.
Written By Emma Finch ( A.Th.R.)
and Samantha Rennie – Tobin Brothers Funerals